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How Complicated Is Reading?

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The other day, I talked to a friend who mentioned how complicated reading English is compared to other languages, like German. I don't read any other languages, so I have nothing to compare it with, but how complicated is reading the written words of English? If we go by the number of people who struggle with it, we would say it must be tough. However, is it recognizing hard words, or is it the method used to teach word attack skills that are complicated?

Everyone Can Learn To Read

English is one of the richest languages in the world because we "borrow" words from almost every other language in the world - including dead languages. All these words make it seem complicated, but when you know the phonetic rules, about 80% of English's almost one million words are either phonetic or have significant phonetic components. This leaves only 20% that are irregular [like laugh or rough], which simply have to be learned.  Taking the time to master the few phonetic rules will open up a lifetime of reading enjoyment and information.

How Hard Is Reading?

English has 26 letters which make 44 sounds. Obviously, if there are 26 letters and 44 sounds, then some letters must make more than one sound.  Some letters, like "A" which makes nine sounds, make several sounds.  However, the good news is that out of the 26 letters, 16 letters almost always make the same sound. This just leaves ten letters that habitually make more than one sound. Anyone can learn the different sounds of only 10 letters when they know the rules.

So why do many people struggle with comprehending the written word? The fault is not with the people who struggle - many are brilliant people. The reason is that reading is made unnecessarily complicated by talking about "hard" or "soft" sounds [no such thing really], teaching more consonant blends than are necessary, and giving long lists of words to memorize. Why do we make reading so complicated?  The reading rules need to be taught step-by-step in logical order.  The Whole Word method fails at the very beginning by limiting the students to the words they are able to memorize.  Some can learn to read this way, but many will not.  Most phonetic programs teach only some of the rules.  Many times they rely on pictures and flashcards, which attempt to teach reading to the wrong part of the brain.  The picture-processing and language-processing parts of the brain are totally different.

Academic Associates teaches reading in small, simple steps. By the end of the first lesson [usually 1-3 hours] every student, no matter how young, will have read out loud 300 words. The entire course only takes 30 - 60 hours of instruction on average, and will empower the student to read everything they desire to read.  New worlds of information and entertain will open up.

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