Frequently Asked questions

At what age and at what grade can readers use VRG?

VRG is for readers of any age. However, they must have at least a grade 2 reading ability. VRG is not for people who cannot read at all. The passages in the VRG programme range from early grade 2 to a grade 8 level, which is an early adult reading level.

Who can be a reading partner or mentor, what skills are required, and why is a reading partner needed?

A reading partner or mentor can be anyone who is patient and with much stronger reading skills than the reader.

For example: a parent, older sibling, teacher, au pair, therapist etc. VRG requires a reading partner to sit with the reader, to fill out the questionnaire, administer the levelling assessment and work through the programme with the reader. There are teaching videos throughout VRG to assist the reading partner.

Can there be more than one reading partner or mentor?

Yes. VRG can be used with different reading partners, as long as they are not delayed readers. Any reading partner must watch the instructional videos and have a good relationship with the reader. VRG has been successfully used with a variety of reading partners at schools, homes and speech therapy practices.

How do I access VRG, and what hardware and software are needed?

The VRG can be accessed online via a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or iPad (smartphone screens are too small). It is not yet available as a downloadable application. VRG can also be installed on a school, therapist’s practice or organisation’s network.

To login, we shall provide you with the necessary login details including the VRG address. The VRG address must be typed into the address tab of a current browser like Chrome, Firefox etc. (and not into a search engine like Google). Access to sound and YouTube are required. All login details will be sent once proof of payment has been received by VRG.

What training does a reading partner or mentor need, and is this provided?

VRG has embedded videos that should be watched. For best results all videos should be watched, but it is essential that the following videos are watched:

•     The Questionnaire and the Levelling Partner videos, to do the assessment correctly.
•     The Reading Partner video, the Practice your words video, and The Pattern and Vocab Cards video.

How often should I use VRG with my reader, how long should a session be, and how long will it take to get results?

For best results use VRG two to three times per week, for around 20 to 25 minutes.
After about 6 months you can choose to re-assess to check the reader’s progress.

We have used VRG for up to 3 years with some of our more challenged remedial readers. Initially we read twice a week and then reduced to once a week.

How many passages should be read in one session?

It is best to read one to two passages in one session. For best results, always do repeated reading and all the exercises in the Pattern and Vocab boxes. Very challenged readers should only do one passage per session.

What Admin functions can I access?

A normal user has access to the following functions which are found in the VRG reader menu:

•     Reader’s profile where their progress can be checked.
•     Reports: up-to-date progress reports can be printed for the reader.
•     Videos: all teaching videos can be accessed from the menu.
•     The menu video shows how the admin functions work.

For educators such as therapists and teachers, please note you can add and delete phonic patterns, and change the difficulty level of a passage

What is a Supervisor Account and how do I qualify?

Supervisor accounts are for educators like therapists or reading teachers, who monitor the progress of a number of readers.
Supervisors have access to all the functions of a normal account.

They also have the additional functions and they can:
•     Schedule an assessment
•     Monitor and adjust multiple readers’ progress if necessary.

Watch the admin function video to see how a supervisor account works.

How can I be sure that the information provided is confidential and secure?

VRG has put measures into place to protect and prevent unauthorised access, use or disclosure of personal identifiable information. Please see our Privacy Policy on our website.

My reader’s remedial teacher/therapist has suggested we use VRG at home. How do I access the training Videos that show me how to use VRG?

Once you have logged in, there are embedded videos that will show you how to use the VRG. All videos are found in the Menu. There is an overview video on the login page and also on the website www.virtualreadinggym.co.za. There is also a green film icon on the top right hand side of every VRG reading page. The most important thing is to have fun together.

How do I know that VRG content is the right level for my reader?

VRG passages and questions start at Grade 2 reading level and go through to Grade 8, which is an early adult reading level. There are 8 levels altogether. There are enough passages to give challenged readers plenty of practice and questions increase in number and become more complex too. Please note there are no pictures. VRG is suitable for anyone with a basic Grade 2 reading ability, whatever their age. However children younger than 7 or 8 are not yet ready to start the programme.

Look at the passage extracts here to see how the VRG gradually becomes more complex.

An extract from an early Grade 2 passage (the easiest level)


...Did you know raisins can dance? They can! They can dance if you make them. Here is how to do it. Put 5 raisins at the bottom of a glass. Take a bottle of soda water...

Later Grade 2
...Sneezing does more than just help an itchy nose. Sneezing keeps you healthy. If you have germs in your nose, the sneeze blows them out. Mucus gets blown out of your nose. The germs are in the mucus...

Grade 8 level (hardest level)
...An idiom is a saying, expression or phrase where the words don’t match what is described, yet the meaning is understood. You have probably heard someone remark that it’s raining cats and dogs and of course you know that it is not raining actual cats and dogs but you understand that it is raining heavily. If your maths homework turns out to be a piece of cake it means it was easy, not that it turned into a real piece of cake...

Note that sentences are becoming longer and more complex as does the vocabulary. The comprehension level is more demanding.

Once you are subscribed to the VRG and have received the username and password, it is essential that you watch the embedded videos after you have logged in, as they will show you how to use the programme. Access the training videos by clicking on The Menu. The Questionnaire and Levelling partner videos will demonstrate how to find your reader’s reading level. There are other videos to show you how to use the programme effectively. The videos are also accessible by clicking on the green film icon on each reading page.

My reader is in high school but English is his/her second language. How do I access the easiest reading level of VRG?

There are a few ways to do this:

•     You can request that VRG sets the level to the easiest level and you can skip the assessment section altogether. Email this request to info@virtualreadinggym.co.za
•     Or you can do the assessment section of the VRG (remember to watch the Questionnaire and Levelling partner videos). When filling out the questionnaire, to the question “Current grade, or if out of school, highest grade completed?” select Grade 2. To the question “How would you rate yourself as a reader?” select significantly below average.

I think my reader is ready to move up to the next level. How do I access this?

Be careful to move up to higher levels too quickly. Readers grow in confidence when they read at a comfortable level for a good period of time. If you are sure you want to increase the difficulty level, go to the Menu and select Profile. Select Level and change the level to the one you want. Remember to save the change! Use the same procedure if your reader is clearly finding a level too difficult. Be warned that if you change to an easier level, you will lose all the data at the higher levels.

Does the VRG know when a reader is ready to move up to the next level?

The VRG will automatically increase the reading level after 20 passages if the reader consistently reads fluently, with good comprehension and accuracy.

What is the average ‘words per minute’ or average reading rate for each age?

Reading rates depend on many factors, including the reader’s reading abilities and challenges and the relative difficulty or ease of a text. There are various online charts available for those who are interested. At the VRG our aim is to help challenged readers read with good comprehension, regardless of rate. There is very little point in reading fast without comprehending the text! As a remedial programme, our estimates of reading rates are conservative. From grade 3 and above we would aim for above 80 words per minute. Please note that not every challenged reader is able to reach this level.

My reader has cleaned his/her city and now it has reverted to its original polluted state. HELP!

A few VRG readers who have used the programme intensively, over a long time, have cleaned their city and become Gold Users. Congratulations! They can continue earning points which can be seen on the Gold Badge on the home page. All the seeds have been opened! Just click on the seeds at the bottom of the City Page to see all the changes made.

Can the readers do the programme in therapy and also at home?

Yes. A subscription can be used anywhere there is internet access and a suitable device. It is very important that the reader has a good relationship with a well- trained reading partner. This person is encouraged to watch all the training videos on the Menu before starting.

Can I start as a reading partner for just one reader and add more readers at a later stage?

Yes. For each reader you are working with, send us their details, registration form and proof of payment. We will open an account for each of them. Make sure that we know the reader is attached to your supervisor account or institution.

Can I pay upfront for more than one reader and stagger the starting dates?

Yes. The start date is the date on which you are given the username and password so the subscription period (3, 9 or 12 months) starts from that date. Once you have sent us the usernames, we will open the account.

How will I know when my account(s) have expired and when I need to re-register?

Two weeks before your subscription expires we will send you an email requesting that you renew it. Select your preferred package from our website, www.virtualreadinggym.co.za, and send us proof of payment. Your account will be reactivated with the same username and password.

What will happen if I forget to re-subscribe and then need to re-register?

Your reader will receive the following message when they try to login. “Your account has been deactivated.” To re-register, contact us directly from the login site or via the website at info@virtualreadinggym.co.za. All user information is saved and the reader can continue from where they left off.

What can I do if my videos or sound are not working?

Try a different browser like Firefox or Chrome. Make sure you have the updated version of the browser. Are your speakers plugged in? Do you have the correct URL address which is www.virtualreadinggym.co.za? As with any query you have, you are welcome to email us on info@virtualreadinggym.co.za.

Contact details:
Alison on 076 690 0276 or info@virtualreadinggym.co.za