Our alphabet contains 26 letters. Learning to read would be easy if each had its own unique sound. However, all the vowels have at least 2 sounds. One of the letters has at least three sounds. Then, of course, some vowels sometimes have no sound.
The letters C and G each have two sounds, which are designated as hard and soft. The rest of the consonants have but one sound. Then again, some of them are sometimes silent… such as the K in know. I have no idea how that happened but it is just one more thing to make learning to read more difficult.
Then of course, there are the combinations. I guess that the most common combination is the th. It is so common that it is used in almost every sentence of any size.
Yet I believe reading can taught or learned quickly by combining two methods. First, there is phonics, the sounds of the letters. If a person learns the sound of three letters a day for 9 days, a person will learn the sounds of all 26 letters in a week and a half. It is not the perfect solution, but it is a giant step in the right direction.
The second method, what I call recognition, is also important. Some might think it odd, but about 100 words make up about 60 percent of our words by count. First, there are the articles, a, an and the. You will find them in almost all sentences and they are easy to learn.
Then, there are there are the pronouns (he, she, it, his hers, etc). Again, they are easy to learn and they are well peppered throughout our language. Anyone who learns these few words will be well on their way to learning.
Using these two methods, a person can easily learn the basics of reading in weeks, not months. It would certainly be less than years.
I would really like to experiment with this method and I understand there are some who can’t read. However, for that to happen, it would mean getting three things together: me, a place of reasonable comfort to serve as a classroom and, naturally, a few students. I believe I could teach about 8 to 10 at a time for a couple of hours a day. I believe I can have most in the class reading at 5th or maybe 6th grade level in a little more than a month.
It is not as if I would need to teach much in the way of vocabulary. Most of us have pretty good vocabularies by the time we reach 5 or 6. It would be a simple matter of learning to recognize the words on paper, or a screen.
I have been considering making an attempt at it. So far, I haven’t managed to get anything off the ground. I guess there are two problems. First, finding a class room. Second, finding 8 people who want to learn. The trick is that I have something of a catch 22. How do I advertise for students when they can’t read?
Then, as every knows, reading is the gateway to the world. Also, it is an important skill for learning other things. Most of us, by the time we’re 30, over half of what we have learned, we will have learned by reading. If you find a person who is intelligent, he or she will likely be well read.
Besides this and more important, it is very difficult to enslave a populace that can’t read. Finally, as a side affect, people who are well read generally can speak better. In a way, it rubs off.