fast forword program

Fast ForWord Program

Using neuroscience to activate learning

Fast ForWord works on the root causes of learning delays, not symptoms.  There are several program units, completed sequentially depending on age and need, in two sets:

  • Cognitive and pre-reading skills – Foundations and Elements
  • Reading Level 1, 2, 3 and Comprehension

Each program contains 4-7 quick-fire exercises that are adaptive, each one working on a different aspect of learning, each one making incremental gains each day. Part of the magic is the science. Fast ForWord targets gaps in essential skills and applies the neuroscience of how the brain learns, for all ages.

Gemm Learning provides Fast ForWord at home in the US and Canada with the individualized support and guidance.

  • 240+ research studies
  • 3+ million students in 40+ countries
  • Average gain of 2+ years in ~6 months

Who Fast ForWord Helps

Fast ForWord helps reading fluency and reading comprehension in children, teenagers and adults.  It also addresses learning difficulties, including dyslexia, auditory processing disorder and inattentive ADD.  And it can be helpful for autism.

Individualized Protocols

Each Fast ForWord program has 5-7 exercises – early programs build foundational skills, later programs focus on reading and reading comprehension. This Scope & Sequence PDF summarizes each program in the Fast ForWord series.

For most students, Fast ForWord at home, takes 4-6 months, on a 30 minutes a day, using a 3-5 day a week routine.

Neuroscience-Based Software

Fast ForWord in an intervention that taps into neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change.  Its exercises present hundreds of increasingly complex decisions in quick succession. This creates a ladder to higher function, new neural connections and consequently new learning abilities.

fast for word fMRI brain comparisonsThe changes in neural activity can be see in pre- and post-fMRI imaging.  Specifically, neural mass activity after training on Fast ForWord looks more like normal readers – there is more activity in the language regions of the brain when the subject is reading. The brain is relying more on language word memory, like a normal reader.

30+ Years of Research

Fast ForWord neuroscientists were among the first to recognize that reading is primarily a language skill, not a vision skill. And so the pathway to improving reading is to improve language, specifically language processing.

The Fast ForWord founders identified that abnormal temporal processing and language learning impairments were common in struggling readers.

Therefore, they postulated that by improving phonological awareness through adaptive exercises they could improve reading and learning. The four highly regarded neuroscientists built on this initial finding over a 30 year period. The end result was ForWord, which incorporates cognitive research, neuroscience, linguistics and natural learning science.

The neuroscientists 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.

Fast ForWord Results

There have been 240+ Fast ForWord research studies in total, most of which show substantial student gains. Several studies however, did yield disappointing results for a variety of unusual reasons reviewed here.

The average across all studies is a gain of 1-2 years in 3-4 months. Our results exceed the study averages because:

  • We don’t accept children we don’t think we can help,
  • Our monitoring is intense, better student participation –  more intensity, more gains and
  • Our students complete more programs

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.

Pronouncing Fast ForWord
Fast ForWord is a version of fast forward and so is generally said that way, fast forward. However, Marty Burns, arguably Scientific Learning’s most famous spokesperson, pronounces it Fast For Word. The idea behind the name is that by removing underlying impediments, Fast ForWord can quickly open the floodgates to higher achievement. The name evokes rapid acquisition of language skills. But it is an unusual name, often misspelled, such as fast forward software. Other names are fast for word program, fast for words, or fast forward.


Online reading test

After a reading gain of 4.7 years from Fast ForWord, mom shared, “On the final report card for last year, she was up in every class and all her teachers noted enormous improvements in her academic abilities! There’s still room for growth, but it seems natural age and behavior type growth like focusing on the quality of our work not the speed.”

Alicia L.

Parent of 4th grader, struggling reader



See how it works