Adults with poor reading skills often blame themselves for their reading problems. But most people who struggle with reading do so because of the instruction they failed to receive as children. The good news is that it is never too late to become a successful reader and speller. Watch below to find out more.
Learn to Read and Spell with Phonics
Video Transcript Below
We All Can Read is a step-by-step intensive phonics program designed for older students and adults who never received systematic phonics instruction as children.
I developed this program specifically for students beyond the second grade and all the way through high school and adults as well. In my experience older students who have difficulty in reading, have difficulty in reading because when they were in grades K-2 they did not receive a thorough, systematic foundation in the phonetic basis of our language. And individuals who fail to receive that foundation in the early grades as a matter of general course never receive that foundation. Because once children get beyond the second grade, the schools by and large do not teach phonics in a systematic way.
Now when I talk about phonics, I am talking about the fact that there is a direct and consistent relationship between letters and sounds in our language. English is a phonetic language, not all languages are phonetic. As an example the Chinese language is nonphonetic. The characters in their language do not represent sounds. But in English we have 26 letters that represent 42 sounds. And from these 42 sounds we construct over a half-million words in vocabulary. English is the largest vocabulary of any language in the world. And we write all of these over half-million words with just 26 letters. The key to becoming a good reader and a good speller is to learn the relationship of letters and sounds in our language. And that is what systematic, intensive phonics is designed to do – to teach you the code which underlies the entire system of reading and writing in our English language.
Now a lot of adults who get involved in this program, and not just adults but older students, have an attitude about phonics that it is a subject that is appropriate for young children, and that in fact that by the time you are beyond a certain age or grade, it is no longer appropriate to learn phonics. Well that is not true at all, but I can understand where people get that misconception because the vast majority of phonics programs were written and developed for young children.
What is unique about this program, or I should say one aspect of this program that is unique, is that from the outset it was written for older students and adults not for young children.
At one point I was an English and reading teacher at an inner-city high school. And I began my whole study into the field of phonics because I had so many students in my high school classes that were behind in reading. And many of these students were bright students, articulate students, and I couldn’t understand why they were having trouble reading words on the page accurately.
As I began to work with these students more and more I began to understand that the breakdown came because as I alluded to just a few minutes ago, when these students were in early grades, they never received the instruction as to the relationship between letters and sounds in our language. And because of that, they were forced to rely upon memory to learn words. Well memory is a wonderful tool that we have access to; however, not everyone is able to memorize all of the various words that you are going to come in contact with on the page. And in fact the genius of the English language is that you don’t have to.
The key to becoming a good reader is simply by learning the sounds represented by these 26 letters in our alphabet. And when you encounter a word, which is obviously composed of some of those 26 letters, if you know the sounds represented by those letters, you will be able to read those words that you encounter on the page. And not only will you be able to read the words accurately, but if you become proficient in phonics, you will also be able to spell words that you hear pronounced with a very high degree of accuracy.
So I began to realize that my high school students had been profoundly cheated in their lives when they were very young. And yet these very students tended to blame themselves for having poor reading skills. And I have found that is a very common belief among students and adults who have poor reading skills. They tend to feel that the reason that they didn’t learn to read well is because they somehow don’t have the capability to become a successful reader. And that is a very heavy kind of burden for individuals to carry. And one thing I want to tell you is I completely found that belief to be incorrect.
Many students when they have difficulty in learning how to read somewhere along the way in school get a label placed on them as having a learning disability. And that is so hugely unfair because what I have found in the many years that I have been teaching reading and phonics is that almost invariably, students who have poor reading skills have poor reading skills because they weren’t exposed to systematic phonics instruction.
It’s not that they can’t learn to read, it’s that when they were very young they didn’t receive the proper foundation in phonics. And then, as I said, beyond the second grade, most children never receive phonics instruction, or they receive it in an incidental manner, it’s not taught in a systematic way. And so if you don’t get phonics instruction by the second grade, or by the very latest the third grade, most people never get it. And so the tragedy is that millions of people, and I literally mean millions of people in our country alone, have poor reading skills that they will have to deal with for their entire lives because of something they didn’t get at a very young age. That is the bad news.
But the good news is anyone, virtually anyone, can become a successful reader regardless of that person’s age if that person receives instruction in systematic phonics. And that is what this program is designed to do. I am going to provide you in a very structured, sequential way with all of the information you are going to need to be able to look at a word, sound that word out, and accurately read the word. Not only that but you will also gain the skills necessary to be able to spell words with a high degree of accuracy. And that is what systematic phonics is designed to do.
So what I want to tell you is that if you are an older student, or if you are an adult, and you do have a feeling that phonics is something that is not appropriate for someone at your age level or the grade that you happen to be in at school, I understand why you might feel that way, but I want you to know that this program called We All Can Read is unlike any other phonics program you have ever heard about, and it was from the very outset designed for older students and adults.
And I want to make a promise to you. If you will follow this program through from the very beginning, the first lesson through to the very end, then I want you to know you will experience profound and lasting gain in your ability to read to spell and to comprehend. This program will work regardless of your past experience with reading.
What has happened is – and I have worked a lot with older students and adults. I have been a teacher, and I operated a reading clinic for many years where I worked exclusively with students with reading problems. And I had many students come to my reading clinic who had an entire history of difficulty in learning to read. And many of these students had entered into remedial reading programs as older students or adults and even then had failed to become good readers. And each time a person enters a reading program again and experiences defeat again, then that person’s belief in his inability to learn, unfortunately, enlarges.
And so what I want you to know is that regardless of your past experience with reading, if you go through this process that I am about to begin with you, step-by-step – it is very sequential. It is critical that you do not skip steps. And you start with Lesson 1, and you take the test at the end of each lesson, and once you demonstrate mastery in each lesson, you are allowed to go to the next lesson, if you follow the sequence through, you will, as I have said earlier, you will see profound improvement in your reading skills.
So with that in mind, we are going to begin by learning the consonant sounds. But before I begin with the consonant sounds, let me tell what the vowels are, and the vowels are a, e, i, o and u. We are going to get to all of the vowel sounds soon, but we want to begin with the consonant letters.
Now many of you already know your consonant sounds, and I realize that. But you have to understand my perspective. There are individuals that are beginning this program that have never had phonics instruction of any kind ever. And for these individuals they don’t even know consonant sounds. You might be in that group. And I want you to know if you are in that group there is absolutely no shame whatsoever to be in that situation. Because remember, if you don’t know this information, that means that when you were a young child, you were not taught that information. And you can hardly be held responsible for information that you were never taught to begin with. So for those individuals who have no background in phonics, I am going to provide you with plenty of opportunity to learn the skills being presented with lots and lots of drill because phonics is a skill. And as with any other skill, you must practice the skill in order to learn the skill. It is very much akin to learning to play a musical instrument or a sport. You have to go out if you are playing a sport and practice. If you are learning to play a musical instrument, you have to sit down and play the musical instrument. So there will be lots of repetition within every lesson within this program.
Now that is a great benefit and advantage to this program. However at the beginning of the program for some of you, that may prove to be what seems to be a disadvantage. Because some of you already know your consonant sounds. So the information at the beginning of the program may seem too elementary for you. And the worst thing you could possibly do is conclude then that this program is going to be too easy and therefore it is not suitable for you. Because, again, remember my position. I am presenting information for people that perhaps have never had this information before presented to them. But for those of you who already know the information that is presented at the beginning of the program, stay with me.
Because I promise you this program continues to deepen, and once we start with the consonant sounds, we are going to add the short vowel sounds, we are going to begin to add consonant blends, beginning consonant blends, ending consonant blends. We are then going to learn consonant teams, vowel teams, two-syllable words, three-syllable words, four, five and six syllable words. So the program just builds and builds and builds in terms of complexity.
But the key is you are never going to be presented with information that is too difficult for you. Because what we are going to do is climb a ladder. We are going to start at the very bottom rung of the ladder. But as we go further into the program, each rung of the ladder is going to take you that much higher off the ground. And if you stay with the entire program to the end, but the time we reach the end, you will be amazed at how high off the ground you actually have gotten.