The English writing system has gotten a bad rap. Most people describe it as weird and crazy. I’m here to explain the English writing system so that it makes sense. It actually doesn’t have order and predictability.

One of the misconceptions about the English writing system is that is was designed to represent “sound.” It wasn’t. Actually no writing system is developed to represent spoken language. It is developed to represent meaning. English is a morphophonemic language. This means that the writing system relies on not only phonemes (“sounds”), but also morphemes (“meaningful” morphological units). One of the fallacies that is taught about our writing system is that it can be written by “sounding it out”. This is why the common way of spelling falls down.

Many ask, what does that mean and how can that be? If we only spelled by phonemes “sound”, then we would spell <jumped> as <jumpt>. Why don’t we spell it that way? The reason is that the word is representing a past tense function with the suffix <-ed>. A suffix is a morpheme. So, in <jumped>, there is a base plus a suffix. A base is also a morpheme. Some will state that <-ed> suffix has 3 pronunciations, which is true, but we are talking about the phonology of a morpheme –  part of the “morphophonemic” part of our language.

The language study that we do is simple. We study the language through observation, looking at patterns and making connections. The insights come from the student with guidance from the educational therapist. We are guided by four simple questions that can be expanded for any critical thinking experience. Student learn terminology, how to analyze words and how to apply them in both reading and spelling.

Sessions can be set up in the office or online. It is recommended to set up 6-10 session to understand how the process works. It is recommended that parents sit in with their students so they can learn together. Group sessions are also available with a minimum of 3 students. Homeschool vendor contracts are an option.

Homophone Slideshow


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If you need assistance with our app, please contact us at app@levelupdyslexia.com. We apologize if we have caused you any inconvenience. We hope to make it right.

Dyslexia Warning Signs App

Dyslexia Warning Signs App

Dyslexia Warning Signs App

Are you wondering if your or your student has dyslexia? We have developed an app that will assist you in learning if your child has the warning signs of dyslexia. This is a great app to share with your pediatrician or other professionals on your team, such as speech pathologists, therapists, teachers and other parents. The goal of this app is for professionals working with a child who does not have experience or training in dyslexia to quickly check to see if a student they are working with has the warning signs of dyslexia. Children with significant indicators should be referred for a full educational evaluation.


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Dyslexia Definition

Dyslexia is a neurologically based condition characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition, poor spelling and trouble with decoding. The deficits found are unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities. It can also effect reading comprehension and reduced reading speed that can impedes vocabulary and background knowledge.


  • Difficulty learning the names of the letters
  • Difficulty with rhyming, such as nursery rhymes
  • Difficulty connecting the sound to the letters
  • Spoken language delay onset

Elementary Age

  • Reversing letters after mid-first grade, esp. b-d, p-q, 3-E, u-n, m-w
  • Difficulty naming objects, referring to items as "thing" or using wrong words all together
  • Difficulty with directions - left-right, up-down
  • Trouble understanding rhyming concept
  • Difficulty naming sequential items, such as days of week, 1-20 and alphabet order
  • Guesses words just by the beginning letter of a word

Elementary (3+) and Middle School

  • Continues to reverse letters
  • Writes capital B, or capital D in the middle of sentences
  • Misspells commonly read words, such as "does", "where", "great"
  • Slow out loud reader
  • Learns to spell for spelling test, but doesn't retain word beyond spelling test
  • Inconsistent spelling, ie spells it correct one day but not another
  • Hates to read and/or write



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(949) 891-2127

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Office Location

2738 Camino Capistrano #3 San Clemente, CA 92672

What to Expect

How is an educational therapy session structured?

A session is structured to cover the goals set at the outset of our work together. Each session will differ, but will usually follow a similar structure. Initially, we review what was previously learned. This is to provide continuity, see what has been mastered, and to assist with direct instruction. The next step involves bringing in new materials. For reading and spelling the structure is similar in that the material typically follows a four step process of looking at meaning, how words are built, connecting them to relatives and then looking at the phonology. This process helps simultaneously with reading and spelling. It helps with grapheme choice and connects the words to meaning, as well as expanding spelling rapidly via meaning. All steps include a multi-sensory component that works to increase retention of information. Sessions often incorporate writing, reading and if needed Real Script work for dysgraphia. Math coverage follows a different set of structures.

How frequently does tutoring occur?

The more frequently a student comes for tutoring, the quicker the changes will happen. The ideal situation is 4 times a week. The minimum frequency is twice a week.

Where is tutoring done?

Tutoring occurs in the San Clemente office. Online tutoring is available for students out of the area. Online tutoring students need to have access to a computer with a camera. Contact us for details.

Online tutoring benefits

  • Convenient
  • Saves travel time and expense
  • Access to trained educational therapist
  • Individualized
  • Need computer with web camera
  • Share screen during session
  • Supplemental online practice optional
  • Contact me now for available dates and times

How do you address sight words?

There are certain words in our English language that just don't follow the rules. These are often referred to as "sight words". Actually many of the words on the Fry or Dolch list do follow decoding rules. The problem is that not everyone knows just what those rules are. So the first step is teaching those to the students. We also teach structure, etymology and morphology of sight words. These seems to help student learn about these "sight words" and often they will be able to remember these stories to for future spelling of these words. For students who struggle in working memory, they may need additional assistance. We use a multi-sensory approach to assist with retention. No matter which way works best for your child, we ask that at home review or practice can be of assistance.

Can you help an older student?

Yes. Older students tend to have learned quite a bit more than a younger student. The goal is to determine what concepts the student has mastered and which concepts are still a mystery. Because Orton-Gillingham is systematic, we can easily find the areas of need and focus just on those areas of weakness. The great part of working with older students is that they already have the ground work, and focusing on just the holes in the phonologic process gives them great confidence that they can be skilled readers and spellers.

Get more information now!

Email: lisa@lisaklipfelmft.com

Structured Literacy

  • Multisensory
  • Direct Instruction
  • Systematic & Structured
  • Incremental & Cumulative
  • Continuous Feedback
  • Applied Linguistics

Areas Covered

  • Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Etymology
  • Sight Words
  • Print formation
  • Mathematics
  • Comprehension
  • Grammar


Lisa Klipfel has been working with students for 5 years. Lisa Klipfel has been training under linguists, Michel Rameau, PhD and Gina Cooke, in order to fully understand and teach orthography (spelling). Lisa Klipfel was trained by the Dyslexia Training Institute in Orton-Gillingham and Structured Word Inquiry. Lisa is finishing up her Education Therapist certification from the University of California, Riverside.

Lisa is also trained to teach Structured Word Inquiry (SWI). SWI is the study of the English writing system from a scientific prospective. It comes out of the linguistic field. While there is some overlap from the education field, study through SWI has breadth and depth that often students love due to the fun stories they get to learn about words. The is an effective approach for learning spelling, especially those who have been tagged as orthographic dyslexia or “stealth” dyslexia. This way of learning is not limited to those with dyslexia. It is an excellent way to learn how our English writing system actually works and there is predictability in our writing system.  Learning in this way focuses on the meaning of words, looking at affixes, and attacking spelling from a logical, story aspect, as well as looking at the corresponding phonology. Since analysis is typically a strength of many students with dyslexia, it is an excellent match for those struggling with spelling.

In addition, Lisa Klipfel has a master’s degree in psychology. She has worked with the multiple learning disorders over the years in her practice, as well as ADHD. She now offers educational therapy in her office to assist those students with dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia.

Lisa Klipfel created Level Up Ed, a service to assist children struggling who are struggling with the written language, some of whom may have dyslexia. Kids connect with video games and are always wanting to “level up” in their games. She work with kids to “level up” in their reading and writing skills.

If you would like to set up an appointment with Lisa Klipfel, call (949) 891-2127 or email at lisa@lisaklipfelmft.



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There is hope

Does your child need help reading? Have you spent hours studying sight words but they just can’t retain them? Is your child able to read or spell a word one day, but the next day it is as if they have never seen that word before in their life? Does it seem like they work so hard in reading and writing, but they just get so frustrated? Are you battling homework with tears due to reading and writing?

There is a solution. Level Up Education gives answers to the parents who have been struggling for a long time with their children’s reading and spelling. It is possible for things to improve. The earlier you start interventions the shorter it will take. Don’t rely on your school to identify the problem or to intervene. Although it is a dream of mine that every school will understand dyslexia and use the tools to help students will dyslexia, most schools do not an effective method for the student struggling with the written language. While teachers have had a lot of training, most university programs do train teachers with the most updated and effective literacy approaches and few have been trained in dyslexia.

There is hope that a struggling student can learn to read. They can learn to spell. They can write legibly. The approach that we use comes out of the field of linguistics, rather than the education field. It is from the sound study of language. There are numerous research articles on the effectiveness of the principles used in this intervention. This approach uses the students strength of reasoning rather than their weakness of phonology to make gains.

You are invited to contact us to learn more information about how this is approach has helped others who are struggling.

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