< bi + o + graph + y >

As long as I can remember, I’ve been moved by the study of language. LEX™ is the life I’ve built motivating others to study language too. This is a bit of a long story, because I’ve been living it for a while now.

I was one of those kids for whom literacy came naturally and easily. The youngest of eight children, I grew up in a family where schooling was highly valued, but so was avid, casual, non-academic reading, writing, singing, and word play. We weren’t particularly athletic or artistic or skilled with our hands, but language — spoken and written — was always pretty much our jam.

My family is made up of writers and word-lovers of all kinds: punsters, puzzlers, poets, printers, publishers, polyglots, and punk rockers. I’ve studied multiple languages most of my life, in school and out. I’ve translated documents from French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, and interpreted for travelers and immigrants. I’ve subsidized several international trips with word study and tour guiding. I have spent nearly three decades volunteering with literacy organizations and local schools. I love a good bilingual joke, and the stories that silent letters are waiting to tell.

I pursued undergraduate study in Comparative Literature and Logic at Smith College. I spent my junior year in France, Portugal, and Brazil, and graduated with a BA a long time ago. The University of Chicago was my home for my MA in linguistics, with a focus in historical linguistics and diglossia, specifically the evolution of writing systems and their relationship to spoken language. I completed my PhD in English at Illinois State University in 2022 after 13 long years of researching and writing about both spelling stories and spelling science.

Gina Cooke

The inside of my birth announcement. I come by it honestly.

Every job I’ve had since college has had to do with language: Writing, communications, transcribing, translating, tour guiding, researching, teaching reading, and more. In 1999 I began my education as a dyslexia therapist under David Winters, Ph.D. F/AOGPE, with the 32° Masonic Scottish Rite Orton Gillingham training program. I spent 15 years with the Masons, including interning under Marcia Henry, Ph.D., F/AOGPE. During that time, I directed two Children’s Dyslexia Centers, trained directors and clinicians throughout the organization’s 55 locations, helped develop curricular content, personally tutored more than 50 children, and supervised one-on-one intervention for more than 1,000 students. The Centers’ language therapy program is internationally accredited, and my certifications remain in good standing. Through both my clinical credentials and my work as a university instructor, I have undergone more than 100 hours of continuing education in Professional and Ethical Behaviors, including confidentiality, consent, transparency, legal limits, and clinical record keeping. Especially in the digital age, I take privacy very seriously, especially when it comes to children.

I have volunteered and served on boards and committees for the International Dyslexia Association and the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council, and am an active volunteer/tutor with my local schools. I donate free coursework and materials and offer discounts to a variety of teachers and schools, and a portion of the proceeds of our yearly calendars goes to benefit the CureJM Foundation, in honor of a longtime student. Giving back is meaningful to me.

In 2008, I embarked on a serious study of orthographic linguistics, thanks to Marcia Henry, and it completely changed my understanding of written language. In 2009, while still working part-time for the Masons, I headed back to school for another graduate degree. In 2010, the first LEX™ website was born out of an assignment for a graduate course on website design at ISU. The LEX™ Grapheme Deck followed in 2011, the fruits of a year-long independent study in linguistics, and it has become our flagship resource. I taught my first LEXinar™ online in 2015.

The LEX™ community enjoys relationships with scholars of all ages, all over the world. Like language itself, this work is organic, always changing, reinventing itself.

LEX™ is language about language.