The American Literacy Council is the name of the non-profit organization organized in 1876 that attempted to assist rural educators with literacy tools and methods appropriate for schools at that time. Their focus included considerable academic research related to the study of the illogical spelling standards that underlie standard English spelling.
Major names and organizations supported their efforts including Dale Carnegie, Melvin Dewey and many authors and newspaper editors of that time period. The organization continued and evolved to become incorporated (non-profit) as "The American Literacy Council," now headquartered in Boulder Colorado with a branch office at Croton-on-Hudson, NY.
Department of Education statistics indicate that, in the United States, approximately one person in five cannot read English adequately, measured by the inability to read want ads, fill out job application forms, read maps, or read story books to children.
Click Here: Literacy Facts and Figures Meanwhile, spelling is not a school subject in Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia or other countries where letters are used with much greater consistency to represent spoken sounds.
To the extent that teachers and literacy center workers find success in using phonics materials as a first step in teaching English as a second language, they may also be interested in a publication of the ALC titled American Spelling. Whereas phonics provides a small vocabulary of 400 words that are simplified to a consistant spelling standard, the "American Spelling" book extands that phonics consistency to 44,000 words.
Computer technology has been used by the ALC together with basic phonic principles to guide non-readers into a life of active writing and reading. The Council pioneered and produced the product Sound-Write, a computer program that enables students to begin typing words, phrases, and sentences using letters to spell words, experimentally at first.
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Phonics is a temporary bridge that introduces non-readers to the concept of reading (looking at sylables and words, then imagining that you are speaking them). As the student tries to type words, each word is instantly corrected to proper English spelling by the computer, and the word is also spoken slowly (audibly) so that the pronunciation of each syllable is immediately associated with the corrected spelling shown on the computer screen. Incorrectly spelled words are displayed below the corrected spellings for a brief period and in a different color. Exercise materials and a manual accompany the programs. The software is free.
The software was formally tested at Columbia University ESL labs for effectiveness and has been used at Head Start centers, libraries, ESL classrooms, and college literacy or learning labs thru-out the country. The program is especially effective in high school labs for use by persons having difficulty learning to write or read.
You may download a free copy of the Sound-Write program for home or institutional use, provided as a grant from the ALC.