AKSES to Reading:
Children fail to read, not because of how they are taught, but because of the nature of what they must learn in order to read and write...
...transparent writing systems make reading and writing as easy for children as speaking and understanding spoken English.
AKSES is an easily learned transparent writing system that children and adults master intuitively. It offers universal literacy to all Americans.
AKSES incorporates a selected set of characters representing American English words in a phonemic orthography (
AKSES is not Reformed Spelling. It is devoid of spelling. Words are "spoken" on paper by assembling sequences of phonemic characters, the same way they are formed orally by assembling sequences of phonemic sounds.
A child who recognizes phonemic characters by name can master reading simply by learning to blend them into words. The process is a finite task that is within the intellectual capability of most preschool children.
PO is not phonetic. It does not reproduce the idiomatic components of dialects or individual speech habits. Effective listeners filter out that "noise" by recognizing only intelligible (phonemic) components of speech sounds. In a similar manner,
Phonemes are language units postulated to mediate conversion of thought-words into spoken words and of spoken words back into thought-words. Their nature and location in the brain are unknown, but they link natural English (defined as the oral tradition based upon phonemes) to natural written English (a writing system based upon the same phonemes).
The inescapable conclusion is that a written word is no more nor less than a visible incarnation of a word spoken, either aloud or in a writer's mind. It is a useful copy only if recorded with accepted orthography.
Young children learn quickly if the same phonemic symbol always represents a given phoneme. As long as they are easily distinguished one from another, which symbol is actually used for each phoneme is inconsequential.
Professional educators have taken little notice of the fact that the first i.t.a. goal - teaching all children to read and write phonemic text early in first grade - was a spectacular success...The programs eventually proved unsuccessful only when children were switched from phonemic orthography back to traditional spelling.
Dictionaries are sensitive to changes in the English language and provide pronunciation guidance that can be converted to a phonemic listing for an AKSES lexicon.
How and Why AKSES Works:
[AKSES] displaces the authoritarian spelling system by reintroducing the original basis for English orthography. As one dictionary editor put it, "American spelling is phonetic. That is to say, the letters of our alphabet stand for certain sounds...."
Even as the random nature of the [spelling] "system" limits access to it, the characteristics that make it inaccessible are touted as literary virtue, not as a roadblock to literacy.
...The problem is treated as a trivial matter, "just a continual nuisance," a "minor affliction" for literate Americans. Its role as a roadblock to reading and writing for a majority of children and as a major contributor to limiting the success of the American educational system is not discussed in polite intellectual or academic circles.
"Even among those of our children and adults who do not become non-readers, the traumas of an irrational alphabet often continue as hidden or unconscious antipathies for, or roadblocks to, effective reading habits, and even more effective roadblocks to writing. Nonreaders not only feel déclassé, but also too frequently become victims of frustrations leading to delinquency, crime, and the self-destructive violence associated with political infantilism and susceptibility to demagoguery."
Suggestions that these problems will fade away with adoption of a phonemic orthography are greeted with disbelief, indifference, derision, or outright hostility. Only a few recognized reading experts accept even the possibility that a viable alternative to authoritarian orthography exists.
Phonemes are an integral part of a child's oral language facility. When information is transmitted, phonemes influence the speech organs to convert thought/words into sound/words. When information is received, the sounds heard are converted into word/thoughts by means of their phonemic content. These processes are so easily learned during a child's early development that they seem instinctive rather than volitional to some.
A child who recognizes the 44 phonemics of AKSES and responds orally with their names is ready to start reading.
Reading and writing phonemic text is as "natural" as engaging in spoken conversation.
Reading proceeds naturally and with little effort in the process of recognizing (oralizing) the phonemic content of written words.
Training students to read and write
Only now do we open our eyes to its [spelling's] role in denying millions of Americans of the educational and economic benefits of reading and writing their native language.
Spelling, a complex special code, attempts to display a history of words and, for a few grammatical forms, to suggest their usage by the way they are written. Spelling performs neither of these functions effectively.
Everyone must understand that the proposed change is the only way Americans can achieve universal literacy. Equally important they have to be convinced that the proposed system can produce the desired result.
History is filled with examples of successful reforms in writing systems of major nations for the purpose of encouraging education and reducing illiteracy....Compared with these sweeping foreign writing system changes, the proposed reform of American orthography has minor consequences for the reading public. However, it will have a dramatic effect on reducing illiteracy and making our universal schooling more effective.
From the Author:
One day as we drove home from school when I was about 9 years old, I asked my Mother why so many words are spelled so strangely. Her answer, "that's just the way it is," was unsatisfactory.... As a 9-year-old child, I recognized that English spelling is deliberately inconsistent for no good reason.
Traditional written English is quasi-phonemic; it is only superficially a simple phonemic system. Americans have a clear choice: 1) Keep the spelling paradigm, thereby abandoning a substantial group from every future generation to substandard literacy, or 2) give all future children the gift of truely phonemic written English.
"Why do we continue to teach our children the separate language of spelling instead of permitting them to read and write standard English in a phonemic form?" The answer must be that most people do not understand the consequences of our present writing system. Unfortunately, those who do understand are unwilling to do anything about it.
(First published 4/19/00, J.H.Kanzelmeyer.)