fast forword program

The Fast ForWord Program

Accelerate Reading & Learning With Fast ForWord Software

You can work around your child’s learning difficulties with tutoring and extra help at school. Or you can try to make a step-change and lasting difference by targeting the source of reading and learning difficulty. This is where the Fast ForWord reading program can help.

Fast ForWord presents a range of adaptive exercises that work on deep-seated cognitive and language processing skills to build learning and reading efficiency. The goal is to make significant and lasting improvements in just a few months.

  • 240+ research studies
  • 2+ million students in 40+ countries
  • Online with remote oversight by Gemm Learning professionals
Practice Makes Perfect

Most learning and reading difficulties are caused by cognitive skill delays, particularly language processing and attention.  As with physical skills, these skill gaps can be reduced with training exercises. Fast ForWord is an adaptive program that presents students with a set of progressively harder exercises designed to improve processing, attention, working memory and sequencing, the building blocks of learning. Practice makes perfect.

Helps Reading and Learning At All Ages

Because most learning issues stem from one or more of these cognitive skill gaps, Fast ForWord is able to help reading fluency and reading comprehension in children 5+ years of age, teenagers and adults.  In addition, it can significantly help learning difficulties, including dyslexia, auditory processing disorder and inattentive ADD. The program can also be helpful for students who have autism.

Enduring Gains

The target of Fast ForWord’s training is to create automaticity — learning and reading efficiency.  Acquiring these lifelong skills is similar to learning to ride a bike. Once the skills are part of the student, automatic decoding for instance, like riding a bike it’s a skill that is never forgotten. The learning gains endure.

This robust ability to help a wide range of students in a fast and enduring way is what attracted Gemm Learning to the software.  We specialize in providing Fast ForWord to families at home in the US and Canada.  Our students access Fast ForWord online with the support and guidance of remote Gemm Learning professionals. Our professionals are with you every step of the way.

fast forword sky gym program

Adaptive Exercises For All Learners

Fast ForWord starts by exercising foundational language and cognitive skills, such as working memory, phonological processing, attention and sequencing.  It uses adaptive exercises that add speed and complexity at the student’s own pace.

And then, after 1-3 months, most students move to the reading phase, working on reading skills such as fluency in decoding, spelling, vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Individualized Protocols

Each Fast ForWord program (there are 10 in total) has 5-7 games, each of which aims at one or more cognitive, language and/or reading skill.  Gemm Learning creates individualized protocols drawing from this list of exercises according to your child’s needs and goals.

In addition, we account for your child’s schedule and availability in our Fast ForWord at home design.  We can go with a more intensive 2-month program for quicker results or a more drawn out program — 30 or 50 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week.  Whatever works for you and your family. Finally, the software is now available on the iPad® making it even easier to access from anywhere, any time.

Neuroscience-Based Software

Fast ForWord taps into neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change, just like physical muscle. Its exercises ask students to make hundreds of increasingly complex decisions in quick succession. This creates a ladder to higher function, new neural connections and consequently, new learning abilities that transfer into better reading and learning.

The Fast ForWord program series incorporates key neuroscience principles.  One feature is shaping, stimulating higher function through more challenging tasks in tiny incremental steps, like physical training. Another important element is simultaneous activity, where skills are trained together in a way that carries over into daily life where learning is integrated. Consequently, the gains endure.

fast for word fMRI brain comparisonsThe program creates changes in neural activity that pre- and post-FMRI imaging can measure.  Specifically, neural mass activity after training on Fast ForWord  looks more like the patterns seen in normal readers.  This means more activity in the language areas of the brain when the fMRI subject is reading.  By contrast, the brain activity patterns of a struggling reader are spread, indicating a scattered and inefficient reading method. Because Fast ForWord improves the clarity of language, the brain will start to rely more on language word memory, like a normal reader.

30+ Years of Research

Fast ForWord software incorporates cognitive research, neuroscience, linguistics and natural learning science. By diving into the cognitive skills required for reading, the Fast ForWord founders identified abnormal temporal processing and language learning impairments common in struggling readers. Therefore, they postulated that by improving phonological awareness through adaptive exercises they could improve reading and learning.

Four highly regarded neuroscientists led this research over a 30 year period. They were Dr. Michael Merzenich and Bill Jenkins at the University of California, San Francisco, and Paula Tallal and Steven Miller at Rutgers University.  After publishing their initial findings in Science, the scientists persuaded several world-renowned universities to contribute and review data in randomized controlled studies.  These and other studies validate the premise that language processing skills are the key to better learning and reading efficiency.

There have been 240+ Fast ForWord research studies in total, most of which show substantial student gains while on and after completing the program. Several studies however, did yield disappointing results for a variety of unusual reasons.  This include cases of inappropriate student selection —  not all children are candidates for Fast ForWord. In addition, a couple of studies imposed hands-off supervision rules (to “replicate real world conditions) that we know from personal experience will undermine Fast ForWord results.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of studies show gains of 1-2 years in 3-4 months. Gemm Learning students exceed this national average gain due to our higher service levels and our slightly longer average service period.

The Question of Skill Transfer From the Exercises to Reading Proficiency

These studies, as a body of evidence, answer the main question of “transfer” that parents have about all online software.  Specifically, will the gains in skills seen in the individual exercises eventually transfer into gains in reading fluency and comprehension?

fastforword rated high gain in NevadaOur pre- and post-testing uses a Reading Progress Indicator (RPI) that correlates with Woodcock Johnson results.  It’s a reading test that measures decoding, phonemic awareness, vocabulary and reading comprehension.  Our students are averaging a 2+ year gain in the RPI in our internal pre- and post-assessments.  In other words, our internal results back up the national studies.  For our students also, the exercise skill gains transfer into better generalized reading skills.

This success is has not gone unnoticed. Fast ForWord features in a best seller book on neuroplasticity, The Brain That Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge.  Finally, it ranked first and “High Gain” in a recent 2-year study of 24 reading programs by the Nevada State Department of Education

Who Fast ForWord Helps

The software helps almost all children with reading difficulties. This is because delays in language processing, the first target of the Fast ForWord program, are the primary source of reading difficulties.  It is also arguably the most popular software in the world for treating auditory processing disorder.

Furthermore, because of its ability to access deep-seated cognitive and language delays, it can be an effective choice for a range of other learning issues, including dyslexia, inattentive ADD and working memory dysfunction.

Because the Fast ForWord reading program targets learning efficiency, it helps study and test taking skills. Additionally, it can improve symptoms associated with autism, Asperger syndrome and traumatic brain injury.

Find Out If We Can Help You or Your Child

Gemm Learning is the largest private provider of Fast ForWord at home in North America. To find out if your child is a candidate for our program, call one of our specialists at 877-914-4366 for a free consult.

Looking for Fast Forward?
Fast ForWord plays on fast-for-word, fastforword and fast forward, emphasizing fast results. By removing underlying impediments, Fast ForWord can quickly open the flood-gates to higher achievement. The idea behind the name is to evoke rapid acquisition of language skills. But it is an unusual name, often mis-spelled, such as fast forward software. Other names are fast for word program, fast for words, or fast forward.

Geoff Nixon

About Geoff Nixon

Geoff is the founder of Gemm Learning, the parent of a child with learning difficulties and an educational researcher.