Posted by: Bob C. Cleckler | May 30, 2011

If You REALLY Want to Help Millions of People, Dare to Read This

Generally speaking, the U.S. public is the most generous, compassionate group of people on earth. Many of us are bothered by poverty and serious problems we often see around us. You are challenged to spend about five-and-one-half minutes needed to read the following ten brief statements which describe a very serious, but largely hidden problem and its solution. A few minutes of your time can help millions of people. The proof of these ten statements can be found at the English functional illiteracy website,

The Problem

1. Definition of Functional Illiteracy The most accurate definition of functional illiteracy is the inability to read and write well enough to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job.

2. Extent of the Problem A shocking 48.7% of U.S. adults (more than 93 million of them) are functionally illiterate. Some of your friends or associates are probably functionally illiterate without your knowledge. An estimated 600 million of the more than 1.3 billion English-speaking people around the world are functionally illiterate in English. At least 31.2% of the functional illiterates in the U.S. are in poverty and are more than twice as likely to be in poverty as a result of their illiteracy as for all other reasons combined.

3. Why We Do Not See the Extent of the Problem We do not see the amount of illiteracy and poverty in item 2, among other reasons, because functional illiterates are very good at hiding their illiteracy, because most functional illiterates have more than one employed adult in the family, and because most low-income families receive assistance from government agencies, family, friends, and charities.

4. Seriousness of the Problem Functional illiterates must constantly endure serious physical, mental, emotional, medical, and financial problems. We would consider these problems a crisis if we had to endure them. Functional illiterates cannot perform many of the simple tasks needed to function well in our complicated and increasingly technological culture—tasks that we take for granted. Furthermore, the functional illiterates among us cost every U.S. adult—reader and non-reader alike—at least $5,000 each every year for our taxes for government programs that illiterates use and for truancy, juvenile delinquency, and crime directly related to functional illiteracy, and for the increased cost of consumer goods due to increased recruitment and training costs and for the mistakes and inabilities of illiterate workers.

5. English Spelling Confuses Everyone English spelling is by far the most illogical, inconsistent, and chaotic spelling of any of the languages commonly considered as alphabetic. English spelling is not truly an alphabetic writing system.

The Solution

6. The Solution in a Nutshell Dr. Frank C. Laubach went all around the world teaching adult illiterates in more than 300 alphabetic languages to read fluently. He proved that if we spelled English phonemically, beginning readers could learn to read in from one to three weeks—anyone except the most seriously mentally handicapped can certainly learn in less than three months, almost certainly much less. Present readers can learn a phonemic spelling of English in less than ten minutes and return to present reading rates in two or three months.

7. The Obvious Solution Never Tried Although there have been many proposed spelling reforms for English over the last three centuries, there has never been a systematic spelling reform of all English spelling.

8. Characteristics of NuEnglish The new, breakthrough spelling system called NuEnglish is the only proposed spelling reform that has a perfect one spelling to one phoneme (the smallest sound in a language or dialect used to distinguish between syllables and words) correspondence, and that is scientifically designed to use the most-used spelling in traditional spelling of each phoneme for 76% of the spellings and the spelling that people expect for 21% of them, and shows the primary accent in each word (knowing placement of the accent aids considerably in quickly reading a word).

9. Spelling Reform Is the Only Proven, Easy Solution to English Illiteracy Even in the unlikely event that someone devises a teaching system that teaches every student who is not severely mentally handicapped to read traditionally-spelled English, it will still require at least two years for most students to learn enough words one-at-a-time by rote memory or by repeated use to be functionally literate. This is two years in which students in every alphabetic language other than English are getting ahead of English-speaking students.

10. Learn to Read Now! Anyone except the most seriously mentally handicapped can learn to read NuEnglish in less than three months—almost certainly much less! Most of those who learn to read traditional spelling require at least two years to learn to read English fluently.

A more authoritative, comprehensive explanation of the problem and its solution can be found in the breakthrough book, Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, Revised Edition published and totally financed by American University & Colleges Press, an imprint of American Book Publishers, in May 2009, available at, The website has an editorial review by Dr. Robert S. Laubach, President of Laubach Literacy International, nine 5-star customer reviews (the maximum), and one 4-star customer review, some by Amazon Top 500 reviewers. The website also a history of the evolution of the humanitarian project by Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and NuEnglish, Inc., two non-profit educational corporations, for ending our provably serious literacy crisis in the section “More About the Author.”


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