Posted by: Bob C. Cleckler | July 6, 2012

Why Do YOU Want People to Be Able to Read?

Most people today want their children to be able to read so they can get a good job. That is a very good reason, of course. In simpler times, there were numerous manual labor jobs that did not require reading. Today, there are very fewjobs that do not require reading. Inability to read is the major reason that many people who are employed today do not have an above-poverty-level-wage job.

In seventeenth and eighteenth century America, however, the major reason that people wanted their children to be able to read was so that they could read the Bible. As you know, many people today might attend church only if sufficiently urged to do so, but would never choose to attend church on their own. Some of these people will, however, read the Bible out of curiosity. As you may also know, reading the Bible can, in many cases, result in the readers repenting of their sins and trusting Jesus to be their Lord and Savior for an eternity with God. After doing so, there is absolutely no better way to grow and mature as a follower of Jesus than personal Bible study.

Did you know, however, that after graduating from High School (or after dropping out of High School) almost half of U.S. adults read so poorly that they do not like to read and very seldom attempt to read? Even more shocking, did you know that fully 48.7% of U.S. adults read and write so poorly that they cannot hold an above-poverty-level-wage job? This was proven in the report issued in 1993 (and confirmed in a follow-up report using 19,714 interviewees issued in 2006). The 1993 report was titled Adult Literacy in America. There was a 1,148-word front-page article in the New York Times on September 9, 1993 that essentially down-played the importance of the report and, in fact, misquoted some of the statistics. The only statement of any real significance in a 304-word newspaper article about the report on September 9, 1993 in the Washington Post was, “Nearly half of all adult Americans read and write so poorly that it is difficult for them to hold a decent job, according to the most comprehensive literacy study ever done by the U.S. government.” There are no known mentions of either the 1993 or the 2006 report in the media after September 1993.

The Adult Literacy in America report was based upon a five-year, $14 million study involving lengthy interviews of 26,049 adults who were statistically chosen for age, gender, ethnicity, and location (urban, suburban, and rural in twelve states across America and including 1,100 prisoners in 80 prisons) to represent the entire U.S. population. It included accurate objective means of judging reading ability based upon predetermined absolute standards. Accurate procedures were used by Educational Testing Service (ETS) personnel to ensure that test information was (1) gathered under strict guidelines for evaluating test responses, (2) verified by independent outside testers, and (3) not available to anyone other than ETS and the independent outside testers until release of the report. It was the most statistically accurate and comprehensive study of U.S. adult illiteracy ever commissioned by the U.S. government.

Chapter 2 of Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis, Second Revision, by Bob C. Cleckler and page 2 of the home page of Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and NuEnglish, Inc. (two non-profit educational corporations) shows calculations for the average yearly earnings of the interviewees. The study divided the interviewees into five literacy levels. Each of the five literacy levels was compared with the other literacy levels and with the U.S. Census Bureau’s threshold poverty level determinations for individuals. This information was inexplicably not included in the report. These calculations prove that 48.7% of U.S. adults cannot read and write well enough to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job and can therefore be defined as functional illiterate. These calculations also prove that 31.2% of U.S. functional illiterates are in poverty, and that they are more than twice as likely to be in poverty because of their illiteracy as for all other causes combined.

There are four reasons we do not see this level of illiteracy or poverty.  (1) Illiterates are very good at hiding their embarrassing disability. (2) There is a certain amount of separation of readers and non-readers because of zoning regulations which separate houses according to monetary value and because of the separation in employment according to job duties. (3) Most families with one or more illiterates have more than one employed adult, and (4) low income families receive assistance from government agencies, family, friends, and charities.

What can you do to help illiterates learn to read?

Most students require at least two years to learn to read in English. There are two or three teaching methods that can teach students to read in a little more than a year. Due to the inconsistency and lack of logic of present English spelling, however, regardless of the teaching method, almost half of all students will not become fluent readers of English without a year or more of intensive one-on-one instruction with a tutor (which very few students receive).

There have been hundreds of studies of methods of teaching reading over the last ninety years or more. A leisurely walk up and down the aisles of a large research library looking at the hundreds of books on teaching reading would be a shock to most people. By way of comparison, the 1960 Encyclopedia of Educational Research devoted 151 pages to reading research and only two to five for each of the other school subjects.

None of the present teaching methods, however, attack the root of the problem: the ridiculous spelling. There are at least 1,768 ways of spelling 40 phonemes in English! (A phoneme is the smallest sound in a language or dialect which is used to distinguish between syllables or words. Only forty ways of spelling forty phonemes are needed — one each.) There is not even ONE English spelling rule which does not have exceptions — and some of the exceptions have exceptions! A computer programmed with 206 English spelling rules was able to spell correctly only 49% of a list of 17,000 common English words. As a result, the only way to learn to read English is to add words to your reading vocabulary one-at-a-time by rote memory or by repeated use. Even those who are “good spellers” will often have to look up the spelling of a word they have not used for several years.

Dr. Frank Laubach spent almost his entire adult life teaching adults around the world to read. He taught in more than 300 languages. He developed reading primers for 313 languages and even devised spelling systems for 220 unwritten languages. He found that in 95% of the languages in which he taught, students could learn to read fluently in from one to twenty days!  He could teach students to read fluently in less than three months in 98% of the languages in which he taught. This was possible because the languages in which he taught were phonemically regular — one pronunciation for each letter or letter combination (grapheme) and one grapheme for each phoneme (the smallest sound in a language or dialect used to distinguish between syllables or words). 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.”

English is neither among the easiest nor among the most difficult languages for its grammar and syntax. Because of all the publicity about the difficulty that immigrants have in learning English, people are often surprised to learn that the English language is easier than many other languages. The difficulty that immigrants have is with the spelling! English is easier in grammar and syntax than many European languages, for example, in every one of which the reading can be learned in less than three months.

Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and NuEnglish, Inc. (two non-profit educational corporations) have discovered and perfected a simplified spelling system that will definitely and permanently solve the problem of English reading. NuEnglish is a perfect one-grapheme-for-one-phoneme spelling system, such as Dr. Laubach recommended. Present readers can learn to read NuEnglish in five or ten minutes and can read most NuEnglish material with only an occasional two or three second stumble over some of the words and then return to present reading rates after two or three months of experience.

Although you may not be a teacher, you can probably teach a friend or relative of normal intelligence to read NuEnglish in two or three weeks. Visit our website’s home page to learn about our humanitarian project for ending English functional illiteracy. Page 10 of the website gives instruction in teaching NuEnglish and there is the complete Gospel of John and a salvation tract in NuEnglish that you can open to in the left-hand column. For anyone who remains skeptical about anything in this blog, you are challenged to read the free e-book in the left-hand column of our home page, which has enough facts and figures to convince even the most skeptical reader who will carefully and honestly read all of the 164 pages of text. The book is 265 pages with 46 pages in eight appendixes, and extensive notes, bibliography, and index, and a glossary and other features. A print copy is available on’s detail page.


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