Reading Education: A Serious Problem YOU Can Help End

This is about an idea so big that small-minded people do not want even to consider it. This is a challenge to you, dear reader: please do not be small-minded — or close-minded. There is a serious illiteracy problem affecting all 1.4 billion English-speaking people around the world — and there is only one proven solution. This article will prove it to anyone willing honestly to mentally engage with the facts presented. Whether you know it or not — whether you believe it or not — the problem explained here has varying degrees of negative effects on every English-speaking person around the world.

To help you understand, I need to use an analogy. I feel like the medical doctor who has a patient with a serious, eventually fatal medical problem for which he has treated the symptoms with an expensive home-remedy for several years. After offering to explain the simple medical solution to his illness, he only wants to know the cost of the cure. I explain the cost of the cure. I explain that his home-remedy fights the symptoms but will never cure the disease – similar to taking cough and pain medicine and decongestants instead of antibiotics to cure pneumonia. He decides that he will continue with his home-remedy because the cost of the cure is almost the cost of three months of his home-remedy.

This is a very close description of what is happening in reading education. We have been fighting the symptoms of the problem in reading education since 1755, and for various reasons only a very tiny proportion of scholars will honestly examine the problem. It is really disturbing to see the enormous amount of time and money and the multiple thousands of teachers, parents, and literacy volunteers fighting the symptoms of reading education in this country — when the solution is so simple, easy, and quick (less than three months for learners). Half-measures may reduce the symptoms suffered by some of the students, one-at-a-time, but they are not doing what is needed to help everyone at once by solving the problem.

The problem:  it is difficult to learn to read English (as explained below).

The symptoms of the problem:

  1. Almost half of English-speaking students in America (and presumably an equally disturbing number of students in other English-speaking countries) never become fluent readers in English. Almost every U.S. adult can read at least a thousand simple words learned in the first three or four years in school, but they cannot read well enough to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job (as proven below). They do not like to read and seldom try to read. Statistics show that almost half of U.S. adults never read an entire book after leaving school.
  2. Most of those who do become fluent readers need at least two years learning to read well enough that they can continue to improve their reading skills after reading instruction in school ends. Most reading instruction in U.S. schools (other than remedial reading) ends after third or fourth grade. As a result, as teachers who are familiar with teaching reading to students in other countries know and as members of some “think tanks” such as The American Enterprise Institute know, American students are about two years behind the students of the same age in other industrialized nations.
  3. Information in following sections proves the seriousness of the symptoms.

 The first step in solving any problem: find what is causing the problem. You can spend an enormous amount of time and money fighting the symptoms of a problem. If you do not solve the problem, however, it continues to occur — undiminished (often increasing) in intensity.

 Proof that Learning to Read English is difficult:

The English spelling system is NOT a logical alphabetic spelling system. English spelling is more like Chinese writing in which specific shapes in specific positions represent a word. English spelling uses a specific combination of letters in a specific order to represent a word. This came about in 1755 with the publication of Dr. Samuel Johnson’s well-received dictionary. Dr. Johnson, in effect, froze the spelling of words instead of freezing the spelling of phonemes (the smallest sound used to distinguish between syllables and words in a language or dialect), as a logical alphabetic spelling system is designed to do. In most cases, Dr. Johnson used the words as they were spelled in their language of origin. Words were added to the original Celtic from the languages of every conqueror who occupied the British Isles: Norse, Icelandic, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, German, Danish, and French. Since 1755, as explained in Henry Hitchings book, The Secret Life of Words, the English language has adopted words (and usually their spelling) from 350 additional languages.

A logical alphabetic spelling system should have a one-to-one correspondence of phonemes and graphemes (a grapheme is a letter or a specific combination of letters used to represent a phoneme). To read English, a student must only learn to spell 38 phonemes and learn how to blend them into words. There are 26 letters in our alphabet, so we could spell our phonemes with 26 single-letter graphemes and 12 two-letter graphemes. Instead, in addition to 26 single-letter graphemes, present English spelling uses at least the following: 184 two-letter graphemes, 131 three-letter graphemes, 22 four-letter graphemes, and four five-letter graphemes, for a total of 367 graphemes — when only 38 are needed! When more graphemes are used than are needed, that means that many of the graphemes represent more than one phoneme each. In fact, only five single-letter graphemes (B, K, P, R, and V) have only one pronunciation each. The other graphemes (of any length) have from one to eight pronunciations each. Adding to the confusion, however, all but six of the single-letter graphemes (H, Q, U, W, X, and Y) are doubled in some words and not in others — with no reliable way of knowing which is which. Also, all 26 of the letters in present spelling are silent in some words (reAd, deBt, sCent, velDt, havE, halFpenny, siGn, rHyme, busIness, riJsttafel, Knot, taLk, Mnemonic, autumN, sophOmore, rasPberry, lacQuer, suRprise, aiSle, depoT, bUilt, savVy, Write, fauX pas, maYor, and rendeZvous) with no reliable way of knowing if a letter is silent or not. Also, some English words do not spell all of the sounds in the spoken word or the graphemes do not show the proper order in which the phonemes are to be pronounced.

 For Reading: The student or writer must know the pronunciation of as many as 367 graphemes — with an average of 2.2 pronunciations each — by memory, for each individual word, because the phoneme that a grapheme represents can (and often does) change from one word to the next. Individual graphemes represent as many as eight different phonemes.

 For Spelling: The student must remember which graphemes — and in which order they occur — for each individual word. This is even more difficult than reading because the spelling of each phoneme varies from only (!) four spellings for two of the phonemes (H as in hat and TH as in then) to sixty or more for the U phoneme as in nut! Professor Julius Nyikos of Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania studied six standard dictionaries and found 1,768 ways of spelling 40 English phonemes — an average of 44 spellings each! Furthermore, no one can learn to read using English spelling rules. There is not even one spelling rule that does not have exceptions – and some of the exceptions even have exceptions! A computer programmed with 203 English spelling rules was able correctly to spell only 49 percent of a list of 17,000 common English words. Most adults cannot do as well.

After reading this you may say, “So what? I learned to read.” Here is the “So what:” hundreds of millions of English-speaking people do not. Does that bother you? It should. Their illiteracy costs you and me money and negatively affects each of us — and our nation — in numerous ways that you have probably never considered.

 Proof That a Phonemic Spelling System Will SOLVE the Problem:

Dr. Frank Laubach spent more than forty years going all around the world teaching thousands of adults in more than 300 alphabetic languages (other than English) to read fluently. He prepared primers for 313 languages and even invented spelling systems for 220 unwritten languages. Here is the proof: His books, Teaching the World to Read and Forty Years With the Silent Billion, never mentions even one student that he was not able to teach to read fluently. Dr. Laubach was able unfailingly to teach students to read fluently in from one to twenty days (!) in 95 percent of the languages and in less than three months in 98 percent of the languages! He was able to do this because the languages in which he taught were almost perfect, phonemically — a one-phoneme-to-one-grapheme correspondence. Confirmation of Dr. Laubach’s findings is given by comparison to the amazing findings of Dr. Rudolph Flesch. He stated on pages 167-168 of his 1981 book, Why Johnny Still Can’t Read, that Russian schoolchildren are taught to read 46 of the 130 national languages of Russia — in first grade! There is no reading instruction, as such, after first grade.

The difficulty of learning to read English is NOT because of the difficulty of the language itself, however. The English language is neither among the easiest nor among the most difficult. Axel Wijk states on pages 56-57 of Alphabets for English, edited by W. Haas, that English is a comparatively easy language to learn for foreigners, “… mainly due to its grammatical structure, which is far simpler that those of most other important languages, particularly so in comparison with French, German, Russian, or Spanish.” Sir James Pitman states on page 264 of his book, Alphabets and Reading, “No other major language possesses such a simple grammar and syntax or combines the following advantages: . . .” The first two of the eight advantages he lists, for example, are: there are no arbitrary genders and agreement between adjectives and nouns is unnecessary. The grammar and syntax of English is easier than that of many European languages, for example. In most European languages, students learn to read fluently in less than three months.

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.” All those resisting change may insist that we prove it on several thousand American children in a public school. Those objecting to a proven solution are effectively trying to “reinvent the wheel.” Dr. Laubach has quite adequately proven that phonemic spelling systems are easy to learn, and it would be a huge mistake to continue expending enormous amounts of time and money when the solution has already been proven. Education researchers may want to do additional research. The reason is obvious. They will be receiving the work and the money spent on the research. Jonathan Kozol, in his book, Illiterate America, asks the obvious question about ending illiteracy, “Why should we spend additional time and money on research when the researchers will only be confirming what we already know?”

 Proof That English Spelling Causes Serious Problems:

An analysis of the Adult Literacy in America report and a 2006 follow-up report prove the shocking extent * of functional illiteracy in English. (All asterisks in this article refer to the “Read More” pages in a website that has a link in the last paragraph of this article.) The Adult Literacy in America report — from a five-year, $14 million study — is the most statistically accurate and comprehensive study of U.S. adult literacy ever commissioned by the U.S. government. The Adult Literacy in America study involved lengthy interviews of 26,049 adults statistically chosen by age, gender, ethnicity, and location (urban, suburban, and rural locations in twelve states across the U.S. and included 1,100 prisoners from 80 prisons) to represent the entire U.S. population. These documents prove that 48.7 percent of U.S. adults are functionally illiterate (defined as being unable to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job), proves that 31.2 percent of these illiterates are in poverty, and proves that they are more than twice as likely to be in poverty because of their illiteracy as for all other reasons combined. The inability to hold a good job is the most accurate and reliable indicator of illiteracy because employers have a very strong financial interest in accurately determining a person’s ability to read and write to make sure that they will be a profitable employee. All other methods are susceptible to unintentional (or even intentional) inaccuracies because of the size, time period, and subjects of the data base used and because of the data handling, calculation, and verification methods used.

Jonathan Kozol’s shocking book, Illiterate America, proves the seriousness of the problem. Kozol describes the serious physical, mental, emotional, medical, and financial problems that illiterates must endure every day of their lives, problems that we would consider a crisis if we had to endure them. Functional illiterates cannot read well enough to perform many of the simple daily tasks needed to thrive in our present complex, technologically challenging life — tasks that those of us who are literate take for granted. An informative website about ending illiteracy in English summarizes the seriousness * of the problem of illiteracy.

In addition to the seriousness for illiterates, illiteracy costs every U.S. Adult — both reader and non-reader — an average of more than $5,000 each year. This cost is (1) for government programs that illiterates use (for example: job training, unemployment payments, welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid), (2) for truancy, juvenile delinquency, and crime directly related to illiteracy, and (3) for the higher cost of consumer goods (about $2,200 of that $5,000) because of illiterates in the labor pool (necessitating higher recruiting costs) and in the workplace. You and I both know that if the first two items were eliminated, our taxes would not decrease — the government would find somewhere else to spend the money — but at least that particular waste of money would be gone.

This pales in comparison, however, to the cost of at least two years of public education wasted by the additional time required to learn to read. The English Spelling Society on their www.englishspellingsociety.org website claims that our present spelling requires an average of three years longer to learn than if our words were spelled phonemically. The 2008-2009 cost, per pupil, (the latest available figures) for public elementary and secondary education in the U.S. is $12,643. For the millions of U.S. students, this amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars wasted. You and I both know that if our spelling was perfected, that expenditure would not stop. Instead, English-speaking students would attend school the same number of years, but they would finally be able to compete with students of the same age in non-English-speaking industrialized nations.

The (often-unrecognized) illiterates among us adversely affect our entire nation. Illiterates not only cause large expenditures for their needs, but also their inabilities harm the trade balance with other nations, and result in outsourcing and many other causes of American jobs being sent overseas as explained by Thomas Friedman’s book, The Earth is Flat.

 The Solution to Illiteracy in English:

Based upon Dr. Laubach’s experience, what English-speaking people need is English spelled phonemically. A spelling system known as NuEnglish is phonemically perfect: a one-grapheme-to-one-phoneme correspondence. It has ten beneficial characteristics * that correct all the problems in present spelling. No other known spelling system proposed from the late 1800s to the present has all — or even most — of these beneficial characteristics.

Most people want to know the “cost of the cure” as mentioned in the second paragraph of this article. When people learn the cost of the cure is spelling reform, they may think the cost is too high. This is only until they learn these thirteen important, provable facts:

  1. At present, only slightly more than half of the students become fluent readers. Most of those who become fluent need at least two years to learn to read well enough to be able to keep increasing their reading vocabulary until they become fluent readers.
  2. Learning to read a phonemically perfect spelling system will be extremely easy. Present readers can learn the ten simple NuEnglish spelling rules in less than ten minutes and read NuEnglish at almost the same rate as they read present English spelling. Persons attempting to read NuEnglish material — even before learning the spelling system — were able to read aloud with only an occasional two- or three-second stumble over some of the words. Present readers can easily return to present reading rates with a couple of months of experience in reading NuEnglish.
  3. With proper instruction, the better beginning readers will be able to read NuEnglish fluently in a week, as Dr. Laubach stated. All but the most mentally handicapped will certainly be able to become fluent readers of NuEnglish in less than three months. A month or two after becoming fluent in NuEnglish, beginning readers will be able to read at the same rate as readers who are fluent in our present chaotic spelling system — or more likely: somewhat faster.
  4. No overall statistically significant improvement in reading education in English has been made since our ridiculous spelling system was frozen in 1755. All those who object to attacks on our spelling by claiming that “English is a beautiful language” or “We should not attack our ‘mother tongue’ ” need to get serious! How many immigrants or beginning readers would call English a “beautiful language” while struggling to learn to read our present illogical, inconsistent spelling?
  5. A phonemic spelling system has been proven effective by Dr. Laubach’s work in more than 300 alphabetic languages, as explained in the section, “Proof That a Phonemic Spelling System Will SOLVE the Problem,” above.
  6. Although English-speaking nations have tried a multitude of ways to solve the problem since 1755, correcting our spelling by freezing the spelling of the phonemes instead of the words is the only solution that will ever work.
  7. In the long run, correcting our spelling will save money rather than costing! We will not have to replace the reading textbooks every five or six years when the “new and improved” teaching method comes out that addresses the symptoms of the difficulty of reading without solving the problem causing the difficulty. We will only replace textbooks when they physically wear out; and the reading textbooks will be much smaller and easier to prepare. Most of the content can simply be children’s classical literature (much of which has exceeded the copyright date) transposed into English spelled phonemically by use of a computer program.
  8. All reasonable objections * to spelling reform have been thoroughly debunked by reputable, respected scholars.
  9. Numerous benefits of finally correcting our spelling system far overbalance any objections (even the unreasonable ones) that persons resisting change may have.
  10. Dozens of scholars for the last 250 years or more have recommended spelling reform.
  11. Thirty-three nations, both smaller and larger than the U.S., both advanced and developing nations, have simplified their spelling.
  12. The need for a higher literacy rate is greater than ever in our increasingly complex world. Very few of today’s jobs do not require literacy. International trade is making most jobs increasingly competitive.
  13. Appropriate to unlucky thirteen, however, here is the kicker: comprehensive spelling reform has never been attempted in English! There are two significant reasons why this is true: (1) there are several reasons why most people do not know * the seriousness of the problem — as you now know, if you have read the “Proof That English Spelling Causes Serious Problems” section above.  (2) Most people, familiar only with the difficulty of learning present English spelling, have difficulty understanding that students can quickly, easily learn to read * with a perfect phonemic spelling system. For those who may have disbelieved the facts about the seriousness of the problem or the ease of implementing the solution, the website below addresses both of these reasons. Due to the seriousness of the problem of functional illiteracy in English, you are challenged to prove to yourself whether what is presented here is factual or not.

 What Must Be Done to Ensure Success in Ending Illiteracy in English:

No humanitarian project — no matter how worthy — can succeed unless enough people know about it. Publicity is essential for the success of almost any project. There are more than 1.3 billion English-speaking people around the world. An estimated 600 million English-speaking people around the world — more than 93 million in the U.S. alone — are desperately hoping that you and I will help them end their functional illiteracy in English. All that is needed to begin the process of definitely and permanently ending illiteracy in English is to publicize the proven solution to illiteracy. If enough people know about the seriousness of the problem and the ease of solving the problem, the problem will be solved. Otherwise, how can anyone claim to have any compassion whatsoever for the problem?

Bob Cleckler, has been working passionately since 1985 to help end illiteracy in English. A careful, honest evaluation of his ending illiteracy in English website will take only six minutes. The proofs in six of the “Read More” pages mentioned above are as follows. The shocking extent * of functional illiteracy in English (page 2), why we do not know * the extent of the problem (page 3), the seriousness * of the effects of illiteracy (page 4), the characteristics * of NuEnglish (page 8), how to quickly, easily learn to read * NuEnglish (page 10), and objections * to spelling reform (page 11). There is a “Media Page” link on our website, in the left-hand column, with an informative video about our humanitarian project. There are five blogs on ending illiteracy, all of which are available by clicking “IMPORTANT LINKS.” Gary Sprunk, M.S. English Linguistics, prepared the NuEnglish.org website that has the Respeller, a computer program — with a database of more than 617,000 traditionally spelled English words — that will quickly transpose up to 25 pages of traditional spelling into NuEnglish. Cleckler wrote the latest version of his award-winning book, Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, in 2012. To allay any suspicions that his passion is only to make money on his book, rather than an earnest desire to help hundreds of millions of people, this second revision is a 265-page e-book in PDF format that is available at no cost or obligation of any kind in the left-hand column of the website. It has 164 pages of text, 8 Appendixes in 46 pages, 178 extensive notes and references, a Glossary, an extensive bibliography, an index, and other features. This book proposes a plan for implementing NuEnglish, and it will answer any of the questions that our website does not answer.

A Proven Solution To A Serious Problem Needing Publicity

Does it bother you to see a huge amount of time and money wasted in the U.S. and the multiple thousands of teachers, parents, and literacy workers trying so hard to overcome the difficulties of learning to read English? It would if you really understood the extent and seriousness of the problem. You are hereby challenged to read the March 23, 2013 blog about the problem of ending illiteracy in English and tell others about it.

The “Provable Ultimate” Spelling System

My new ending functional illiteracy in English website, covers the problems of English literacy and functional illiteracy — the extent, the causes, and the cost of illiteracy, the suffering of illiterates, and the proven solution. The home page of Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and NuEnglish, Inc., http://NuEnglish.org, also presents valuable information about our humanitarian project of ending English functional illiteracy.

This blog covers only one important aspect of the solution to illiteracy: the proposed NuEnglish spelling system. A very natural objection to a new spelling system is the difficulty of learning the new system. Most of us learned to read as a child and have long ago forgotten just how difficult it was. Our eyes glide easily over a multitude of traps for beginning readers of traditional English spelling. Nevertheless, when the subject of a new spelling system comes up, in the back of our minds is the fear that learning any new spelling system is going to be very difficult — because of our experience with traditional English. But as you will see in reason (10) Why NuEnglish Is the Ultimate Spelling System (below) NuEnglish is extremely easy to learn, for present readers as well as beginners.

The purpose of this blog is to prove that learning NuEnglish will be very easy for YOU. I can only do that, of course, if you will carefully and honestly examine the simple-to-understand facts presented in this blog. If you do not want to be convinced because you do not want to be bothered with learning a new spelling system, you are not only doing yourself a disservice by continuing the average of more than $5,000 that functional illiteracy is costing you (and every adult American, both reader and non-reader) each year, but you are also doing our nation a disservice by doing nothing to help enable 93 million or more functionally illiterate U.S. adults to have an above-poverty-level-wage job. In addition, illiteracy has caused some American jobs to be sent overseas. Most importantly, you will be contributing to the continuance of the problems and suffering of hundreds of millions of English-speaking people around the world who are functionally illiterate in English.

Why Present Spelling Is So Difficult to Learn

  • A spelling system following the laws of logic for an alphabetic spelling system will have only one spelling of each phoneme (the smallest sound used to distinguish between syllables and words in a language or dialect) and each grapheme (a letter or a specific combination of letters) will represent only one phoneme. With only 38 phonemes needed to learn English and 26 letters in the English alphabet, ideally, a single letter would be used for 26 of the phonemes and a specific combination of two letters would be used for each of the other twelve phonemes. Instead, there are at least 184 two-letter graphemes, at least 131 three-letter graphemes, 22 four-letter graphemes, and at least 4 five-letter graphemes! There is a total of at least 367 graphemes (26+184+131+22+4) when only 38 are needed!
  • Only four of the single-letter graphemes (B, K, P, and V) have only one pronunciation, but all four are doubled in some words and not in others.
  • In total there are at least 1,768 graphemes used for forty phonemes in English because many of these phonemes are spelled with more than one grapheme! Two phonemes (H as in had and TH as in then) have only (!) four spellings; all the others have more than four. The worst of all (the U phoneme as in nut) has at least 60 spellings! We only need forty graphemes for forty phonemes — one each! (Different linguists will list different English phonemes; it is easily provable that students can easily learn to read English fluently by knowing only 38 phonemes, as in NuEnglish.)
  • Present English spelling uses hundreds of silent letters.
  • Present English spelling uses hundreds of double-letters which represent only one phoneme. All but six of the single-letter graphemes (H, Q, U, W, X, and Y) are not doubled in any of the words.
  • Present English spelling has at least 203 spelling rules and every one of them have exceptions — some of the exceptions even have exceptions!
  • Present english spelling has no indication of accent. The accent of each English word must be memorized the same as the spelling must be memorized (since you cannot be sure of the spelling by spelling rules.)
  • Some English words have phonemes which are not represented by any grapheme — you just have to learn that the phoneme is there!

Why NuEnglish is the Ultimate Spelling System

Basically speaking, NuEnglish is the ultimate in ease of learning for two reasons. First, it avoids all of the problems listed above for present spelling. Second, I have carefully examined every spelling system proposed in the last two and one-half centuries, that I could find, and no other known proposed spelling system has all of the beneficial characterisitcs listed below that NuEnglish has.

Surprisingly, I could not find any proposed spelling system that had a perfect one-grapheme-for-one-phoneme correspondence. As a result, every spelling system I could find requires a certain amount of memorization of individual words.

Beneficial Characteristics of NuEnglish

(1) No phoneme is ever spelled with more than one grapheme.

(2) No grapheme ever represents more than one phoneme.

(3) There are no silent letters.

(4) There are no double letters which represent only one phoneme except OO and TT — and EE, if macrons are not used. (A macron is a horizontal line directly above a letter.)

(5) Every sound in every word is represented (except the NG sound in words such as bank and jinx) and is represented in strict first to last order.

(6) An asterisk (pronounced “star,” when spelling aloud) precedes the vowel in the primary accented syllable unless the accent is on the first syllable, the English syllable which is more likely to be accented than any other. Knowing the accent helps considerably in recognizing (reading) words. The pronunciation of some English words, in fact, is different only in the placement of the accent, such as insight and incite.

(7) The maximum number of phonemes possible are spelled as they are most often spelled in traditional spelling (30 of the 38 phonemes, 79% of them, used in NuEnglish), based upon Godfrey Dewey’s landmark 100,000 word study of numerous representative prose samples of English usage. Every spelling of the phonemes in NuEnglish, except one (the grapheme TT), is either the most-used or the expected spelling of that phoneme in traditional spelling. The TT grapheme represents the phoneme as in the word thin. This is because in traditional spelling the TH grapheme represents both the sounds in thin and then. Many people who can already read fluently will tell you, “that is no problem,” because they know which phoneme to use anytime they see the TH grapheme. That is true, of course, but it is only because of years of experience in seeing words with that grapheme. A beginning learner does not know which phoneme the TH graphemes represent and learning the difference is just one more added thing they must learn by memory. The vowel phoneme, as in the word say, must be spelled AE or A with a macron over it because all other choices conflict with another phoneme spelling. The other seven are spelled as they are expected to be spelled.

  • The letter F is expected to have the sound as in the word fan, but more often it has the sound of the letter V entirely because of the very common word of.
  • OE is expected to have the sound as in the word doe, but it most often has the U sound as in the word nut entirely because of the common word does.
  • the letter S is expected to have the sound as in the word set, but more often it has the sound of the letter Z because of the common words is and was and plurals such as bags.
  • E and O are expected to have the sound as in the words pet and not, but most often have the sound of U in nut because of the illogical use of them in unaccented syllables.
  • IE is expected to have the sound as in the word lie, but most often has the vowel sound as in the word bee because of changing Y to I and adding ES or ED for plurals and past tenses, and
  • Y most often has the sound of the vowel in the word bee because of words ending in Y, but Y must be used for its “consonant” sound as is yet, as it is expected to be pronounced.

(8) There are 14 vowel phonemes, five of which are spelled with a single letter grapheme (a,e,i,o, and u, as in “That pet did not run.“), five are spelled with a digraph (ae, ee, ie, oe, or ue) or with a macron (pronounded as in “They eat fried tofu.”), and four others are spelled only with digraphs (au, oi, oo, and ou, as in “Haul good oil out.”). There are 24 consonant phonemes, 18 of which are spelled with a single letter grapheme (as in “Yes, Val ‘Zip’ Kim hid our big fan-jet win.“) and six are spelled with a digraph (ch, sh, ng, zh, th, or tt pronounced as in which, wishing, azure, then, and thin).

(9) There is a free computer program on our http://nuenglish.org website which will quickly convert up to about 25 pages of traditionally spelled material at a time into NuEnglish. The program has an English word database of more than 600,000 words and provides NuEnglish spelling in either General American or British dialects. It was prepared by my colleague, Gary Sprunk, who has a masters degree in English Linguistics.

(10) Due to the simplicity and logic of NuEnglish spelling, people who already read traditional spelling can learn the ten simple, unvarying NuEnglish spelling rules in less than ten minutes. In fact, I have seen several people pick up something written in NuEnglish, knowing nothing about NuEnglish and read it aloud to me at almost a normal reading speed with only an occasional two or three second stumble over some of the words. Present readers can return to previous reading speeds after only two or three months of using NuEnglish. Most of the better beginning students can learn to read NuEnglish fluently in about a week, as Dr. Frank Laubach stated. All but the most mentally challenged students can learn to read English fluently in less (perhaps much less) than three months.

In NuEnglish there is very little that must be learned other than the spelling of 38 phonemes and how to blend them into words. Traditional English requires the rote memory (or learning by repeated use) of every word in a person’s reading vocabulary, because there are no spelling rules that do not have exceptions. Most readers have a reading vocabulary of 20,000 or more words. Some readers have reading vocabularies of more than 70,000 words.

There are ten invariable spelling rules in NuEnglish ; some of them are specifically to remove the variability of spelling (due to slight differences in pronunciation by different speakers) so that the Respeller computer program could be prepared to convert traditional spelling to NuEnglish.

Most of what you need to know to read NuEnglish, besides the spelling of the phonemes, is the following. Since we have billions of dollars worth of computers and printing equipment using Q and X, which are unneeded for a spelling system, NuEnglish uses these two letters for two consonant phoneme blends. The letter X is used ONLY for the KS phoneme blend, as in exit (X also represents another consonant and three other consonant blends in traditional spelling). The letter Q (NOT QU)is used ONLY for the KW phoneme blend as in quit (Qit in NuEnglish), but the Q also represents another consonant and another consonant blend in traditional spelling.

Traditional English does not distinguish between the two “long U” sounds as in the words sue and fuel. The vowel sound in these two words is different, but they are spelled the same. This ambiguity is removed in NuEnglish by spelling the first sound as “sue” and the second as “fyuel.” This is equivalent to placing an F phoneme before the English word Yule. In short, traditional English does not show whether the Y sound is there or not.

Many, if not most, people pronounce the words watt and what (and many similar words) differently. The word what is different from the word watt by having an expulsion of air (an H phoneme) before a W phoneme. In traditional spelling this phoneme blend is spelled WH. In NuEnglish, it is spelled as it is pronounced; for example, the word what is spelled hwot in NuEnglish.

The only deviation from phonemic spelling is for numbers of less than a million. Thus: “U 3-foeld inkrees”, “1 and 1 iz 2″, “Sum-1 iz at thu doer”, and “Ie’l bee u-wae foer 4 daez”. The reasons are because numerals are universally understood, are very compact, and are easily distinguished from “won”, “to”, “too”, “for”, “fore”, and “ate”. Ordinal numbers are written as a numeral plus “tt” or “ett”: “4tt”, “10tt”, “100tt”, “20ett”, “30ett”, excepting “1st”, “2nd”, and “3rd”, and the pronunciation of “5tt” (fiftt).

The use of numerals instead of spelling the numbers is optional and should not be used when filling out forms such as bank checks which specify spelling out the numbers, or whenever the number 1 could possibly be confused with the letters I or L, or when the letter O could possibly be confused with zero. This is all you need to know to read NuEnglish. To spell NuEnglish consistently, it is necessary to follow the other NuEnglish spelling rules.

Teaching Reading: Are You Resisting An Improvement?

Generally speaking, people resist change — often resisting even a change which would be an obvious improvement. People often prefer to keep courses of action with known disadvantages rather than gamble that the unknown disadvantages of a new course of action will outweigh the known, obvious advantages. That being the case, people often overestimate the difficulty of making a change as a way of resisting the change.

Does that describe you when considering solving our very serious educational problems in English-speaking countries? As any teacher will probably tell you, reading ability is the foundation of all learning because there are few, if any, subjects in school which do not require reading for class-work, home-work, and testing. When considering the education that their children are receiving, most parents are — or certainly want to be — optimistic about their children’s schooling. They may read about educational problems, but they believe that their children’s school is doing a good job.

If, however, the statistics prove that 48.7% of U.S. adults read and write so poorly that they cannot hold an above-poverty-level-wage job — as the most comprehensive and statistically accurate study of U.S. adult literacy ever conducted proves in a report titled Adult Literacy in America — what are the chances that your optimistic assessment of your child’s school is a little too optimistic? More importantly, if there is a proven way of improving the teaching of reading in English-speaking schools, are you overestimating the difficulty of implementing that teaching system?

The website of Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and NuEnglish, Inc., two non-profit educational corporations, will convince even the most skeptical observers that the problem of functional illiteracy in English is both more serious than most people realize and can be solved more easily than most people would dare to dream. The reason this is true is that if people do not know how to solve a problem they have a natural tendency to downplay the problem’s seriousness, and if people learn that the simple, easily-implemented solution is spelling reform, they may immediately think of objections to spelling reform and wrongly judge that changing the spelling would be much more difficult than it really is.

Functional illiteracy in English not only causes serious physical, mental, emotional, medical, and financial problems for an estimated 600 hundred million of English-speaking illiterates around the world (including more than 93 million in the U.S. alone) but also costs every U.S. adult — reader and non-reader alike — more than $5,000 every year. Due to the seriousness of the problem of ending functional illiteracy in English, you are challenged to carefully examine the problem and get an overview of the solution. The details of the solution are in the breakthrough book about ending our very real literacy crisis.

The Only Proven Solution to Our Educational Problems

This very important blog concerning ending English functional illiteracy with a very much more efficient method of teaching fluent reading can be accessed with this link. It is not posted here because of Search Engine Optimization downgrade of duplicate posts.

An Inconsequential Cost Compared to the Benefit

When making decisions about something that will cost us time or money, we often want to know what it will cost before anything else, often ignoring the benefit we will receive from the expenditure. In the case of English functional illiteracy (defined as being unable to read and write well enough to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job), the effects are so serious that the cost is almost inconsequential when compared to the benefits of solving what can easily be proven to be a very real literacy crisis.

After carefully examining the website giving an overview of the problem and proven solution (by clicking on the underlined words above) you will undoubtedly want to know how you can help end our literacy crisis. Even after purchasing a book, people very often scan through a book to see if they really want to spend the time to carefully read it sequentially from the front. Scanning through this book (purchased after clicking on “literacy crisis”) in an effort to know what the book proposes is equivalent to searching for what solving the problem will cost us. Until one fully understands the seriousness and extent of English functional illiteracy, it is easy to look only at what it will cost. Looking only at the cost, however, does not benefit you or anyone else. Get all the facts in this award-winning, breakthrough book. By doing so, you can help yourself, the more than 93 million of your illiterate fellow Americans, and an estimated 600 hundred of million English-speaking people around the world who are functionally illiterate inEnglish. Most people who are functionally illiterate in English desperately need our help.

Should We Spend More Money on Education?

The U.S. spends more on education per pupil than any other nation except Switzerland, and yet our students have ranked near the bottom in recent scholastic competitions with other industrialized nations. English functional illiteracy is a much more serious problem than most Americans realize. Although almost everyone involved in education, as well as many politicians, want more money spent on education, spending more money is not the solution. Several of the states in the U.S. which spend the most per pupil have the worst student performance and several of the states which spend the least per pupil have the best student performance. Statistics also do not support the belief that a smaller class size will guarantee improved educational performance. See Chapter 4 of William J. Bennett’s book, The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, for the details of our literacy crisis.

Educational scholars know that reading is the foundation of all learning; learning to read is needed for success in class-work, home-work, and testing in all, or nearly all, of today’s school subjects. Dr. Frank C. Laubach, who is arguably the world’s foremost authority on teaching reading — he taught adult illiterates around the world in over 300 languages — found that in 98% of the languages in which he taught, his students became fluent readers in less than three months. Laubach’s books, Teaching the World to Read and Forty Years With the Silent Billion, never mention even one student whom Laubach failed to teach to read fluently. About half of U.S. students do not become fluent readers — they can only read a thousand or so simple words learned in the first three grades in school — as shown by the fact proven in the Adult Literacy in America report that 48.7% of U.S. adults are functionally illiterate (defined as being unable to read and write well enough to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job).

Furthermore, most of the slightly more than half of U.S. students who do become fluent reader require more than two years to become fluent readers. In simpler times, there were many manual labor jobs which could be held successfully by functional illiterates; very few, if any, of today’s jobs can be held successfully by functional illiterates. Those who are functionally illiterate have serious physical, mental, emotional, and medical problems as well as financial problems due to their illiteracy and their low-paying jobs.

If most of us had to endure the problems that functional illiterates must constantly endure, we would consider it a crisis. For the sake of an estimated 600 hundred million of English-speaking functional illiterates around the world (over 93 million in the U.S. alone), for the sake of every U.S. adult (both reader and non-reader) who must spend well over $5,000 every year because of illiteracy, and for the sake of our nation in world trade competition, we very badly need to end English functional illiteracy. Those who carefully evaluate this website will want to take the simple, easy action to bring a permanent end to our very real literacy crisis.

Do YOU Learn From History?

There is a familiar saying, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We seldom learn as much from history as we should. We learn even less from educational history — especially the educational history of other languages. It is largely a matter of national pride. Some of us may pridefully say, “English is a beautiful language” and “Do not mess with our ‘mother tongue,’ ” but honestly, how many immigrants do you think believe that written English is “easy” to learn to read?

In our increasingly complex technological world, however, it is long past time that we learn from other languages and adopt methods of teaching reading that are much more effective and much quicker. An honest overview of the shockingly serious problem and its simple, proven solution for ending English functional illiteracy is an excellent starting point. (By the way, there is more than one pleasant surprise on this website.) A good understanding of the problem and solution will motivate everyone who is even a little concerned, to carefully examine the proposed way of ending our literacy crisis.

America’s Dirty Little Secret, II

This important link gives a very good introduction to the humanitarian project of Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and NuEnglish, Inc. (two non-profit educational corporations) to permanently end English functional illiteracy. It is not duplicated here for SEO purposes.

The Reformation of the 21st Century?

In the Foreword to the breakthrough new book, Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, Second Revision, Dr. Robert S. Laubach, President Emeritus of Laubach Literacy International (now joined with Literacy Volunteers of America to form ProLiteracy) said that what this book proposes “may well become the Reformation of the Twenty-First Century.” It can only do so, of course, if enough people learn how serious the problem of English functional illiteracy really is and learn about the simple, proven solution the book proposes.

That is where you come in. For the sake of an estimated 600 million English-speaking people (out of more than 1.3 billion English-speakers) who are functionally illiterate in English — including more than 93 million in the U.S. alone — and for your own sake and the sake of every other U.S. adult (reader and non-reader alike) spending at least $5,000 each year (1) for taxes supporting programs illiterates use, (2) for truancy, juvenile delinquency, and crime directly related to illiteracy, and (3) for the increased cost of consumer goods due to higher recruiting and training costs and for the mistakes and inabilities of functional illiterates in the workplace, you badly need to see an overview of the problem and the solution to English functional illiteracy and see the much more authoritative and comprehensive details of how to end our very real literacy crisis. The “English functional illiteracy” link above has a link in the left-hand column for downloading — at no cost — a .pdf formatted copy of the 265 page E-book, Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, Second Revision. This breakthrough book has all the facts and figures about the problem and its solution that will convince even the most confirmed skeptic who will carefully, honest read it.