Skip to comments.English Hieroglyphics are fun and easy to read
Posted on 10/22/2013 12:47:19 PM PDT by BruceDeitrickPrice
[Summary: easy way to understand sight-words.] Hey, wait a minute, you're thinking. There's no such thing as English hieroglyphics. There are Egyptian hieroglyphics, Sumerian hieroglyphics, maybe some others. But English? No way.
Yeah, you know that. But does a six-year-old kid know that? Not hardly. You know what this means? The school system can pull a fast one. Teachers point to a word- "house" - and say, "This design is pronounced 'house.' Memorize it."
Presto, that English phonetic word is now English hieroglyphics, simply by saying it is. That's what American public schools did circa 1930; they changed all English phonetic words into English hieroglyphics. It was so easy. What do first graders know? They've got VICTIM written all over them.
If children learn the alphabet, they are in fact memorizing the shapes of individual letters. But a single letter is not so great a challenge; plus, there are only 26 of them.
But what about five of these easy shapes stuck together to make a much more complicated shape like "house"? Or, worse still, something like "business." What about this complex shape makes you think of business activity? Basically, that's how you learn hieroglyphics, one at a time, with as many memory aids as possible.
If you don't happen to have a photographic memory, you will have to be clever and creative with your mnemonic tricks. Let's say the word is "face." Both the "a" and the "e" have a closed shape that could very well be eyes. That's how you do it.
The problem with hieroglyphics is that each design is hard work and takes up lots of memory. Even very smart people have trouble memorizing 2000 hieroglyphics with instant recall. More ordinary memories might have trouble going past 500 hieroglyphics.
Treating English word as hieroglyphics has few benefits and many obvious limitations. The English language is huge. College graduates routinely know more than 100,000 English words. Nobody knows 100,000 hieroglyphics. Furthermore, having memorized "face," would you be able to read FACE? The eyes, where are the eyes?
Historically speaking, it was as though a strange and deadly virus struck our Education Establishment around 1930. They insisted-absolutely, hysterically insisted--that memorizing English words as hieroglyphics was the best way to go. In fact, it's the worst way.
English hieroglyphics, that's what most little children studied and memorized across the United States for a long time. This method never made any sense. It caused huge damage. It's the reason we have 50 million functional illiterates.
Virtually all readers of English hieroglyphics are damaged readers. Their eyes tend to flit randomly over the complex designs. Instead of relentless left-to-right movements, their eyes zigzag and jump backwards. Soon these readers are diagnosed as dyslexic. They are said to have ADHD; and must be given Ritalin.
No, what they need to be given is a lesson in phonics. They memorize the letter names. They learn the sounds (i.e., the phonics) represented by the letters. They learn the blends of these sounds. When children can combine two or more sounds into one sound, they are reading!
That's how it works. That's how simple it is, in every phonetic language all around the world. Once you know the letters and the sounds, there is no limit to the number of words you can read. That's why English can have 1 million words, some of them long and bizarre like "ibuprofen" and "verisimilitude," but readers have no trouble.
Conversely, children trying to memorize English as hieroglyphics might stumble over "See Dick and Jane." They might stumble over "house." After all, when you think of it as a design, house looks a lot like louse, hoist, horse, dowse, souse, mouse, host, hoses, worse, hurts, etc. Really, that is the primary problem with English hieroglyphics. Every one of them resembles 50 others. A kid could get dyslexia, never learn to read, drop out of school, and end up stealing a car belonging to a literacy professor. Well, at least that would be poetic justice.
And the moral of the story is: if your child comes home with a list of sight-words to be memorized, send the child back with a copy of this article and a request for an Individualized Education Program that is based on phonics.
ARTICLE: "Sight Words--The Big Stupid" http://www.improve-education.org/id66.html
ARTICLE: "America, you've been punked." http://www.rightsidenews.com/2013091333189/life-and-science/health-and-education/america-you-have-been-punked.html
VIDEO: "Reading is Easy." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JV0tPGn-Ws
What’s the big deal? My Doctor has been writing prescriptions for years in hieroglyphics.
I believe this was known a the see/say method that was (briefly) thought to be superior the phonics. It was clearly one of the most disastrous fads in education.
I went to school in the 1960s and we learned phonics. I don’t know how anyone can learn to read english without phonics. English is great, probably the greatest language of all, but spelling-wise it’s a disaster. I assume they don’t even have spelling contests in other languages.
Bruce, you are absolutely brilliant.
Now here’s the worst horror story I ever heard regarding the reading problem in this country.
In the ‘80s two recently graduated doctors were camping in a national forest in Washington State and nearly burned it down. They read in their camping handbook that their garbage was to be “burned.” What? Nope, the word was “buried.”
This is the kind of mistake resulting from the reading system taught in our schools today - they don’t teach attention to details.
How would you like these guys to operate on you?
I got myself humiliated once (in 3rd grade, I believe) while reading out loud in class - mispronounced ‘diphtheria’; (a word I had never seen before) as ‘diarrhea’. New in the school, and laughed right out of my shoes, I was.
That’s what I get for guessing at a word instead of sounding it out.
2) For argument's sake, why are we losing out the the Chinese (if we are in fact losing out to the Chinese)? Reading and writing "hieroglyphs" hasn't actually hurt them, has it?
In education, the progressive movement is the disintegration mode of thought.In progressive education, man is primarily an actor rather than a thinker and actions and the concrete have primacy over the abstract and thought. A child must learn by doing activities.In reading,the commitment to the concrete as against the abstract take the form of the whole word method rather than phonics.
The progressive program for the schools is not reform, but demolition of subjects, facts, lessons, texts, structure, intellect, teaching, and learning. Above all, the movement represents the equation of education with the perceptual level mentality. It is the anti-conceptual mentality embracing the pre-conceptual child and training him to remain in that state for life.
“2) For argument’s sake, why are we losing out the the Chinese (if we are in fact losing out to the Chinese)? Reading and writing “hieroglyphs” hasn’t actually hurt them, has it?”
First, we’re not “losing out to the Chinese” so much as allowing the deck to be heavily stacked to favor the Chinese.
Now, on to the Chinese written language...
Years ago, I worked for a Chinese family. One of the, recently “immigrated” members of that family had been a construction engineer in China. According to him, the Chinese language was a huge handicap in any technical area. The language wasn’t nearly flexible enough to function in fields that were not native to China. To become an engineer, the guy had had to learn Russian, German and English.
This was in PDRChina where he had worked. The Russian was necessary for political reasons. The German was necessary because many of the site managers were Germans. English was necessary because, according to him, anything worth knowing/learning on engineering was published in English.
I think phonics come first, then you begin to recognize the words and the inconsistencies.
I learned to speak quite a bit of Thai, then read some about 37 years ago. They don’t generally put spaces between the words, and sometimes they wrap compound vowel characters (I think it is) around a consonant. Consonants at the end of a word aren’t necessarily pronounced like they are in the beginning or middle of the word. The net result is that it is very difficult to discern any single word, or hieroglyph or whatever. But you almost have to pick it out or read back and forth. It works for them, though I don’t know if they’d win any speed reading contests.
English spelling is quite easy if your phonics education was complete, unlikely if you were educated in the 60’s. Many older teachers were still secretly teaching some phonics back then but the curriculum they were forced to use were generally the look and say pap, which was pretty much useless in developing good readers and spellers.
There are 26 letters but 70 phonograms (letter combinations with with specific and distinct sounds) and about 30 spelling rules that tell you when to use which.
Almost everyone learns “i before e except after c” which is an incomplete rule.
It is actually “i before e except after c, when we say ‘ay’ and in some exceptions. Neither foreign sovereign seized the counterfeit or forfeited leisure and either weird heifer eats protein.” The complete rule pretty much clears up most of the confusion.
A complete and systematic phonics education ensures that kids become competent at both reading and spelling. A great teacher will also teach some history of Britain so they can understand how English became a layered language with multiple roots.
Is 1930 right? I thought whole word became a fad circa 1980.
Once when our class was reading the list of the week’s spelling words, I read ahead to myself and saw a word that I HOPED I wouldn’t get.
Thank goodness someone else was chosen to read the word “fort” aloud to the class because, had I been chosen, I would have said “fart”.
I could never have lived it down.
Phonics is essential, but not sufficient, because of the many parents and contributors to the English language. Our rich vocabulary comes at the expense of consistency, so some look-say is inevitable.
Think of the many simple words that are NOT spelled phonetically:
This doesn’t include the MANY alternate phonetic pronunciations in some of our common words.
It is well worth the extra memorization, and I would not want to go to sterilizing efforts like some of the Scandinavian countries have to standardize the phonics and pronunciations. We speak, read and write in English. It has the world’s richest vocabulary, because its speakers shamelessly borrow from other countries, perhaps largely due to the centrality of international commerce and colonization during the formation of the modern language. It doesn’t hurt that England venerates her language and created the OED, which the French sneeringly call a museum. The French meant it as an insult, the English do not take it as one.
May I suggest that your phonics education is incomplete as most of the words you list are in fact phonetic. I recommend Spalding method. (spalding.org)
For all those ‘ough’ words, I would teach children that this is the ough phonogram and it has six sounds o, oo uff, off, aw, ow. While pronouncing the sounds I would mimic being struck once for each sound. Little boys quite eat this up and immediately learn to recognize and mimic this fun ninja combination. The sounds are in order of most frequent use and we would have a lesson on those formerly problematic words that are now fun and easy to remember ninja words.
Bizarre. Never heard of this.
Turning English into a Hanja-like written language is just going to fail.
The simplest written language I have seen is Hangul (Korean) you can learn to pronounce just about anything in a couple of hours. Of course, you won’t have a clue what those words mean. lol
I pray, sir, can you read?
Ay, mine own fortune in my misery.
Perhaps you have learned it without book: but, I
pray, can you read any thing you see?
Ay, if I know the letters and the language.
Ye say honestly: rest you merry!
Stay, fellow; I can read.
From “Romeo and Juliet”, William Shakespeare.
Learning to read is terribly important and the average person I talk to doesn’t seem to realize this.
The low-information voters don’t read much, if at all. They put the U.S. in our current fix.
Data-entry people who work in hospitals make deadly mistakes every day because they can’t read or spell up to the requirements of the job.
Congress people don’t read their bills. The last congressman who read all the bills he signed was H.R.Gross who retired in the 70’s.
White House pretenders aren’t really smart. They know very little about economics, finances or even recent history. A little more reading in Hayek or Arthur Laffer would benefit our country, don’t you think?
Don’t you know the eco-nuts back in the 1920s were freaking out over the possibility that the north and south poles were going to melt away?
I don’t know about Korean, but Spanish is entirely phonetic. Learn the sounds of 29 letters and you can read/sound out any word.
I often wonder if illiteracy is unknown in Spanish-speaking cultures.
Briefly??? Reading is still taught that way while they complain about having to give lip service to phonics. The rulers want the population to be barely literate, to be able to read their instructions but not to be able to read history and such useless matter.
“Burned” and “buried” have the same shape. How can people be expected to tell them apart?
Children who are not taught History and cannot read well enough to pursue it easily on their own never learn what has worked in society and nations and what doesn't work. Their minds are not cramped by reality and can be taught to believe that impossible utopias can be instituted by politicians and wise leaders.
My cousin is somewhat dyslexic. He reads with difficulty, having to sort of push the words on the page together with his eyes and tediously build them up into paragraphs and such. He did not learn to read at all until he was past 30. The look-say and whole word crap that was all the rage when he was in grammar school in the 50s and 60s (yes, 50s) made reading impossible for him then. Schools in the more progressive areas were also not really grading, some just giving everyone As and Cs, the Cs being for those who learned not much of anything so Cuz got graduated. Fortunately he had a flair for things electrical and did very well with radios and later, computers.
The rationalization for the look-say method is that adults do not sound out words. They know the words they read on sight or it would take them entirely too long to read anything. Also phonics is akin to rote memory and adults don’t do rote memory very well so we shouldn’t be forcing the less developed minds of children to do that, in reading or in anything else. Facts are a waste of space.
Not in the northeast. At least in CT and MA, see/say had a stake driven through its heart at least 30 years ago.
Phonics teachers call that Dysteachia instead of Dyslexic. It is a problem that many suffer from and this child abuse is occurring every day still in most schools across America.
“The complete rule pretty much clears up most of the confusion.”
That would require a SEISMIC shift in thinking. ;)
Greek import, not English. That’s why you teach the history of the English language when you teach phonics, so kids know where words come from or how the pronunciation may have changed over time while the spelling maintains the history.
RE: “but don’t most schools of necessity devote time to phonics as well?” Good question. Point is, they keep as much non-phonics as they can get away with.
Here’s a second anecdote to give you a sense of how bad things can be. A man called me from West Virginia last week to get help with his fifth-grade granddaughter, who has never been taught with anything but sight-words and is now functionally illiterate. In fact the man said he lived in a house with five generations of functionally illiterate people. To sum this up, this is what the Democrats in West Virginia are doing to the poor black citizens of that state. It’s really Goddamn disgusting.
Read this to your toddler. My son is now 14 and an excellent reader.
My wife has been a principal in Massachusetts elementary schools for over twenty years. See/say has not been used in MA for at least thirty years.
Words like “choir” and “night” the pronounciation of which bear no relationship to their spelling are taught that way until children learn the exception just to improve fluency. The bulk of words like “word”, “have”, “like” etc that follow spelling rules are taught with phonics.
There is a great graphic from the old farmers alminac Global Warming Timeline Graphic
I can see your point that whole word can be a re-run of a 1930's idea.
RE: “Many parochial schools are not much different from public schools...”
This is a very important point. It’s so sad to see the Catholic schools corrupted by the deliberately dumb public schools.
The Catholic Church could make a huge contribution to this country by the simple device of having excellent schools.
First rule? Do not adopt any policy or method used in a public school. If you need a suggestion, call three private schools, ask what they’re doing, and go with the majority.
Okay, Catholics. Put some pressure on your nearest parochial schools.
I’ve taught phonics for 30 years and homeschooled my own four. Spalding is the most comprehensive. 70 phonograms and 30 spelling rules, 100 simple facts about the English language that are generally easy to memorize, so brute force shouldn’t be necessary. It’s quite easy to make it fun.
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