End Illiteracy in English

The problem of English functional illiteracy is a very real nightmare, but the solution is easier than you would ever dare to dream.

U.S. Adult Literacy: Shockingly Low, Easily Solved

The method proposed in the award-winning book, Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis (see http://LearnToReadNow.org), for solving our literacy problems has been recommended by numerous educational and linguistic experts for more than 250 years, and 33 nations both smaller and larger than the U.S. and both advanced and developing nations have made the type of change the book proposes. Furthermore, all major objections to what it proposes have been conclusively debunked by several very competent scholars, such as Thomas R. Lounsbury, LL.D, L.H.D., emeritus professor of English, Yale University, in his book published in 1909! As a means of avoiding change, however, skeptics keep repeating the same disproven arguments. As our culture has become more complex, the problem of functional illiteracy has now reached crisis proportions, and it is time the make the revolutionary changes this book proposes.

For the sake of an estimated 600 million English-speaking people around the world who are functionally illiterate in English — including more than 93 million adults in the U.S. alone — please let me urge you to carefully, honestly evaluate our end illiteracy in English website, where Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, Second Revision is available as a 265-page e-book at no cost or obligation of any kind.

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Reading Education in Two Newspaper Editorials

A Recent Newspaper Editorial on Literacy

Have you ever felt compassion for a huge group of people because of a very serious problem that they have that you know how to solve but which almost no one in the group has the remotest idea how to solve? I have. Please consider this quote from the first two paragraphs of a recent editorial about reading education in the Washington Post.

“Many people, famous and not so famous, took time out last week to read to schoolchildren as part of the annual Read Across America Day, which encourages young people to read. They had their work cut out for them, because the sad reality is that two-thirds [66 percent] of students in this country can’t meet the critical literacy milestone of reading on grade level by third grade. For disadvantaged children, the numbers are even grimmer, with some four-fifths [80 percent] not proficient. It’s an urgent problem that demands more than a day’s attention, and that’s why a new campaign to help children learn to read earlier is so important.”

The article then tells about “The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading,” involving the efforts of 70 foundations and donors, headed by Ralph Smith of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. If efforts to get students reading on grade-level by fourth grade are unsuccessful, the students are at increased risk of never graduating high school. This campaign claims to be different from numerous similar campaigns over the last half-century in that in addition to focusing on improvements in school instruction, it also focuses on the following:

  1. Involve the parents and the larger community.
  2. Raise standards and do something about low-performing schools.
  3. Pay attention to prenatal health.
  4. Teach parents the importance of verbal interaction with children who have not yet started speaking.
  5. Line up activities with what is being taught in early grades to strengthen preschool.
  6. Pay special attention to students who are chronically absent in early grades.
  7. Use more imaginative ideas for combating the loss of learning during the summer months.

The article ends with the admission that it is unlikely that there will be the vast new financial resources needed for this effort, and that Arne Duncan, the U.S. Education Secretary, will be trying to initiate planning and legislation to help fund this effort.

What the article did not mention, however, is the great difficulty in getting enough parents “and the larger community” to take any effective action to make any statistically significant improvement. Most parents today must spend so much time and energy in simply “making a living” that there is little time or energy left for concentrating on what they should be doing that the schools cannot do for their children. The schools would undoubtedly like parents and the community to be involved in some way in all of the listed items except item 2 — if they are in a low-performing school.

Furthermore, most present-day parents believe that teaching children to read is something that the schools should do or that only the schools can do. We have, of course, many examples of schools which have raised their standards. If the problem were simply that most of the students do not try hard enough, this might have some measure of success. The main effect of raising the standards, however, often does nothing more than “flunking out” the poorer students. With only the better students left, there is an appearance of improvement, but it is only at the expense of the poorer students.

What is obviously needed, instead, is an improvement in the teaching so that everyone can succeed. More importantly, the article gave absolutely no hint of why students have such difficulty in learning to read, when compared to students in other nations. Or, to put it in question form, why do so many students become “functionally illiterate”? In the U.S., as this Washington Post article states, from 66 percent to 80 percent of students entering fourth grade cannot read at grade level. This translates into a U.S. adult population in which 48.7% of them are functionally illiterate — defined as being unable to read and write well enough to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job — as proven by an analysis of the Adult Literacy in America study, the most comprehensive and statistically accurate study ever commissioned by the U.S. government. The findings in this study were verified by a 2006 follow-up literacy report.

The inability to read and write well enough to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job is the most accurate and reliable indicator of functional illiteracy because employers have a serious financial interest in accurately determining if a prospective employee can read and write well enough to be a profitable employee. All other methods are subject to unintentional (or even intentional) manipulation by the choice of time period, size, and subjects of the data base and by the choice of methods for gathering and calculating data. Almost every American student can read at least a thousand simple words they learn by sight in the first three grades in school. If that is all they can read, however, they are functionally illiterate. They read very poorly, do not like to read, and seldom try to read. Almost half of adults never read an entire book after leaving school.

The Provable CAUSE of Illiteracy in English

How can anyone possibly solve a problem if they do not know what is causing it? All anyone can do if they do not know the cause of the problem is to try to reduce the symptoms of the problem.

Stated very simply:
What is the problem? Learning to read English is very difficult.
What are the symptoms of the problem? About half of American students never become fluent readers without a year or more of one-on-one tutoring by a competent tutor. Most of those students who do become fluent readers require at least two years to learn to read well enough that they can continue to improve their reading skills after third or fourth grade in school, after which all but remedial reading instruction ends in most American schools.
What have we been doing about the problem of illiteracy in English for over 250 years?We have been fighting the symptoms of illiteracy by trying to get a higher percentage of fluent readers and trying to teach them to read sooner, so that they become fluent readers before reading instruction ends (in third or fourth grade). We attempt this by various methods: better school facilities, better reading textbooks, better teachers, or new and better teaching methods. Everyone blames a lack of one of these “better methods”
or they blame the students for not trying hard enough
or blame the parents for not helping and encouraging the student
or they blame a multitude of pleasant activities that students spend time on instead of studying
or they blame a large number of problems adversely affecting the students;
but we never correct the one aspect of learning to read that affects every student — the problem causing learning to read English to be so difficult.

Most people who learn to read learned as a child and have long ago forgotten the difficulty they had. Their eyes glide easily over a multitude of traps for beginning readers. After reading instruction ends and before students become fluent they must be able to guess at the meaning of unfamiliar words by knowing the context or they must find the word in a dictionary. In short, students learning to read English must add words to their reading vocabulary one-at-a-time by rote memory or by repeated use of a word to become literate.

This characteristic of learning to read (adding words one-at-a-time to your reading vocabulary) is unique to English. In alphabetic languages other than English, students who know the pronunciation of the word also know the spelling of the word. After students in other languages learn which letters represent which sounds in their language and how to blend those sounds into words, which takes from one day to twenty days in as many as 95 percent of the languages and as long as three months in a very small percentage of the languages, every word in their speaking vocabulary is also in their reading vocabulary.

Very few people realize that students of about 98 percent of alphabetic languages can learn to read fluently in less than three months. Most of all, they do not realize that English is not an alphabetic language — it is a logographic writing system like Chinese writing. In the same way that a certain stroke in a certain position represents a word or part of a word in Chinese, certain letters in a certain order represent a word in English. As a result, like Chinese writing, every word in a person’s reading vocabulary must be learned one-at-a-time by rote memory or by repeated use of the word.

Unlike the invariable representation of words in Chinese writing, however, with English spelling the human mind searches for logic in the arrangement of the letters and is confused by so seldom finding any logic. Often, when the problems with English spelling are highlighted, some people feel the need to “defend our Mother Tongue.” They will say, “English is a beautiful language” or “After all, I learned to read, and I’m no genius.” But any thoughtful person cannot help but wonder how “beautiful” those struggling to learn to read consider the English language.

Those aware of the shocking failure rate in learning to read English cannot logically defend English spelling, especially when they consider the following facts. Many people will claim that if we just returned to teaching phonics, the problem would be solved. Many teachers, however, will claim correctly that English is not phonetic. It is true that if you choose only one way of spelling each of the phonemes (the smallest sound in a language or dialect used to distinguish between syllables or words), about 20 percent of English words are phonetic. The problem is that there is absolutely no way of knowing which words are phonetic and which are not.

The lack of logic in English spelling is because when Dr. Samuel Johnson prepared his well-received dictionary in 1755, he used the spelling of each word as he believed it was spelled in its language of origin — and he was sometimes mistaken. In 1755 English was a conglomeration of eight languages, the original Celtic and that of every conquering nation that occupied England prior to that time: Norse, Icelandic, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, German, Danish, and French. Since that time, according to Henry Hitchings, in his book, The Secret Life of Words, words from an additional 350 languages have been adopted into the English language, often with the original spelling.

Furthermore, Professor Julius Nyikos of Washington and Jefferson College, in an article titled “A Linguistic Perspective of Functional Illiteracy” in The Fourteenth LACUS [Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States] Forum 1987,detailed his extensive study of six standard desk-size dictionaries in which he found 1,768 ways of spelling 40 phonemes! Logically speaking, a “true alphabetic language” should have only one way of spelling each phoneme. As a result, there is not even ONE English spelling rule that does not have exceptions — and some of the exceptions have exceptions! A computer programmed with 203 English spelling rules was able to correctly spell only 49 percent of a list of 17,000 common English words. Very few humans could match this computer’s performance!

To be a logical alphabetic spelling system, there should a one-to-one correspondence of phonemes and graphemes (a grapheme is a letter or a specific combination of letters used to represent each phoneme). How bad is English spelling? A student can learn to read English by knowing the spelling (letter or letters used, i.e. the grapheme used) for 38 phonemes. Ideally, since there are 26 letters in our alphabet, we could spell all words with 26 single letters and 12 two-letter graphemes. Instead, in present English spelling, in addition to 26 single letters, we have at least 184 two-letter graphemes, at least 131 three-letter graphemes, at least 22 four-letter graphemes, and at least four five-letter graphemes! That is a total of 367 graphemes when only 38 are needed!

For Reading (How do you pronounce or what sound do you think of when you see a certain grapheme?): Since there are only 38 phonemes, a large number of these graphemes obviously respresent more than one phoneme. In fact, only five of the graphemes (B, K, P, R, and V) represent only one phoneme; all of the other graphemes represent from two to six or more different phonemes. Adding to the confusion, however, all but six of the single graphemes (H, Q, U, W, X, and Y) are doubled in some words and not in others, and there is no reliable way of knowing when a letter is to be doubled!

For Spelling (What grapheme do you choose when writing a certain phoneme or pronunciation?) Two phonemes (H as in hat and TH as in then) are spelled with only (!) four different graphemes; the phoneme U as in nut is spelled with at least sixty different graphemes!

NOTE: Most English-speaking people do not realize that the number of pronunciations of a letter or letters compared to the number of letters available to spell the sounds are not different in other languages as they are in English.

If you cannot learn by spelling rules, the only alternative is to learn each new word added to your reading vocabulary, one-at-a-time, by rote memory or by repeated use of the word. Most fluent readers have a reading vocabulary of 20,000 or more words. Some readers have reading vocabularies of more than 70,000 words.

Another Recent Newspaper Editorial On Literacy

A recent editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune proclaimed the need for teaching Utah students to read. It begins with the obvious statement that “Literacy is not only the key to a life-sustaining career, it is the doorway to all other learning. Or, as the saying goes, ‘First a student learns to read, and then reads to learn.’” The editorial then stated that it is in the preschool years when the seeds of reading proficiency are sown and bemoaned the fact that the Utah legislature in session at the time had not properly funded preschool teaching. The irony is that I personally presented a request to Vern Anderson, the Editorial Page Editor of the Salt Lake Tribune a couple of years ago to publish an article on their editorial page which would explain how to definitely and permanently solve the problem of learning to read English.

Instead of continuing for century after century to fight the symptoms of our ridiculous spelling, my article advocated solving the problem of English spelling by making our words phonemic, like the words of all of the alphabetic languages in the world. My article was summarily rejected because Mr. Anderson said the policies of the Salt Lake Tribune did not allow publication of articles advocating a product (in other words, my book). Articles on the Salt Lake Tribune’s editorial pages must be so short that in order to present enough of the case for spelling reform to have a chance of being convincing, it was necessary to refer the reader to my book for all the missing facts which would justify what the editorial staff may have thought was “too radical.” Those are the words of rejection I received from the editor of the book review pages to whom I had presented a copy of my book and a proposed book review article a few months earlier.

Without understanding the details of how serious and widespread the problem of English illiteracy really is and how easily it could be solved with a perfectly phonemic spelling system, it was evidently inconceivable to the Salt Lake Tribune staff that I was passionately concerned about solving the problem rather than about making money selling my book. If selling my book were my main objective, I would have given up 24 years ago. I am admittedly a very poor marketer. Since 1985, when I began my humanitarian project of ending English illiteracy, I have spent at least $40,000 more than I have earned from book sales. My biggest expense was for review copies. I have mailed hundreds of free copies to reviewers and have spent thousands of dollars on marketing programs and related expenses. I firmly believe, however, that many people would be willing to invest large sums of money if they understood how seriously every English-speaking person on earth — and not just the illiterates — is affected by our inconsistent, illogical, and chaotic spelling.

Some people are such skeptics that absolutely nothing can induce them to spend any of their precious time investigating the problem of English illiteracy. For those who are a little more rational, however, please allow me to challenge you to carefully, honestly examine the facts presented on our ending functional illiteracy in English website.

This website gives a good introduction to the humanitarian project for ending illiteracy of two non-profit organizations, Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and NuEnglish, Inc. If you are even a little compassionate about the serious physical, mental, emotional, medical, and financial problems of illiterates — problems that we would consider a crisis if we had to endure them — let me challenge you to examine this website. Reading the home page will take only six minutes. Each of the five brief statements about the problem and six brief statements about the solution are proven by the “Read More” pages. If you are not in the mood to read, please watch the video by clicking on “Media Page” near the top of the left-hand column.

If you are still not convinced to join in this humanitarian project, the problem is so serious that you are challenged to read the much more complete and authoritative information found in Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, Revised Edition about our literacy crisis found on Amazon.com. This website has an editorial review by Dr. Robert S. Laubach, President Emeritus of Laubach Literacy International (which has now joined with Literacy Volunteers of America to form ProLiteracy, Inc.) and ten customer reviews, nine of them five star (the maximum) and one of them a four star review. Some of these reviewers are “Amazon Top 500 Reviewers.” The website also has a good explanation of how the humanitarian project of ending illiteracy evolved in the section “More About the Author” in the middle of the page.

For those who doubt my passion in helping an estimated 600 million English-speaking people around the world who are functionallly illiterate in English and desperately hoping we will help them: I am now offering Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, Second Revision at no cost or obligation of any kind on our http://LearnToReadNow.org website’s home page. This is a 265-page e-book version of the award-winning Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, originally published in 2005. The second revision was self-published in late 2012. It is updated with 20 pages of front matter, 164 pages of text, 8 Appendixes in 46 pages, 178 extensive notes and references, a Glossary, an extensive bibliography, an index, and other end matter. It is available in .pdf format by clicking in the left-hand column of the home page.

As you no doubt know, no project — no matter how worthy — can succeed without publicity. If you know personally a person of influence, such as Vern Anderson of the Salt Lake Tribune or Ralph Smith of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, or Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or any of the well known celebrities who have expressed an interest in education, literacy, or dyslexia (Andre Agassi, Troy Aikman, Julie Andrews, Jeff Bridges, Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffet, Jose Carreras, Cher, Deepak Chopra, Bill Cosby, Tom Cruise, Jamie Lee Curtis, Neil Diamond, Michael J. Fox, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Green, Valerie Harper, Faith Hill, Mick Jagger, George Lucas, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Dr. Phil McGraw, Rupert Murdoch, Dolly Parton, Itzhak Perlman, Keanu Reeves, Rob Reiner, Geraldo Rivera, Nolan Ryan, Carlos Santana, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, Sylvester Stallone, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlize Theron, Justin Timberlake, John Travolta, Selena Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Princess Beatrice, Halle Berry, Christopher (Ludacris) Bridges, Sergey Brin, Warren Buffet, William J. Clinton, Phil Collins, Michael S. Dell, Matt Dillon, William H. Gates, Wayne Gretzky, Tom Hanks, Goldie Hawn, Samuel L. Jackson, Earvin (Magic) Johnson Jr., Angelina Jolie, Jon Bon Jovi, Ashley Judd, Jessica Lange, Jay Leno, Lindsay Lohan, Yao Ming, Mike Myers, Lou Diamond Phillips, J.K. Rowling, Kurt Russell, Brooke Shields, Gary Sinise, Sharon Stone, Alex Trebek, Denzel Washington, or Kate Winslet) or you know someone who knows them personally, for the sake of hundreds of millions of English-speaking people around the world who are functionally illiterate in English — including more than 93 million in the U.S. alone — please urge them to examine our website, http://LearnToReadNow.org.

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Illiteracy Problems the Media, Educators, and Politicians Won’t Admit

If you have not heard about America’s “dirty little secret” — our appalling scourge of functional illiteracy — it is largely because the media have essentially ignored the problem. The media — and nearly all government officials — do not know how serious the problem really is, they do not know what to do about it, and they do not want to irritate educational and political leaders by reporting on it.

To see for yourself how serious the problem of English functional illiteracy really is and how easily it could be solved, visit our ending functional illiteracy in English website. If you are at all compassionate about the serious physical, mental, emotional, medical, and financial problems of illiterates and if you want to avoid the thousands of dollars that illiteracy costs every adult American every year, hundreds of millions of English-speaking people who are functionally illiterate in English around the world are desperately hoping you will help them. The only proven way to do so is carefully documented in the award-winning book, Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, Second Revision, which is available at no cost or obligation on our website. This book will show the way to definitely and permanently end our provably serious literacy crisis.

posted by in cause of illiteracy,education,end English functional illiteracy,ending illiteracy,extent of illiteracy,learn to read,literacy,reading education,seriousness of illiteracy,teaching fluent reading,teaching reading,U.S. literacy,world literacy and have No Comments

Why Media Coverage of Literacy News Is Confusing

Two Newspaper Reports

A newspaper article by Clay Jenkinson posted on December 12, 2010 in www.bismarcktribune.com (Bismarck, North Dakota) lamented that in a recent test of 470,000 fifteen-year-old students from 25 nations, the U.S. was “dead average” in literacy. The article lists those nations scoring both better and worse than the U.S. The nations are not in alphabetical order and are therefore presumably by ranking. Those nations scoring better than the U.S.: Shanghai-China, Korea, Finland, Hong Kong-China, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Estonia, Switzerland, Poland, and Iceland. Those scoring worse than the U.S.: Liechtenstein, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, France, Chinese Taipei, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. The underlined nations do not have alphabetic languages and may take somewhat longer to learn than alphabetic languages, but they do not have the disadvantage of English spelling in that a certain symbol or two-symbol combination always represents the same word, whereas, each English letter or letter-combination (of up to five letters) may represent as many as sixty different phonemes — the smallest sound in a language or dialect used to distinguish between syllables and words. None of the alphabetic languages other than English have this disadvantage either! Three English-speaking nations scored better than the U.S.: Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The home of our “mother tongue” (English), the United Kingdom, surprisingly scored the worst of all.

Clay Jenkinson’s article says the study shows the U.S. “now ranks 14th in reading literacy among the world’s nations. . . . U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan put the results in the correct perspective: ‘The hard truth is that other high-performing nations have passed us by during the last two decades. . . . In a highly competitive knowledge economy, maintaining the educational status quo means America’s students are effectively losing ground.’ . . . If the 19th century belonged to the nations that embraced the industrial revolution, and the 20th century belonged to the nations that could put together an unstoppable war machine (the Soviet Union and the U.S.), the 21st century is going to belong to the nations that produce the best engineers, systems analysts and computer programmers, the nations that master information systems and figure out how to squeeze the most efficiency and prosperity out of the shrinking resource pool of the planet. . . . Meanwhile, in a single generation, the United States has fallen from first place to ninth place in the percentage of young people with college degrees — at a time when higher education means more to the future of America than at any time in our history.”

On the same day, December 12, 2010, an article appeared on page A3 of the Salt Lake Tribune titled “Adults fault parents for school woes.” It was a long article which basically said that parents are blaming themselves for their children’s problems in school. Among other things it said “67 percent also believe the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to education . . . three quarters rate the quality of education at their child’s school as excellent or good. Most say their child’s school is doing a good job preparing the students for college, the work force and life as an adult.” These statements do not “add up.”

If parents believe American education is falling behind other nations, how can most of the parents believe their child’s school is doing an excellent or good job? How can this be true if 48.7% of U.S. adults cannot read and write well enough to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job (the most statistically reliable definition of functional illiteracy) as the most extensive and statistically accurate studies of U.S. adult literacy prove (see my ending functional illiteracy in English website)? How can this be true if “the number (of functional illiterates) is growing annually by more than 2 million, federal officials say.” as reported in an article on page 4F of the February 21, 1988 Salt Lake Tribune titled “Reading Writing on the Wall? America May Face Literacy Crisis”? (It may very well be worse now.) How can this be true when college professors and employers strongly disagree (see page A12 of the January 9, 1998 Salt Lake Tribune article titled “New High School Grads Can’t Write, Say Profs”)? Here are the percentages of college professors (C) and employers (E) who rate recent high school graduates as poor or fair on their two worst complaints about high school graduates: grammar and spelling, 77% C, 77% E; ability to write clearly, 81% C, 73% E. Here are the percentages of college professors (C), employers (E), parents (P), and teachers (T) who say that a high school diploma is NOT a guarantee that the student has learned the basics: 76% C, 63% E, 32% P, and 26% T.

Are Parents Mainly to Blame For Reading Difficulties?

Although parents and teachers both are part of the reason that some students do not learn to read, there are many reasons why a particular student may not learn to read. Arranged in no particular order, some of these reasons may be:

  • the non-reader or his parents or friends place little importance on learning to read;
  • the non-reader is far more involved in numerous activities than in spending the time needed to learn to read, as explained in the next paragraph;
  • the non-reader goes to school hungry, frightened (over gang violence, bullying, or classmates who bring weapons to school, for example), worried over problems at home or with schoolwork, or embarrassed (about failing to read aloud properly in class or about his old, ragged clothing, for example);
  • the non-reader has poor eyesight, poor hearing, or learning problems;
  • the non-reader is involved in gang activities;
  • the non-reader is involved in taking or selling drugs;
  • the non-reader doesn’t like the teacher, or the teacher is not effective at teaching this student; or
  • the teaching methods or textbooks used are not effective in teaching students to read.

In today’s world, besides all the school and societal problems which hinder learning, there are many fun but time-consuming activities interfering with learning, which did not exist in simpler times — before the twentieth century. Some of these pleasurable activities include music on radio or iPods, movies, television, musical concerts or recordings, video movies and games, newly developed sports, profitable full- and part-time jobs, and gang and other youth activities.

Like the items in Pandora’s Box, once these time-consuming or distracting activities have been loosed upon society, they cannot be taken back. It will be extremely difficult to get students to spend the long hours learning to read that were spent in more simple times. This is especially true if — due to teaching methods inferior to the memorization and dull drill used in prior centuries — the student is having difficulty learning. In this case, it will be very difficult, perhaps impossible, to persuade the student to spend time on an unpleasant and difficult activity rather than a multitude of readily available pleasant activities.

The REAL Cause of Reading Difficulty

One or more of the reasons mentioned previously will apply to almost every student. There is only one hindrance to learning that affects every student, however. Amazingly, it is the primary reason that learning to read is so difficult, and you almost never hear it mentioned as a cause of reading difficulty: the spelling of words. English spelling is illogical, inconsistent, chaotic, and is by far the most difficult-to-learn spelling of any language. There are 1768 ways of spelling 40 phonemes (the smallest sound used to distinguish between syllables and words). Only 40 are needed — one each. There are no spelling rules in English that do not have exceptions. Some of the exceptions even have exceptions! A computer programmed with all of the spelling rules was able to correctly spell only about half of a list of 17,000 common English words. As a result, the only way to learn to read English is to learn each word in your reading vocabulary one-at-a-time by rote memory or by repeated use of the word. As adult readers, our eyes glide easily over a large number of traps for beginning readers. Most of us learned to read as children and do not think about the spelling until we have to look up a word in the dictionary.

Speaking of dictionaries: a large part of the problem with English spelling is the fact that Dr. Samuel Johnson made a serious linguistic mistake when he prepared the first widely-accepted English dictionary. Instead of freezing the spelling of phonemes — as an alphabetic language should be spelled — he froze the spelling of words. In 1755 when his dictionary was published, the English language was a conglomeration of the words from eight different languages: the original Celtic and the language of every conqueror who had occupied England up to that time — Norse, Icelandic, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, German, Danish, and French. When choosing the spelling of each word in the dictionary, in most cases he spelled the word as he thought it was spelled in the language of origin — and sometimes he was mistaken. He did this so that the origin of the words could be traced.

As you know, the pronunciation of many words changes with time, so what was bad in 1755 became increasingly worse. Henry Hitchings book, The Secret Life of Words, published in 2008, states that the English language now has words (and usually their spelling) adopted from 350 languages!

How Long Does It — and Should It — take to Learn to Read?

Dr. Frank Laubach went all around the world teaching adults to read in well over 300 alphabetical languages. He found that in 95% of these languages he could teach students to read fluently in from one to twenty days. In some of the simplest languages, such as one or more dialects of the Philippine language, he could teach adults to read in one hour! He found that in 98% of the languages, he could teach students to read in less than three months. Although our familiarity with English makes this seem amazing, you are challenged to see the facts for yourself in his books, Teaching the World to Read and Forty Years With the Silent Billion. In these books he never mentions being unable to teach a student to read. In present day America, most students who learn to read require more than two years, and almost half of American students do not learn to read! At present, 48.7% of U.S. adults are functionally illiterate; they can read a thousand or so simple words they learned by sight in the first three grades in school but they cannot read and write well enough to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job.

The reason learning to read English is difficult is NOT due to the difficulty of the English language itself. The grammar and syntax of English is neither among the easiest nor among the most difficult. The grammar and syntax of English is easier, for example, than many of the languages in Europe. The students in every one of these languages can be taught to read in less than three months.

Solve Problems or Merely Fight the Symptoms of Problems?

As a result of the difficulty of learning to read being due to the spelling, which is not being corrected and thereby SOLVING the problem, all present attempts at teaching reading are nothing more than fighting the symptoms of the problem. This is like taking aspirin, decongestants, and cough medicine to fight the symptoms of pneumonia instead of taking antibiotics to cure the pneumonia. If you think this is an exaggeration, please take a stroll down the aisles of any large research library and look at the hundreds of books on teaching English reading and compare with the number of books on any other subject in elementary school. The 1960 Encyclopedia of Educational Research devoted 151 pages to reading research, but only two to five pages to each of the other subjects. Since there have been no changes in the teaching of reading which have made a statistically significant improvement, that same proportion of reading research to research in other subjects is undoubtedly still true today.

The Reason the Two News Reports are Confusing

Here is the most simple and logical explanation for the contradictions in the newspaper articles at the start of this blog. As you know, we human beings not only have the ability to do as we please (within the constraints of our surroundings and our physical limitations, of course), we also have the ability to believe as we please. As a result — in most cases — people will believe what they want to believe until they see proof — that they cannot continue to ignore — that their belief is wrong. You have probably had the same experience that I have had. In an argument, you prove to someone that your argument is correct. You see that person a couple of days later and he or she says, “There must have been something wrong in that argument, I still believe. . . . (and they repeat what they said during the argument).” People do not want to believe that what they learned as a child — or even something that they merely assumed at any time in their life — is wrong. As you know, people absolutely detest being wrong. People want to believe that, although most American schools may be poor or fair, their child’s school is doing a good job. They want to believe that their child’s teacher is doing a good job because they want their child to succeed in life. They want to believe that their child is smart and will do well if properly motivated. They tend to blame themselves for not properly motivating their child because they are so “busy.” They don’t have time or don’t know how to help their child with their homework, for example, as they feel that they should.

A similar explanation is true for English literacy, in general. People want to be able to read. Those who can read do not want to believe that a shockingly large percentage of their fellow Americans are illiterate because they do not know what to do about it. They want to believe that our political and educational leaders are making the right decisions about how to improve education. Parents are busy “making a living” and having as much fun as they can when they are not working. They do not know how to solve educational problems and furthermore they do not believe it is their job to do so. Everyone has their own narrow field of expertise and they feel perfectly justified in leaving such educational problems to the “experts,” not realizing that the “experts” are also “busy” and do not want to make the effort needed to change the status quo — even for the better.

Until such time as people learn that illiteracy is a devastating problem to illiterates and have a little compassion for their pain and suffering, and until such time as people learn that illiteracy is costing each of us — reader and non-reader alike — thousands of dollars each year and is definitely harming our nation and our relationship with other nations, the problem will continue to grow worse. We have already slipped several ranks lower in economic and educational values. Our survival as the leading nation in our world may soon come to an end if we do not make a good education a possibility for all Americans, not just slightly less than half of them, as is presently the case. And the foundation of a good education is the ability to read.

Do Not Miss This!

Here is a very important concept for you to ponder. A little thought will reveal that it is quite obviously true, but in our daily activities we often respond in a certain way because we unthinkingly believe it is NOT true: Something is not true just because we believe it (the earth has never been flat even though almost everyone believed it was at one time). Something is not untrue just because we believe it is untrue. What do people want to believe? They obviously want to believe that what they believe is true — because they do not want to be wrong. But whether or not something is true depends upon the provable facts of the matter.

Whether you believe this or not, the book Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, Revised Edition can definitely and permanently solve our very real literacy crisis. If you think that is too bold a claim, you are challenged to prove to yourself whether or not there is a literacy crisis. If you believe and act upon the recommendations of this book, over 600 million English-speaking functional illiterates around the world (including more than 93 million in the U.S. alone) will be eternally grateful to you. Even if you do not believe the overall conclusion and do not take any action, you will undoubtedly find information that will be of more value to you than the price of the book. Our ending functional illiteracy in English website has an even later version of this award-winning 265-page book available as and e-book at no cost or obligation of any kind in the left-hand column of the website. This website gives a very good introduction to our humanitarian project of ending illiteracy. It lists five brief statements of the problem and six brief statements of the solution which can be read in six minutes. Each of the statements are proven by clicking “Read More” after each statement. If you are not in the mood to read for six minutes, click “Media Page” near the topf of the left-hand column.

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What Happens When You Disagree?

This is an important question; it affects all of us: What do you do when you encounter an idea with which you initially disagree? If you are like most of us who are busy and encounter problem-solving ideas we are not familiar with, you may have a strong tendency to make a snap judgement. You may disagree with the idea and do not want to investigate any further. Consider the reason why it is important not to dismiss ideas that we disagree with: As any thinking person knows, the fact that we disagree with something does NOT make it a bad idea. The idea may, in fact, be a proven solution to a very serious problem!

You may have difficulty believing that there is a serious problem with functional illiteracy in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries. After all, you are reading this, and as far as you know nearly all of your friends, relatives, and associates can read. Therefore when you realize that this blog advocates spelling reform to solve a literacy crisis — that you are not sure even exists — you may believe it is an unnecessary complication to your life. You know how to read and do not want to have to learn a new spelling system.

If you have read this far, you may have thought of objections to changing our spelling system. The simple facts about the difficulty of learning to read English are proven on the end functional illiteracy in English website. For the sake of an estimated 600 hundred million English-speaking functional illiterates around the world you are challenged to read and understand these provable facts. For more authoritative and comprehensive information you are urged to find out how we can definitely and permanently end our provably serious literacy crisis.

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Does It Matter?

Does it matter that I just completed work on an authoritative new End English Functional Illiteracy Now website describing the serious problem of English functional illiteracy and a proven way to end it? Does it matter to you that almost half of U.S. adults cannot read and write well enough to hold a job that earns enough to support themselves? Chances are good that you do not believe that. Does that matter? No.

What we believe does not change the truth. At one time almost everyone in the world believed that the earth was flat. Did that belief keep the world from being a sphere? All human beings can choose to believe or disbelieve anything we wish. We are made that way. Sometimes we see proof that what we believe is not true. We do not like being wrong, so sometimes the proof is not enough. Have you ever had the experience of proving something to someone you are arguing with and seeing them a couple of days later, and they say, “There must be something wrong with that argument. I still believe. . . .“? Then they repeat what they believed before you showed them the proof.

Sometimes we must see the proof over and over in such a way that we cannot continue to hold onto our wrong belief. Human beings passionately dislike being wrong. Sometimes we have wrong beliefs because we will not take the time to honestly look at proof of something we do not want to believe. We do not want to believe that huge numbers of our fellow Americans are having really serious problems because they are illiterate. There are many people who claim to be compassionate about fellow Americans who are in poverty. A far smaller number of people ever do anything about it.

Many of us say, correctly, that we just barely make enough money to support ourselves at the level to which we have become accustomed. Many celebrities earn much more than enough to help many people in poverty. But most of them don’t. Most of them do not even investigate enough to learn that functional illiterates are more than twice as likely to be in poverty because of their illiteracy as for all other causes combined. Even if they are aware of that fact, most of them are too busy and too self-important to do anything about it.

IF you are truly compassionate about the suffering of an estimated 600 hundred million English-speaking people around the world who are functionally illiterate in English (more than 93 million in the U.S. alone) you are challenged to read the report titled Adult Literacy in America, available for free download from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs93/93275.pdf and see the calculations using the data from that report on page “2. Extent of the Problem” on my new http://LearnToReadNow.org website. Page “3. Why We Do Not See the Extent of the Problem” on my website explains why we may not believe the problem as serious as it really is.

IF you think that there may be lots of illiterates in the U.S., but the problems they face are really not all that bad, you are challenged to read page “4. The Seriousness of the Problem” on my new blog. IF you do not think that changing the spelling is really necessary or will really solve the problem, you are challenged to read pages “5. English Spelling Confuses Everyone,” “6. The Solution in a Nutshell,” and “8. Characteristics of NuEnglish” on my new website.

IF you read the pages mentioned in the two previous paragraphs and IF you are at least a little compassionate, you will want to help. Read page “10. Learn to Read Now!” on my new website and teach a functional illiterate to read and/or post a comment at the end of that page with nothing more than the next number in sequence, your full name, and your city and state, which will put you on a petition to educational and political authorities that you want NuEnglish taught in at least some of the kindergartens in your area as a very worthwhile trial.

I know — we are all busy. We all have our priorities: our relationship with God, our family, our job, and our hobbies and entertainment — not necessarily in that order, of course. But honestly now, couldn’t we do something out of compassion for our fellowman instead of one or two of the thirty minute TV programs we had planned to watch?

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The Only Proven Solution to Our Educational Problems

Before I begin, there are two problems in reading this blog. Problem one: You may have doubts that some unknown (non-celebrity) blogger can really present a proven solution to the serious U.S. educational problems. Your curiosity may keep you reading just long enough to confirm your suspicion in this age that many have called “The Age of Skepticism.” Can you spare 12 minutes from your busy schedule for something of importance to at least 600 million English-speaking people — including yourself? That is how long it will take to read this entire blog. Problem two: You may think that even if this blog does present a proven solution to the problem, you personally cannot do anything to help solve the problem. Like many other people, you may believe that it is not your problem — you believe it should be (and hopefully will be) solved by the “experts:” the educational and political authorities.

Despite these problems — whether or not you believe it — here are the facts. Dr. Frank Charles Laubach spent almost his entire adult life teaching thousands of adult illiterates around the world how to read. He taught in more than 300 alphabetic languages other than English. He prepared reading primers in 313 languages and even invented spelling systems for 220 languages that were unwritten. His books, Teaching the World to Read and Forty Years With the Silent Billion, document a truly amazing fact about the languages in which he taught. He was able to teach adults to read fluently in from one to twenty days in 95% of the languages and in less than three months in 98% of the languages! His books never mention being unable to teach any of his students to read fluently.

Dr. Laubach was able quickly to teach his students to read fluently because 98% of these languages had an almost perfect phonemic spelling system. A perfect spelling system has only one grapheme for each phoneme. In alphabetic languages, a grapheme is a letter or digraph (two letters) that represents a phoneme, syllable or word. A phoneme is the smallest sound used to distinguish between syllables or words in a language or dialect.

Teachers will tell you that reading is the foundation of nearly all learning. Students need fluent reading ability for class work, homework, and testing in almost every subject. Why then do almost half of Americans never become fluent readers? Analysis of a report released by the U.S. Department of Education in April 2002 titled Adult Literacy in America proves this is true — and the follow-up report released in 2006 confirms it. The answer is very simple: English is not an alphabetic language. English is more like Chinese writing that uses specific shapes in specific positions to represent a word. English uses a specific combination of letters in a specific order to represent a word.

Apologists for the present method of teaching reading will tell you that most English words are phonemic. That is true only if you allow more than one spelling of the phonemes. Some apologists will even go to the extreme of calling English “a beautiful language” and will defend our “mother tongue” against all attacks — despite the difficulty that beginning readers and especially immigrants have in learning to read. The truth is that if each of the 38 English phonemes that are needed to learn to read are allowed only ONE specific spelling, only about 20% of English words are phonemic. More than one spelling of the phonemes requires a huge amount of memorization when some of the phonemes can be spelled in as many as more than 60 ways and the spelling of each phoneme varies from one word to the next.

The problem is that there is absolutely no way of knowing which words are phonemic and which are not (other than memorizing 20% of about two million English words). It is easier just to learn to recognize, by sight, the spelling of every word in your reading vocabulary — which is EXACTLY what every reader of English MUST do! Almost every American can read about a thousand simple words they learn by memory in the first three grades in school. In order to be a fluent reader, however, one must be able to recognize the spelling of 20,000 words or more. Many fluent readers have reading vocabularies of more than 70,000 English words. Recognizing a word by its spelling and its context is much easier than remembering that spelling when trying to write the word.

Professor Julius Nyikos of Washington and Jefferson College did an extensive study* of six standard desk dictionaries. He found 1,768 ways of spelling 40 phonemes! If he had used unabridged dictionaries he would have undoubtedly found even more. Other apologists for our present spelling will say that you can learn to read using spelling rules. The truth is that there is not even ONE spelling rule that does not have exceptions. Some of the exceptions even have exceptions! A computer programmed** with 203 English spelling rules was able correctly to spell only 49% of a list of 17,000 common English words. Can we honestly expect the average human to do better?

Adding to the difficulty of learning to read is the fact that English has more consonant clusters than many other languages. English spelling has consonant cluster of two or three letters. As a result there are sixteen different patterns for spelling syllables: (C = consonant phoneme, V = vowel phoneme): CV, CCV, CCCV, CVC, CCVC, CCCVC, CVCC, CVCCC, CCVCC, CCVCCC, CCCVCCC, CCCVCC, VCCC, VCC, VC, and V. There are five consonant phonemes spelled with digraphs (CH, SH, TH, ZH, and NG) and the TH grapheme represents two different phonemes (as in thin and then). In addition, each vowel phoneme can be spelled with as many as FIVE letters. (There are at least four vowel phonemes spelled with five letters. The most familiar is the word weighed, in which the letters EIGHE all represent the same vowel phoneme as in the word wade.) Each syllable in a word can have any one of these patterns. Most English words have two or more syllables. If each vowel and each consonant in these syllables always represented the same sound (one-to-one mapping, an “equivalence” relationship), there would be nothing in the logic of these syllables that would be beyond the abilities of most four- or five-year-olds, but they do not.

English spelling also has one-to-one mapping where one phoneme is represented by one digraph — since there are not enough letters to represent all of the phonemes. Almost half of English phonemes are represented by digraphs. In traditional English spelling there are also three-, four-, and even five-letter graphemes representing a single phoneme. More than half of all English phonemes are spelled with graphemes of two or more letters. But the real confusion comes since there is also one-to-many and many-to-one mapping, i.e., one phoneme is represented by many different graphemes (for spelling), and one grapheme represents many phonemes (for reading). This requires a type of logic that most children do not develop until they are eleven or twelve years old.

There are two types of logic required for one-to-many and many-to-one mapping. Type One is the logic of “classes,” categories where objects or events that are similar are grouped together, and “relations” (where objects share some features but not all features, e.g., all poodles are dogs, but all dogs are not poodles). Type Two is “propositional logic,” which involves combining both the classes and relations types of logic. This requires the ability to think of the same item in more than one combination at the same time. These combinations require the use of relational terms such as “and,” “or,” “not,” “if-then,” and “if and only if” in formal statements of propositional logic. One example of the problem of digraphs can be stated as: If an h follows the letter t, then say /th/ (thin) or /th/ (then); but if any other letter or no letter follows the letter t, then say /t/ (top, ant).

It is usually a waste of time to try to get students less than about twelve years old to understand the logic — they just have to be helped to memorize (or learn by repetition) the spelling of new words. We do not realize the difficulty of learning to read English — especially when compared to languages with a phonemic spelling system — because most of us learned to read as a child and have long since forgotten (or proudly dismiss) the difficulty. Our eyes skip easily over a multitude of traps for beginning readers.

Based upon his many years of teaching students of phonemic languages to read fluently, Dr. Laubach stated on page 48 of his book Forty Years With the Silent Billion, “If we spelled English phonetically, American children could be taught to read in a week.” Although present educational and political authorities may have a financial interest in believing that this is overly optimistic, it would be a mistake to discount Dr. Laubach’s findings and his advice. With our present inconsistent and illogical spelling, most U.S. students require at least two years to become fluent readers — and almost half of the students never become fluent readers. Statistics prove that almost half of adults never read an entire book after they leave school. If English spelling were as simple and logical as most other languages, the better students could learn to read in one week and all but the most mentally challenged students could learn to read in less than three months — for many (if not most) students, much less than three months.

Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and NuEnglish, Inc., two non-profit educational corporations, have developed and perfected a perfect phonemic spelling system such as Dr. Laubach recommended. It is a spelling system called NuEnglish, which has ten beneficial characteristics that no other known proposed spelling system can claim. Adoption of this spelling system is the only proven way permanently to end English functional illiteracy. More than 93 million adult Americans can read only about a thousand simple words they learned in the first three grades in school. They read so poorly that they do not like to read and seldom attempt to do so. They read so poorly that they cannot hold an above-poverty-level-wage job. Although they can read about a thousand words, they are functionally illiterate. Along with an estimated 500 million English-speaking adults around the world who are also functionally illiterate in English, they desperately need our help to avoid the problems, pain, and suffering their illiteracy causes — at least 34 different types of serious physical, mental, emotional, medical, and financial problem that we would consider a crisis if we had to endure them. Our end English functional illiteracy website gives the details of the problem, proving that 48.7% of U.S. adults are functionally illiterate, proving that 31.2% of these functional illiterates are in poverty, and proving that they are more than twice as likely to be in poverty because of their illiteracy as for all other reasons combined. Our website also explains the details of how functional illiteracy causes serious problems not only for the illiterates but also for every other U.S. citizen and for our nation.

When you learned that we are proposing spelling reform, you may have thought of one or two reasons why we should not change the spelling. Numerous respected scholars, however, have thoroughly debunked every reasonable objection to spelling reform — not only in the last few years but even as far back as 1909, when Thomas Lounsbury, LL.D., L.H.D., professor emeritus of English at Yale University wrote his book, English Spelling and Spelling Reform. Dr. Lounsbury presented a devastating attack against our present English spelling and against objections to spelling reform. In 1909, however — unlike today, there were a multitude of manual labor jobs that did not require literacy. Furthermore, Dr. Lounsbury harmed his cause by not proposing a specific spelling system.

Numerous scholars have also presented details of the benefits of making the spelling of our words as easy to learn as those of other languages. It does not take a genius to know that it is much easier to learn the spelling of 38 phonemes — and how to blend them into words — than to memorize the spelling of twenty thousand words. By learning to read quickly, English-speaking students can — at long last — compete with students in other languages by studying most subjects about two years earlier. The award-winning breakthrough book, Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, Second Revision, which is available at no cost or obligation on our end English functional illiteracy website (at the bottom of the left-hand column), lists the disproven objections to spelling reform and lists the benefits of making our spelling consistent and logical.

There are roughly 600 million people around the world hoping you can help them escape from English functional illiteracy. If you consider yourself to be a compassionate person, all you need to do to begin the process of ending illiteracy in English is to help publicize the solution to their illiteracy. I have been passionately working on this problem for 27 years, and I KNOW — as an absolute fact — that what I am proposing will not only solve the problem but will also be much easier than you or almost anyone else may believe — until the facts are honestly evaluated. As a result, I am humbly asking that you tell at least three people about this blog who have not seen it yet. When enough people know the seriousness of the problem and how easy the solution will really be, the problem will be solved. To believe otherwise is to underestimate the human will to help ourselves, despite all the naysayers and all those who oppose change — even change for the better.

* Nyikos, Julian, “A Linguistic Perspective of Functional Illiteracy,” The Fourteenth LACUS Forum 1987 (Lake Bluff, Illinois: Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States, 1988), pp. 146-163.

** Hanna, Paul R., et. al. Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence as Cues to Spelling Improvement. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Office of Education, 1966.

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We Are Drowning in Books!

You may think this is just another blog about a book. Big deal, you say, there are 175,000 different books published every year. We are drowning in books! A very large portion of the new books, however, are good for entertainment value only. Many of the non-fiction books provide information that is of value only if the information provided is something of personal interest to you, but an important question concerning any book is: does this book have what may be called “socially redeeming value?”

Without carefully, honestly examining the end English functional illiteracy website, you may not be aware of the immense socially redeeming value of the prize-winning, breakthrough book, Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis. The website provides a good overview of the humanitarian project for ending illiteracy proposed by Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and NuEnglish, Inc., two non-profit educational corporations. The problem of English functional illiteracy is very much worse than the vast majority of Americans realize. English functional illiteracy not only causes serious physical, mental, emotional, medical, and financial problems for illiterates (problems that we would consider a crisis if we had to endure them), but also costs every American — reader and non-reader alike — well over $5,000 each year for government programs that illiterates use; for truancy, juvenile delinquency, and crime directly related to illiteracy; and for the higher cost of consumer goods due to the higher costs of recruiting and training employees and the cost of preventing and correcting the mistakes and inabilities of illiterate workers.

The much more comprehensive and authoritative information in Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis may be needed by most readers to overcome the tendency to “leave it to the experts” — the educational and political authorities. An honest look at the educational history of teaching reading in the U.S. proves that absolutely nothing done in the last ninety years or more has made any overall statistically significant improvement in the success of teaching American students in public schools to read fluently. As a result of my passion to — at long last — solve the serious problem of English functional illiteracy, the website also has a link where you can download a .pdf version of the latest revision of the book at no cost or obligation.

Unless the teaching of reading becomes as easy as it is in other nations, as our proposal will definitely accomplish, our educational system will continue to flounder. Our students will continue to score near the bottom in international scholastic competition. Almost half of U.S. adults will be unable to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job. We will continue to personally spend over $5,000 each every year, and many of our best jobs will continue to be outsourced to other, more literate nations. Accept the challenge to discover the truth about English functional illiteracy for yourself. An estimated 600 million English functional illiterates around the world — more than 93 million in the U.S. alone — are hoping that you will.

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Misleading “Conventional Wisdom”

Conventional wisdom is anything that a very large portion of the people in a certain area believe. Conventional wisdom may or may not be true. At one time almost everyone on earth believed that the world was flat! At present in the U.S., it is conventional wisdom that our educational and political leaders are making the best choices possible in teaching our children how to read. We believe this because we want to believe it, because we do not know what should be done differently, and because most of us do not have the time or the knowledge to do anything other than leave it to the “experts” — in the same way that we leave complicated home repairs to the “experts.”

There is one almost universal characteristic of the educational and political experts, however. They act in accordance with what they learned in teachers’ colleges or law school — they do not often “think outside the box.” As you well know, educational and political leaders almost never push revolutionary ideas. They are afraid their constituents will object to something that is too different. They usually accept revolutionary ideas only when they are pushed into them by angry voters.

Whether it is conventional knowledge for you or not, English functional illiteracy is a very serious problem. The most accurate definition of functional illiteracy is the inability to read and write well enough to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job. Almost all U.S. adults can read a thousand or so simple words they learned by sight in the first three grades in school, but if that is all they can read they are functionally illiterate.

Fully 48.7% of U.S. adults are functionally illiterate. Furthermore, 31.2% of these functional illiterates are in poverty, and they are more than twice as likely to be in poverty because of their illiteracy as for all other reasons combined. If you find that hard to believe, you are challenged to investigate our end English functional illiteracy website to see the proof and to see the revolutionary change necessary to solve the problem. You will find why this is true and why we do not see this level of illiteracy and poverty. This revolutionary change is needed because absolutely nothing done in the last 90 years has made an overall statistically significant improvement in the English literacy rate. Most importantly, you will find the proven way of permanently ending what is truly a literacy crisis.

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Why Has There Been So Little Improvement in Teaching Reading?

When people understand the seriousness of the literacy problem, they may be baffled that we have made so little progress in teaching students to read English. Basically, the reason is that too few people realize:

  • the extent of English functional illiteracy in the U.S. and in other nations,
  • the financial and human suffering cost of illiteracy,
  • the great difficulty in learning to read English compared to other languages,
  • the near impossibility of solving the literacy problem using the standard means taught in teachers’ colleges: absolutely nothing done since 1755 — when the spelling of words was “frozen” with the issuance of Dr. Samuel Johnson’s dictionary — has made any overall statistically significant improvement in the teaching of reading,
  • the vast increase in the need for literacy in our complex society: in the past many manual labor jobs could be done without knowing how to read; today extremely few occupations can be performed successfully without being able to read fluently, and
  • how easy it will be to learn to read using the proposal of Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and NuEnglish, Inc., two non-profit educational corporations, for ending English functional illiteracy.

Here is the way to get the details of our proposal in a very authoritative and comprehensive explanation of the facts needed for ending our very real literacy crisis.

posted by in cause of illiteracy,cost of illiteracy,education,end English functional illiteracy,ending illiteracy,learn to read,literacy,reading education,seriousness of illiteracy,teaching fluent reading,teaching reading,U.S. literacy,world literacy and have No Comments