Advice From The World's Greatest Reading Teacher?

Posted by on March 7, 2013 in blog | 0 comments

Dr. Frank Charles Laubach, perhaps the world's foremost teacher of adult illiterates, taught adults around the world in more than 300 alphabetic languages other than English. First, let's authenticate — as much as possible — that Dr. Frank Charles Laubach was the world's foremost expert on teaching adult illiterates all around the world to read. Here are some of his major accomplishments:

  • Frank Charles Laubach, Ph.D. was known as the “Apostle to the Illiterates.”
  • At the age of 85, he was an internationally noted literacy expert.
  • He spent his entire adult life teaching adult illiterates all around the world to read fluently.
  • He is referred to as “the foremost teacher in our times.”
  • He is credited with teaching 60 to 100 million people to read.
  • He traveled to 105 countries developing reading primers in 313 languages.
  • He created spelling systems for more than 220 unwritten languages.
  • He and his literacy teams worked with missions, private agencies, foreign governments, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps, and UNESCO.
  • In 1941 he helped found the Committee on World Literacy and Christian Literature of the National Council of Churches.
  • In 1955 he founded Laubach Literacy, Inc. which became Laubach Literacy International and which then joined with Literacy Volunteers of America to form ProLiteracy; all were organizations which teach adults to read and publish teaching materials for them.
  • He is the author of books describing his literacy work, including Teaching the World to Read, ("Teaching") published by Friendship Press in 1947 and Forty Years With the Silent Billion ("Billion") published by F. H. Revell Co. in 1970.

Here is what Dr. Laubach documented in his books:

On page 103 of "Teaching" he states, "Over 90 per cent of the world's languages have one sound for a letter and one letter for a sound. In such languages learning to read is swift and easy, requiring from one to twenty days." The entire page 36 of "Billion" is examples of numerous people whom Dr. Laubach or one of his associates taught to fluently read anything in their language, several in one hour, some in one-half an hour, and one who learned the fifteen letters in his language and could read anything in his language after only fifteen minutes, because the sound to letter correspondence was invariable. Page 95 of "Teaching" states, "It is easy for a man with average intelligence to learn to read in one day by using these lessons. Many people have learned to read all the letters in two hours, some even in one hour. Lessons like this are now in use in twenty of the Philippine dialects, in the Malayan languages in Sumatra and Singapore, and in many parts of Africa."

Here, however, is the most important quote from Dr. Laubach for English-speaking people around the world. Page 48 of "Billion" has this quote: "If we spelled English phonetically, American children could be taught to read in a week. We needed only a day with the Philippine dialects." It is true that Philippine dialects are simple, but the grammar and syntax of English is also quite simple compared to many other languages. In fact, D. Hook in English Today, 2002 states that as a spoken language, English is one of the simplest around. On page 147 of "Billion" Dr. Laubach states, "For many years people had been urging us to prepare lessons in English like those we had already made in other languages. My reply was that English is the world's worst spelled language, and that it would be impossible to make easy lessons like those we have made in phonetically regular languages."

On page 108 of "Teaching" Dr. Laubach states, "It is estimated that two and one-half years are lost in the student's studies because of our chaotic [English] spelling." Steve Bett, Editor, Journal of The Simplified Spelling Society [now the English Spelling Society] states in the Forword to Sanford S. Silverman's 2003 book Spelling For the 21st Century that in the 95 percent of the languages in which Dr. Laubach taught which are highly phonemic, students can be taught to read in less than three months.

Even in the unlikely event that Dr. Laubach is badly mistaken and instead of taking a week to learn a perfectly phonemic spelling system for English, such as NuEnglish, as Dr. Laubach stated, and it requires as much as three months, that is still a huge improvement over the presently required learning time of an average of more than two and one-half years! It does not take a rocket scientist to see that a perfectly phonemic spelling system is the obvious solution to English functional illiteracy and the perfect way to end our provably serious literacy crisis. On page 386 of this book he stated, "Every day I became more convinced that nothing could do this world more good than to teach everybody to read and speak English, not because it is English but because it is the world's chief language of communication. Perhaps the research I have been doing . . . is about to come into its own. Nothing is so powerful as an idea when its time has arrived."

Anyone who is an authentic expert in comparing the of teaching reading in English with that in other alphabetic languages is acutely aware that the time for ending English illiteracy has long since arrived. Because the problem of English functional illiteracy is essentially ignored by the media, almost no one realizes how serious the problem really is. The powerful idea in the book Let's End Our Literacy Crisis, Revised Edition is that functional illiteracy in English definitely and permanently CAN be ended — and proves it! Anyone who has any compassion for the depths of our literacy crisis is urged to carefully read ALL of the website and book (by clicking on the underlined words) and prove it to yourself. Merely scanning here and there will not do — you will miss too many very vital facts.

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