Helping Students Find Out How Words Work...
On-line training for Spelling with Joy Allcock now available. Click here to find out more!

Welcome to MJA Publishing 

The home of Word Detective resources  



In 1996 Joy Allcock began a Master of Education degree with the
intention of finding answers to these questions:

How do children learn to read and spell?

Do we learn to spell the same way we learn to read?

Why are some people good readers but inaccurate spellers?

Why do some children learn to read and spell easily but others struggle, despite their obvious intelligence? 

Are there better ways to teach spelling than giving students lists of words to learn?


Learning to read and write English is a complex process and children do not become good readers and writers simply through exposure to books.   They have to learn how the English language works.   The following article provides an overview of the skills and knowledge children need to acquire, and it explains different teaching strategies and shows how they cater to children’s learning needs.  

From Language to Literacy, Potential to Achievement - by Joy Allcock.    This is 'The Bucket' Document


Joy's experiences since completing her degree in 2000 have led her to believe that it is possible to help children who currently struggle to achieve in our education system, by improving the way we help them understand and access the alphabetic code.  We should teach the alphabetic code initially, by learning to spell/write sounds NOT through learning to pronounce letters and graphemes.   This approach was used in a project at Titahi Bay School with dramatic results.

Read about the success of this project in the NZ Ministry of Education's Education Gazette.


Hear about the effects of this literacy project from Kerry Delaney (principal) and Sharon Thompson.