The Teaching of reading and writing: an - unesdoc

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The Teaching of reading and writing: an - unesdoc
A n International Survey
W I L L I A M S. G R A Y
Enlarged edition
with a supplementary chapter
by Ralph Staiger
Educational Publishers
I goo East Lake Avenue, Glenview, Illinois
In the same series:
Published by the United Nations Educational,
ScientiJic and Cultural Organization, Plece de Fontenoy, 75 par is-^^ and
Scott, Foresman and Company, 1900 East Lake Avenue, Glenview, Illinois
First impression 1956
Fifth impression 1963
Second edition 1969
Printed by Imprimerie Atar
0 Unesco 1969
Printed in Switzerland
The importance of this publication in the execution of Unesco’s programme will be apparent
to anyone w h o knows the concern of the Organization with increasing literacy. There is no
need to argue here the primary role which literacy can play in social and material betterment.
The fact is almost universally accepted today, and the multiplicity of national, regional and
international effortsbeing directed towards making children and adults literate is a rich testimony
to the awakening of mankind’s conscience in this matter, as well as to the acceptance of the role
basic, social or fundamental education have to play in the pursuit of a better world.
But the acceptance of a principle for action and its operation in practice are two diferent
things. Article 26(1) of the Universal Declaration of H u m a n Rights states, ‘Everyone has
the right to education’. B u t what kind of education? H o w much? Taught by what methodr?
These are controversial questionr. It is generally accepted that evevone should be taught to read
and write, but for at least eighty years there have been major dzfferences of opinion both afto
the a i m of a reading or writing programme and the methods to be employed-whether learners
be children or adults.
Thepresent book does not attempt to give ajinal answer to these questions. A s the introduction
makes clear, it is an attempt to review prevailing practices, to evaluate, on the evidence available,
the eficacy of methods being employed and to sum up, in a form convenient to educators and
administrators, the results of research and experience which have made significant contributions
to this subject.
The book is a result of four years’ effort. A s will be seen from the Introduction, it has
been an efort in which not o n b the author and the Unesco Secretariat have played a part, but
many national agencies, and individuals too, ofiring suggestions, comments and criticism
from their accumulated experience, and thus helping to carry the work beyond the Preliminary
Survey issued by Unesco in ‘953. To list all those who have co-operated would take several
pages. We thank them collectively and acknowledge that without their co-operation the present
book would have lacked whatever validity it m a y have.
But neither Unesco nor the author claim absolute validity for the suggestions and recommendations that follow. M a n y gaps in the present state of knowledge on the topic remain to
bejilled, and it is one of their hopes that this work will stimulate and guide further research
to remove many imperjiections.
The book is issued in English, French and Spanish editions. The reader who compares these
will jind signijicant differences,for the English original has not simply been translated into the
other languages; an attempt has been made, through enlistin! the aid of recognized authoritiesJean .Simon for the French, and Rodriguez Bou for the Sjanish-to adapt the original to jit
the terms ofrreference of the educators of those language areas. In the same w a y , Unesco hopes
that, apart from its immediate interest to educators and administrators in their thinking and
practice, the present book will form the basis for the preparation of teachers’ manuals in many
languages. A n y inquiries regarding such projects should be addressed to the Unesco Secretariat.
As the Introduction points out, this stmy follows earlier studies 11s to the language in which
teaching should be given-the vcnranrlar or a second language. The present work may be
regarded as the logual step f m a r d afk. the isolation of these fachs. Having then studied
the language in which teaching should be given and the metho& of teaching, the next step is a
stu$ of the production of suitable li~aturoprimcrs and re&s+omesponding
to h e
requirements. Unesco has published two booklets on this subject, in its sm'es 'Manuals on
Adult and Youth Education', No.z entitled Literacy Primem
Construction, Evaluation
and Use by Karel Naj's,and No.3 entitled Simple Reading Material for Adults-its
Preparation and Use.
Finally, let it be made clear that this book is in no way intended to replace the teaher.In
the end, whatewr method is aabpted, it is the teacher himself, with the support ofhis community,
who will guarantee its success or failure.
Unesco is conscious of the debt it owes to the distinguished educator, the late Dr. William
S. G a y , f
of the University of Chicago, who wrote this book and whose mmu was
closely associakd with progress in this branch of teaching from 1918till his death in 1960.
;T;hc Organization also wishes to thank the Chairman of the Department of Education of the
University of Chicago for placing the resources of that institution at the disposal of the auth
for his work; as well as the m y anonymous collaborators already mentioned and the authors
and publishers listed below for their generosity in giving permission to reproduce the copyrighted
material w k h illustrates this book :
G. B. Paravia &C.,Tonno; Secretarfa de Educan'bn Ptiblica, Mexico, D.F.;Publications Bureau, Institute of Education, Khartoum, Sudan; Committee on World Lileracy and
Christian Literature, New York, and Frank C. Laubach; Libraine E u g h Belin, Pa&;
Departamento Nacional de Educagiio, Rio de Janeiro; U n i h Nacional de Periodistas, Quito;
Direccibn General de Educacibn Primaria, Santiago de Chile; Scott, Foresman and Company,
Chicago; Consejo Superior de Enseiianza, Puerto Rico; Dr. R. Dottrm and Melk Emilie
Margairw; World Book Company, Yonkers-on-Hudron;Board of Education, City af Chicago;
Arthur C. Crojl Publications, New hndon, Connecticut; Reader's Digest Educationul Service
Inc., Pleasantville, New York; Escuela Especial de Orimtacidn del Excmo. Ayuntamiento
Valencia; Houghton Majiin Company, Boston, Massachusetts and Frank N. Freeman;
Eduational Testing Service, Princeton, New 3ersey; University of Texas, Austin, Texas;
Board of Regents, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
In order to provide the reader of this second edition with a re$erence to activities since this
study was Jirst published in 1956,Unesco commissioned Dr. Ralph Staiger of the University
of Delaware and Executive Secretay of the International Reading Association to prepare a
supplmntary chapter of bibliopaphic information on &velo#ments in the teaching of reading
and in literacy educationfrom 1956 to 1967.It is hoped that this chapter will serve as a useful
addition to the late Dr. Gray's well-known reference work.
Chapter I
Chapter 11
Chapter I11
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VI1
Chapter VI11
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XI1
Chapter XI11
T h e role of reading and writing in fundamental education
Influence of type of language on literacy training . .
Nature of the reading process in various languages . .
Reading attitudes and skills essential to functional literacy
Methods of teaching reading . . . . . .
Findings of research that help in the choice of methods .
Nature and organization of reading programmes for children
Teaching adults to read . . . . . . . .
Basic principles underlying the teaching of handwriting .
Teaching handwriting to children . . . . . .
Teaching handwriting to adults
. . . . . .
Action required to attain the goal.
. .
Developments in reading and literacy education, 1956-1967
I 88
Universal ability to read and write! It is perhaps strange that so many w h o today
accept this objective without question should forget how recently it received social
approval, and forget too the enormous inertia, and indeed active opposition, which
the pioneers of the idea had to overcome in the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries, even in so-called advanced countries. Perhaps these pioneers erred in
believing that this ability alone would liberate from ignorance, disease and poverty ;
perhaps, as a consequence, they erred too in concentrating on this ability without
relating it to welfare, social progress and democratic growth. Those w h o are aware
of the appalling extent of ignorance, poverty and disease now realize that literacy
as a skill is not enough; it must be viewed merely as an essential aid to individual
and community welfare and inter-group understanding. H o w overwhelming are
the tasks which educators face in attempting to reduce illiteracy will be shown
in later chapters. It is encouraging to note that these educators are growing in
number and that through the efforts of individuals, governments and international
agencies, the world’s conscience has been awakened to the challenges these tasks
In the course of the efforts made to reduce illiteracy, it has become clear that
the use of traditional teaching methods and standards often fails to attain the broad
aims indicated above. Unfortunately, however, few studies have been made to
discover the types and levels of efficiency in reading and writing that modern life
demands. Recent proposals concerning the most effective methods of teaching
these arts differ widely and are based on conflicting assumptions. As a result,
leaders and field workers have experienced serious difficulty in their efforts to
develop sound literacy programmes and have made repeated and urgent appeals
for help. This book will attempt to summarize the knowledge available today for
the pursuit of these broad goals, to make certain recommendations and to isolate
problems needing further study.
Throughout its history Unesco has been keenly aware of these problems and needs.
Shortly after its creation, delegates and advisers from Member States studied at
length various conditions, including illiteracy, that prevailed in many uderdeveloped areas of the world. They concluded that the problems that had to be
faced were so serious that Unesco should attack them with all the energy and
resources at its command. T h e term, ‘fund_arnental education’ was adopted to
describe this broad field of constructive activity. Since 1946 the promotion of
l’hTeaching of Reading and Writing
fundamental education has been one of the most important of Unesco’s activities.
Further stimulus was given to the intensive study of literacy problems when
the General Assembly of the United Nations, on 2 December 1950, passed Resolution 330 (IV) requesting Unesco to communicate to Administering Members
detailed proposals for suppressing illiteracy which could be applied with satisfactory
results in non-self-governing territories.
Various preliminary studies had already been made to determine the nature
of the language problems that would be encountered. As soon as findings’ were
available, the General Conference of Unesco-at the sixth session (rg51)-authorized the Director-General to make provision for a study of methods of teaching
reading and writing, to continue throughout I 952-54.
As plans for the study developed, it was divided into two parts-a preliminary
survey and the preparation of a final report. In the summer of 1952,a survey was
begun with the following aims: (a) to discover, analyse and describe the various
methods now used in teaching both children and adults to read and write; (b) to
secure data concerning the effectiveness of these methods, wherever they were
available; (c) to summarize the findings of the survey, to discuss their implications
for the improvement of the teaching of reading and writing, particularly at the
adult level, and to point out problems needing further study.
In the course of the preliminary survey, much information was obtained which
influenced the nature and scope of the final report. It was found, for example,
that many of the basic facts and principles could be used as guides everywhere
in organizing literacy programmes and in selecting methods of teaching, that cultural
and linguistic differences often justified variations in both the content of the programmes and the methods of teaching. Therefore, it did not seem advisable, as had
originally been suggested, to prepare the final report in the form of a teachers’
manual, to be used throughout the world. It seemed better to focus attention on
those facts and principles that had world-wide application, to point out the factors
that justified variations in programmes and teaching procedures, and to encourage
local communities to use this information in developing programmes adapted to
their particular needs.
T h e survey also showed that many problems relating to methods of teaching
reading and writing could not be settled on the basis of objective evidence. Some
of the basic issues therefore were controversial in nature. Sound progress depended
upon a clear recognition of the various aspects of the problems; familiarity with
established facts and principles affecting their solution; open-minded studies of
controversial issues; co-operative effort of various groups in solving c o m m o n
problems; and the continual improvement of literacy programmes in the light of
Another finding was the urgent need for informed leadership. At conferences
with those most widely informed, it was emphasized repeatedly that the final
report should help those responsible for organizing and directing efforts to extend
literacy, particularly in the underdeveloped areas of the world. Such help, it was
affirmed, included: firstly, a critical survey of facts and principles that might serve
Unesco. 7trc Use of V d m h o u o g h c in Education. Interim report submitted by Unesco to the
Special Committee on Information transmitted under Article 73e of the Charter. Second Solsion
1951.101 p. (A/AC.&L.62, 17 Sept. 1g51.)
-. The Problem of Vdnzanrlm Languages in Education. Interim report submitted by Unesco to the
SDecial Committee on Information from Non-sell-aoverninaTerritories. Third Seasion I -952.
5; p. (A/AC.55/L.103.)
-. 7trc Use of Vemaculm Languages in Education. Paris,1953. 1% p. (M~~graphr
MI Ftdamdal
Educntion, No.VIII.)
as valid guides in organizing literacy programmes and in selecting methods of
teaching; and secondly, a detailed plan for developing programmes adapted to
the needs of specific communities, putting them into effect, and promoting the
study of unsolved problems.
T h e following purposes were adopted in preparing this volume:
I. T o provide actual and potential leaders with as clear an outlook as possible
on the problem of world literacy in its vaned aspects, with special reference to
the most effective methods of teaching reading and writing. This involved:
(a) marshalling pertinent information concerning the basic facts and principles
that have world-wide application, the specific problems that merit further
study, and the factors that justify local variations in teaching procedures;
(b) appraising the findings objectively;
(c) preparing a synthesis of guiding facts and principles that have universal
2. T o provide guidance and concrete suggestions that will enable leaders to develop
literacy programmes in harmony with these general facts and principles, and
adapted to local needs and conditions.
3. T o define the nature of the unsolved problems that should be studied in order
to promote literacy throughout the world, and to consider means of solving
These purposes will be more closely defined in the discussions that follow.
T h e study focuses particular attention upon the problems of the underdeveloped
areas of the world, owing to the seriousness of the problems being tackled there
and the urgent need for help. T h e study is, of course, most directly concerned with
areas where programmes of fundamental education are already under way or m a y
be started. However, what is said applies with equal force to similar efforts under
different names, such as ‘basic education’, ‘community development’, ‘social
education’, ‘adult education’ and ‘national literacy campaigns’.
Although literacy programmes usually include many types of learning activity,
in this study attention is focused on reading and writing. It was recognized that
other types of training relating to immediate and urgent needs are often required;
and also that all the language arts contribute to promoting literacy-reading,
writing, listening, oral and written expression. Experience1 and the results of
research2 show clearly that progress in any one of these arts is influenced by, and in
turn influences, progress in the others. For these reasons frequent reference is made
to correlated activities in the different language arts.
The study is limited to the problems of promoting literacy in the mother tongue,
A.V. P. and Gurrey, P. ‘PartI. The Vernacular’. h g u a g c Teuching in A f n m school.^.
London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1949, pp. 3-74.
Freinet, C. Mkthode durelle de lecture. Cannes (Alpes Maritima, France), Editions de 1’Ecole
(Brochures d’kducation nouuelle populaire, No. 30. 1947.)
Moderne Frangaise, 1947, 59
P. Artley, A. Sterl. Chairman, Interrelationships among the Various Language Arts’, Research
Bullctin of the National Council on Research in English. National Council of Teachers of English,
Chicago, Ill.. 1954. p. 42.
I. Elliot,
7h Teaching of Reading and Writing
for research' shows that initial progress in learning to read and write is quickest
in the mother tongue. In some areas of the world, learning to read and write the
mother tongue is but a step towards the attainment of literacy in a second language,
but, important as are the problems of developing ability to read and write a second
language, they are not considered in this report, for they merit separate, intensive
study. No attempt is made here either to consider the problems of giving a language
written form. Because of its technical character, it seemed advisable to leave this
problem to specialists.
T h e study focuses attention on the problem of developing ability to engage in
those reading and writing activities normally expected of all literate members of
a community. Far greater ability is required of those w h o are to become community
leaders, but the additional training they need is usually provided by high schools
and other adult agencies.
Again, the study deals mainly with adults. However, reference is continually
made to the problems children encounter in learning to read and write, since most
studies have been made at the child level. Special sections on reading and writing
programmes for children have also been included, in the belief that the ultimate
hope of a literate world lies in the education of its children.
Finally,this study does not suggest new methods of teaching reading and writing
that w
ill ensure phenomenal results-if such methods existed, they would be highly
desirable-it sets out rather to appraise past and present practices in promoting
literacy and to make constructive proposals in the light of the evidence available.
This report is intended specifically for those responsible for organizing and directing
literacy programmes with special reference to areas where programmes of fundamental education are operating. Such leaders include :
Directors, supervisors, curriculum specialists and committees charged with stimulating and advising teachers in service and developing or selecting materials
needed in promoting literacy;
Staff members of teacher-training institutions responsible for the initial preparation
of teachers and for their continued in-service training;
Authors and publishers of professional books or textbooks on reading and writing
designed to develop among children or adults the attitudes and skills required
for functional literacy;
Very capable teachers w h o hold positions of leadership and w h o should assume
the responsibility of embodying the findings and recommendations of this
report in effective programmes adapted to the needs of their communities.
T h e first problems to be broached in this study were those arising from the threefold purpose of the preliminary survey. As the work progressed, other important
Grieve, D.W.and Taylor, A. 'Media of Instruction: A Preliminary Study of the Relative Merits
of English and an Africa0 Vernacular as Teaching Media', Gold Coact h u t i o n , Vol.I, No. I,
195% PP. 36-52.
Isidro, Antonio. llaa Use of the V d a r in and out of Schools. Quezon City, 1951,pp. 57-60.
Plattm, 0.T. Th Use ofthe V d a r in Teaching in ths South Pa+. Noumea, New Caledonia,
South Pacific Commission, 1953. 42 p. (Sod Pacl;c CommirsiOn Technical [email protected], No. 47, 1953.)
problems came up, and arrangements were made to study them as soon as the
work schedule permitted. W h e n the decision was made to modify the basic
purpose of the report so that it would serve more specifically the needs of the leadership group, it became evident that still other problems should be dealt with. T h e
study of some of them was not begun until after the preliminary survey had been
published. In the outline that follows, the main issues studied are listed in the order
in which they will be discussed in this work. This has the advantage not only
of enumerating the various problems, but of giving an idea of the scope of the
report and its method of presentation.
I. T h e role of reading and writing in fundamental education, the level of literacy
which is essential, and the size of the task of extending functional literacy
throughout the world. A study of these issues required careful consideration
of the sociological causes ofthe need for literacy and some methods of meeting it.
2. The families of languages, with reference to the kinds of characters used in
writing them, and the influence of linguistic differences on teaching methods.
3. T h e extent to which the basic processes involved in reading are the same in
the various languages. This problem was studied to determine whether a
c o m m o n conceptual framework could be established within which the detailed
problems of teaching reading could be discussed.
4. The necessary attitudes and skiIls for efficient reading and the personal factors
that influence progress in acquiring them. These questions assumed great
importance when it was realized that the basic processes were the same in
different languages.
5. T h e methods used to teach reading, the assumptions underlying them, the
changes that have occurred in them, and their advantages and limitations as
reported in the literature. While these problems were being studied, a special
effort was made to discern current trends.
6. T h e relative effectiveness of different methods of teaching reading, and the
principles that influence the choice of teaching methods. These problems
were studied in order to establish a sound basis for selecting or developing
valid methods of furthering world literacy.
7- T h e nature and organization of systematic reading programmes for primaryschool children, in accordance with the findings of experience and objective
evidence. Experience has shown that to develop good readers, various types
of training must be provided throughout the primary school in a carefully
integrated sequential programme of learning activities.
8. The nature of reading programmes for adults designed to prepare them to
engage effectively in the various reading activities in which all literate members
of a community are normally expected to engage.
9. Facts and principles relating to the nature of handwriting, h o w it is learnt,
and the relative merits of different methods of teaching, as indicated by experience and the results of research.
IO. The nature and organization of handwriting programmes for children, in
accordance with these findings, covering the primary-school period.
I I. T h e nature of handwriting programmes designed to prepare adults as quickly
and effectivelyas possible to use writing for personal and social purposes.
12. H o w to embody the results of the foregoing studies in literacy programmes
adapted to the needs of specific communities. Because of numerous and urgent
appeals for help, attention is focused on programmes for adults. Regional or
local effort is important in this connexion, since each community poses specific
Teaching of Reading and Writing
Before this study was begun, the Education Clearing House at Unesco had collected
much valuable material from all parts of the world; reports of literacy conferences,
descriptions of literacy programmes, copies of primers and other instructional
materials used, and analyses of the results of particular efforts to teach adults to
read and write. T h e Library of the International Bureau of Education at Geneva
also collected sets of readers for children from at least fifty countries. This material
was used during the initial stages of the survey. T h e findings were supplemented
later by analyses of material on file in the Community Development Clearing
House of the University of London Institute of Education and the offices of the
Christian Education Council in London.
Although hundreds of publications were available, questionnaires were sent
to leaders and field workers requesting many types of additional information as
well as reports and bulletins of various kinds. Letters were also sent to publishers
and authors of primers, readers, and professional books relating to literacy problems,
outlining the kinds of information needed and requesting copies of any relevant
material they might have. T h e author conferred with many people from various
parts of the world w h o visited Unesco House during the winter of 1952-53,and also
visited selected centres in France, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Belgium, Brazil,
Puerto Rico and Cuba to obtain first-hand information and published reports.
During the autumn and winter of 1952-53all this information and material was
analysed. T h e analyses of instructional materials were made with the assistance
of specialists from 12 different language areas, w h o followed the set of directions
prepared for the purpose. T h e author also reviewed the results of scientific studies
made in various countries on the nature of the reading process, factors that effect
progress in learning to read, and the relative merits of various teaching methods.
A preliminary report' was then prepared, and, during the summer of 1953, sent
to National Commissions of Unesco in M e m b e r States and to other recognized
leaders in literacy training. It was accompanied by an urgent request for criticisms
and suggestions.
Meanwhile, a study was made of the kinds of language used today, the kinds
of characters employed in writing them, and the influence of linguistic differences
on teaching methods. A study was also made, through the use of an eye-movement
camera, of the processes involved in reading in 14 different languages.
T h e final report was prepared during the summer and autumn of 1954. The
author takes this opportunity to thank all those agencies and individuals w h o
contributed in some way to this study. Without their help the report could not
have been written.
M a n y of the constructive suggestions received from leaders and field workers called
for types of study which could not be made, owing to lack of time and information.
It was suggested, for example, that the frequency with which different teaching
methods are used be determined and that the data be subdivided in terms of different
la'nguages, cultures, economic status, age and intelligence. Illuminating as such
Gray, William S. Preliminary S m g on Metho& OJ Teaching Readings and Writing.Parts I and 11.
Paris, Unesco, 1953. (Educational Studies and Documcnlr,No.V.)
an analysis might have been, it was too comprehensive and complex to be made
for this study.
Again, the proposal was made that the report should discuss essential steps in
teaching reading in tern of different philosophies, ideologies and systems of logic.
In the final analysis, the methods of developing efficient readers are influenced
by the values sought through reading and the nature of the thinking used in
achieving them, but, because of its complexity, this problem could not be studied
intensively at the time. Attention was focused on teaching methods which have
proved most effective in helping individuals learn to read and write well enough to
meet the practical need of everyday life. Constant reference is made, however, to
the need of adjusting teaching procedures to the purposes to be achieved.
Even within the restricted area studied, the report has many limitations. Information had not been received concerning current practices in reducing illiteracy
in many parts of the world before the report was completed. Again, scientific studies
relating to reading and writing have been camed out in only a limited number of
countries. Although most of the main conclusions reached are supported by evidence
from two or more countries, it cannot be affirmed that they are equally valid for
all. However, the increasing number of studies which have been made recently in
different parts of the world is very encouraging.
Most of the intensive studies have been made with children as subjects. It is
not advisable, of course, to base recommendations concerning the teaching of adults
entirely on such findings. However, most of the conclusions reached are supported
by what evidence is available on adults. Wherever differences exist between the
findings for children and those for adults, they are pointed out. A closely related
limitation is the lack of objective evidence concerning the differences in the ways
children and adults learn. Far more detailed studies are needed in this field to
ensure adequate understanding of the ways in which adults can be taught most
Finally, the validity ot the conclusions of this study is necessarily limited by the
background of the investigator and his capacity to interpret the facts open-mindedly.
As efforts to reduce illiteracy have expanded, questions have been asked concerning
the most effective measures to adopt, particularly the choice of methods in teaching
people to read and write. Fortunately, experience and the results of research are
a guide. They emphasize the great importance of defining at the outset the main
goals to be achieved through literacy and the levels of proficiency required.
Accordingly, this chapter deals in some detail with the purposes of fundamental
education, the role of reading and writing in attaining them, the motives that
impel adults to learn to read and write, the extent of the training needed, and the
sue of the task of eliminating illiteracy.
T h e broader purposes of fundamental education, as conceived by Unesco, closely
resemble the c o m m o n goals of all education. They are ‘to help m e n and w o m e n to
live fuller and happier lives in adjustment with their changing environment, to
develop the best elements in their o w n culture, and to achieve the social and
economic progress which will enable them to take their place in the modern world
and to live together in peace’.’
T h e specific aims of fundamental education are to help people understand
their immediate problems and to provide them with the knowledge and skills to
solve them through their o w n effort. It is an attempt to improve the status and
welfare of the present generation ‘by giving it the minimum of education needed
to improve its way of life, its health, its productivity and its social, economic and
political organization’.2 It is an emergency measure in the sense that it attempts to
improve the status and welfare of both children and adults in areas where educational facilities have thus far been inadequate.
T h e foregoing statements m a y be supplemented to advantage by the following
definition of fundamental education contained in a recent report to the United
Nations Economic and Social Council :3
‘Fundamental education is that kind of minimum and general education which
aims to help children and adults w h o do not have the advantages of formal education to understand the problems of their immediate environment and their rights
I. Unesco. Fundmncntal IGiucation: Desm$tion and Programme. Paris, 1949,p. 9. (Monographs on F d a mental LGiuca&n, I.)
2. Unaco. Lam and Liuc: A W a y oul of Ignorance for r,~oo,ooo,oooPeoble. Paris, 1951.p. 7.
3. UN Economic and Social Council. Administrative Committee on [email protected] Rcporf , ..
Lo thd Economic and Sociul Council. New York, 1953,26 p. (E/2512.)
l'hRole of Reading and Writing in Fundamental Education
and duties as citizens and individuals, and to participate more effectively in the
economic and social progress of their community.
'It is fundamental in the sense that it gives the minimum knowledge and skills
which are an essential condition for attaining an adequate standard of living. It
is a prerequisite to the fill1 effectiveness of work in health, agriculture and similar
skilled services. It is general in the sense that this knowledge and these skills are not
imparted for their o w n sake only. It uses active methods, it focuses interests on
practical problems in the environment, and in this way it seeks to develop both
individual and social life.
'It is concerned with children for w h o m there is no adequate system of primary
schooling and with adults deprived of educational opportunity; it utilizes all
suitable media for their development through individual effort and through
community life.'
As here conceived, fundamental education is often the first stage in organized
efforts to promote personal development and community progress. From the outset,
it stimulates awareness of individual and group possibilities. Such an awakening
m a y occur in a single activity, such as a health demonstration project. In the
course of time, however, it spreads to other activities. In so far as it includes the
knowledge and skills usually acquired in school, fundamental education tries to
develop them according to the needs and interests of the people concerned. Thus
people are taught to read and write only when they recognize that these skillsare
necessary to the fuller attainment of their purposes.
Since programmes organized in specific communities are adapted to their
particular needs, they differ widely. This is strikingly illustrated in descriptions
of the constructive activities carried on by Unesco in Haiti,' in such communities
as Patzcuaroa and Tzent~tnhuaro~
in Mexico and elsewhere throughout the world.4
In the long run however, it is generally believed that all programmes should
seek to promote: skills of thinking and communicating (reading and writing,
speaking, listening, and calculation); vocational skills (such as agriculture and
husbandry, building, weaving and other useful crafts, and simple technical and
commercial skills necessary for economic progress) ; domestic skills (such as the
preparation of food and the care of children and of the sick) ; skills used in selfexpression in the arts and crafts; education for health, through personal and
Community hygiene; knowledge and understanding of the physical environment
and of natural processes (for example, simple and practical science); knowledge
and understanding of the human environment (economic and social organization,
law and government); knowledge of other parts of the world and the people w h o
live there; the development of personal qualities, such as judgment and initiative,
freedom from fear and superstition, sympathy and understanding for different
points of view; spiritual and moral development; belief in ethical ideals and the
habit of acting upon them; with the duty to examine traditional standards of
behaviour and to modify them to suit new ~onditions.~
These aims are very broad and hold potentialities for individual development
and group progress. Although in its initial stages each fundamental education
Unexo. 7hc Haiti Pilot Project: P h e Onc 1947-1gdg. Paris, 1951, 63 p. (Monograph on Fundamental
Educatwn, IV.)
2. Unesco. Laam and Live, op. cit.
3. Unesco. New Horfrom at Tzmtzlnhunro.Paris, 1953, 33 p.
4. Essert, Paul L., Lourenco-Filho, M.B. and Cas, Angelica W. 'Developments in Fundamental
Education for Adults', Review of Educational Research, Vol. XXIII, No. 3 (Adult Education).
Chap. 111. American Educational Research Association, Wahhgton, D.C., 1953.
5. Unesco. Fundamental Education, op. cit., p. 11.
T h e Teaching of Reading and Writing
programme should attend to the most pressing needs, there is scarcely any limit to
its ultimate scope. Once a community has discovered its o w n needs and the possibility
of meeting them, the foundation has been laid for continuous development.
Different views have been expressed concerning the need for literacy in achieving
the purposes of fundamental education. At one extreme is the traditional attitude
that ability to read and write is of first importance in helping people to face their
problems intelligently, to improve their health and their economic and social
status, and to enrich their lives. In accordance with this view, most energy has
been expended in organizing literacy programmes and in teaching young people
and adults to read and write. Unfortunately, little or no effort has been made in
such cases to relate the skills acquired to the practical uses they should serve.
Results have been measured primarily in terms of the number of literacy certificates
At the opposite extreme, some believe that efforts to teach reading and writing
have little, if any place in a programme of fundamental education, that the problem
should be tackled more directly. They argue that literacy campaigns have usually
proved ineffective in helping individuals and groups meet many of their immediate
problems-such problems are so important that they require all the time and energy
available-and that other aids to learning, such as demonstrations, posters, films,
radio broadcasts and the like, make a greater appeal than reading and impart
the needed information and guidance more effectively.
A third point of view assumes that the spread of literacy and the effort to solve
personal and group problems are so closely interrelated that each can be achieved
best through a co-ordinated approach. M a n y of the motives for learning to read
and write grow out of and are directly related to other efforts at improvement.
Under these conditions, it is affirmed,’ individuals use the newly acquired skills
in achieving something they really want. They thus obtain satisfactions through
early reading and writing activities which pave the way for their continued use
in later efforts to improve personal status and help solve group problems.
A n appraisal of all the evidence leads to two conclusions. T h e first is that every
means should be used to help individuals and groups understand and solve their
problems. T h e rapid development during recent years of new aids to learning
and new means of communication has been very fortunate. Experience has shown
that the impact of an idea is usually far greater when it is presented through several
media, e.g. discussion, demonstration, posters, films, radio, newspapers, bulletins
books. When, however, many aids to learning are available, questions often arise
as to the most effective plan to adopt. For example, what is the most effective aid
to use first? In what order should others be used? T o what extent do the answers
to these questions vary with different problems, different degrees of maturity and
ability to read?
T h e second conclusion is that sooner or later reading is essential to the promotion of h u m a n welfare. This view is supported by the results of detailed studies
of the relative merits of reading matter, radio, television and the cinema. As pointed
out by Dale,Z there is no ‘substitutefor reading’ in achieving many types of personal
I. Rex, Frederick J. ‘Literacy-Why
and How: Looking Forward to the Rio Seminar’, Fundamental
and Adult Education, Vol.I, No. 3, 1949,pp. 18-19.Paris, Unesco.
z. Dale, Edgar. ‘Is there a Substitute for Reading?’, Newsletter, Vol. X,April 1945. Bureau of
Educational Research, Ohio State University.
??E Role of Reading and Writing in Fundamenhl Education
development and social progress. Printed matter n o w contains a greater range of
information, deals with more problems, and is a sonrce of more pleasure and
satisfaction than any other available media. It can also be read and reread at the
reader’s convenience and at his o w n rate. H e is thus able to reflect at will on the
issues discussed and the suggested courses of action, and to reach more considered
T h e values inherent in literacy have been discussed at great length in recent publications and at many conferences. As a rule, values emphasized have been those of
greatest importance to the specific area or groups’ concerned.Some very illuminating
efforts have been made to prepare more or less comprehensive lists of values,2 but
they are numerous and varied and it would be impossible to present here a complete
list together with the evidence or arguments that justify them. A n attempt will
be made rather to indicate some of the important ways in which a literate person
has an advantage over one w h o is not: in meeting many of the practical needs of
daily life, such as being warned of danger, finding one’s way about, keeping posted
on current happenings, keeping in touch with one’s family; in improving standards
of living by obtaining valuable printed information relating to health and sanitation, the production, selection and preparation of food, child care and home
management; in increasing economic status through learning of available jobs,
filling in forms and making application in writing, being able to follow written or
printed directions while at work, engaging in vocations which require knowledge
of reading and writing, learning how to spend and take care of wages; in gaining
social prestige and taking part in many individual and group activities that involve
reading and writing; in learning about community activities and trends and the
forces that make for or retard progress, and studying social problems; in meeting
civic obligations through knowing about and observing regulations, participating
in group discussions and in efforts to secure civic improvement, and voting without
personal help in the light of all the information available; in understanding world
affairs through learning about things and events both near and far, other people
and their ways, and the natural and social forces that influence life; in having
access to and enjoying his literary heritage ; in satisfying religious aspirations through
reading sacred literature, participating in various religious activities.
Clearly those w h o provide literacy training have almost unlimited opportunity
to increase the efficiency and enrich the experience of their students. T h e ends
sought cannot be attained merely by developing the basic skills of reading and
writing. As young people and adults grow in ability to read and write, they must
acquire also an understanding of their world. Only as such understanding develops
will they be able to acquire keener insight, more rational attitudes, and improved
behaviour patterns.
Since the values of reading and writing are many we are faced with the question:
what level of literacy is needed to attain them? W e must remember that there are
Unesco. Seminar on Rural Adult Education. Report of Work done by Group Z on Literacy and Adult
Education. Mysore, 1949,p. 3. (Unesco/Mysore/71.)
Clark, A n n Nolan, ‘Preparationof Reading Materials: Subject V-Objectives and Techniques’,
Working Papers. Inter-American Seminar on Literacy and Adult Education, Petropolis, Rio d e
Janeiro, 1949,pp. 3-5. (Sem/Rio/ro/a.g/r
lh Teaching of Reading and Writing
many levels of literacy, varying all the way from mere ability to read a simple
statement and to write one’s name to a high level of maturity in reading interests
and habits. In the past, the amount of training given has vaned with the standards
of literacy adopted in specific areas. Those used most widely are commonly referred
to as ‘minimum standards of literacy’ and ‘functionalliteracy’. T h e nature of each,
and its advantages and limitations, will n o w be examined.
In early efforts to reduce illiteracy it seemed advisable to adopt minimum standards.
With the limited facilities at hand it was necessary to concentrate on the development of only the most rudimentary skills required for reading and writing. T h e
training given consisted, as a rule, of a series of about twenty-four lessons and was
based on the materials in one primer, or possibly two or three. In teaching, attention was focused on word recognition and the basic elements in writing. T h e main
attainments sought were measured in terms of ability to read an easy passage and
to write one’s name or a simple message.
At least three advantages attached to this policy: it gratified the desire of
thousands of adults to be able to read very simple material and thus to meet certain
practical demands; it gave those w h o were successful the prestige that has always
attached to literacy; and it enabled many adults to enjoy certain privileges, such
as the rights of citizenship.
For census purposes there is still need for simple, easily administered standards
of literacy. Unfortunately, however, no universally accepted standards have ever
been adopted. Standards have varied so much’ and have been attained under
such varying conditions that the data are hardly comparable. Several agencies2
are n o w trying to determine adequate standards for census purposes.
Recent reports show that the restricted aims and practices described above
persist in many areas. There are two practical reasons for these relatively low
standards. They are often adopted because they encourage enrolment in literacy
classes. If securing a certificate means long, arduous effort, fewer adults will enrol,
and many w h o do enrol will drop out of classes before the required standards have
been reached. It is very important, of course, to set up goals which can be achieved
readily. T h e error does not lie in adopting easily attainable first goals, but in failing
to set up subsequent goals that lead to a sufficiently high standard.
A second cause of the low standards is the conviction of some administrative
officers that extended programmes of training are neither feasible nor necessary.
They maintain that, because of lack of funds and trained teachers, instruction
should be kept to a minimum and that as soon as a reader is able to decipher the
words of a passage, he can grasp its meaning. Hence, all the training needed in
reading is that required to arrive at the pronunciation of words through phonetic
analysis, or otherwise. They affirm that anyone w h o attained minimum standards
of literacy and had real motives for learning to read and write, and was mentally
alert and capable would be able to make the necessary progress by himself. They
also contend that most, if not all, of those unable to make such effort merit no
additional help.
T h e chief weakness in minimum standards of literacy and the fallacy of the
1953,pp. 13-17.
(Monograkhs on Fundamental
Education, VI.)
Unesco. Improving the Zn&mational Comparabilip of Statistics on Illiteracy and Education. N e w York,
United Nations Economic and Social Council, 1954,1 1 p. (E/CN.3/188,
I. Unesco. Progress of LiteraGy in Variolrs Countries. Paris,
Tht Role of Reading and Writing in Fundamentul Eduatwn
foregoing argument can be readily pointed out. In the first place, if training is
discontinued as soon as such standards have been attained, the trainees are unable
to read and write with ease, or for other than the most elementary purposes. M a n y
w h o receive certificates make little or no subsequent use of their skills. It is not
surprising, therefore, that they soon lose whatever ability to read and write they
m a y have acquired. These statements are supported by experts, such as Dr.Frank
Laubach, and by the results of numerous literacy campaigns.
In the second place, the need for extended training for most of those w h o enrol
in literacy classes has been emphasized by Kotinsky, as a result of wide experience
in the field of adult elementary education. ‘For some individuals, few and far
between, an educational situation which provides for no more than acquisition of
the ability to read and write m a y open u p new vistas and possibilities. Using their
newly acquired tool, they proceed on their o w n to become full persons. ... T h e
vast majority, however, do not have the background or capacity to seize upon
such a tool and put it to full use, opening the world to themselves with it and
making the world, in a sense, their oyster.’: T h e author implies here that adults
will not rise to equal levels of competence and understanding, but that each should
have the kind and amount of guidance needed to enable him to become a literate,
efficient, respected member of his community.
Numerous efforts have been made to develop higher standards of literacy, mostly
based on a concept of functional literacy that has evolved gradually during the last
25 years, which assumes that the training given should be such that the trainees
will be able to meet independently the reading and writing demands made upon
them. Note, for example, the conclusions reached at a conference of provincial
representatives in Northern Nigeria in I 950: ‘A useful standard of literacy implies
that the pupil can make use of what he has learned without further help from the
instructor.’2T h e test adopted for measuring satisfactory progress took the following
form :
‘Reading.Reading with understanding a passage in the vernacular. T h e passage
set should be self-contained,so that it conveys a complete meaning. T h e subject
matter of the passage should be within the understanding and experience of the
candidate. T h e language used should be in the idiom familiar to the candidate. . ..
‘Writing. Writing a letter to a specific person containing specific information.
T h e letter must be framed in the customary form, contain the sender’s address,
and his personal signature. A n envelope should be prepared according to the
accepted method and inscribed in such a way that the addressee is sure to receive it.’3
In promoting functional literacy two principles are observed. T h e first is that
the nature and duration of the training given should be adapted to the needs of
the specific groups served. T h e members of non-literate communities4 are, to a
greater extent than those of literate communities, the product of their specific
I. Kotinsky, Ruth. Elementary Education of Adults :A Critical Interpretation. N e w York, American
Association for Adult Education, 1941,
p. 54. (Studies in the Social Signijcance of Adult Education in
the United Stafcs, No. 26.)
Conference of Provincial Representatives, Zaria, Nigeria, 1950 Report on a Conference of Provincial
Representatives to discuss the Adult Literacy Campaign, Northern Region, 12-16 June ‘950. Zaria, Gaskiya
Corporation, 1950, ,p.6.
3. Conference of Provincial Representatives, Zaria, Nigeria, 1950, op. cit., p. 6.
4. Little, Kenneth L. ‘Social Change in a Non-Literate Community’, in Ruopp, Phillipps, ed.
Approaches to Community Development. T h e Hague, W.van Hoeve, Ltd., 1953,pp. 87-96.
?he Teaching of Reading and Writing
cultures. Their level of achievement, needs and aspirations vary widely in relation
to anthropological and geographic factors, and the social, political and economic
forces that act within and upon the community.The immediate demand for literacy
is recognized in widely varying degrees. T h e examples which follow make clear
the nature of some of these differences.
A field worker in South Africa reported that the young people and adults w h o
attended her literacy classes required training that would enable them to: read
and write letters within the family, be able to locate streets, buildings, etc., observe
danger warnings in the street and at work, follow simple directions in many everyday
situations; be able to read a newspaper to keep up with current happenings and
to obtain information; be able to read ‘how-to-do-it’
books and little books on
healthy living, the best foods to eat, better ways of farming, etc.
Distinctly higher levels of efficiency are required to meet the following additional
needs of illiterate adolescents and adults reported by a national leader in Thailand:
(a) to keep in touch with people and developments throughout the country and
to know its ideals and aspirations; (b) to learn about social, political and economic
problems, to participate in their solution, and to understand the reasons for certain
actions or decisions; (c) to attain greater economic independence (many w h o
cannot read are at a distinct disadvantage in securing jobs; and those w h o o w n
or manage their o w n business are greatly handicapped because they cannot follow
market trends and the factors that influence them); (d) to prepare for the priesthood.
Reports from various parts of the world indicate that a need for still higher
levels of literacy is developing rapidly. In discussing the goals to be achieved through
literacy, the National Seminar on Literacy in Delhi, India,’ pointed out the
following facts: The reader must not only master the mechanics of reading, but
he must grow in his awareness of ‘the social context’ of what he reads and of ‘the
forces operating in his environment’. Only by this means can he understand and
evaluate what he reads, make wise decisions and sense the direction of desirable
social changes and government policies.
T h e foregoing examples indicate that widely different levels of competence
in reading and writing m a y be needed in achieving the goals of different groups.
It is obvious, for example, that the demands made upon groups in meeting only the
simple practical needs of daily life are far less exacting than those made upon
groups which aspire also to play an important role in social reconstruction. The
immediate goal of literacy training in each group is to prepare young people and
adults to meet effectively the demands of everyday life. It follows that each community has the responsibility of deciding on the nature and duration of its literacy
programme in the light of its specific needs. But the demands which must be met
if individuals are to participate in the activities, life and thought of the larger
community of which they are a part should also be studied. It is equally important
to enrich the experience of individuals and open up new avenues of pleasure and
inspiration through reading. A literacy programme2 designed only to promote
ability to solve immediate problems is very limited,
A second principle observed in the promotion of functional literacy is that the
training given should be based on compelling motives for learning to read and write.
Progress is far more rapid when the trainees recognize clearly the goals sought
and are eager to attain them. Accordingly, the expressed motives of the group
should be given chief emphasis in the planning of literacy programmes, in announceI. National Seminar on the Organization and Techniques for the Liquidation of Illiteracy,Jabalpur,
1950. Report. Delhi, Indian Adult Education Association, 1951,p. 46.
Griffin, Ella. ‘Writing and Illustrating Boob to Follow Literacy Campaigns’, Fundmnmhl und
Adult Education, Vol.V, No. 3, 1953, pp. 122-7.Paris, Unesco.
lk Role of Reading and Writing in Fundamental Education
ments of the opening of classes, in the development of training activities and when
persistent effort has to be stimulated.
The difficulty in following such a plan is that strong motives for learning to read
and write hzve been acquired to a varying extent. This fact is clearly illustrated
by the results of a recent study in West Africa. T h e investigator’ found that the
non-literate tribes of that region varied all the way from ‘complete self-satisfaction’
in their illiterate status to ‘a burning desire’ to learn to read and write. Similar
reports have come in from many other areas of the world, though motives for
literacy have spread very rapidly during recent years.
W e shall consider first the problems posed by those w h o have not as yet acquired
compelling motives for literacy. Experience shows that it is more or less futile to
try to promote literacy among such groups until keen interest in learning to read
and write has been awakened. As pointed out earlier, interest can be aroused
readily, as a rule, by creating situations in which it is apparent that ability to read
and write would aid greatly in solving some urgent problem or in securing some
satisfaction or reward which is greatly coveted. W h e n such advantages are
recognized, most young people and adults are willing to put forth the effort needed
to attain literacy. The example that follows shows how keen interest was awakened
in one group.
The members of a non-literate community were greatly disturbed because their
crops were very poor and quite inadequate for local needs. Meetings were held
under the leadership of a fundamental education team to find out what could be
done. As the discussion went forward the group decided to invite a successful farmer
from a neighbouring community to discuss their problem with them. As he described
his o w n procedures in preparing the soil, in putting in crops, and in caring for
them, he was asked where he had obtained the information to guide him. In reply
he displayed bulletins from an agricultural station, pointed to pictures that
illustrated the steps he had described, and gave directions for securing the bulletins.
T h e group recognized at once that they would have to be able to read and write.
Before the close of the meeting a plea was made for literacy training.
Equally powerful motives for learning to read have arisen from efforts to solve
other problems, such as to improve water and sanitary conditions, to prevent the
spread of contagious diseases, to take better care of young children, to select a
balanced diet, to raise livestock more effectively, to compete more successfully
with other communities in making goods for sale. T h e value of such an approach
to literacy training lies in the fact that it is based on problems and needs that are
uppermost in the minds of a group. T h e effects of disregarding such motives were
strikingly illustrated on an island in the Sulu Sea. Because parents could see little
value in the training provided in school for their children, very few attended.
As a result, the parents were asked by government authorities to come together for
a conference. The natives arrived with their hands on their knives, fearful of punishment. T h e chief difficulty soon became apparent when the chief said, ‘Ifyou would
teach in our o w n language, and if what you taught made us better farmers and
fishermen, we would not only send all our children, but would come ourselves.’
As the value of reading is discovered in one field, its use in others usually expands
rapidly, as shown by the following example. T h e people in a densely populated
area north of Manila were very poor up till 1949.They were well placed, however,
to supply Manila with food but, unfortunately, they did not know how to produce it.
It so happened that an agriculture extension worker had recently started a project
with the schoolchildren on h o w to raise chickens. As soon as this project was well
I. Reported by President Horace Bond, Lincoln University, Lincoln, Pennsylvania.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
under way, the value of raising chickens and eggs for sale was discussed and demonstrated in meetings with adults. Widespread interest was soon awakened in raising
chickens. This in turn gave rise to a desire for ability to read and write in order
to obtain and read bulletins providing information. As the economic status of the
people improved, they saw that they might produce other types of food also. This
created the need not only for reading various types of bulletin, but also for keeping
posted on market prices and on the demand for different types of product. As their
ability to read increased, they soon used it in keeping posted on current events
and on community and national issues. Thus the use of reading at first to meet
a practical need soon expands, if properly encouraged and directed, to include
many motives for reading and writing, which may lead ultimately to the development of an informed, alert, highly literate community.
Many, if not most, non-literate groups have already acquired strong motives
for learning to read and write before any organized effort at community improvement begins. These motives are usually so vital that they require immediate attention.
T o neglect them often results in alienating a group and in endangering the success
of the project as a whole. T o provide immediately literacy training based on these
motives is to win the confidence and support of the group and to hasten the day
when reading and writing can be used in the solution of urgent group and individual
problems. It follows that one of the early steps which should be taken by any fundamental education team is to determine the nature and strength of the existing
motives for literacy.
Such motives vary among groups and also among the individuals in a group.
Some motives1 are very subtle and difficult to define-a belief in a literate way
of life, the desire to maintain status with children and friends, unwillingness to be
a victim of ignorance and the tool of others, a compelling desire to learn and
excel, the lure of graduation when literacy certificates are granted.
In the foregoing discussion, the inadequacy of the minimum standards of literacy
that prevailed earlier and the importance of training that ensures functional literacy
have been pointed out. T o achieve this, two principles are followed: firstly, the
incentives and materials used are directly related to the motives that stimulate
specific groups to want to learn to read and write; secondly, the length of the
training given and the level of literacy aimed at are adjusted to the specific needs
of the group or culture. Motives are of two types: those that have their origin in
the urgent and practical needs of a group and are cultivated by those in charge
of community improvement programmes; and those that have been acquired in
other ways by the members of a group. Each type is very important. T h e time at
which literacy training should be introduced and the nature of the motives which
will prove most effective in specific communities can be determined only after
study. Possible procedures to use in this connexion will be considered in Chapter XII.
As implied in the foregoing discussion, a person U functionally literate when he has
acquired the knowledge and skills in reading and Writing whuh enable him to engage effectively
in all those activities in which literacy U normally assumed in his culture or group. Since these
activities vary, a criterion is needed which will serve as a guide in determining
the training essential to produce functional literacy within a particular group.
Rudolfer, Nocmi da Silveira. ‘Paico-pedagogiado adolescente e do adulto analfabet-’, in: Brazil.
Carnpanha de Educqio de Adult-. Ftahndu~6 mctodologia do m
o suplctim. Rio de Janeiro,
Miniaterio da EducqSo c Saude, 1950,pp. 45-6.(Publicas30No. 12, Agosto de 1950.)
Everyone has the right to education
5 Ha;t;At.li~rc~nor3eH
3 Toute personne a droit a l’education
6 CeKOj ilna iipaso
4 T o d a persona tiene derccho a la educcici6n
Types of character used in the writing of various languages
3. French
4. Spanish
5. Russian
6. Macedonian
7. Greek
8. Hebrew
9. Arabic
I I. Korean
12. Chinese
13. Thai
14. Tamil
15. Telegu
I 6. Malayalam
17. Gurmukhi
llsv xp6ljwxri~,iy.
lh Role of Reading and Writing in Fundammtul Education
Such a criterion m a y be defined to advantage in two ways: (a) quantitatively, in
terms of specific attainments or in terms of the amount of instruction necessary to
bring the individual to a satisfactory level of literacy; and (b) qualitatively, in terms
of the content and methods of teaching necessary to achieve the ends in view.
T h e former will be discussed in this section, and the latter in Chapters VII, VIII,
X and XI.
O n e of the best quantitative measure of functional literacy is the ability of
trainees to engage effectively in specific literate activities. For purposes of illustration let us assume, first, that the chief uses of literacy in a community are to read
and understand simple news items and notices posted in the village centre and to
read and write letters to members of one’s family. Progress towards satisfactory
attainment can be measured through a graduated series of exercises which test
ability in these activities. They should begin with very simple reading and writing
activities and extend to those which are as difficult as any in which the members
of the group will normally engage. Training should continue until individuals
are able to perform the most difficult reading and writing activities included in the
A second illustration is based on the practices of many missionaries. A n important
goal of the literacy training given is to enable the trainees to read and understand
religious materials. Tests of satisfactory attainment include selected songs, passages
of sacred literature and other materials used in religious activities. Instruction
continues until those trained are able to read the test passages with satisfactory
accuracy and comprehension. Obviously, the level of literacy required is much
higher than in the previous example. T h e same procedure in principle can be
applied to determine functional literacy for any group. T h e greater and more varied
the demands made on the reader, the broader and more difficult the test exercises.
Instead of using specific measures of competency as described above, tests1
of ability to read and write m a y be developed and applied. They could include
measures of all the specific abilities in reading and writing needed for participation
in the various literacy activities. For reading,Z tests could be prepared measuring
such aspects of reading ability as word recognition, word meaning, sentence and
paragraph meaning, and rate of reading. Each test should include exercises
varying in difficulty from very simple to very difficult. In order to determine h o w
well trainees should perform on the tests before the training ceases, the test m a y
be given to members of the community w h o are sufficiently literate to meet current
needs. Through a study of the records thus secured,it would be possible to determine
the level of achievement on the test which all should attain. Thereafter, the test
could be used to determine whether trainees in literacy classes had attained a n
appropriate level of achievement and also to compare the level of literacy demanded
in difierent communities using the same language.
W h e n literacy problems are considered on a national level, the number of
years of schooling is often used as a basis on which to define standards. A person m a y
be considered functionally literate whose attainments in reading and writing are
equivalent to those of a person w h o has successfully completed three years’scho~ling.~
Four years of schooling have often been proposed as a minimum standard for all
I. Buros, Oscar Krisen. The Third Mental M e m r m e n t s Yearbook. N e w Brunswick, N.J., Rutgers
University Press. 1949,pp. 1047et seq. (Includes descriptions and critical reviews or most of the
mental and achievement tests in current use.)
2. Great Britain, M
inistry of Education. Reading Ability; some suggestions for helping the backwd.
London, H M S O , 1950, pp. ro-13.See also: Duncan, John. Backwardness in Reading: renudies and
prevention. London, George G.Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1953,pp. 20-1.
3. ibid.
7Xe Teaching of Reading and Writing
citizens in the United States. Yet army officials of both the United States1 and
England are insisting on the equivalent of five years, or more, of schooling for all
service men.
The use of such criteria is possible only in communities that have well-organized
education systems and fairly uniform standards of achievement at the different
grade levels. In order to establish an appropriate criterion for a given community,
two procedures are possible. A not very objective one is to compare the skills needed
to engage in essential literacy activities with those attained by pupils w h o have
completed varying numbers of years of schooling. If due allowance is made for the
differences in vocabulary used in reading and writing by children and adults, a
criterion can be defined with reasonable accuracy. A much more objective procedure
is to prepare tests of ability to engage in essential literacy activities and give them to
children or adults, or both, w h o have been in school for varying lengths of time. The
example which follows is based on such a studya in the Philippines.
The tests were prepared on the assumption that functional literacy consists
of ‘first, ability to read and interpret satisfactorily reading matter such as ordinary
letters, newspapers, notices and signs, advertisements and tax receipts; second,
ability to write an ordinary letter’. Ability to solve simple arithmetic problems was
also measured. T h e tests were given to 6,974 pupils in grades 111, IV, V, VI, or VI1
before they left school, and to hundreds of adults. A sampling procedure was used
to eliminate extreme cases and include only children and adults of average capacity.
Because of differences in the language of instruction used, half of each group took
the English version of the tests and the remainder took the vernacular version.
Of the adults w h o took the English version, the percentages of the subjects scoring
73 or higher on the reading test were 33.1,46.1, 62.1 and 78.0 respectively for those
w h o had completed grades 111, IV, V and VI. The corresponding percentages for
those w h o took the vernacular tests were 39.9, 57.3, 63.3 and 74.8. T h e percentages
for handwriting were all higher. Attention is directed next to the scores for children
w h o took the English version. For those w h o had been in school for 3 3/6 (3 years,
6 months), 4 a/6, 5 3/6 years, or w h o had reached grades equivalent to this period
of time, the percentages were 23.3, 57.0 and 79.5 respectively. The corresponding
percentages for those w h o took the vernacular tests were 35.8, 60.4 and 81.4.
Assuming that the tests used were valid as measures of functional literacy, it is
apparent that the equivalent of six years of schooling is essential to ensure satisfactory
attainments on the part of at least three-fourths of the trainees.
The use of prevailing educational standards in defining criteria of functional
literacy has certain merits. There is a marked similarity in the habits and skills,
particularly of reading, acquired by both children and adults up to and including
the levels of achievement with which we are here concerned. Besides, the use of
such standards enables a community or a nation to co-ordinateits efforts in furthering
literacy. O n the other hand, their use has serious limitations. They are only indirect
measures of functional literacy,and if they are based wholly on the achievements of
children, they m a y be invalid when applied to adults. W h e n used, they should be
based upon and accompanied by the results of objective tests given to both children
and adults-as in the example from the Philippines.
W h e n defining a satisfactory criterion for functional literacy, it is essential to
adopt a relatively high standard, for there is very little printed matter related to
adult needs and interests which can be read by anyone w h o has not acquired the
Goldberg, Samuel. A m y Training of Illi&raks in World War II. New York,Bureau of Publications,
I 95I,p. 286. (Conlributiom of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, No.966.)
Flora, Gerardo. ‘A Study of Functional Literacy for Citizenship in the Philippines’. Fundamental
and Adult Education, Vol. 11, No.3, 1950,pp. 24-9.Paris, Unesco.
The Role of hading and Writing in Fundamental Education
reading ability normally attained by chil’dren w h o have had four, or even five
years, of schooling. So m u c h time and energy are expended in preparing less difficult
material that it cannot be produced in sufficient quantity to supply adult needs.
Then again, as a community becomes more literate, its reading matter usually
becomes more varied and difficult. Hence a level of achievement that was suitable
at the outset soon proves inadequate.
A surprisingly large proportion of adults w h o have attended literacy classes and
have received certificates based upon ‘minimum standards of literacy’ sooner or
later are unable to engage in even the simplest literacy activities. T h e most frequent
explanation offered is that the training received had been insufficient to enable
them to read little, if any, of the material available. Their reading skills disintegrate
through disuse. Not infrequently more than 20 per cent of the recruits in countries
having very high literacy ratings have been found to be unable to read a very
simple passage or write a short letter.
Finally, in a study1 of the adults in a typical community in the United States,
comparisons were made of the oral and silent reading ability of 151 adults with
that normally achieved by children w h o had been in school for the same length
of time as the adults had been. It was found that: first, the average reading ability
of the adults corresponded closely with that of children w h o had attended school
for the same number of years; second, those w h o had received as much as six or
more years of schooling averaged slightly higher than did the pupils with w h o m
they were compared; and, third, those w h o had received only five years or less of
schooling tended to score below those with w h o m they were compared. Most of
the adults w h o had received less than three years of schooling were unable to score
at all on the tests. By the time they left school they were not able to read with much
ease or efficiency. Because they later read very little, if at all, they lost the ability.
It was concluded that the equivalent in reading achievement of that normally
acquired in four years of school, and preferably five, was essential.
A relatively high standard may discourage many adults from attempting to
become literate; the programme should therefore be organized in a series of stages.
T h e standards for the first stage should be low enough to be easily and quickly
reached. They should be adequate, however, to enable the pupils to engage in some
of the simpler reading and writing activities of their communities. While one level
is being attained, motives should be developed for aiming at the next. This plan
has already been found very effective in such areas as the Gold Coast, Africa, where
both preliminary and final literacy certificates are granted.
W e shall consider firstly, the extent of illiteracy throughout the world,2 and secondly,
the proportion of children of primary-school age w h o lack schooling.
Data relating to the extent of illiteracy are summarized in Tables I and 2. They
are based on the most recent officialreports available to Unesco at the time of
S. and Leary, Bernice E. What Makes a Book Readable. New York, The Macmillan
Company, 1937, pp. 86-90.
2. Unesco. Progress of Literacy in Various Countries. Paris, 1953, 233 p. (Monographs on Fundamntal
Education, VI.)
I. Gray, William
lh Teaching of Reading and Writing
I. Number of countries and territories reporting illiteracy percentages
classified by illiteracy percentage and age group (latest available data since 1930)
Number of countries
For which
Age group
By illiteracy percentage
10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 63-69 70-79 8-89 go+
data are o-g
available Yo
All ages
5, or 7 &over
14, 15, or 16 & over
Not stated
Estimated total 1952
population in these
countries and territones (millions)
IO, or 1 1
& over
N u m b e r of countries
and territories
- - - - - - - -
Median illiteracy percentage a m o n g tog countries and territories: 41.7.
[Source: Unesco, June 1954.1
Percentage of total world population covered: 81.
2. Number of countries and territories reporting illiteracy percentages,
classified according to continents (latest available data since 1930)
Number of countries
By illiteracy percentage
For which
data are
10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 6-69
America, North
America, South
Asia (excl. U.S.S.R.)
Europe (excl.U.S.S.R.)I 7
tg79 80-89 90+
% %
- - - -
Total number of
countries and
Estimated total 1952
population in these
countries and temtones (millions)
Median illiteracy percentage a m o n g log countries and territories: 41.7.
Percentage of total world population covered: 81.
[Source: Unesco, June 1954.1
llu Role of Reading and Writing in Fundamental Education
writing from rog countries and territories. They cover about 80 per cent of the
world’s population. Important omissions include some of the northern European
countries, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, in all of which little or no illiteracy
exists, and large populations of Africa for which no data were available.
A n analysis of the entries in these tables shows that almost half of the countries
(53 out of a total of 10s)record illiteracy percentages under 40. These countries,
however, are not the most populous areas of the world. T h e median illiteracy
percentage, taking the size of population into account, is almost 55 per cent. This
would seem to justify the prevailing impression that about half of the world’s
population is illiterate. Illiteracy predominaaes in the continents of Africa and Asia,
varies widely among the countries of North and South America, and has been
largely eliminated in Europe, Oceania and the U.S.S.R.Every continent, however,
still faces genuine problems in this respect.
W h e n standards of ‘functional literacy’ are applied, the size of the illiterate
group is increased. In 1920, for example, the Census Bureau of the United States
reported that about 6 per cent of the population was illiterate. T h e measure of
illiteracy used was ‘no schooling whatsoever‘. During the first world war,l when
1,522,256 soldiers and sailors were given tests of ‘ability to read and understand
newspapers and to write letters’, 24.9 per cent of them were unable to do the simple
tasks assigned. These findings indicate that there are significant differences between
illiteracy data based on national censuses and those secured through the use of
tests of functional literacy. Tests given during the second world war showed similar
results; however, the percentage of functionally illiterate was not so great.
Data secured in Great Britain2 and other countries support the contention
that the percentage of adults w h o cannot qualify as functionally literate is much
greater than census records imply. O n the basis of the limited evidence available
it m a y be estimated that 65 per cent (or possibly 70) of the world’s population falls
below the level of functional literacy. Stated differently, about 50 per cent of the
world’s population is quite illiterate and another 15 per cent, or more, is nearly
illiterate. These findings provide a quantitative measure of the problem.
Even more important than the effort to eliminate illiteracy among adults is the
provision of educational opportunities for all children. T h e size of the task is
indicated in a sense by the following statement based on an extended study3 of
children of school age: ‘Of every IO children in the world, 5 do not go to school;
4 are in primary school, and I is receiving post-primary education.’ These findings
show that the world has as yet assumed only half of its responsibility towards its
children. Besides, four-fifths of those in school are in primary schools with so few
grades that they barely carry the child to the level of functional literacy. T o assume
their full responsibility, many areas of the world need to extend educational facilities
a great deal, both in terms of the number of children served and the length of
schooling provided.
As a rule, problems relating to the education of children are not isolated at once
in a programme of fundamental education. In some communities, literacy training
is first provided in classes attended by both children and adults, w h o are taught as
‘What National Defects Result from the W e a k Spots in our Public School System’, Research Bulletin
of tha National Ehcation Association,Vol. I, September 1953,pp. 276-86.Washington, D.C.
2. Great Britain. M
inistry of Education. Reading Ability, op. cit.
3. Unesco. World Suruey of Education. Paris, 1955, pp. 13-31.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
a unit with the same materials. In the course of time, however, the need for primary
schools adapted to the special requirements of child life is recognized. It is coming
to be accepted, too, that the school should be community-centred, as indicated
by the following statements presented in 1949before the Inter-American Seminar
on Literacy and Adult Education: ‘The primary schocl is the school of the people.
It is the fundamental education agency that reaches the masses. It is not simply
a means of transmitting culture, but an institution with a wider range of activity
and social influence.”
Similar views have been adopted in many countries. As stated, for example,
in the 1950 Yearbook of the Philippine Association of School Superintendents, the
activities of the school ‘go far beyond the limits of the school compound and reach
the homes, the occupations, the leisure activities of the people and all the other
aspects of social living. Its subject-matter is not the books but the life which the
children and the adults live. Its activities are those of living instead of imitating
life.’a If the teaching of reading and writing in such schools is to justify itself fully,
the content and methods used should provide children with the knowledge and skills
that will enable them to achieve the vital personal and social objectives for which
the schools were established.
The problem today is huge. Training must be provided for at least half the
children and adults of the world. In addition, further training is needed for millions
of children and adults w h o at some time have attended school or adult classes, but
are not as yet functionally literate.
Tejada N., Carmela. ‘Tema IV-La escuela primaria y el analfabetismo’ in : Inter-American
Seminar on Literacy and Adult Education, Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro, 1949.La ehacibn fundamental &l adulto americano. Washington, D.C.,Union Panamericana, 1951,p. 97. (Seminasios Interamricanos &Edum’bn,No.7.)
Philippine Association of School Superintendents ‘Education in Rural Areas for Better Living’,
1950 rearbook. Manila, Bookman Inc., 1951,p. 5.
C H A P T E R I1
According to some authorities, the number of languages spoken today, exclusive
of minor dialects, is approximately 2,800.~Othen affirm that the number is m u c h
greater. T h e chart between pages 40 and 41includes examples from widely spoken
languages, radically different in structure and in the kinds of characters used.
But, are the various languages so different that the problems of teaching children
and adults to read and write them must be studied separately? Or can they be
classified into a few types around which the chief issues can be organized to
advantage? A n d if so, on what basis can languages be classified, and h o w do the
problems of teaching reading and writing vary among the different types?
T h e languages of the world have been classified by linguists1 in many ways. Of
special value for our immediate purposes is their classification into three groups
by the type of character used in writing.
In the order of their historical development, these are:
I. Word-concept characters, commonly called ideographs (more properly called
as in Chinese. Each character used in writing represents an idea
or concept, more strictly a morpheme, i.e. a meaningful linguistic fortn, rather
than a sound.
2. Syllable-sound characters, often called syllabaries, as in Cherokee Indian or
Japanese. Each character used represents the sound of a syllable, which may
consist of a single phoneme' or a group of phonemes.
3. Letter-sound characters, as in all alphabetic languages. Each letter represents
the sound of one, or sometimes more, phonemes.
T h e characteristics of each of these groups will n o w be discussed in some detail.
Furthermore, some of the problems of teaching reading and writing within each
group will be considered in an effort to discover the influence, if any, of the form and
structure of written languages on teaching methods.
I. Pei, Mario A. 7hc World's Chief Lansuups. 3rd ed. London, George Allen &Unwin Ltd., 1949,p. I 5.
Diringer, David. The Alphabet: A Key to the Hictory of Mankind. London, Hutchinson's Scientific
and Technical Publications, [1948], 607 p.
Gelb, Ignace J. A Study of Writing: 7hc Foundations of Grummakdogv. Chicago, T h e University
of Chicago Press, [
19521, 295 p.
Sapir, Edward. Language, an Introduction to the Study of Speech. N e w York, Harcourt Brace and
Company, 1921,258 p.
3. Gelb, op. cit.
4. A phoneme is a basic sound of a spoken language.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
Today, the Chinese form of writing is the only one consisting entirely of ideographs,
or word-concept characters. Nevertheless, it is used by about one-fifth of the world’s
population. For hundreds of years each community of China pronounced the words
represented by the characters in t e r n of its o w n dialect. People living in various
parts of the country could read and understand the same written language, but were
unable, as a rule, to understand the speech or oral reading of those using other
Ideographs are the smallest units of the Chinese written language. In printed
form the characters assume the appearance of squares, each occupying about the
same amount of space and formed by different kinds of strokes. The number of
strokes in each character varies from I to 52-most characters containing less
than 14.’
T h e Chinese language is monosyllabic,z in the sense that each syllable is usually
one morpheme. It has no inflexional suffixes, prefixes or phonetic modifications to
indicate number, person, sex, etc. Wherever necessary, such relations are explicitly
stated by the use of suitable words. In the classical language, which is still used
to a considerable extent today, each syllable (written with one character) is a word
and the only rules of grammar are rules of syntax. In the modern spoken language,
polysyllabic (mostly disyllabic), derived and composed words are often formed
from monosyllabic morphemes, just as droplet is made from drop and (diminutive
suffix) -let, or schoolhouse from school and house. T h e language has even greater
fluidity than English in its parts of speech. Thus, like cost, set, many a Chinese word
can be a verb, a noun, or an adjective, and its function is determined by its place in
the sentence.As a rule, the word order is that of subject,verb and object, or complement. However, there are sentences with a verb, but no subject, or a subject, but
only a substantive predicate.
Chinese is also a ‘tonal’language. A tone is ‘an accoustic pitch or musical stress,
or change of pitch or stress only.. .. The tones are of the utmost importance;
they are just as much a part of the word as a vowel. Without the tone, the identity
of the word is indeterminate. A word pronounced on a low pitch means one thing,
on a rising pitch another, on a high pitch another’,ajust as the identity of b*d is
unknown unless w e know whether the vowel is a, e, i, or U. These tones should not
be confused with the ‘stressor length or abruptness’of the Indo-European languages.
Complicated and numerous as the Chinese characters are, it frequently happens
that the same character is used for writing different words and that the same word
is written with variant forms of characters. But this is of minor importance.
There are two forms of the Chinese language, the literary and the vernacular.
‘Literary Chinese is a classical language, used only in writing; vernacular Chinese
is a spoken language, now used both in speaking and ~riting.’~
The written use of
the vernacular on a large scale dates back less than 40 years. T h e problem of reading
Chinese is thus complicated by the fact that one meets with both kinds of the
written language today. In the classical language, besides a difference in vocabulary
there is frequent use of historical or classical allusions, so hat the words used often
refer to something beyond the surface meaning. In the vernacular, on the other
Wang, Fung Chiai. ‘AnExperimental Study of Eye Movements in the Silent Reading of Chinese’,
E h d q School j o u m l , March 1935,pp. 527-39.
2. D e Francis, John Francis. Nafwnalinn and Lunguuge Reform in China. Princeton, N.J.,Princeton
University Press, 1950, Chap. 8.
3. Diringer, op. cit., pp. 96-99.
4. Wang, op. cit., p. 528.
InJ?uence of
of Language on Litermy Training
hand, one normally calls a spade a spade. Although the literary form still predominates, the use of the vernacular has increased rapidly in popularity. Clear
evidence to this effect is found in its increasing use in schools.
Historically, Chinese has been printed in vertical alignment, the lines succeeding
each other from right to left and the reader following the lines from top to bottom.
In recent years, horizontal alignment has been introduced, the lines succeeding
each other from top to bottom and the reader following the lines from left to right.
T h e vertical alignment is still the more widely used. With these characteristics of
the Chinese language in mind, attention will be directed next to the methods used
in teaching children and adults to read and write it.
Methodr of Teaching Children to
Read and Write
Ofthe many problems of teaching children to read Chinese none has been discussed
more widely than the methods to use in helping pupils to learn to recognize the
various characters. Because of their very nature, they have been taught largely
in the past by focusing the pupil’s attention on their form and visual characteristics.
As an aid to learning, the characters having the fewest strokes were taught first.
They were written on pieces of paper about two inches square. Usually ten or more
characters were taught at a time and were then reviewed the next day before new
characters were introduced.
T h e characters were learnt by visual scrutiny, association of form and pronounciation, until the characters could be recognized at sight. Since many different
characters were pronounced alike, other aids to learning were often used. When,
for example, a new character was written on a piece of paper, a picture, or another
character of similar pronounciation that had been learned earlier was drawn on
the reverse side.
At first, attention was concentrated on the recognition and memorization of
individual characters. W h e n the pupils reached the age of 7 or 8-0r earlier in the
case of children of high intelligence-the teacher usually began to explain the
meanings of characters. As soon as a pupil had learned about a thousand characters,
he began to read from textbooks for children. Most of the guidance was given
individually. W h e n a lesson began, the pupil went to the teacher’sdesk. The teacher
read a passage aloud, sentence by sentence, the pnpil repeating each. These sentences
were repeated several times until the pupil could read them alone. H e then returned
to his o w n desk and read aloud to himself until he had memorized the passage.
H e then returned to the teacher’s desk to recite what he had learned. If the
recitation was fluent and uninterrupted, a new passage was assigned.
These procedures, which were necessitated largely by the kinds of characters
used and the tonal quality of the language, have been criticized by the Chinese
as slow, arduous and uninteresting. At the beginning of this century, after m a n y
conferences and experiments, changes began to occur, notably the introduction of
phonetic symbols as aids in learning the characters. This trend was greatly facilitated
by an official ruling1 which stipulated that the earlier practice of pronouncing the
characters in terms of the local dialect was to be discontinued in elementary schools.
Instead, the standard national pronunciation was to be taught through the aid of
phonetic symbols, of which there were 37. As a rule, a character was represented
by one phonetic symbol, or at most by two or three. Although the ruling was not
Chu Ching-nung and others. Chaio yu tu tz’u shu (Anencyclopedia of education). Shanghai Cornrnercial Press, 1935.
De Francis, op. cit., Chap. 4.
The TeachinR of Readinn and Writing
generally enforced at the time phonetic symbols proved to be ofgreat value as
aids in learning characters and their use in the teaching of reading spread widely.
In books for the early elementary grades, the appropriate phonetic symbols are
n o w printed beside the characters. Each character is represented, as a rule, by one,
two or three symbols-usually a consonant and a vowel, and sometimes a medial.
In such a word as chang the ch is represented by a consonant symbol, the a by a
medial, and the ng, being a combination of very high frequency, by a vowel ending.
Pupils are first taught the phonetic symbols directly, one after the other, according
to the procedure used when pupils are taught to read by a phonic method. As soon
as all the symbols have been learned and s ~ m skill
e has been acquired in combining
them, the Chinese characters are introduced, accompanied by the appropriate
phonetic symbols. As familiarity with the characters increases, the use of the symbols
is discontinued. They are not used at all in books for advanced pupils. W h e n new
characters are encountered, the pupils find them in dictionaries, accompanied by
the phonetic symbols.
Specific teaching procedures have varied a great deal. For example, the sentence
method has been experimented with in some schools. Very simple sentences are
used in the early reading lessonb and new characters are learned by sight as they
are introduced. As the pupils become familiar with the basic sounds of the words
known at sight, use is made of the phonetic symbols, which are printed beside, or
above, the new characters. Obviously, the problems of learning to read Chinese
are greatly influenced by the characteristics of the language.
This applies also to handwriting. The characters must be learnt individually.
In former times the first step in learning to wrhe was to trace over red printed
characters with black ink. After several months of practice, or when the pupil had
learned to control the brush, specially prepared materials were used as models.
Great emphasis was placed on the recognition of all details of a character and its
accurate reproduction. Practice continued as long as the need for it existedoften throughout life in the case of scholars. M a n y of these formal methods still
T h e first step in the modern teaching of Chinese handwriting is usually to have
pupils learn to write the phonetic symbols and the basic strokes of the characters.
T h e second step is to have them copy materials prepared by specialists in writing.
Medium-sized characters are practised first, and then small and large characters.
M u c h practice in writing is provided by composition work in which model passages
are copied in order to increase the use of written expression.
The ‘Quick’ Method of Teaching Adults to Read
T o stamp out illiteracy in China, use has been made of a so-called ‘quick method”
of teaching the characters in three steps.
T h e first step is to teach the 37 national phonetic symbols, which are presented
on picture charts. Each symbol is associated with a picture of a familiar object, the
name of which has a familiar sound. Various songs are used to assist the pupil to
memorize the pronounciation and order of the symbols. It is reported that all
37 symbols can be learned in six hours. After this goal has been achieved, students
are taught to spell spoken words through the use of the symbols. As the words are
spelled, the corresponding symbols are pronounced aloud several times. Various
A digest based on Su ch’ing Shih tzu fa chiao h e h shon ts’i (Teaching manual for the quick method
of reading Chinese characters), compiled and published by The East Asia. People’s Publishing
Society, Shanghai, 1952;supplemented from other sources.
InJuence of Type of Language on Litmuy Training
sentences containing these words are given as examples. It is not expected that
students will pronounce correctly at first, but they improve with practice. This
step takes 30 hours.
T h e second stage begins with the reading and explanation of characters with
phonetic symbols printed beside them. T h e materials to be read include four volumes
based on a selected vocabulary of 2,000 characters,which are systematicallyarranged
according to similarities of form, meaning and sound. Attention is focused at this
stage on the pronounciation and meaning of each word. As soon as the characters
are known at sight, they are presented without the phonetic symbols.A n experimental
class began by learning 30 characters daily in a two-hour session; the number
increased rapidly. According to the manual, this second stage usually takes about
IOO hours during which from 1,500 to 2,000 words are learned.
T h e final step consists in teaching the students to read textbooks and other
materials so that they m a y become familiar with the practical uses of individual
characters in phrases and sentences. In this connexion oral reading is emphasized.
At the same time, the students are required to study handwriting, composition,
punctuation signs and the use of dictionaries. This step requires about 150 hours,
but the students are then able to read newspapers and write simple letters or short
notes with a minimum stock of characters. All in all, the three steps require about
300 hours.
Current Problem
T h e establishment of a basic vocabulary is a problem which has been studied’
for decades by many individuals and agencies. In this connexion the urgent need
of substituting vernacular words and forms of expression for literary ones has
repeatedly been emphasized. A second problem relates to the simplification of the
form of Chinese characters and a third to the possibility of adopting a phonetic
system without the use of the traditional Chinese characters. T h e history of the
varied efforts that have been made to develop a system of letter-sound characters
that can be applied to the Chinese language has been documented by D e Francis.”
These and other problems were recently discussed by Wie Ch~eh,~Vice-Chairman
of the Committee for the Research on the Reform of the Chinese Written Language.
H e concluded that the nature of the structural elements in the Chinese written
language vitally affected the problem of teaching Chinese to read and write. T h e
need for changes is so urgent that the committee of which he is chairman was asked
in I 952 : ‘(I)T o do research work on the Chinese characters and to draw up a plan
for their simplification. (2) T o work out a new phonetic system for the Chinese
written language.’ T h e gigantic task of reforming a language which has been used
for thousands of years will be carried out in two stages.
In the first stage, the Chinese characters n o w in use will be simplified. This
will involve two steps. Where several characters have the same pronunciation, only
one will be retained. Furthermore, the characters themselves will be simplified by
reducing, whenever possible, the number of strokes used in making them. T h e
committee has already made a selection of about 500 simplified characters, ‘which
are much easier to read and write than the original characters’. After due consideSee Chi pin tzi hui (A fundamental vocabulary of Chinese characters), compiled by Chuang
Chai-hshanand published by the Chung H u a Book Company, Shanghai, 1938,for a study of basic
vocabulary and a comparative list of 5,262 characters compiled from analysis of six different works.
P. De Francis, op. cit.
3. Chueh, Wie. ‘TheProblem of Reforming the Chinese Written Language’, People’s China, IO, 1954,
pp. 18-26.
T ~ Teaching
of Reading and
ration and testing, these simplified characters will ‘be given formal recognition’.
In the second stage a Chinese phonetic system for writing the c o m m o n language
(formerly called Mandarin), will be devised, in accordance with the Peking
pronunciation. It will be tried out experimentally and revised. Furthermore, a
phonetically arranged dictionary will be compiled.After these and other preparatory
steps have been completed, the ‘new phonetic language will gradually be put into
general use’.
T h e Chinese language is a striking example of the influence that the form and
structure of a written language have both on the difficulties encountered in learning
to read and write and the methods required in teaching. T h e problems are so
complex that the written language must be radically changed if China is to become
Most of the world’s languages are written in characters that represent s0unds.l
Sometimes the characters used represent the sounds of syllables; in most languages they represent the sounds of the phonemes which are the basic sound
elements in a language. Japan is the only big nation which uses syllabic-sound
characters. They have also been used during recent years in a section of Africa and
among the Cherokee Indians in the United States.
?he Cherokee
Indian Written Language
In the following discussion, brief reference will be made to the Cherokee written
language, which uses syllabic-sound characters only. A copy of the alphabet appears
in Plate I. It was printed in The New Cherokee Advocate on 25 August I950 in an
effort to revive the use of this alphabet among the Cherokee Indians. T h e top line
in the chart represents the six basic (vowel) sounds, which are combined with
consonants to represent the sounds of syllables. T h e left-hand column introduces
the consonants, which are combined with each of the vowel sounds, with but one
exception. In addition, there are a few consonants that are combined only with
certain vowel sounds. Altogether, there are more than a hundred syllabic-sound
characters. In preparing this alphabet, the inventor made wide use of Latin letters
or modifications of them. T h e basic sound (or sounds) represented by each syllabic
character is represented by the letter (or letters) to the right of it.
A sample of Cherokee printed material appears at the bottom of Plate I. Most
of the words comprise two or more syllables. W h e n writing the Cherokee language
in syllabic-sound characters, it is necessary first to identify the syllabic elements
of given words and then to represent each by its appropriate character. The reverse
process is followed in reading. If the reader does not recognize a word at sight,
he must identify its various syllabic characters in turn and combine them to obtain
the pronunciation.
N o description could be secured of the methods used in teaching the Indians
to read and write their language. It m a y be assumed, however, that both children
and adults first mastered the syllabic alphabet and then applied this knowledge in
recognizing new words when reading or in spelling words when writing. Obviously,
the problems of learning to read and write the Cherokee language through the use
of syllabic-soundcharacters differ from those of learning Chinese.
Bodmer, Frederick. The Loom oflanguage. New York, W.W.Norton &Company, Inc., 194,p. 47.
Injuence of Type of Language on Literacy Training
The Japanese
Japanese writing is a mixture of Chinese characters and syllabic-sound characters,
or kana symbols, (see the example in the chart between pages 40 and 41), which
are put together according to the Japanese rules of syntax. The origin of this
unique kind of writing may be readily explained. The first writing used in Japan
consisted of characters borrowed from China. However, their use soon proved
to be quite inadequate for the Japanese language, which is multi-syllabic and
agglutinative-that is,root words or their derivatives are modified by the addition
of secondary roots, which gradually lose their original independence and become
affixes or infixes. In order to overcome some of these difficulties, the Japanese
first tried to select and use Chinese characters having the same sounds as the
missing elements. This device was so cumbersome that syllable-sound characters,
often called syllabaries,were introduced.
The Japanese syllabic characters, or kana, are of two types:‘ the kata-kana, or
‘rigid’style, which has been used mainly in the past in learned works, official
documents, and the transliteration of proper and foreign names; and the him-gana
(‘plain’,‘simple’),or cursive style, which is used chiefly in newspapers, novels, and
in everyday life generally. Although the kana signs do not constitute a truly syllabic
script,Japanese sentences may be written entirely in kana symbols, which may be
either him-gana or kata-kana; or in a mixture of Chinese characters and kana symbols.
In the latter case,the kana symbols are used to represent what is genuinelyJapanese
or to give the Chinese characters their appropriate grammatical function and
inflexions. Most adults usually employ both Chinese characters and kana symbols
in writing. Children with a limited vocabulary of Chinese symbols usually rely
largely on kana symbols in both writing and reading.
When Japanese syllables, as represented by kana symbols, are combined into
words, a given word may have two or more meanings. Some of these meanings can
be readily distinguished in oral speech by the pitch of the voice-a rising or lowering
tone at the end of the word-or they are indicated by an auxiliary word, which may
be a combination of syllables. When reading, one must determine the meaning
through a careful study of the context.
Both the kata-kana and the hira-gana contain 47 syllables,which have been used
for centuries. In addition, there is a sign for n, which is not independently pronounced. ‘Unlike the kata-kana, the hira-gana signs have many variants... of
which about 102 are used in printing; in everyday writing one sign is generally
employed for each syllable.The him-gam script is highly cursive; frequent ligatures
make it exceedingly difficult to read.’*The kana signs represent only open syllables,
that is consonants followed by vowels;this is the only type of syllable in theJapanese
language. Diacritical marks are used to distinguish similar sounds.
Thousands of Chinese characters were used in Japanese writing. As a result of
research and vigorous agitation,however, the number has been gradually reduced.
In compliance with a recent reg~lation,~
the number to be taught in schools was
reduced to 88I. Practically all of them have several pronunciations. As the number
of Chinese characters in use has decreased,their proportion to the syllabaries has
also been greatly reduced. Today there is approximately one Chinese character
to three Japanese syllables (consisting of syllabaries) in adult reading matter. The
proportion is about one to five in juvenile reading matter.
Gelb, op. cit., p. 159.
Diringer, op. cit., p. 173.
3. Kurasawa, Eikichi. Outline Theory of National Language Education. Tokyo, Iwasaki Shoten, 1950,
96 p. (Teaching Profession series, No.20.)
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
As for the disposition of the characters on the page, ‘nowadays, no fixed rule
is observed; some books are even printed in columns to read from left to right and,
to further complicate matters, there has arisen a new custom of writing horizontally
as well’, usually from left to right, but occasionally from right to left. In 1942 the
Japanese Ministry expressed preference for writing from left to right. Studies have
been made of the relative merits of horizontal and vertical script and of the various
forms in which the Japanese language is written. T h e findings will be summarized
in Chapter 111.
Methodr of Teaching Reading and Writing
H o w can children and adults be taught to recognize two different kinds ofcharacters
readily and to combine their use effectively in both reading and writing? Traditionally, the methods used in teaching children and adults have been essentially
the same. T h e syllabic or kana symbols were learned first. After skill had been
acquired in reading short words and sentences written in these symbols, Chinese
characters were introduced. T h e simpler characters were taught first through the
use of one of three general procedures: they were introduced individually and
taught by the see-and-say method; they were learned through the use of syllabic
symbols which were printed beside or above the Chinese characters; and they were
sometimes taught as integral parts of sentences according to the usual sentence
At present, the general principle underlying the teaching of reading and writing
is that the child should be taught in school the syllabic symbols and all the Chinese
characters that are usually required in adult life. As a rule, the h i m - g a m symbols
are taught along with some of the Chinese characters. T h e 881 Chinese characters
are taught at elementary school, and the number is increased to I ,850at high school.
In the early stages of elementary education the teaching of reading starts
with words and gradually includes sentences. T h e value of this procedure is n o w
being questioned. Some argue that the traditional method of memorizing the
Chinese characters one by one and of writing them should be revived. They point
out that Chinese characters are composed of varying numbers of strokes arranged
in patterns which differ in complexity. They maintain, therefore, that the best way
to teach the characters is to analyse them into their constituent elements and to
practise writing them stroke by stroke. Those w h o oppose this plan point out that
Chinese characters represent ideas and form parts of sentences and that the methods
used should be those which are most effective in developing habits of reading for
meaning and of conveying ideas through writing.
At the adult level, as there is scarcely no illiteracy in Japan, very little provision
for teaching totally illiterate adults to read and write is needed. However, for those
with limited reading ability the phonetic symbols are being printed beside or above
the Chinese characters. This has proved very helpful. Adults are also encouraged
to make use of libraries and of the various courses offered for their benefit.
Only a few of the problems have been considered. T h e examples given show
that the use of a wide variety of procedures is necessary because of the two types
of character, each of which presents different kinds of learning problems. T h e
difficulties are so numerous that many unsuccessful attempts have been made to
adapt other alphabets, including the Latin, to the Japanese language. Although
linguistic factors exert a strong influence on the nature of the specific methods
used in teaching reading and writing, many of the problems are the result of
historical and social factors influencing Japanese life.
InJuence of
[email protected]
of h g u u g e on Literacy Training
A distinguishing feature of all alphabetic languages is that their basic sounds, or
phonemes, are represented, as a rule, by different letters or marks. They enable
the reader to recognize more or less quickly the pronunciation of the words in a
passage. After he has mastered a small number of letters, usually less than 40,
a reader has access to all the literary resources of a language. In the judgment of
linguists, letter-sound characters provide ‘the most highly developed, the most
convenient and the most easily adaptable system of writing” that exists today.
Because of its many advantages, its use has spread to all parts of the world. In
practically all recent efforts to promote literacy among people w h o had no writing
system, letter-sound symbols have been used to give the language written form.
Although all alphabetic languages are similar in that they use letter-sound
characters in writing, they differ in many significant respects. As shown by the
examples on the chart between pages 40 and 41,the forms of letters differ radically.
Because of their simplicity and the ease with which they can be written and read?
Latin characters are used more widely than any others.
Moreover, the number and character of distinctive sounds of a language vary
Those which are very important in some languages m a y have little or no
significance in others. As a result, the number of letters in the various alphabets
differs considerably. T h e languages of Polynesia-extending from Hawaii to N e w
Zealand-have relatively short alphabets.‘ Some have as few as I 2 sounds, including
five vowels (a, e, i, 0, U) and seven consonants (m,n, k, 1, p, r, 1). M a n y of the native
languages of the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Malay Peninsula, make use of from
16 to 20 letters. Other languages have longer alphabets. Thailand, for example,
has 46 letters, including 18primary vowel sounds, 21 separate consonant sounds,
and other components and combinations. Literacy experts agree that it is much
easier, other things being equal, to teach children and adults to read and write
when the language has a small alphabet. Before referring to other differences in
alphabetic languages, attention is directed to certain problems c o m m o n to all w h o
attempt to teach reading and writing in these languages.
Teeachins Problems
T h e particular problems related to the teaching of reading and writing in the
alphabetic languages arise from the fact that the characters represent phonemes
or basic sounds. A few examples will show h o w largely the use of letter-sound
characters has influenced teaching methods.
T h e ancient Greeks believed that letters should be mastered before words.
According to Dionysius, ‘ W e first learn the names of the letters, then their form
and length, their syllables and their usual variations. Then w e begin to read and
write, but syllable by syllable, until w e have acquired some facility, then connectedly
as w e choose.. .. As time goes on, w e read any book at sight, without reference
to the
In principle, this procedure, which is known as the letter or alphabetic
method of teaching reading, persisted for two thousand years or more.
I. Diringer, op. cit., p. 37.
z. Institut international de la cooperation intellectuelle.L’Adoption uniuerselle des curucldres latinr. Paris,
1936, 196p. (Dosskrs de la coopJration in&dlectuclle.)
3. Bloomfield, Leonard. Language. New York, Henry Holt & Company, 1933, pp. 79-8?.
4. Laubach, Frank C. Teaching the World to Read: A Handbook for Literacy Campaigns. London, Lutterworth Press, 1948, p. 54.
5. Dionysius of Halicarnassus. De admirundi ui discendi in Demosthene. Ed. H.Usener and L. Radermacher. Leipzig, Tuegerg, 1899,T o m e I, Chapt. 52, p. 242.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
Educationists in countries using alphabetic languages began to advocate that
the teaching of reading should begin with the mastery of the sounds of letters,
rather than their names, since the former were of chief importance in learning to
pronounce words. Accordingly, phonetic methods of teaching reading were
developed. The basic sounds of letters were learned first, then syllables and words.
As soon as some skill had been acquired in recognizing new words, sentences were
read, and in time, longer passages. The many changes that have been made in the
techniques of teaching reading will be reviewed in Chapter V. Each of them was
designed to develop a higher degree of skill in recognizing words through a knowledge
of the sounds of the letters. This is in sharp contrast of course to the see-and-say
method used in teaching word-concept characters, and differs in certain respects
from the methods used in teaching syllabic-sound characters.
Within recent times, the wisdom of concentrating on the sounds of letters during
the early stages has been challenged. Opponents of the method contend that since
reading is a thought-getting process, attention should be directed at the outset to
the meaning of what is read. In harmony with this assumption, ‘word’, “sentence’
or ‘story’ methods have been developed for the first reading lessons. As soon as a
small basic vocabulary has been learned, known words are broken up into syllables
and letters, and appropriate sounds are attached to them. Thus the ‘graphicalsound’ correspondence in all alphabetic languages has played a prominent role
in determining the features of the methods used in teaching children and adults
to read and write.
Variations in Teaching M e t h o d within
the Alphabetic Group
The methods used in teaching reading differ in some respects owing to significant
linguistic differences among the alphabetic languages. T h e extent of letter-sound
correspondence varies considerably. This is strikingly illustrated in a comparison
of the Spanish and Korean languages, in which there is a high degree of correspondence between letter and sound, with the English and French. In each of the
latter the same sound m a y be represented by different letters, some letters m a y
have two or more sounds or indeed none at all in specific words, and variations in
the sounds of given letters are often indicated by supplementary or diacritical marks
in particular words. As the degree of the graphic-sound correspondence decreases,
learning to recognize words becomes increasingly complex. The rules governing
the pronunciation of words and their exceptions must be carefully studied and additional clues to word recognition must be found. It follows that many of the detailed
procedures used in teaching children or adults to read different alphabet languages
will vary with the extent of correspondence between signs and symbols.’
A second difference relates to the fact that some alphabetic languages are more
syllabic than others. Spanish, Portuguese and many native African languages are
of the syllabic type. The Spanish word mano, for example, is made up oftwo syllabic
units, ma and no. Such units can be learned readily as wholes, because most of them
when presented separately form familiar words with which clear, vivid meanings
have already been associated. As soon as given syllables have been learned, they
can be combined into words whose pronunciations and meanings can be recognized
at once because they are made up of familiar units. They can also be used in recognizing new words. Obviously the necessary knowledge and skills, and the teaching
techniques used to impart them, differ significantly from those required in languages
Hernlndez Ruis, Santiago and Tirado Benedi, Domingo. La ciencia de fa educacidn. 2a edici6n.
Mtxico, Editorial Atlante, S.A., 1949, p. 462.
Ily4umcc of Tje of tanguage on Litcrag Training
in which the phonetic elements are learned and applied separately. There is wide
agreement among authorities that teachers should, wherever possible, make effective use of syllabic units.’
A third difference is due to the way in which vowel sounds are represented.
GelbS distinguishes three types. In Type I, the vowels are indicated by separate
e, i, 0, u-as in English and Latin. In Type 11, the vowels are indicated
is tu. In
is tu, 9 is te, and
by special marks; for example, in Arabic
Type 111, the vowels are indicated by other marks attached to a letter or by internal
modifications of it, as in the Indic and Ethiopic languages. In some languages, the
variations involved in Types I1 and I11 are introduced in early instruction in
reading and their use is continued thereafter. In others, they are introduced at the
beginning, but discontinued later. As a result of these variations, different problems
arise, which call for the use of appropriate teaching procedures.
Alphabetic languages also differ considerably in word order. Whereas the
usual order of the principal elements of a sentence in many languages is subject,
verb and object, or complement, this is by no means so in all. In German, for
example, the verb usually follows the object or complement. Again, in some languages, adjectives precede the word which they qualify, as in English; in others,
they usually follow, as in French and Spanish. T h e extent to which such differences
create teaching problems has been an open question. If the word order in the
written language is similar to that used in speech, it m a y be argued that written
or printed material can be interpreted with equal ease by members of the different
language groups. As the sentence structure of the passages read varies and become
more complex than that with which the reader is familiar, difficulties will be encountered in any language.
M a n y alphabetic languages are highly inflected, while others are not. By an
inflected language is meant one which ‘indicates grammatical relations by means
of endings or ‘‘suffixes’’ which are added on to the “roots” of words’. This was
particularly true of the original Semitic and of the Indo-European languages, in
which inflected forms of both nouns and verbs are used for various purposes. Latin
is a good illustration of a highly inflected language. Most modern languages have
undergone some simplification. The Romance languages, for example, ‘have simplified their structure’ with regard to nouns, but practically not at all with regard
to verbs. Judgments differ as to the extent to which such variations affect difficulty
in learning to read.
In most languages words are written as separate units, for example, ‘a boy
hit the ball’, but in some, such as Thai, the words are run together in this manner:
‘aboyhittheball’. Obviously, the problem of identifying words is different. Then
again, languages differ morphologically, that is, in the construction of words and
parts of words. At one extreme there are completely analytic languages in which
‘each word is a one-syllable morpheme or a compound word or phrase-word;
at the other, highly synthetic languages like Eskimo, which combines long strings
of bound forms into a single word, such as a: wlisa-ut-issay-si-niay~u~a
(I a m looking
for something suitable for a fi~h-line)’.~
M u c h careful study is needed ‘before rules
for joining and adjoining the elements of sentences can be e~olved’.~
what is a word in one language may not be a word in another.
I. Wallis, Ethel E. ‘Using Linguistic Analyses in Literacy Methods in Mexico‘, Fundamental and Add!
Education, Vol. VI, No.4, pp. 16-17.Paris, Unesco, 1952.
Gelb. op. cit., pp. 197-8.
3. Bloomfield, op. cit., p. 207.
4. Barrera VAsquez, Alfredo. Vernacular Languages in Education. Chapter 11. (Unpublishedmanuscript
on file in Unesco Education Clearing House.)
lib Teaching of Reading and Writing
Finally, some alphabetic languages, such as Yoruba, which is spoken in Nigeria,
are tonal. T h e appropriate tone is indicated by marks which differ in type in the
different tonal languages. These marks are usually taught in early reading lessons
and are often omitted later. If they are not taught, the reader must first make a
careful study of the meaning of a passage before he can give the appropriate tone
values in oral reading. It follows that teaching people to read tonal languages sets
special problems. T h e same holds for languages which use stress.
Summing up, all alphabetic languages make use of letter-sound characters in
writing, but they vary radically in both form and structure. Only a few examples
of these variations have been presented. For a more complete and detailed description of them, the reader is referred to such specialists as Bloomfield, Bodmer,
Diringer, Gelb, Preston and Sapir.1 T h e examples given, however, explain some of
the differences in teaching procedure. W e m a y conclude, therefore, that, in planning
reading and writing programmes, a careful study should be made of the unique
linguistic characteristics of the language to be used.
Sapir, op. at.; Preston,
Ralph C., ‘Comparisonof Word-recognitionSkill in German and in American Children’, Hmury
School Journal, LIII (April 1953), pp. 4.43-6.
I. Bloomfield, op. cit.; Bodrner. op. cit.; Diringer, op. cit.; Gelb, op. cit.;
C H A P T E R I 1 1
T h e preceding discussions of social and linguistic factors make clear the diverse
nature of the problems encountered in promoting world literacy. If our search
for guiding principles were to stop at this point, w e might conclude that literacy
problems must be solved more or less independently in regions using different
languages. Before doing so, however, w e should consider with equal care related
psychological factors. Accordingly, this chapter deals with the basic processes of
reading in different languages, and the extent to which they resemble one another.
If they are found to be similar, an effort will be made to ascertain the attitudes and
skills required in reading all languages.
Because of their very nature, the mental processes involved in reading are difficult
to describe. After reviewing the evidence available, it seemed advisable to start
with the basic facts revealed by photographic records of eye movements. Previous
research has shown that eye-movement records are a very illuminating source of
information as to the first steps in reading and the way in which words are recognized and meanings acquired. Furthermore, evidence was already available for
several languages, and could be obtained for additional ones.
In the discussion that follows, use will be made of the results of four groups
of studies: the pioneer studies of reading made in France and Germany during
the latter half of the nineteenth century; extended eye-movement studies of
reading made in the United States since 1900; similar studies made of the
reading of the Chinese, Japanese and Spanish languages since 1920; and studies
of reading in fourteen languages, made specifically for the purposes of this
report. T h e languages studied employ the three distinctive types of characters
used in writing throughout the world today. They also include widely diverse
types of alphabetic languages. As a result, they m a y be assumed to be fairly
Present day knowledge of the psychological processes of reading is based on studies
made in France and Germany during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
T h e Teaching of Reading and Writing
T h e early studies of Java1,l Lamare,a and Landolt,’ in France, and of Ahrens,’
Erdmann and Dodge,6 and Goldscheider and Muller,O in Germany, soon attracted
wide attention and led to related studies by other investigators.
Certain facts relating to the behaviour of the eyes in reading have been ascertained
by observation and the use of various devices.
I. T h e eyes move from left to right along the line, by short, quick movements
and pauses, followed by a rapid return sweep from the end of one line to the
beginning of the next. It was demonstrated that the eyes do not move continuously along the line, as had formerly been assumed.
2. The eyes pause, as a rule, from 4 to I O times along a line of ordinary length.
The first pause is a short distance from the beginning of the line, and the last
pause somewhat farther from the end of the line.
3. Individuals vary widely in the number of pauses made in reading specific
passages and, as a result, in their speed of reading. T h e amount read in a given
period by some persons is as much as five or more times that read by
4. The number of pauses made by the same reader vanes widely according to
familiarity with the materials, their difficulty and interest.
5. A mature reader makes a relatively small number of pauses per line when
reading simple material and proceeds line after line in about the same number.
With difficult passages, the number of pauses per line m a y be much greater.
The foregoing findings challenged the validity of a widely accepted view, namely,
that reading proceeds by letters. Through the use of a short exposure apparatus,
letters, words and sentences were exposed for very brief periods, such as one-tenth
or one-fiftieth of a second and it was found that:
r. Four or five unrelated letters, or words consisting of from four to five times that
number of letters, could be recognized at a single short exposure.
2. Increasingly large amounts were recognized at each exposure, the materials
used consisting of unrelated letters, unfamiliar words, familiar words, short
sentences, or proverbs. This finding implies that the amount perceived at each
exposure depends in part on the extent to which the material presented has
meaning or ‘makessense’ to the reader.
3. The more unfamiliar a sequence of letters, the more perception proceeded by
letters. As the words read became increasingly familiar, fewer and fewer clues
Javal, Dr. Emile. ‘Sur la physiologie de la lecture’, A n n a b d’oculistiqut, 1878 et 1879.(Several
2. Lamare, Dr. ‘Des mouvements des yeux pendant la lecture’, Comptes rendu de la Sociik! Franpise
3. Landolt, Dr.Edmond. ‘Nouvellesrecherches sur la physiologie des mouvements des yeux’, Archives
d’ophlhalmologie,11, 1891,pp. 385-95.
4. Ahrens. Dit Bewegung der Augtn beim Schreiben. Rostock, 1891.
5. Erdmann, Benno and Dodge, Raymond. PsychologirGht Untersuchungen uber das h e n auf expm’mmleller Gmndlage. Halle, a.S., M.Niemeyer, 1898,360 p.
6. Goldscheider, A. and Muller, R.F. ‘Zur Physiologie und Pathologie des Lesens’, ,sCitschn$ fur
klinische Medizin, M.XXIII,p. 131.
Nature of the Reading Process in Various Languages
were needed to ensure their recognition. As a result, it was concluded that
reading was now by words or phrases, now by groups of letters, and n o w by
individual letters, according to familiarity with the material, its difficulty,
and the skill or efficiency of the reader.
4. In the recognition of new words, certain letters or groups of letters were perceived more quickly than others-letters which have distinctive shapes or
which extend above or below the line. These attracted attention and provided
clues to the recognition of the word as a whole. If the reader had his mind on
the meaning of the passage, the recognition of a few elements of a word within
his spoken vocabulary was all that was needed to suggest it.
These findings not only invalidated the earlier views, namely, that reading proceeds
by letters and that the eyes move continuously along the lines; they led to the
development of a new concept of reading. The good reader is intent on the meaning
of what is read, at each pause he recognizes words, or groups of words, as wholes
-that is, by their general form and striking features-and he proceeds as rapidly
along the lines as he can grasp their meaning. W h e n he meets new and unfamiliar
words, however, he must attend to their details. As he becomes more and more
familiar with such words, fewer and fewer clues are needed to ensure the recognition
of both their pronunciation and meaning.
This new concept of reading was so challenging that it stimulated research
into the ways in which different languages were read. It also cast doubt on the validity of teaching methods which focused attention on skill in word recognition.
Detailed studies of the reading of English began in about rgoo. Building upon
the notable work that had been done in France and Germany, psychologists devised
improved methods of photographing eye m0vements.l Interest centred at first
on the general nature of reading.’
As these studies progressed, attention was directed to differences between good
and poor readers and between oral and silent reading; to the development of
Through the use of specially built cameras, a beam of light was photographed which came from
either a nitrogen or an electric bulb. This beam of light was reflected first to the cornea of the eye
from silvered glass mirrors, and then from the cornea through a camera lens to a moving film. As
the eyes moved, the position of the beam of light w a broken by an electrically driven tuning fork,
which vibrated at a fixed rate-usually 25, 30 or 50 times per second. As a result, a dotted line
was shown on the developed film (see Plates I1 to VI inclusive). It was thus possible to secure
records showing the position and duration of the eye pauses, or fixations.Through the use of this
general technique,supplemented by the use of short-exposuredevices,studies were m a d e of many
kinds of problems.
2. Dearborn, Walter Fenno. T
he Psychology of Reading; an experimental study of the reading pauses
and movements of the eye. New York, T h e Science Press, 1906,134 p. (ColumbiaUniuersib Contributions to Philosophy and Psychology, Vol. XIV, No. I.)
Huey, E d m u n d Burke. I h e Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading. N e w York, T h e Macmillan Co.,
1912, 469P.
3. Schmidt, William Anton. A n Experimental Study in the Psychology of Reading. Chicago, University of
Chicago Press, 1917, 126 p. (Supplementay Educational Monograph, Vol. I, No.2.)
7% Teaching of Reaa’ing and Writing
basic habits of recognition from early childhood to adulthood; and to the effect
on reading of differences in the kinds of material read, their difficulty, and the
reason for reading.=
One n
dirt. Je nejvois pas \ien mirnent je\ peux le
i f
i ]
bedeckl. Der Reg n fallt au die Dache und
Figure I. Examples of eye-movementrecords in three languages: (a) a college student in the United
Statesa; (b) an efficient reader of French;‘ (c) a native German reader.6 In this and the following
figure, the vertical lines represent centres of fixations. T h e numbers above the lines indicate the serial
order of fixations; those below indicate duration in thirtieths of a second.
W e shall examine first h o w adults read simple passages silently, as revealed by
eye-movementrecords. For purposes of comparison, Figure I presents typical records
of the reading of English, French and German. T h e vertical lines represent the
pauses, or fixations,made in reading. They cross the lines of print at the points where
the eyes were focused at the various fixations. The numbers at the top of the vertical lines show the order in which the fixations were made; those at the bottom
indicate the length of the fixations, or pauses, in thirtieths of a second.
The examples in Figure I show that each of the three readers made five fixations
per line, with no regressive, or backward, movements. T h e records for other lines
Gray, ClarenceTruman.Types of Reading Abilily as Exhibited through Tesfs and Laboratory Expniments.
Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1917, 196 p. (Supplementary Educational Monograph, Vol. I,
Buswell, G u y Thomas. Fwzdatnmtal Reading Habits; a Study of their Development. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1922, 150p. (Sufiplementary Educational Monograph, No. 21.)
2. Judd, Charles Hubbard and Buswell, G u y Thomas. Silent Reading: A Study of the Various Typs.
Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1922, 160 p. (SupplementaryEducational Monograph, No.23.)
3. Buswell, G u y Thomas. Fundamental Reading Habits: A Study of their Development, op. cit., p. 3.
4. Buswell, G u y Thomas. A Laboratory Study of the Reading of M o h Foreign Languages. N e w York,T h e
Macmillan Co., 1927,p. 23. (Publicationsof fheAmerican and Canadian Committees on M o d e m Languages,
5. Buswell. G u y Thomas, ibid., p. 83.
Nature of the Reading Process in Variotu Limpages
which they read showed that the number of fixations per line varied from four to
six and that occasional regressions occurred. In general, however, each reader
recognized at least one. word quickly at each fixation and proceeded regularly
along the lines as rapidly as he could grasp their meaning. Obviously words were
recognized instantly by their general form or distinctive features rather than by
specific recognition of each letter. T h e reader was thus able to attend to the meanings
of the various words and to fuse them into the ideas represented by the sentences
and longer units read.
Further study of records of mature readers shows that they often depart, for
several reasons, from the pattern just described. If, for example, an unfamiliar
word appears in the text, a good reader m a y fixate it several times, as he searches
for clues to its recognition. Similarly, the effort to secure a clear grasp of meaning
m a y result in re-reading of words and phrases for clues. Moreover, a good reader
often re-reads a sentence or paragraph in order to grasp its meaning more fully
or to verify his first impression.
T h e evidence now at hand justifies the conclusion that mature readers of French,
German and English follow essentially the same procedure in the silent reading of
simple material. They recognize words and groups of words at each fixation of the
eyes and proceed as rapidly as they can grasp the meaning of what is read. As the
material increases in difficulty, more detailed attention is paid to individual words.
T h e mature reader overcomes the difficulties he meets in reading in an orderly and
efficient manner.
Unfortunately, all adults w h o have been taught to read do not acquire equal
efficient habits. Striking evidence of this was obtained by Buswel1,l w h o arranged
the silent reading records of eight adults in order from best to poorest.
Those presented in Figure 2 are the first, fifth and eighth in theseries. T h e first
record is that of a very efficient reader. It shows that he recognized two or more
words at each fixation and that his eyes moved regularly from left to right along the
lines. As they did so, the meanings of the words recognized were fused into the
idea or ideas represented by the sentence. Such a reader is able to make wide use
of reading to meet practical needs, and also for pleasure.
T h e second line shows the record of a less mature reader, whose eyes made frequent fixations. However, there was only one regressive, or backward, movement
of the eyes. This procedure in reading m a y be described as slow and careful. Apparently, the words had not been mastered well enough to be recognized instantly
in units of two or three. A reader of this type can comprehend simple material
fairly well-though he is not able to compete with superio? readers in speed-and
he encounters many difficulties with more complex material. H e needs much practice before he can read fluently, easily and with satisfaction.
T h e third line is that of a very poor reader. It shows that he made many fixations per line, focused on each word from one to three times and moved irregularly
back and forth along the line in search of clues to pronunciation and meaning.
T h e first fixation was too far from the beginning of the line to permit him to recognize the first word-hence the backward movement to the second fixation. His
performance from that point on shows that he was encountering much difficulty.
How Adults Read. Chicago, T h e University of Chicago Press, 1937, p. 55.
(Supplementary Educational Monograph, NO.45.)
I. Buswell, G u y Thomas.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
e negro a little h
Afte the war he gave
ar h
12 4
Fig. 2. Silent reading of three adults.
This is often due to lack of systematic training in reading, inadequate emphasis on
the skills of word recognition, or failure to develop a thoughtful reading attitude.
Whatever the cause, this adult is poorly prepared to use reading as an aid in meeting
the demands of everyday life or in attaining the goals of fundamental education.
There is abundant evidence that the foregoing conclusions apply also to the
reading of French and German.
The early studies made in France and Germany showed that many adults read
much more rapidly silently than aloud. By 1900,this discovery had attracted
wide attention. As a result, many subsequent studies were concerned with the
different processes involved and the relative efficiency of oral and silent reading.
Huey, for example, w h o measured the oral and silent reading rates of English by
university students, found that their average rate ‘when reading silently was 5.63
words per second at their ordinary speed and 8.21 at their maximal’; and when
reading aloud, was, ‘3.55 words per second at their ordinary speed and 4.58 at
their maximal’.’
According to Huey, efficient readers proceed from one and a half to two times
as fast silent as they do orally. W h e n the scores of individuals were examined, it
was found that many adults read three, four, or even seven times, as fast silently
as orally. Similar differences have been reported by other investigators. It follows
that silent reading is far more time-saving than oral reading: whereas in oral reading
one can proceed only as rapidly as one can pronounce the words, in silent reading
one can read as rapidly as one can grasp their meaning.
Huey, op. cit., p. 175.
of rhc Reading Process in Various Languages
As this fact was recognized, questions arose as to the relative efficiency of oral
and silent reading in grasping meaning. In an early study by Piutner and Gilliland,’
tests of both silent and oral readings were given to pupils in grades I1 to XI1 inclusive
and to college students. Each of the paragraphs included in both types of test
contained ‘about fifty words and seven distinct ideas’. Results showed little variation
in the number of ideas reproduced after reading orally and silently. Later studies
have shown that, in general, silent reading is accompanied by somewhat better
comprehension. It should be pointed out, however, that many poor readers tend
to comprehend slightly better when reading orally, whereas most good readers tend
to comprehend much better when reading silently.
It would appear that the training of efficient readers is by no means an easy task.
Nevertheless, notable progress can be made during early school years in developing
the basic skills required for good oral and silent reading. This statement is supported
by the results of many studies2 of children’s progress in learning to read, which
m a y be summarized as follows :
I. Ability to grasp the meaning of simple passages develops rapidly during the
first year in school and m a y reach a high level of efficiency by the end of the
third year.
2. Ability to understand more difficult passages and to read efficiently for different
purposes continues to increase rapidly throughout the elementary and secondary
school years.
3. T h e rate and accuracy of oral reading increase rapidly during the first three
years at school, and steadily, but much more slowly, thereafter.
4. T h e rate of silent reading is the same as that of oral reading during the first
two years, exceeds it as a rule in the third year, and becomes m u c h greater
later on.
5. Progress in the amount recognized at each fixation of the eyes is rapid during
the first four years, and steady, but much less rapid, in subsequent years.
Whereas all children pass through these stages, they differ in the time required
to do so and in their rate of progress at each age or grade level, as a result of differences in the capacity to learn, the background of experience, interest in reading,
and the extent to which stimulus and guidance are provided by school, h o m e and
general environment.
By the time they have been in school for four years, most pupils have-acquired
the basic skills necessary for reading simple material both orally and silently and
have learned to read stories and simple selections of a general character. They are
also able to read for enjoyment, information or in order to find answers to specific
questions. A broad foundation has thus been laid for learning to read many other
types of material, of increasing difficulty and for various purposes.
I. Piutner, Rudolf and Gilliland, A. R. ‘Oraland Silent Reading’, Journnl of
Educational Psyclwlogy,
Vol. VII., April 1916, pp. 201-12.
z. Gray, William S. ‘Reading’,Child Development and the Curriculum. National Society for the Study or
Education, Thirty-eighth Yearbook, Part I, Chapter IX. Bloomington, Ill., Public School
Publishing Co.,1939.
i’ik Teaching of Reading and Writing
It has been demonstrated that the basic processes of silent reading are essentially
the same iE English, French and German. Individuals differ widely in the efficiency
with which they read. Silent reading is much quicker than oral reading and makes
possible an equal, if not better, grasp of meaning. Although reading processes are
many and complex, children make rapid progress during their first years at school.
Although they pass through the same stages, they advance at very different rates.
Nevertheless, most of them are able, by the end of four or five years of schooling,
to read simple material, either orally ordsilently, with considerable efficiency. If
properly stimulated and guided, they increase in ability to read throughout the
elementary and secondary school years.
During the last 30 years studies of eye movements in reading have also been made
For Chinese,Japanese and Spanish. T h e chief findings will be summarized separately.
Studies relating to the reading of Chinese have been fairly numerous and detailed.
M a n y of the early studies were designed to compare Chinese with other languages.
They showed conclusively1 that in spite of the notable difference in the characters
used, the basic processes are essentially the same as in reading French, German
and English. Each line, whether vertical or horizontal, was followed by the eyes
in a series of pauses and movements, more than one character being read, as a rule,
at each pause. However, certain differences were noted. T h e number of characters
recognized at each pause, and hence the speed of reading, was greater in Chinese
than in the other languages. This was explained by the fact that Chinese characters
are more compact than French, German or English words. There were also more
pauses per line-partly owing to the greater compactness of Chinese characters.
Whereas in the other languages, long words might be recognized at one fixation,
the Chinese characters occupying the same amount of space might not all be clearly
perceived at once.
Vertical reading was found to be faster than horizontal reading by all investigators. M a n y of them tried to discover why. Shen,2 for example, studied the possible influence of the following factors: the relative position of the two eyes; the
manner in which the eyes open; the greater freedom and extent of movement and
the wider area of clear vision in the horizontal axis; the constant readjustment
in the convergence and relative accommodation of the eyes in horizontal reading ;
the influence of the muscular mechanism of the eyes; and the structure of the Chinese characters. S o m e of these factors appeared to favour vertical reading, and
Miles, W.R. and Shen, Eugene. ‘PhotographicRecording of Eye Movements in the Reading of
Chinese in Vertical and Horizontal Axes: Methods and Preliminary Results’,journal of Experimental
Psychology, Vol. VIII, October 1925,pp. 344-62.
Chen, L.K. and Carr, H . A. ‘The Ability of Chinese Students to Read in Vertical and
Horizontal Directions’, J O U of~ Experimental Psychology, Vol.IX,April 1926.pp. I 10-17.
2. Shen, Eugene. ‘AnAnalysis of Eye Movements in the Reading of Chinese’, journal of Experimental
Psychology, Vol. X, April 1927,pp. 158-83.
Nature of the Reading Process in Variour Languages
others, horizontal. However, the general conclusion reached by Shen and others1
was that the superiority of vertical reading is due very largely, if not wholly, to
training and habit.
Chinese adults, too, differ widely in their efficiency in silent reading. Hu,a
for example,studied 51 adults,who varied in rate from 2.8 to 20.7 words per second
-the most rapid reading ten times as fast as the slowest. H u 3 also found that
Chinese students read fastersilently than orally.They read fiction,orally and silently,
at an average rate of 3.7 and 5 words per second respectively. The corresponding
averages for prose were 3.7 and 4.2, and for poetry, 2.9and 3.4respectively. C o m paring these records with those for the reading of English, he found them to be
‘remarkably similar’.
H u was greatly impressed with this discovery, because most of his subjects
had been trained only in oral reading and had acquired habits of silent reading
largely as a result of the heavy reading demands made upon them in their academic
life. The data seemed to show that efficientreaders of Chinese,as of other languages,
learn sooner or later to recognize words as units, often in groups of two or three,
give up vocalizing each word, and proceed as rapidly along the lines as they can
grasp the meaning. H u made a plea for specific training in silent reading, and
emphasized the urgent need of early establishing efficient habits in those who do
not go beyond the primary grades.
Much information has been obtained also concerning the progress of Chinese
children in learning to read. Ai,4for example, comparing pupils from the lower
second to the upper sixth grades in rates of oral and silent reading, discovered
that the rates of oral and silent reading were practically the same in the third grade,
but began to differ in the fourth grade.For the fifth and sixth grades,the superiority
of the silent over the oral reading rate was about one word per second.Ai concluded
that although Chinese differs radically in form and structure from English, progress
in the development of speed in oral and silent reading follows the same pattern
in both languages.
A detailed study5 of vernacular and literary Chinese revealed that the former
was read much more fluently than the latter. This finding justifies the current
practice of using the vernacular in reading material designed for mass education
and popular consumption.
Studies of the reading of Japanese have also been made, but the results of only
Chou, Siegen K.‘Readingand Legibility of Chinese Characters’,30~rml
of Experimental P.ychology,
Vol.XII, April 1929,pp. 156-77.
Chang, Chung-Yuan. A Study of the Relative Merits of the Vertical and Horizontal Lines in Reading
Chinese Print. New York City, Columbia University, 1942.(Archivesof P.rychology,No. 276.)
Chen and Carr, op. cit.
2. Hu, I. A Study of Perceptual Span in Reading the Chinese Language. Master of Arts Dissertation,Department of Education, University of Chicago, 1926.
3. Hu, I. An Experimental Study of the Reading Habits of Chinese. Doctor’s Dissertation, Department of
Education, T h e University of Chicago, 1928.
4. Ai,J. W . ‘AReport on PsychologicalStudies of the Chinese Language in the past Three Decades’,
Journal of Genetic Psychology, Vol.LXXVI,June 1950,pp. 207-20.
5. Wang, Fung Chiai. ‘AnExperimental Study of Eye Movements in the Silent Reading of Chinese’,
Elementary School Journal, Vol. X X X V , March 1935,pp. 527-39.
l7u Teaching of Reading and Writing
three were available.’ T h e most Dertinent findinns
” m a v be summarized as follows:
T h e basic processes were practically the same as for Chinese and English.
However, there were more fixations per line, which the investigators thought
was due to the complex character of the Japanese written language.
As with Chinese, vertical reading was more rapid than horizontal reading.
This fact was explained chiefly in terms of habit and training.
As with all languages, silent reading was much faster than oral reading. It was
very significant that notwithstanding the complex character of the Japanese
language, mature readers were able to recognize a relatively large unit at each
fixation of the eyes and to read faster silently than orally.
Striking individual differences were found among adults in the efficiency of
silent reading.
A study of eye movements in the reading of Spanish was made by members of
the Institute of Physiology of the Department of Medical Sciences at Buenos Aires
by means of a Grass Electro-Encephalograph. It was found that for children:
I. T h e unit of recognition in reading is a word or group of words. (This type of
reading was far more rapid and less laborious than that based on the recognition
of letters or syllables.)
2. As a result of specific training, the reading rate was greatly increased, and there
was a corresponding increase in the amount recognized at each fixation of the
3. Difficult material was read more slowly.
T h e investigators concluded that ‘the natural form of reading is not by spelling
or syllabizing, but on the basis of whole groups of words’. This fact, they pointed
out, provides ‘the physiological basis of the modern methodology of reading’.
Evidence has been given concerning six languages-French, German, English,
Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. Although these languages differ radically, the
records show that the basic steps or processes of reading them are essentially the
same. It would therefore appear that all mature readers have acquired the same
habits; they read faster silently than aloud, and there are great individual variations
in the speed of silent reading. A Chinese investigator explained these facts in the
following way: ‘The size of a word, length of line, and difference in language structure m a y present numerous differences; but the habits of a mature reader are determined by the words and the meanings they carry. A word to the mature reader has
I. Atomo, Shigeru. A n Experimental Study of the Eye Movcmenb ma& by Various Persons in the Reading of
Japanese Texts of Diflerenl F o m . Doctor’s Dissertation, Department of Education, University of
Chicago, 1924.
Takamine, H. ‘On the Development of Visual Perception and its Relation to Japanese
Syllabaries’,Japamst Journal of Apjlied Psychology,2, 1933,pp. 215-228. (An abstract in English,
Psychological Abstracts, No. 2946, 1934.)
Yamamoto, Sango. ‘An Experiment on Eye Movements in the Reading of the Japanese
Language’, Japanese Journal of Psychology, Vol. X, December 1935,pp. 773-89. (An abstract in
English, pp. 69-70.)
2. Muiioz, J. M.,Odoriz, J. B. and Tavazza,J. ‘Registro de 10s movimientos oculares durante la
lectura’, Revista de la Sociedad Argentina de Biologia, XX,Abril de 1944, pp. 280-6.
Nature of the Reading Process in Various Lunguages
significance only in proportion to its relation to the individual’s experience and not
on account of its physical or linguistic qualities. ...’ A word in Chinese and a word
in English m a y have very different origin, development and structure, but both
of them have come to occupy about the same place through social usage as the most
influential determining factor of the habits of reading.’
Before accepting these conclusions,it seemed advisable to check their validity. Firstly,
the evidence on which they were based was secured under widely different conditions.
Hence the facts revealed are not comparable in many respects. Secondly, the alphabetic languages studied were limited to a few which use the Latin alphabet. Steps
were taken, therefore, to obtain a wider range of data.
T h e chief aim of this study was to compare, by means of eye movement records,
the basic reading processes of mature readers in as many languages as possible. It
was decided that the passages read should be in the reader’s native tongue. Most,
if not all, of his elementary schooling should have been in that language. H e should
also have continued to read in it regularly from that time on.
As the records needed could only be made with an eye-movement camera, the
study was pursued in the reading laboratory of the University of Chicago. Suitable
subjects were sought out in Chicago and in the colleges and universities of neighbouring States and 78 adults, varying in age from 20 to 50 were selected. Most
of them were doing graduate work in universities.
Fourteen languages were represented-namely, Arabic, Burmese, Chinese,
English, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Navaho (native American
Indian), Spanish, Thai, Urdu and Yoruba (native Nigerian). T h e number of adults
for each language is indicated in Table 6.All but one had received college trainingchiefly in their o w n countries. In order to have at least one underdeveloped area
represented, Navaho Indian subjects were sought. There are very few literate
Indians around Chicago. O n e of those finally selected had learned to read Navaho
by himself as a boy and had read considerably in that language during his youth.
In the course of time, he received elementary, high school and college education
in English. T h e other had been helped by a missionary to learn to read Navaho,
but had had little formal education. Because of the wide training of most of the
adults tested, they quickly grasped the purpose of the study and co-operated well.
T h e content of the passages was the same for all subjects, excepting the Navaho
Indians, for w h o m special passages were prepared, based on experiences c o m m o n
to Indian life. This plan was adopted to ensure that differences in the eye-movement records would not be due to variations in the content of the materials read.
Four passages were used in testing each subject-two for oral reading and two for
silent reading. A fable from Aesop was chosen for one of the two passages in each
set. T h e other was a simple discussion of the reasons w h y children or adults should
learn to read and write. W h e n these passages were translated, steps were taken to
ensure that they would be of equal difficulty. Table 3 shows the average number
of words per passage, the number of sentences in each, the average number of
I. Hu, I., A n Experirnenfal Study of ihe Reading Habib of Adulf Chinese. op. cit., p.
Teaching of Reading and Writing
words per sentence, the number of words in each passage included in the first
eight levels of the Thorndike W o r d List, and the number of polysyllabic words.
3. Analysis of the
test passages
No. of words in Thorndike Word List
of polyNo'
Of of words
Passage No.of senper
First Second Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth Seventh syllabic
words tences
sentence 500
1,000 1,000 1,000
A n analysis of the entries in the table shows that the first two passages, which were
fables, were very similar in difficulty and were slightly easier than the other two
passages. W h e n printed in 11-pointtype in English, the two passages of each set
occupied the same number of lines, those of the first set occupying 12 lines each,
and those of the second, 13.T h e four passages, and accompanying sets of five questions to test comprehension, were translated into the different languages, keeping
the same simple vocabulary and sentence structure.
No effortwas made to reduce the translations to the same number of words or
printed lines-which might have resulted in unusual forms of expression. The
numbers of words and printed lines in each of the passages for the various languages
are given in Table 4.T h e wide variation in the numbers of words and lines needed
to express the same content is striking.It follows that the breadth of meaning attached
to words, and the number of words printed in the same line, vary significantly
from language to language. For this reason, great care must be observed in the
interpretation of the data.
4. Number of words and lines in the test passages for the various languages
Tests for eye-movement records
Preliminary tests
No. 2
No. I
No. 3
No. 4
21 I
Nature of the Reading Process in Various Languages
T h e same procedure was followed with all subjects. O n e passage of each set was
read first to acquaint the reader with the testing procedure before the eye-movement
records were taken. T h e directions follow: ‘In a short time you will be asked to
read this passage orally (showing the card on which it was printed). It is an old
fable which you have doubtless read or heard. W h e n I hand the card to you, read
it aloud as you would if you were reading it to a group. As you read, give close attention to the meaning of the passage, because you will be asked questions about it
later. Here is the passage. W h e n I say, ccbeginyy,
you will begin to read aloud.
Are you ready? Begin!’
As each subject read, the time taken to read the passage was recorded in seconds.
Immediately afterwards he was given the set of questions in his o w n language and
asked to indicate which of the three answers accompanying each question was the
correct one. T h e second fable was then read silently, following the procedure just
described. As soon as the preliminary tests were completed, the second set of paragraphs was read, the only difference in procedure being that the eye movements
were photographed as the passages were read. In order to eliminate the effect of
practice from the results, the order in which the passages of each set were read was
reversed for successive readers.
Table 5 presents the average scores made by the group as a whole in oral and silent
reading. T h e rates of oral reading in the preliminary tests and in the eye-movement
tests are essentially the same; likewise, the rates of silent reading. These comparisons are fairly valid owing to the general similarity in the numbers of words and
printed lines for the two passages of each set. It m a y be concluded that the speed
of silent reading was on the average much greater than the speed of oral reading.
This was true also of the average for each of the language groups. Moreover, the
difference between the average rates of oral and silent reading in the preliminary
tests and in the eye-movement tests was essentially the same for each group. Although
there were wide variations in the performance of individuals, exceptions to the
foregoing statements were relatively few.
5. Average scores in rate and comprehension in both oral and silent reading
in the preliminary tests and in the eye-movement tests
Preliminary tests
Words per sec.
Oral reading
Silent reading
Eye-movement tests
Comp. score
Words per sec.
Comp. score
T h e average comprehension scores in the two preliminary tests differed very little.
T h e same holds for the eye-movement tests. T h e average comprehension scores of
the different language groups corresponded much more closely than the rate scores.
T h e comprehension scores were also significantly higher in the eye-movement tests
than in the preliminary tests. T w o factors contributed to this difference. M a n y
of the subjects explained that they gave more attention to meaning in the second
tests in order to make up for imagined deficiencies in comprehension in the preli-
lh Temhing of Reading and Wriiing
minary tests. Of even greater significance is the fact that practically all of the subjects
affirmedthat the factual material in the second series of tests aroused greater interest than did the fables and called for a higher degree of concentration on meaning.
These findings and explanations justify the assumption that the eye-movement
records represent relatively thoughtful silent reading in each language.
T h e details will be presented in two ways: one record for each language group,
usually one of the clearest, will be reproduced and its salient features described,
with emphasis on the basic processes of reading; and a quantitative summary of
all the facts will be given and commented on.
Plate I1 shows records from three alphabetic languages-Thai, French, and
English. Since the film moves through the camera at a uniform rate, the various
eye-movements of the three readers were made in the same length of time. T h e two
parallel lines in each record represent the movements of the two eyes. T h e fact
that they are closer together in some records than in others has no significance.
T h e dots in each line show the number of thirtieths of a second required to
read it.
T o interpret the records, begin at the top of the French record in Plate I1 and
follow the two parallel lines until they move sharply to the left. T h e extreme left
point reached marks the beginning of the reading of a line. T h e record from that
point on until it again moves sharply to the left shows the movements of the eyes
in reading one line. T h e reader first focused his eyes on a point near the left end
of the line, where they remained for eight-thirtiethsof a second. H
is eyes then moved
to the right where they focused again. This procedure was repeated three more
times before he reached the end of the line. H e then shifted his eyes to the beginning
of the next line and repeated the process. His performance in reading three separate
lines is shown on the record.
At times a regression to the left occurs in reading, e.g. in the first line of the
English record. T h e first fixation undoubtedly occurred too far from the beginning
of the line for the reader to be able to recognize clearly all of the first part of the
line. A second regression occurs near the end of the second line of the same record.
Such regressions are usually due to failure to recognize a word clearly at the preceding fixation or to grasp the meaning.
These three records are markedly similar, despite the fact that the sentences
in the Thai passage were printed as single units with no spaces between words.
Nor did differences in the shape of letters and their arrangements in words modify
the basic processes in reading. T h e eyes invariably moved regularly from left to
right along the lines, with an occasional regression. As a rule, one or more words
were recognized at each fixation.
Plate I11 shows reading records for three other alphabetic languages, namely
Spanish, Burmese and Hindi. These languages differ widely as to the types of
letter used and sentence structure. Nevertheless, the eye movements resemble
those for the three languages represented in Plate 11. T h e Hindi record has more
fixations per line and fewer lines read per unit of time than was the case for the
other languages, but it was not that of a rapid Hindi reader; it was selected because
of its clearness.
Plate IV shows eye-movement records for Arabic, Hebrew and Urdu in which
the lines are read from right to left.
Plate I. The Cherokee Indian Syllabic Alphabet and a sample of the language, as printed in the
25 August 1950 issue of The New Cherokee Advocate.
h ,,ll'ti,,
Nature of the Reading Process in Various Languages
It will be noticed that the eyes fixate progressively to the left in each line. In
all other respects, these records resemble those shown in Plates I1 and 111.
Plate V shows the eye-movement records for Chinese, Japanese and Korean
readers, which are presented as a unit because they make use of the three different
types of character. Chinese and Japanese are normally printed in vertical columns,
which are read from top to bottom. However, they are often printed in horizontal
columns, read from left to right. T h e Korean language was also formerly printed
in vertical columns, under Chinese influence. Since the development of a Korean
alphabet, the language has been printed in horizontal columns, read from left
to right. As the eye-movement camera could not record vertical reading the passages were printed horizontally. Since all of the subjects had read more or less
in this alignment, they readily adjusted themselves to the test situation.
U p o n examination, Plate V will be found practically the same as Plates 11,
I11 and IV. T h e relatively large number of fixations in the second line of the Japanese record confirms earlier findings. T h e large number of fixations and the slow
rate of the Korean record are noteworthy. T h e Koreans tested were accustomed
to read material that included Chinese characters and Korean words. T h e passages
used for this study were printed entirely in Korean. T h e readers reported that their
speed was considerably reduced thereby.
Plate VI shows records for Yoruba (native Nigerian) and Navaho (American
Indian), which are presented together for IWO reasons. The readers of these languages
were far less highly trained in reading their respective languages than were readers
of the other languages. Most of the Yoruba readers had used their native language
exclusively during the first three years of schooling, after which English was introduced for instruction. In some instances, Yoruba had been studied as a special
subject at secondary school. However, their training and experience in reading
Yoruba was limited more or less, and they were not as mature in their reading habits
as most of the other groups. The Navaho Indians were very largely self-taught and
only one had done m u c h reading in his native language.
The record on the left is that of one of the best readers of the Yoruba language.
It follows the general pattern of the previous records, excepting that he read more
slowly and made more fixations per line. With practice, he would doubtless have
been abIe to recognize wider units of the line at each fixation and read faster. T h e
second Yoruba reader was much less mature. Only a part of the reading of one
line is shown. A study of his whole record reveals that he made many backward
movements and often lingered at given points on the lines, for he did not recognize
quickly either the words or the meaning of the passage, or both, and found it necessary to re-read many parts of each line. Such difficulties can usually be overcome
by carefully planned training and wide reading. It should be pointed out that some
readers reported difficulty owing to the translator’s order of words or the lack of
marks indicating tonal values.
The third record from the left in Plate VI is that of a fairly good Navaho reader.
Although he was self-taught,his record is characteristic of a mature reader. This
is due largely to the fact that he had read whatever material he could find in Navaho
and so had improved. H
is reading followed the same general pattern as that of
readers in other languages w h o had received systematic training, which suggests
that this distinctive pattern is gradually acquired by all w h o become mature readers.
The record on the extreme right in Plate VI is that of a very poor Navaho
reader, w h o had read very little. The record shows many fixations, long pauses, and
several backward movements. Observations made during the reading showed that
he was not sufficiently familiar with many of the words to recognize them instantly
and studied each one carefully, sounding its various letters. W h e n asked why he
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
had not done more reading, he said that it was very hard for him to read and that
he did so only when it was necessary. T h e inference to be drawn is that unless the
training received by a reader carries him to the point where he can read with
reasonable ease it is possible that he will make very little use of his ability. In time
his skills will be lost and all his previous efforts will be fruitless.
Additional data are summarized in Table 6, which shows, from left to right, the
number of subjects studied, the number of words per fixation in both oral and
silent reading, the duration of the fixations in thirtieths of a second in both types
of reading, and the frequency of regressive movements in terms of the number of
words read orally and silently per regression. The average number of words recognized per fixation (at the bottom of the table) was slightly larger in silent reading
than in oral reading.
This finding agrees with those of previous investigations, though they vary
for the different languages. For French and English, the average is distinctly higher
in silent reading, whereas for Korean, the average is distinctly higher in oral reading
For all,other languages, the average amount recognized per fixation is the same in
both types of reading, or does not vary either way by more than one-tenth of a word.
T h e averages at the bottom of the table show also that the duration of fixations was
much greater in oral reading than in silent reading, where the reader is free to
proceed from one fixation to the next as soon as he has recognized and understood
the words. In oral reading he can proceed no more rapidly than he can pronounce
the words.
In interpreting the data concerning the average number of words per regression
in both oral and silent reading, it should be borne in mind that the smaller the
number of words per regression, the more often regressions occur. There were more
regressions in oral reading than in silent reading for the group as a whole, and for
each language group, excepting the Burmese and the Korean. These findings
confirm those of previous studies. A reader may make a regression in oral reading
for any of the various reasons that cause him to do so in silent reading. In addition,
he m a y move his eyes backward in oral reading to check the pronunciation or the
exact order of the words in a passage, to determine which words to accentuate in
reading aloud and, at times, to wait until the voice more nearly overtakes the eyes
in reading.
Further study of the data relating to the number of words per regression reveals
striking differences among languages. Attempts to explain these differences in
terms of the kind of characters used, the printing of sentences without spaces between words, or the number of words required to express the same content were
unsuccessful. A comparison of the averages of the different languages showed that
those in which few regressions were made usually, but not always, had a wide average span of recognition. A n analysis of individual records revealed great variation
within each language. As a rule, the slowest readers and those having narrow spans
of recognition made the largest number of fixations. These findings suggest that
differences in language are not the primary cause of variations in number of
Possible causes of regressions in the five language groups with the most regressions were studied. M a n y of the regressions of the Navaho readers were directly
due to difficulty in word recognition. The Yoruba readers were handicapped by
unusual words in the translation and absence of marks indicating tonal values.
of the Reading Process in Various Lnnguoges
6. Comparative efficiency of oral and silent reading as revealed by eyemovement records for fourteen languages
No. of
Words per fixation
I -4
Duration of fixation
I .6
I -4
I .6
I .o
I .2
I .o
Words per regression
Averages based on s u m s of all individual records, excluding records for the Navaho language.
Because the groups were small and a typical group, standard deviations or similar measures were
not used.
Readers of Arabic and Hebrew explained that they had been taught to read each
line with great care, thus causing many regressions. English readers, on the other
hand, had acquired the habit of moving rapidly along the lines and regressing
frequently to check first impressions. All the evidence supported the conclusion
that many regressions are due more to such factors as immaturity in reading, type
of training received and individual perceptual habits than to the nature of the language.
These studies demonstrate that the general nature of the reading act is essentially
the same among all mature readers. These conclusions are supported by a recent
eye-movement study1 of ‘readingpatterns’by native readers in German and English.
It was found that ‘there is no discernible variation between the reading patterns
of literate native speakers of these languages. There is, furthermore, no apparent
change in the reading habits where an educated native speaker of one language
learns to read the other’. T h e only cause of a break in the normal reading sequence
was ‘inability to understand a semantic unit as the eye traversed the left-toright line’.
T h e mature reader, as he seeks the meaning of the passage, follows the lines in
an alternation of short eye movements and pauses. At each fixation he recognizes
words as wholes, that is by their general form and striking characteristics.As a rule,
two or three words are recognized at each fixation of the eyes. At times the good
Waterman, John T. ‘Reading Patterns in German and English’, Th German Quarterly, XXVI
(November ig54), pp. 225-7.
I;hc Teaching of Reading and Writing
reader makes a regressive movement to recognize unfamiliar words or ascertain the
meaning. Oral reading is necessarily slower than silent reading and is of a slightly
different pattern. There are great individual differences in the level of proficiency
T h e mature reader has mastered the basic attitudes and skills required for
good oral reading and fluent, thoughtful, silent reading. Irrespective of the form
and structure of languages, these attitudes and skills include a thoughtful reading
attitude, accuracy and independence in recognizing words, a reasonably wide
span of recognition, the regular forward movements of the eyes along the lines
with only such regressive movements as are necessary, the accurate return sweep
of the eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next, the fusing of separate words and groups of words into the ideas they represent, and the ability to
interpret these ideas.
This report proceeds on the assumption that the teaching of reading in all languages is directed towards the development of these basic attitudes and skills. M a n y
of the detailed procedures essential in developing efficient readers vary to some
extent with the form and structure of the language, but teachers, guided by a clear
understanding of c o m m o n goals, will make use of those procedures which are most
effective in their o w n language.
In order to develop good readers w e need to understand the nature of the basic
attitudes and skills essential for reading. Reference has been made to those revealed
by eye-movement records. O u r knowledge has also been greatly extended during
recent years through other studies made by psychologists, semanticists and specialists
in reading. In this chapter w e shall discuss the nature of the basic reading attitudes
and skills that merit emphasis in promoting functional literacy in the mother tongue.
In this connexion it is important to have a concept of reading broad enough to
cover efficiency in all the types of reading activity that modern life demands.
T h e concept of reading that has guided teaching practice in the past has been a
dynamic 0ne.l It has frequently changed as research has made the nature of the
reading act clearer and as individual and social needs for reading have increased.
Before 1900,the principal aim in teaching reading was word recognition. It
was assumed that reading was primarily a perceptual act and that other steps
required for achieving certain other purposes of reading were not essential.= As it
was a test of the accuracy of word recognition, oral reading was used almost exclusively in class. N o question is raised here concerning the need for efficient habits of
word recognition or the value of oral reading; their importance will be emphasized
repeatedly. None the less, it is a fact that other important aspects of reading were
largely neglected.
In the course of time a much broader concept of reading emerged. It resulted
from two important developments. After 1900,great social changes occurred in
different parts of the world, and the need for reading and for greater ability to
understand and enjoy what was read became increasingly apparent. At the same
time, research showed that silent reading was much faster and more effective than
oral reading.
Accordingly, teaching methods were modified to ensure the development of
a good grasp of meaning as well as the skills of word recognition, and to develop
Gray, William S. Methodr and Techniques of Teaching Reading. Cairo, Institute of Education, Ministry
of Education, Government Press, 1950,pp. I 1-24.(Published also in Arabic.)
National Society for the Study of Education. ‘The Growth of a Broad Concept of Reading’,
Reading in the High School and College. Forty-seventh Yearbook, Part 11, Chicago, University of
Chicago Press, 1948,pp. 27-31.
Otis, Arthur S. ‘Considerationsconcerning the making of a scale for the meawrement of reading
ability.’ Pedagoguul Seminar, Vol. XXIII, December 1916, p. 528.
7h Teaching
of Reading and Writing
efficiency in silent reading. Interest was aroused in reading and pupils were encouraged to establish the habit of reading regularly for pleasure. These developments
are perhaps the most significant that have occurred during the entire history of the
teaching of reading.
Again, reading began to be regarded as a form of experience, like hearing or
seeing, as well as a form of learning. It became apparent that the efficient reader
not only recognizes words and grasps the ideas presented, but also reflects on their
significance, relates them, and sees their implications. If he is to benefit from these
ideas, moreover, he must react thoughtfully to what he reads, weighing its value
and the soundness of the judgments or conclusions. It is equally important for him
to apprehend the value and significance of the content. Finally, if reading is to help
him solve problems or direct his o w n activities, he must learn to apply the ideas
Since these developments took place in countries in which reading has been used
widely for generations, it was pertinent to ask whether the same training is essential
in less advanced areas. A study was therefore made of the reading activities of
children and adults in areas where programmes of fundamental education are in
progress. T h e examples selected for analysis have been classified into groups according to the demands made on the reader.
Reading such words as ‘Danger’, ‘Stop’,‘Go’,for self-protection.
Reading signs on buses in order to know which one to take.
Reading labels on cans (tins), medicine bottles and other containers in order to
select and use the right one.
Reading the names of streets, house numbers, names of public buildings in order
to get to the right place.
T h e most obvious reading skills required in each of these examples are those
relating to word recognition. In many cases the words are recognized at sight; in
others, the reader must apply whatever skills he has that help him to recognize and
pronounce them. But mere recognition of words is not enough. Reading is vital
when the child or adult has to identify signs, numbers on buses, names of streets
or labels on cans, with a definite purpose in mind. Recognition is immediately
followed by some practical decision. T h e reading act, although limited in scope
in the examples given is usually subsidiary to some larger purpose and brings in
many elements of good thinking.
Reading a bulletin board or a news-sheet to find out what has happened recently.
Reading a leaflet or newspaper to learn about proposed local projects.
Reading in school to find out h o w people in other countries live.
In such reading activities after the words have been recognized, the meaning must
be grasped. Information thus obtained takes on real value when the reader interprets the facts. Let us assume that a news item or leaflet states that a new road is to
be built through the community. Questions arise as to the need for the road, h o w
Readinn Attitudes and Skills Essential to Functional Literacy
it will affect the community, and perhaps what advantages or disadvantages attach
to it. Only as a child or an adult thinks about what he reads and determines its
meaning or significance in the light of all he knows does reading have real value
to him.
Reading notices that warn of possible dangers, such as an epidemic.
Reading new village ordinances that change previous practices or introduce new
Reading directions for doing and making things.
This group of reading situations requires all the steps outlined in the preceding
paragraph. However, the materials to be read are intended to modify behaviour.
The reader should follow the order of the directions, the ends to be achieved, and
what each demands of him. In reading a warning, he should grasp its importance
and understand what to do. In reading new ordinances, he should compare them
with the old, consider the reasons for the new ones, and decide on needed changes
in his o w n behaviour.
Reading to discover similarities and differences in the homes, clothing and food of
people in warm and cold countries.
Reading to discover ways of improving the sanitary conditions in the community.
Reading to discover the best kind of food for infants.
It is assumed here that the child or adult begins to read with a definite problem in
mind. As he reads a passage, he looks for ideas that throw light on his problem,
while disregarding others, and organizes the ideas acquired into a vivid picture of
homes in other lands or the steps needed to raise better crops. Even when the
information is presented in the form of brief directions, such as do this and do
not do this, these should be read critically, since the blind following of directions
may prove disastrous.
Reading to determine whether the decision made by a character in a story was a
a good one.
Reading to determine the wisdom of voting for a proposed change in the source of a
community’s water supply.
T o achieve either of these purposes calls for clear thinking. As an adult reads he
seeks information relevant to his problem and studies its implications for that
problem. While reviewing the evidence, he must retain an open mind until he is
prepared to make a decision. Obviously, reading situations of this type make many
demands on the reader : seeing implications, grasping relationships, choosing
between alternatives, checking conclusions.
lh Teaching of Reading and Writing
Reading for pleasure.
Reading various types of material to enjoy the rhythm, choice of words, beauty of
Reading religious and other materials for solace and inspiration.
Such motives are as vital for those w h o live in underdeveloped areas as elsewhere.
In N e w Guinea, for example, many of the natives learn to read for the sheer joy of
it. T h e desire to satisfy interest and curiosity and to find inspiration through reading
is also very general, as are religious motives for reading. T o actualize these motives
requires all of the attitudes and skills to which reference has been made. It is also
important to arouse visual, auditory and kinaesthetic imagery and the appropriate
emotional responses.
As reading assumes many forms and makes many demands on readers in underdeveloped areas, an equally wide range of reading attitudes and skills should be
developed in extending functional literacy.
M a n y attempts’ have been made recently to ascertain the attitudes and skills
required for efficient reading. They m a y be classified to advantage as follows:
perceiving words; grasping meanings; reacting to what is read; using or applying
the ideas acquired. These steps correspond closely with the demands which m o d e m
life makes on readers. They will be used, therefore,as the key items in the discussion.
Perceiving words in reading involves two steps: the focusing of attention on written
or printed material in a spirit of inquiry; the arousal of associations that help in
distinguishing one word or group of words from another and in recognizing their
meanings or pronunciations, or both.
shown in Chapter 111, a mature reader in any language recognizes words
as wholes, that is, by their general characteristics or striking features, often in
groups of two or more. This as a rule occurs quickly and without hesitation, the
eyes moving regularly along the lines. When, however, the reader meets an unfamiliar word, he examines it carefully for clues to its recognition. This view is
supported by the results of research. In a detailed study, for example, of perception
among both children and adults reading an alphabetic language, Hamilton2 found
that the general characteristics of a word are the clues by which it is recognized.
‘But when some unfavourable condition arises, or when words are strange or difficult, additional distinctions within the word are required, in which case the parts
Gray, William S. ‘Basic Competencies in Efficient Reading,’ in: National Council of Teacher
of English. Committee on Reading at the Secondary School and College Levels. hading in an Age
of Mass Communication. N e w York, Appleton-Century Crofts, Inc., 1949,Chap. IV.
P. Hamilton, Francis Marion. 77u Pc~cepaiFactors in Reading. New York, The Science Pres, 1907.
pp. 52-3. (Columbia Contributions to Philosophy, Pvchology and Education, Vol. 17, No. I.)
Reading Attitudes and Skills Essential to Functional Literacy
of the words must be brought clearly to consciousness according to the degree of
complexity or unfamiliarity.’
With Chinese, as shown in Chapter 11, the situation is different. If a word has
been learned previously but is not recognized instantly, a study of its details m a y
help the reader to distinguish it from other words and thus to recall its meaning
and pronunciation. If it is a new word, however, he cannot recognize it with
certainty merely by studying its details; he must either be told the meaning or find
it in a dictionary with the pronunciation given in phonetic symbols. T o read an
unfamiliar Japanese word, consisting of Chinese characters and kana symbols, it
m a y be necessary to deal with the Chinese characters as described above, to identify
the sounds of the kana symbols used, and then to combine these various clues.
Hence the ability of a child or adult to cope with word difficulties depehds upon
the extent to which he has acquired the skills appropriate to his language. Both
experience and the results of research supply convincing evidence that one of the
chief causes of poor reading is lack of adequate training in the skills of word recognition.
Hundreds of investigators have studied this question during the last century. Their
findings have been summarized at length by Huey,l Tinker,2 Vernon,s and W o o d worth4. It will be helpful to describe first the way in which competence is acquired
in perceiving forms and objects in general. Young children, as a rule, perceive new
and unfamiliar objects as wholes,5 vaguely at first, and later in increasing detail.
(There are exceptionss which merit further study.) T h e same procedure is followed
by adults. Because of their broader knowledge and experience, they usually make
more rapid progress in picking out salient details than do children.
T h e way in which growth in ability to perceive words develops will be described
first in terms of what occurs when words are presented as wholes in teaching reading.
As children or adults engage in an interesting classroom activity or discussion, some
of the words or sentences are written on the blackboard, and as this is done,meanings
and pronunciations are associated with them. Scores of experiments’ have demonstrated that under these conditions words are learned easily and rapidly. T o ensure
instant recall, they are presented repeatedly in a relatively short period of time. At
this levcl, one word is distinguished from another only by its general characteristics
and distinctive features. T h e advantage of this approach is that the pupil realizes
at once that words represent ideas, and he is much more likely to adopt an inquiring
attitude towards their meaning when he attempts to read.
I. Huey, Edmund B. n
e Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading. N e w York, The Macmillan Co., 1912,
Part I.
2. Tinker, M.A. ‘Visual Apprehension and Perception in Reading.’ Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 26,
April 1929,pp. 223-40.
3. Vernon, M.D. The Experimental Study of Reading. London, Cambridge University Press, 1931,
Chaps. V and VI.
4. Woodworth, Robert S. ExperimentalPsychology.New York, Holt, 1938.Chaps. XXIII and XXVIII.
5. Decroly, 0.‘Le rde du phknomtne de globalisation d a m l’enseignement.’Bulletin annuel de fa
sociith royale des sciences midicales et naturells. Bruxelles, 1927,pp. 65-79.
Simon, Dr. Th. Pidagogie exphimentale. Paris, Armand Colin, 1924,pp. 101-2.
Vernon, op. cit.
6. Goms, Jean Turner. Visual Perceptual AbiIities and Tadubscopic Training related lo Reading Progress.
Doctor’s Dissertation, Department of Education, The University of Chicago. 1953, 270 p.
7. Monroe, Walter S. ed. ‘Reading’.Emyclopcdia of Educational Research. New York, T h e Macmillan
Company, 1950. pp. 972-1005.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
W h e n a number of words are known, chiefly in terms of their striking features,
words which are
similar in form, such as bad and had, when and where, then and than. Equally good
illustrations could be given for many languages. In order to help the learner distinguish between them, various devices are used. T h e teacher m a y write on the blackboard, one above the other, words which are similar in many respects so that their
differences will stand out sharply. Similarities and differences may also be pointed
out. T h e pupils m a y then be asked to trace or write the words. Teachers of Chinese
say that the process of learning to distinguish one character from another is greatly
facilitated if they are presented in order of complexity and if the pupil writes them.
Through these and other devices, the details of words are gradually learnt.
In the alphabetic languages, as this process continues, the learner notes that the
same letters occur repeatedly in different words. H e thus comes to distinguish one
letter from another. In highly phonetic languages, he discovers shortly that a given
letter always has the same sound. With guidance, he learns to apply this fact in the
recognition of new words. In Spanish, in which the syllables are simple, prominent,
and frequently repeated, the learner m a y focus attention on syllables at first rather
than on individual letters. Ultimately all the details of form and sound are noted
and their significance as elements of words is recognized.
The problems are more complex in those alphabetic languages' in which given
letters or combinations of letters do not always have the same sound. T h e pupil
needs careful guidance in discovering and applying general principles governing
the sounds of letters in different types of words-for example, hat and hate and in
recognizing exceptions and learning h o w to deal with them. Still other problems
arise as words of more than one syllable are introduced. If attention is directed to
each part of such words+fuyhollse, for example-the learner discovers that longer
words are made up, as a rule, of two or more pronounceable units. A basis has thus
been laid for the recognition and pronunciation of polysyllabic words.
Differentviews are held concerning the time at which guidance should be given,
and its amount and character. M a n y adhere to the general procedure outlined above
and provide systematic training from the beginning. Others consider that little or
no guidance should be given at first; that it is far better to rely on the learner's
insight in making needed distinctions and in developing the ability to recognize
Most of the evidence n o w available supports the view that guidance in word
discrimination should be provided from the beginning, with increasing emphasis
as the pupil advances on word attack skills. Such training should expand as rapidly
as the needs of the increasing vocabulary dictate and should be continued as long
as new problems arise. Of course, the nature of the specific knowledge and skills
that should be imparted will vary according to the language. Individuals differ
widely in the amount and kind of guidance needed. M a n y children w h o develop
slowly are often forced to make detailed discriminations before they are prepared to
do so,with the result that they become confused and hostile to reading.
There are many other methods of developing accuracy and independence in word
recognition. They are based, as a rule, on the assumption that the most economical
and effectiveway to learn is to master the elements of words, then to use these in
the recognition of new words. T h e advantages and limitations of such methods will
be discussed at length in ChapterV. Every aid to word recognition should beused
in teaching children and adults to read, including phonics. Any plan of teaching,
however, that starts with formal mastery of the phonetic elements of a language
it becomes necessary to examine them in detail-particularly
Gray, William S. On Their O m in Rcading. Chicago, Scott, Foresrnan and Co., 1948,268 p.
Readinp Attitudes and
Skills Essentiul lo Functional Literacy
violates the basic principles of word perception discussed earlier. Failure to learn
such elements and to acquire skill in applying them, however, is equally open to
criticism. T h e question is when and how. This will be considered more fully in
later chapters.
In the recognition of words, both meaning and pronunciation associations are
aroused. For meaning, the chief resource of a reader is his background of related
experiences.l This m a y be very limited and hazy, or it m a y be rich and vivid. As a
rule, the wider the speaking and hearing vocabulary of a reader, the greater the
likelihood that many associations will be aroused. If a passage is to be understood
these associations must resemble those which the author had in mind when he wrote
it, thus they are of great importance in reading.
There are at least four problems to be faced in helping readers associate appropriate meanings with the words read. T h e first is to attach familiar meanings to
written or printed words. T o this end, the words used in early reading lessons should
be those which already have meaning in the life of the reader. As these words are
recognized in later lessons, it is likely that the same associations will again be aroused.
T h e second problem is to expand the meanings of words as rapidly as their use in
reading materials makes this step necessary. T h e third problem is to train readers
to choose from the many meanings associated with a given word that which is appropriate in the context. T h e fourth problem is to help readers attach appropriate
meanings to new words as they appear in the passages read and to expand their
meanings as rapidly as occasion demands. (Teaching procedures will be discussed
Finally, the associations aroused should result in clear and accurate pronunciations. This is essential if the pupil is to read aloud or discuss the content of what
has been read. T h e reader is often aided in grasping the meaning of what is read
by recognizing and pronouncing words which are not yet in his reading vocabulary
but which he uses regularly in conversation. T h e words used in early reading leasons,
however, should be limited to those in the child’s speaking vocabulary. Often much
preliminary training is needed to improve enunciation. Unless poor habits are
corrected children will not only continue to read and speak incorrectly, but will be
greatly handicapped in their use of phonics as an aid in word recognition.
Most reading material has at least three levels of meaning: the literal meaning,
related meanings and implied meanings. As a matter of fact they are acquired more
or less concurrently. For purposes of emphasis, the nature of each will be discussed
The Literal
Meaning of a Passage
T h e literal meaning of a passage answers the question : ‘What does the passage say?’
In the sentence, ‘The water in our village well is good to drink’, the literal meaning
tells the reader two things: which water is safe to drink and the quality of the water
in the well. At least four general attitudes and groups of skills come in here.
thoughtful, inquiring attitude.
As explained earlier, the good reader is intent on
William S. and Holmes,Eleanor M. n
e Development of Meaning Vocabularies in hading.
Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1938,pp. 6-9.Publications of the Laboratory Schools of
the University of Chicago.
I. Gray,
The leaching of Reading and Writing
meaning. This aids in arousing associations and in anticipating the sequence of ideas.
T h e greater the reader’s familiarity with the words of a passage and with the things,
activities, ideas or situations to which they refer, the more numerous and more vivid
the associations aroused will be. W h e n he encounters a word that he does not
recognize at once he quickly utilizes all the aids to word recognition that he has
learned. Failure to adopt a thoughtful reading attitude usually results in little or
no grasp of meaning. Accuracy in word recognition and grasp of meaning are also
greatly influenced by the reader’s state of mind and his stock of knowledge, attitudes
and prejudices. Serious errors occur if pupils are not trained to read with care.
Fusing the meanings of words into idem. As associations are aroused in reading, they
are fused into the ideas the author had in mind when he wrote the passage. T h e
nature of this step is illustrated in Figure 3.
The water in our village well is good to drink
Figure 3. T h e fusion of meanings of separate words into a meaningful whole. (Adapted from Huey.’)
As one reads the first two words in this sentence various associations are aroused.
This grasp of meanings is restricted and made more definite as the third, fourth
fifth and sixth words are recognized. T h e thoughts then retained are held in mind,
as the reader continues to the end of the sentence. W h e n he recognizes the words,
‘good to drink’, the meaning already acquired is greatly expanded and clarified.
T h e final idea is the result of the fusion of the meanings of separate words into a
coherent whole.
Not infrequently the first associations are not the ones the author wished to
convey. For example, the word ‘water’m a y have aroused a mental picture of a
flowing stream. In this case, the reader is forced to revise his first impression, and
indeed his whole attitude towards the meaning of the sentence, as he reads the
phrase ‘in our village well’. It follows that grasping the meaning of a sentence is a
thinking process which entails recalling, accepting, rejecting and organizing, as
the search for the right meaning continues.2 Most pupils profit from guidance
which encourages a thoughtful reading attitude and raises questions concerning
possible meanings.
As a reader advances, unfamiliar words appear. Their meaning m a y often be
conjectured through a study of the context, through a knowledge of the meanings
of specific parts of words, and through explanations or illustrations given by the
Huey, E d m u n d Burke, T h e Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading, op. cit., p. 131.
Thorndike, Edward L. ‘Reading as Reasoning: a Study of Mistakes in Paragraph Reading.’
30umlof Educalional Pvchology, Vol.VIII, June 1917.pp. 323-32.
Reading Attitudes and Skills Essential & Functional Literaq
teacher. Sooner or later the pupil must learn to use a dictionary. In reading passages
that contain new words and concepts or refer to things and activities that lie beyond
his range, the reader often experiences real difficulty. Good teaching anticipates
these difficulties and helps the reader overcome them.
Relating and organizing ideas. But a good reader does far more than attach appropriate meanings to the words and fuse them into a sequence of related ideas; he
also grasps the meaning of sentences and paragraphs in relation to the whole text,
and recognizes their relative importance. Finally, he follows the author’s organization
of ideas, and distinguishes introductions, transitions and conclusions.
Pupils should be taught from the beginning to recognize the sequence and
organization of ideas. T h e reading of a very simple story, for example, which has
a beginning, a middle and an end, provides an excellent opportunity for such
training among children. Equally valuable for adults is the reading of such material
as a short, well organized passage describing the danger of drinking water from
stagnant pools and the steps which should be taken to ensure a pure water supply.
Reading with reasonable speed. As a result of early training, many pupils learn to seize
the literal meaning of passages more rapidly than they can read aloud, for they
recognize words at sight, often in units of two or three, and quickly grasp the ideas
presented. If they have the opportunity to read much simple material, they soon
develop considerable speed in understanding what is read, that is, they recognize
relatively large units at each fixation of the eyes and move swiftly forward along the
lines with few regressions. In such cases, little or no additional attention to speed
is necessary. Unfortunately, many children and adults do not acquire the habit of
reading fluently without a great deal of guidance and practice. S o m e m a y be
naturally slow learners; others, w h o are more capable, continue to read very slowly
because of lack of interest, a small vocabulary, or a limited background of experience.
Definite steps should be taken to overcome these difficulties. Then the best way to
increase speed is to provide much simple reading material of real interest to the
reader. Unfortunately, simple books or selections for young children are limited in
numbcr in many countries, and simple material for adults is almost entirely lacking.
Until such materials are available,teachers should encourage the frequent re-reading
of selections that have already been studied, but always with a new purpose in
Related Meanings
A good reader understands not only the literal meaning of a passage, but its related
meanings as well which includes all the reader knows that enriches or illuminates the
literal meaning. Such knowledge may have been acquired through direct experience,
through wide reading, or through listening to others.
Let us assume that a group of adults have read the following notice on a notice
hoard: ‘Dr.
Brown has found that the water in our village well has bacteria in it.’
Some of the adults had listened to a talk given by Dr.Brown the night before; others
had not. All who read the notice understood its literal meaning, but their grasp of
its significance varied according to their previous experience.Those w h o had heard
the talk recalled many facts that greatly extended their understanding of the literal
meaning of the sentence. For example, they know that sickness was spreading in the
community; that this might be due to the impurity of the drinking water; that
Dr.Brown was to examine the water in their well to see if there were bacteria in it;
that if he found bacteria in the well they should not drink water from it. This example
Teaching of Reading and Writing
emphasizes the fact that related meanings greatly increase one’s understanding
of the meaning of a passage.
Unfortunately, all too little attention is devoted to related meanings in either
primary schools or literacy classes. If a passage deals with things or activities within
the range of the reader’s experience, related ideas m a y be aroused through the use
of carefully planned questions. For example, if pupils are reading about children in
other lands, the question m a y be asked; ‘In what ways are their games and play
activities similar to and different from ours?’ Such a question usually stimulates the
recall of many related experiences that aid in understanding the nature of the play
activities of children in other lands.
M u c h concrete experience or the use of audio-visual aids should precede the
reading of a passage. In adult classes, a film is sometimes screened and discussed
before a bulletin relating to health or farming is read. Pictures, demonstrations, or
field observations m a y be equally useful. Questions should always be asked with a
view to relating the facts thus learned to those in the passage. Then class discussion
should follow the reading.
Implied Meanings
As a good reader grasps the literal meaning of a passage and recalls related meanings,
he also seeks its implied meanings, that is, ideas that are not expressly stated but
m a y be implicit. In reading a story, for example, children often infer what kind of
person a character is by what he says and does. In reading a description of a country,
they deduce its climate from its vegetation and crops, the houses of the people, and
the way they dress. Adults select the best candidate for an office by drawing inferences about him from statements made in a newspaper. They m a y also discover the
need for improved sanitary conditions in their community by drawing inferences
from facts read in a bulletin on health or hygiene.
T h e attitude and skills necessary for the drawing of inferences as one reads
do not develop automatically. Carefully planned guidance is needed. In preparing
a lesson, teachers should examine the materials to be read for hidden or implied
meanings. O n e or two questions m a y start the readers on the search for them.
During the discussion that ensues they should report the inferences they have
drawn, and should be asked to point out statements in the passage thatjustify them.
These statements should be examined by the class to determine whether inferences
are valid. Through such activities, readers learn that there are implied meanings in a
passage worth looking for. Such training also develops the habit of drawing inferences thoughtfully and with caution.
As a good reader grasps the meaning of a passage, he thinks about it. H e m a y be
amused, he m a y be impressed with the soundness of the ideas, he m a y be inspired.
H e m a y compare the facts presented with what he knows and m a y reject or accept
them. H e m a y detect that the author is biased and m a y refuse to read any further.
In these and other ways, a good reader indicates that for him reading involves far
more than the recognition of words and a grasp of literal and implied meanings.
As psychologists1 have often pointed out, it is not the ideas acquired through
F‘yle, William H.P.ychology of the Common Branches, with Abstracts of the Source Material. Baltimore,
Maryland, Warwick &York, Inc., 1930,p. 77.
Reading Attirudes and Skills Essential to Fundona[ Literacy
reading that result in most growth, but the reader’s reactions to them. If a reader
has acquired the habit of reacting thoughtfully as he reads, he will be less likely to
follow blindly the ideas read and will be more likely to question their accuracy
and value before acting on them. Training is necessary if a generation of self-reliant,
critical readers is to be developed. People have a profound confidence in the printed
word, and unless they react thoughtfully to what they read, they m a y fall victim
to propaganda.
T h e first requisite of critical reading is an inquiring attitude. A teacher can do
much to cultivate such an attitude by raising questions, which the reader should
keep in mind as he reads particular passages. T h e second requisite is an adequate
background for arriving at sound conclusions. In some cases, an adequate background must be built u p before reading begins. Very often pupils use purely subjective standards of judgment, or even prejudices, in reacting to what is read. It is
the teacher’s task to revise these first reactions, if necessary, in the light of new facts
and experience.
T o sum up: a good reader makes sure that he has fully understood what the
author has said. This usually calls for re-reading and study. As he reacts to the
ideas or conclusions presented, he examines his o w n ideas and standards ofjudgment
to make sure that he has the necessary knowledge and experience on which to base
an opinion. Finally, he checks the validity of the conclusions he reaches. A wellplanned reading programme cultivates an inquiring attitude and helps supply the
necessary background. Beyond these considerations which relate to meaning and behaviour are the aesthetic abilities to judge and enjoy the quality of the matter read.
As a good reader interprets a passage, he examines his stock of ideas in the light of
the new ones. If this is well done, he gains new or clearer understanding, broader
interests, and adopts more rational attitudes. These in turn influence his behaviour
and enable him to cope more intelligently with his problems.
Various methods m a y be used to make reading effective. A group of children,
for example, were reading a story which described the way in which the pupils of a
school made a new pupil feel welcome as a result of carefully planned guidance
by the teacher. In the discussion that followed, three steps were taken: the class
pointed out the effect on the new pupil of the welcome she received; they reviewed
what had occurred when a new pupil had recently entered their o w n school; they
finally considered what plans they should adopt in the future to make new pupils
feel that they were among friends. Similarly, teachers of adults should encourage
students to see the relation of what is read to improved ways of farming, child
rearing, and other matters of immediate concern.
Appropriate attitudes and habits are cultivated by teachers w h o raise such
questions: T o what extent do the facts just read suggest that w e should change the
conclusions reached yesterday, or our plans for a field trip? Such training increases
and clarifies knowledge and develops rational attitudes.
Most of the scientific studies in this field have been made among children, but their
application at the adult level will also be considered. T h e age factor,which is very
important, will therefore be discussed in relation to each of the other factors.
l’le Teaching of Reading and Writing
At any age level children differ in mental ability, and when the scores made on
reading tests are correlated with those made o n mental tests, the coefficients of
correlation are usually as high as between 0.35 and 0.70.~Indeed, mental ability
correlates more highly with progress in reading than any other factor studied thus
far. T h e fact that the correlations are not higher indicates that other factors also
influence progress in reading.
Therefore differences in mental ability among children should be provided for
in teaching. Dr. Lourenco-Filho,z knowing that the schools of Brazil were facing
serious problems on account of differences in the capacity of pupils to learn,prepared
tests designed to measure certain mental abilities essential to success in learning
to read. These tests were given to pupils on entering school. T h e pupils were then
divided into three groups-superior, medium and poor-and the teaching of reading
was adjusted to the needs and rates of learning of the three groups. W h e n objective
tests were given at the end of the school year, 80 per cent of the pupils obtained the
score necessary for passing, as compared with 50 per cent the year before. T h e
next year no adjustments were made to provide for differences in learning ability.
T h e percentage of passes dropped again to 50. T w o years later the experiment was
repeated, and the percentage rose again to 80.
Research in various countries has led to the following conclusions: (a) Children,
at each age level, differ widely in capacity to learn to read. (b) They should be
studied carefully on entering school and adjustments should be made in the reading
programmes to meet their needs. It is often desirable to postpone teaching the
slowest learners to read until they have acquired a broader background of experience,
keen interest in learning to read, and better adjustment to school activities. (c)Studies
of the progress of children should be made from time to time, and the amount and
character of the instruction given in reading should be adjusted to the changing
needs of pupils. If instruction is adapted primarily to the needs of those of average
ability, the slower pupils become discouraged and often drop out of school, whereas
the brighter pupils are able to keep up with little or no effort and therefore fail to
make as much progress as they should, if they do not lose interest in school work
A m o n g adults w h o enter literacy classes, all but the extremely slow learners
have sufficient mental maturity to learn to read with considerable ease. Those of
limited mental ability should be educated largely through non-reading activities.
Every opportunity should be provided, however, to enable them to learn to read
well enough to engage in those reading activities essential to safety and well-being.
Those w h o are able to learn to read often present teaching problems on account
of differences in mental ability. S o m e learn to read in a relatively short time. Others
require guidance for a longer time. T h e adjustment of literacy instruction to the
varying capacities of adults is an urgent and delicate problem.
Adults also differ in another important respect: on account of their greater
maturity they are more logical than children and they work most effectively within
the framework of clearly defined systems. It follows that instruction should be adjusted not only to their higher level of mental ability but also to the more mature
ways in which their minds function. Such leaders as Dr. Lourenco-Filho and Dr.
Frank Laubach have emphasized repeatedly the need of such adjustments.
Monroe, Walter S., ed., ‘Reading’,op. cit.
Lourenco-Filho,M.B. Testes A.B.C.para ueri/icagrloda maturidade necessaria a apprendizagem da leitura
e escrita. 4a ediG3o. EdiSSes Melhoramentos.S3o Paulo, Brazil, 1952.
Reading Attitudes and Skills Essential to Functional Literacy
Just as a good listener interprets the language of the speaker, so a good reader
interprets the language of the author. It follows that one of the important factors
influencing progress in reading is the child’s mastery of language. Hildreth,l w h o
made a critical survey and summary Of 37 research studies bearing upon the relationships between efficient reading and language attainments,found convincing evidence
that the two are closely related. A child’s ability, for example, to recognize and
pronounce words, to grasp the meaning of sentences, to follow a sequence of ideas,
or to read orally, are all influenced by his mastery of language.
Horn2 and his co-workers also found that a child w h o does not understand what
he reads usually fails to understand the same passage when it is read to him. Ability
to read with understanding improves as a child’s command of language develops.
After reviewing a large number of case studies, they concluded that many failures
in reading are due to inability to interpret readily the language used.
At least three steps are being taken today to remedy this. In the first place,
much emphasis is placed on language activities right from the start in order to
promote rapid growth in ability to understand and use language effectively. In the
second place, early reading lessons are restricted to the vocabulary and language
patterns which the child has already mastered. Under these conditions, progress
in learning to read is much more rapid. In the third place, throughout the early
years in school, the child’s command of language is gradually increased, so that
in time the material read m a y bring in a larger vocabulary and more mature forms
of expression that the child uses in conversation. These new words and forms of
expression are explained to the child and he is encouraged to use them. Thus ability
to read and the mastery of language develop together.
T h e language habits of adults are, with few exceptions, more mature than
those of children. T h e adult is therefore prepared to read material containing
relatively mature forms of expression without much preliminary training. Indeed,
some refuse to read material for children. However, the literacy teacher must always
be on the alert to detect the vocabulary and language needs of his students. Usually
some of them have very careless, inaccurate speech and fail to express their ideas
clearly. Besides, when bulletins relating to special topics, such as health andi arming,
are introduced, new words and forms of expression are almost certain to be used.
O n such occasions there should be as much explanation and discussion as m a y be
necessary to clarify the language used.
A third factor that influences progress in reading
is the reader’s background of
experience. Ability to understand what is read depends in large measure on the
associations aroused. These in turn depend on previous experiences. If the associations are pertinent and vivid, the reader will understand more or less fully what
is read; but if few associations are evoked, he will obtain little or no meaning from
what he reads. T h e reader’s ability to grasp related and implied meanings, his
capacity to make critical evaluations, and his ability to use what he reads are all
bounded by his previous experience.
Hildreth, Gertrude. ‘Interrelationships among the Language Arts.’ Elementary School journal,
Vol. XLVIII, No. IO, June 1948, pp. 538-49.
2. Horn, Ernest. Methods of Instruction in the Social Studies. N e w York, Charles Scribners & Sons, 1937,
PP. ‘55-6.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
M a n y schools endeavour to enrich the children’s background of experience
before reading begins. Then before a child reads a selection, related experiences are
recalled and new ones mentioned that w
ill ensure a clear grasp of meaning. During
the lesson the teacher asks questions, directs the discussion, and in various ways
checks whether the selection has been understood. This is particularly important
when pupils read materials relating to things, events, or activities beyond the range
of their immediate environment.
During recent years it has been shown that children or adults w h o are emotionally
disturbed do not progress as well in reading as they might. A good teacher will,of
course, try in every way possible to establish cordial relations with his pupils and
set a classroom atmosphere free from ill-feeling and strain. H e will also try to determine the causes of any serious emotional disturbance and, in co-operationwith the
home, to correct the difficulty or eliminate the conditions that produce it.
Difficulty in learning to read and failure to get along well with classmates m a y
in turn give rise to emotional problems. Children so affected come to dislike reading,
pay little or no attention in class, and avoid reading. Not infrequently they also
acquire a dislike for school, develop behaviour disorders or drop out. T o prevent
such situations from arising, teachers should study pupils’ progress in reading, and
should make such adjustments in their training as m a y be needed.
In the same way, the teacher of a literacy class for adults should establish cordial
relations with each pupil, create a friendly atmosphere, and avoid criticisms that
would embarrass anyone. M a n y adults enter literacy classes with great hesitancy
because they fear they may not be able to learn readily. They are sensitive to their
weaknesses and resent criticism or teaching procedures which place them in an
unfavourable light before others. It is of great importance therefore to arrange class
activities so that each adult makes some progress and derives pleasure from his
work during every class period.
Finally, progress in reading is greatly influenced by such physical factors as nervousness, fatigue, bodily pain or disorder, undernourishment or repletion. Failure in
reading is sometimes due to visual and auditory defects. In recognition of these
factors, increasing provision is being made today for the physical examination of
children and for corrective measures.
With the growing demands made on readers, reading programmes have expanded
greatly in the more literate countries. In less well-developed areas too, broader
training is called for. Experience shows that the old types of training designed chiefly
to develop skill in word recognition are inadequate. Training is needed in at least
four basic aspects of reading, in perceiving words, grasping meanings, reacting to
what is read, and using or applying the ideas to achieve specific ends. T h e development of these attitudes and skills is important in all areas where literacy is to be extended. The problems of obtaining satisfactory results, however, is greatly affected
by individual differences.
In this and the next chapter w e shall be concerned with the nature and relative
efficiency of different methods of teaching reading. M a n y different methods have
been, and are still, used in teaching children and adults to read. Those that differ
very much are usually based on different assumptions; moreover, notable changes
have been made in most of the old methods that are still used, owing to criticism,
new needs, and philosophies of education and further reseach. Therefore the various
methods of teaching reading will be studied in some detail in their historical
setting, along with the basic assumptions underlying them. Such an analysis should
bring out the advantages and limitations of each. T h e findings summarized in this
chapter provide the necessary background to Chapter VI, in which the relative efficiency of different methods will be considered in the light of objective evidence.
A study was made, first, of the literature on the subject and, second, of about five
hundred different sets of materials now used in teaching people to read. More than
a hundred sets for children and an equal number for adults were studied in detail
by the writer, with the help of an interpreter. Approximately fifty sets at each level
were studied by reading specialists in the countries for which the materials had been
prepared, that is, all the continents and most countries. T h e study is believed,
therefore, to be fairly representative.T w o important findings affected the scope of
this chapter and the plan used in classifying the methods examined.
T h e first is that ever since reading has been taught, attention has been directed
primarily to ways of developing the attitudes and skills required in early reading
activities. Before 1925, published reports had little to say about the methods used
beyond the earliest stages in teaching people to read. Yet the methods used at the
more advanced levels differ so radically from those used in the early stages that
they cannot easily be discussed at the same time. Therefore, this chapter will deal
with methods relating to early instruction in reading only.
T h e second finding was that many differences are differences of terminology,
due in part to concern with some particular aspect of reading. ‘Synthetic’and
‘analytic’refer to the psychological processes involved in some of the steps in reading.
‘Alphabetic’, ‘phonic’,‘word’and ‘sentence’,refer to the speech or language unit
taken as the point of departure in teaching people to read. ‘Global’and ‘ideovisual’ are concerned with the way in which the mind receives ideas and learns to
recognize words. Again, ‘auditory’, ‘visual’ and ‘kineaesthetic’indicate the sense
avenue most emphasized in teaching word recognition.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
M a n y authorities classify most, if not all, methods of teaching reading into two
broad groups o n the basis of the psychological processes involved :‘syntheticmethods’’
and ‘analyticmethods’. A third group is often included-namely, ‘analytic-synthetic
methods’-which combines certain elements of the first two.
This classification was used in the report entitled, The Teaching of Reading,2
which summarized the replies of 45 countries to a questionnaire, and was vigorously
attacked when the report was discussed at the XIIth International Conference on
Education, convened by Unesco and the International Bureau of Education.
There was also disagreement concerning the class to which particular methods
This m a y be readily explained. S o m e interpreted the terms, ‘analytic’ and
‘synthetic’ according to particular philosophies. As defined by the authors of the
report, however, the term, ‘synthetic’,referred to the mental process of combining
the detailed elements of language (the sounds of letters and of syllables) into larger
units (words,phrases and sentences), and the term, ‘analytic’,referred to the mental
process of breaking down these larger units into their constituent elements. If
restricted definitions are accepted and strictly adhered to, these two terms can be
used to advantage.
T h e terms, ‘synthetic’and ‘analytic’,were not adopted as the basis for classifying
methods in this report, but they are used repeatedly in making important distinctions. T h e methods reviewed here have been classified on a historical basis into two
broad groups : those which developed early and were originally very specialized ;
and those which are recent and are more or less eclectic. This plan had three distinct
advantages. It was reasonably simple and raised few controversial issues. It was
sufficiently broad in scope to include the methods used in teaching reading of lettersound, syllabic-sound,or word-concept characters.
Early methods of teaching reading3 m a y be divided into two groups: those which
approach the teaching of reading through initial emphasis on the elements of words
and their sounds, as aids to word recognition; and those which approach it through
the use of words or larger language units, and lay initial emphasis on the meaning
of what is read.
Simon, Dr. Th. Pkkagogie exp&imentale. Armand Colin, Cditeur, Paris, 1924,pp. 101-2.
Dottrens, Robert and Margairaz, Emilie. L‘apprentissage de la lecture par la mithode globule. Paris,
Neuchgtel, Delachaux et Niestlk SA., 1947, p. IO. (Achralitds pldagogiques et psychologiques.)
Lamport, Harold Boyne. A History of the Teaching of beginning Reading. Ph.D. Dissertation,
Department of Education, University of Chicago, 1935.
Zarrili, Humberto and Abadie Soriano, Roberto. Metodologia de la lectura: su evolucidn desde el
deletreo hasta la globalizacidn. Montevideo, I 946, pp. 1 0 - I 3.
z. Twelfth International Conference on Public Education. Geneva, 1949, The Teaching of Reading.
Paris, Geneva, Unesco, International Bureau of Education, 1949.
3. Wide use hao been made of the findings of Harold Boyne Lamport, reported in his doctoral dissertation,A Hislory ofthe Teaching of beginning Reading. Department of Education, University of Chicago,
19-35,which was prepared under the writer’s supervision.
Methodr of Teaching Reading
Generally speaking, these methods antedated all others. They are based on the
assumption that the teaching of reading should begin with a mastery of the elements
of words, namely, letters or syllables. As these elements are learned, they are gradually combined into larger language units, namely, syllables, words, phrases and
sentences. Through the use of graded exercises,skill is developed in recognizing new
words in unfamiliar contexts.
These methods are defended on the ground that by learning the elements of
words and acquiring skill in combining them into larger units, pupils develop
accuracy and independence in word recognition and become acquainted with the
form and structure of the language, with the result that much time is saved later on.
But they have been much criticized. If the elements of words are introduced at
the start, the child’s natural mode of learning is disregarded. A second weakness is
that the teaching of reading is treated as a highly specialized procedure, largely
dependent on logical considerations. T h e subject matter is not related directly to
child interests, to other classroom activities or language arts. Both the content and
the methods are imposed by the teacher. Again, so much attention is paid to word
elements and new words that other essential aspects of reading are neglected and
pupils fail to acquire an interest in reading for pleasure or information. They also
develop very slowly, if at all, in span of recognition and in ability to read fluently
for meaning.
Methods starting from word elements have been classified into three main
groups: ‘alphabeticmethods’, in which the names of letters are used in the attempt
to recognize and pronounce words; ‘phonic methods’, in which the sounds of letters
or groups forming phonograms, are used; and syllabic methods, in which the sounds
of oft-recurring syllables are used.
Alphabetic M e t h o d
T h e alphabetic method was almost universal from the early days of Greece and
R o m e until the end of the middle ages. It persisted well into the nineteenth century
in many countries, and even longer in others. It assumed that familiarity with the
forms and names of letters helped the pupil to recognize and pronounce words.
In learning such a word as cat for example, the pupil repeated the familiar letters
c a 1, until he sensed the pronunciation of the word, or until he was told what it
was. This method has often been called a spelling method. During the course of its
development, it became highly organized and was given a logical basis-as in
Noah Webster’s Speller, which was used to teach reading in America and of which
80 million copies were sold, during the century following 1783.
O n these principles,’ the pupil first learned the names of the letters, both large
and small, in their alphabetic sequence. Two-letter combinations, such as ab, ib, ob,
were then spelled and pronounced until they were well known, and then three-,
four-, and five-letter combinations, forming either nonsense units, syllables, or
words. The syllables and words were then combined into phrases and short sentences.
Mastery was attained chiefly through repetition. Only after considerable practice of
this type was real reading begun. Even then, emphasis was laid on the recognition
of new words rather than on the grasp of meaning.
- -
Judd, Charles Hubbard. Reading: its Nature uad Development. Chicaga, Illinois, T h e University of
Chicago Press, 1918,
p. I.
lh Teeaching of Reading and Writing
T h e chief objection to the alphabetic method is that the sounds of the names of
the letters do not always indicate the pronunciation of words. Menzell maintained
that this method helped the pupil ‘incidentally, wastefully and ineffectively’.
Anderson and Dearborna considered that pupils either guessed the word from the
sounds of its letter names or learnt it after the teacher had pronounced it. Practically all critics agree that the content of early reading lessons had little bearing on
child interests and that the arduous and meaningless repetition often established
a permanent dislike for reading. Furthermore, since the child learned and repeated
the letters before he had recognized their function as component elements of
words, he was not able to apply them properly.
As the validity of many of these criticisms was recognized almost two thousand
years ago, the alphabetic method was improved by devices to interest the child
and encourage wholehearted effort. According to Huey,B Quintillian, in A.D. 68,
suggested that the child be given blocks and tablets containing the letters and that
he trace with a pen the forms of the letters as engraved on ivory tablets. Basedow
(I 723-96), w h o believed that the child should learn to read through play activities,
had the idea of making gingerbread letters, which the child should be permitted
to eat as soon as he had learned them. Letters were also associated with pictures of
words beginning with those letters, such as a for apple. Letters were taught in small
grodps and words containing them were introduced immediately afterwards.
Other means were devised for combining letters into syllables and words, and words
into sentences.
However, as knowing the forms and names of the letters was of little help in
recognizing new words, the alphabetic method was gradually supplanted by more
effective methods and is rarely used today.
The Phonic Method
T h e phonic method was adopted owing to the fact that the sounds of the letters,
not their names, when uttered rapidly, produce the word. It was also assumed that
once these sounds had been learned, they should be combined into syllables and
words, then into larger language units. T h e method is most effective for languages
in which the forms and sounds of letters invariably correspond. W h e n used for
languages which are not purely phonetic, some of the letters are modified, or diacritical marks indicate the appropriate sounds.
In the beginning, the sequence of teaching activities in the phonic method was
based largely on logical considerations. In the initial stage the forms and sounds
of the letters were taught-as a rule, the vowels first. T h e teacher wrote the letter a,
for example, on the blackboard, or pointed it out on a chart or in a primer, and as he
did so, he gave its sound, often calling attention to the movements required to
pronounce it. T h e sound was then repeated several times by the pupil and other
vowels were introduced and their sounds repeated several times so that the association between the sound of the letter and its form was established.
After the vowels, the consonants were introduced in some prescribed order and
their sounds combined with each of the vowels (see Figure 4,page 94). The recognition and pronunciation of series, like la, le, li, lo, lu, were practised, then comMenzel, Emil W.Suggestwnc fw the Teaching of Reading in India. Madras, Oxford University Prcsa,
Indian Branch, IW, p. 49. (Teaching in India series No. X.)
2. Anderson, Irving H. and Dearborn, Walter. 2-7U Psychology of Teaching Reading. New York, T h e
Ronald Press, 1952, p. 205.
3. Huey, b u n d Burke. 7-7~
psycho lo^ und Pe&gogv ofReoding. New York, The Macmillan Co., 1912,
p. 241.
Methods of Teaching Reading
binations of two, three, four or more letters. Finally syllables were combined into
words, and words into phrases and sentences. Pupils often went through two or
more primers of such exercises before actual reading began. This procedure is
still followed in many countries.
O n e of the chief advantages of the phonic method is its use of the sounds of
letters, or phonograms, in word recognition.Their value in this connexion is admitted
by most authorities in reading. Huey, for example, observed that the phonic method
develops ability to sound the letters of any new word and to pronounce it by blending
these sounds.’ Anderson and Dearborn say that if a person pronounces the sounds
of the letters correctly ‘and is able to blend them, the result is that he actually says
the word’.* Other advantages claimed for the method are that it is logical and economical, carefully graded and complete with respect to the phonetic elements,and
easy to apply.
However, many limitations have been pointed out. T h e first is that consonants
can be accurately sounded only in combination with vowels. W h e n pupils utter
them separately, other sounds are often added, and then when they come to pronounce the consonants in words they are confused. Nor is the phonic method
practicable in all languages. MenzeP has emphasized the fact that in the languages
of India, which are highly phonetic, it can be applied readily. But in those which
are only partly phonetic, the sounds of letters must be supplemented by other aids
to word recognition, such as meaning, word-form clues, structural analysis of words
and the di~tionary.~
Again, the phonic method, while focusing attention on word recognition, fails
to develop the activity to understand what is read. Dunville said many years ago:
‘In the early stages of the phonic method, when practically every word has to be
deciphered, the attention of the child is so occupied with this process that little, if
any reading (in the sense of comprehension) can occur.’6
Schonell, too, considers that it ‘interferes with the idea of grasping words,
phrases and sentences as meaningful language units’.6 It has often produced ‘word
readers’. Another objection is that the learning procedures are often very formal,
consisting of the repetition of meaningless elements,and they create dislike of reading.
In response to such criticisms, many changes have been introduced-some
designed to make the learning of the sounds of the letters more interesting. (Four
of these innovations will be described briefly and illustrated in the appendix to this
I. T h e letters in the first primer are accompanied by pictures representing animals or people in familiar situations. T h e sound normally made in such a
situation is similar to that of the letter to be learned (see Figure 5, page 95).
As a rule, this procedure quickens interest and focuses attention on the sound.
It has often been objected that the sound illustrated in the picture is not always
the same as that of the letter when it figures in words.
2. T h e letters are accompanied by pictures representing words, of which the initial
sound is the same as that of the letter. This technique has been used for hundreds
of years. It is often called the ‘key-word’method. As the word is pronounced,
1. Huey, op. cit., p. 266.
2. Anderson and Dearborn, op. cit., p. 208.
3. Menzel. op. cit., p. 48.
4. Gray, William S. On their own in Reading. Chicago, Scott, Foresman and Company, 1 9 4 ,268 p.
5. Dunville,Benjamin. ‘TheMethods ofTeaching Reading in the Early Stages.’School World,Vol.XIV,
November 1912. p. 410.
6. Schonell,Fred J. The P&wlogv and Teaching of Reading. London, Oliver and Boyd, 1946,p. 47.
7. M a n y examples will be found in The Construction ofLikrucy Primersfor Adults, by D.K.Neijs. South
Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia, 1954,72 p.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
attention is directed to its initial sound. This, in turn, is associated with the letter
printed in the primer (see Plate VII). This procedure has the advantage of
arousing interest and directing attention to the sound of a given letter as it is
pronouncec! in combination with other letters and it does not produce a distorted
pronunciation as often happens when letters are sounded in isolation. A frequent
criticism is that the illustrations do not always represent familiar things.
3. T o supplement the key-word method, the form of the letter is sometimes drawn
over the thing the key-word represents, in such a way that the letter appears
to be derived from the picture (see Figure 6, page 96). This is one of the techniques used widely by Dr. Frank Laubach. It is based on the assumption that
many vivid aids to memory are required for the learning of new letters and
sounds. Nevertheless, the technique is criticized on the ground that the resemblance between the form of the letter and the part of the object over which it is
drawn is sometimes far-fetched and therefore of little value.
4. T h e letter to be learned is presented both visually and orally in connexion
with words. It is often accompanied by several pictures representing words
whose initial sound is the same as that of the letter. In this way the learner is
acquainted with the sound of the letter as it occurs in several words. T h e letter
to be learned m a y also be presented visually as it occurs in various parts of
different words (see Plate VIII). As attention is directed to different words,
both form and sound associations are brought out. The form of the letter is
made more striking by being printed in colour. However, unless one of the words
represented is stressed, the plan may lose the advantage which attaches to the
key-word method, and attempts to learn both the form and sound of the letter
in so many connexions at once m a y be distracting.
More colourful and attractive primers and readers whose content is based on the
interests of children have also been put out. Furthermore, the order in which the
elements are introduced has been modified in the light of detailed studies of their
frequency, differences in form that facilitate or interfere with recognition, similarities
in meaning, etc. Because of such changes, the term ‘psycho-phonetic’has been
adopted in many centres to distinguish the improved phonic methods n o w used
from the highly formal phonic methods of earlier times.
Various plans have been adopted, too, to direct attention from the beginning
to the meaning of what is read. Words and sentences are introduced as soon as a
sufficient number of phonetic elements have been learned. Some recent phonic
primers, after the first page or two, consist largely of phrases and sentences. The
meaning of what is read is emphasized almost as much as the mastery of word
In some languages it is possible to begin to read interesting sentences as soon
as the sounds of a relatively small number of letters have been learned, Stoleel
found that the letters a, e, 0, i, y and n comprised 65 per cent of the total letter usage
in the Malagasy language in Madagascar, and that it was quite possible ‘to write
interesting and connected sentences with those letters only’. T h e pupil was actually
able to read something he could appreciate and understand as soon as he had
learned six letters. With three more letters, 1, h and r, 80 per cent of the total letter
usage ofthe language was included and the number of words that could be recognized
was greatly increased. As new words were presented in numerous combinations,
pictures were used to facilitate learning, and far greater emphasis was laid than
formerly on the meaning of what was read.
Stolee, Peter B. ‘Constructing a Primer in a Phonetically Written Language’. Mimeographed
appendix to his Fanulahidim-bakitcny.Fort Dauphin, Madagascar, L a Mission Luthtrienne, 1949.
Methods of Teaching Reading
Hence, although the phonic method was very formal at first, it has undergone
many changes designed to increase its appeal, vitalize its content and make it more
effective. T h e techniques used have become more and more analytic-synthetic in
character and greater emphasis has been laid on the meaning of what is read. As
current phonic methods vary in many respects, each one must be evaluated critically in the light of all its characteristics.
The Syllabic Method
T h e syllabic method' differs from other synthetic methods in that the key units
used in teaching reading are syllabic units. As syllables are introduced and learned,
they are combined to form words and sentences. T h e use of syllables is preferred to
that of letters because, as practically all phoneticians agree, many consonants can
be pronounced accurately only in combination with vowels. T h e method is admirably
suited to Spanish and Portuguese,certain vernacular languages of Africa, and other
languages of simple syllabic structure. Its basic principles apply also to the teaching
of syllabaries, as in Japanese. T h e method has also been increasingly employed
during recent years for languages which are not highly syllabic.
W h e n it is used for alphabetic languages,before syllables are presented, the form
and sounds of some or all of the vowels are often introduced by means of words
and pictures, being pronounced first as part of a word or syllable, and later in
isolation (see Figure 7). Sf primers prepared on formal lines are used, the syllables
are learned by repeated exercises in recognition and pronunciation. Better types
of primers provide pictures to build up meaningful associations, and interesting
exercises. In some languages many of the first syllables learned are words and
meaningful reading material can be introduced right from the start. Each lesson
after the first one m a y be followed by exercises comprising sentences built up of
words and syllables that have already been introduced (see Figure 8). These help
the pupil to decipher the sentences. Or again, the introduction of syllables and
words m a y continue for some time before the reading of sentences begins.
T h e arguments for and against the syllabic method have been summarized by
George W . Cowan, S u m m e r Institute of Linguistics, Mexican Branch, in response
to an inquiry sent out by Unesco. Those favourable to the method are:
It presents a logical arrangement of material.
It provides a method for attacking new words.
It is easy to teach; the advanced pupils can teach the others.
T h e lessons can be prepared with a minimum knowledge of the language.
T h e entire course of basic instruction can be included in a relatively small amount
of material.
Teachers w h o have taught only by the syllabic method gladly co-operatein teaching
by this method. They often resist any innovation and influence their community
against it.
Educationists in areas where syllabic methods are used also affirm that it is admirably
adapted to the logical demands of the adult mind. As soon as a prescribed mode of
learning a new syllable has been acquired, the adult is able to learn other new
syllables with a minimum of guidance by means of carefully prepared, self-teaching
T h e chief arguments against the use of the method are:
It puts too heavy a load on the pupil's memory in the early stages, unless he is
taught to recognize syllables in words at the time he first learns them.
ofliteray. Rev. ed. Norman, Okla., Summer Institute of Linguistiu,
University of Oklahoma, 1953,85 p. processed.
I. Gudschinsky,Sarah. Handbook
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
If too many purely syllabic charts are used at the beginning, the pupil may lose
interest before he begins to read sentences and stories.
If the materials are too difficult at first, or advance too rapidly, the pupil m a y
become a mechanical ‘word caller’ unable to understand all the words that he
can pronounce.
T h e method is not suitable for languages with a complex syllable structure, or in
which there are few one- or two-syllable words that can be illustrated by pictures.
The foregoing criticisms,though they do not affect the principle on which the method
is based, question certain of its aspects, such as the excessive emphasis laid on word
recognition and the failure to provide opportunity for thoughtful reading. Moreover,
whenever the syllabic method concentrates at the beginning on the elements of
words, it is open to the same criticism as the phonetic method.
In the ‘psycho-phonemicmethod’,l which is a special adaptation of the syllabic
method, the sounds of letters and syllables are taught through comparisons of
words. According to Wallis and GatesY2the development of good habits of recognition can be greatly facilitated by the grouping of syllables in similar patterns, or
‘the teaching of new elements in term of the old and familiar. .. . T h e introduction of
new syllable patterns should be gradual and systematic, because a new combination
of phonemes in a new syllable pattern is as new and difficult for a beginner to learn
as a rzw symbol. Furthermore, various syllable patterns presented simultaneously,
either singly or in words, with no particular reference to frames or a systematic
introduction of patterns, distort the learner’s psychological patterns of memory
which are a strong and insistent force’. T h e order in which words are introduced
is determined by the frequency and usefulness of their component parts. Because
words are the basic units in this method, it is on the borderline between a method
which stresses the elements of words and one which stresses meaningful language
units. It has been described here because when words are compared attention is
directed chiefly to syllables as the basic units in word recognition.
T h e second group of highly specialized methods of teaching reading are, on the
contrary, based on the assumption that meaningful language units (words, phrases,
sentences) should be the point of departure. W h e n these units have been recognized
as wholes, attention is directed, in turn, to smaller and smaller elements. T h e extent
to which words are analysed varies widely. This procedure is often referred to as
the ‘global method’. Since the psychological process by which larger units are
broken down into smaller units is known as analysis, methods belonging to this
group have often been called ‘analyticmethods’. It should be added that as soon as
word elements are known, they are used in recognizing new words, so both analysis
and synthesis play their part.
At least two groups of arguments have been advanced in support of this approach.
Since reading is a thought-gettingprocess, use should be made from the beginning
of meaningful material, with emphasis on the development of a thoughtful reading
attitude. Learning to read thus becomes an interesting, enjoyable and rewarding
Townsend, Elaine E. ‘Accelerating Literacy by Piecemeal Digestion of the Alphabet.’ Lunguugs
Laming, Vol.I, July 1948,pp. 9-19.
Wallis, Ethel E. and Gates, Janet B. Outlincjw Primr Conrlmtion. Glendale, California, S u m m e r
Institute of Linguistics 1948.p. 5.
Methods of TeaGhing Reading
process and progress is greatly hastened. Then again, as psychologists1have demonstrated that children recognize things and ideas as wholes, more or less vaguely at
first, proceeding gradually to the recognition of details, this procedure follows the
natural mode of perception.
T h e chief criticism of this approach is that so much attention is directed to the
development of the attitudes and skills required for getting the meaning that word
recognition is often neglected. Several closely related criticisms refer to weaknesses
in the method as applied by some teachers. For example, many teachers neglect to
develop word recognition skillsa so long that pupils are seriously retarded. Others
practically omit training in word recognition on the assumption that pupils should
acquire the necessary knowledge and skills largely through their o w n unguided
development. Another disadvantage is that teachers w h o have not been trained in
analytic methods find them difficult to apply. (Similar difficulties are encountered,
however, by teachers trained in analytic methods w h o are asked to teach by synthetic methods.)
As enthusiasm for analytic methods grew, differences arose as to whether the
word, phrase, sentence or story was the most effective unit to start with, and all
these language units have been used to identify particular methods of teaching
reading. Each of these methods will n o w be described and its advantages and
limitations pointed out. They apply to practically all languages including those
that use word-concept characters, like Chinese, or a combination of word-concept
and syllabic sound characters, like Japanese.
Th Word Method
In this method words are usually presented in a meaningful setting and learned
largely by the ‘see-and-say’method during the first Few lessons. This procedure is
based on the assumption that each word has a characteristic form by which it can
be remembered. Various devices are used to facilitate learning. In some parts of
the world the learner repeats aloud sentences or verses containing the new words
as he looks at them, until they are known at sight. As an aid in establishing meaningful associations, pictures often accompany the words in primers. T o help slow
learners, the tracing of words, often called the ‘kinaesthetic n~ethod’~
is used. As
new words are learned they are used repeatedly in phrases and sentences. Through
careful planning of the order in which words are introduced, much practice in
intelligent reading can be provided early.
At the same time, attention is directed to details of words, such as syllables4
and letters and their sounds. These elements are then used in training pupils to
recognize and pronounce new words independently and accurately. T h e so-called
‘method of the normal wordsy5is a special adaptation of the word method which
introduces into early reading activities a limited number of words that include all
Decroly, 0.‘Lerble du phenomtne de globalisation dans l’enseignement’,Bulletin annuel de la SOCi&k
royale des sciences mddicales et naturelles. Brussels, 1927, pp. 65-79.
Dottrens and Margairaz, op. cit., pp. 9-41.
Seegers,J. E.Psychdogie de l’enfani normal et anormal d’aprk le Dr.0.Decroly. Brussels, C.Stoops,
1948, p. 261.
2. Seegers, op. cit.
3. Fernald, Grace M.and Keller, Helen. ‘The Effect of Kinaesthetic Factors in the Development
of Word Recognition in the Case of Non-readers’,30urndofEducariona1 Research,Vol. IV,December
1921: PP. 355-77.
4. Wallis, Ethel E. and Gates,Janet B. Outline of Primer Construction, op. cit., p. 5.
5. Basurto Garcia, Alfredo.La Leclura: principiosy basespara su enreitanray mejoramiento en todos 10s grados
de la escuela primaria. Mexico, Luis Fernhdez G. (1953).pp. 92-3.(Ensayos pedagdgicos, 11.)
7he Teaching of Reading and Writing
the basic sounds of the language. This plan ensures early mastery of all phonetic
elements. In reading for meaning and in recognizing new words, both synthesis
and analysis are involved. If the word method is not accompanied by the analysis
of words into their elements, it should not be classified as an analytic method.
T h e word method was adopted in revolt against the formal methods which
prevailed in earlier times. Comenius is often given credit for its introduction. In his
Orbis Picfw,published in 1657,he advocates the word method, arguing that when
words are presented along with pictures representing their meaning they can be
learned quickly without the ordinary ‘tedious spelling’ which is a ‘troublesome
torture of wits’. In our o w n day, the word method has been supported by many
noted specialists, such as Jacobet, Horace M a n n and Decroly, on the grounds that:
individual words are basic units of both thought and recognition; attention in
reading is focused from the beginning on the meaning of what is read, thus cultivating a thoughtful reading attitude and keen interest in reading as a source of pleasure
and information; the learning of words as wholes before their elements are singled
out corresponds closely with the way most children and adults normally learn visual
In the beginning, the content of primers and readers based on the word method
was usually very uninteresting, and mastery was gained largely through the repetition of words in sentences which had little significance to the learner. T o overcome these limitations, the authors of primers wrote more interesting material in an
attractive style, and illustrated it in colour. Various devices were introduced to
facilitate learning. For example, word cards were made to develop a sight vocabulary and to build sentences. Cards with a word printed on one side and an appropriate picture on the other were used for self-correctivepractice. Children w h o had
great difficulty learnt words by the tracing, or kinaesthetic, method. Work-books
were prepared with many interesting exercises to develop word recognition and
comprehension. Thus, step by step, important changes were made in the materials
and teaching procedures.
O n e of the most frequent criticisms of the word method is that it often fails to
develop the necessary accuracy and independence in word recognition,and therefore results in much retardation in reading. Such criticisms were discussed at length
in The Times Educational Supplement.’ According to Whitehead,a the main issue is
lfot whether phonics should be used as an aid in word recognition, but when such
training should begin. W o r d analysis is often delayed, or even omitted altogether,
by many teachers, reliance being placed on the intuitive insight of the pupils for
progress in the ability to identify and master word elements. However, though
brighter pupils m a y be able to make the necessary distinctions between words and
acquire skill in word attack without much help, most pupils require carefully planned
7he Phraw Method
T h e phrase method is based on the assumption that phrases are more interesting
than words and place added emphasis on meaning. It has also been recommended
in the belief that since good readers recognize groups of words at each fixation of
the eyes, the phrase method should foster rapid growth in efficient reading. The
Diack, Hunter. ‘FintStep9 in Reading: Phonics the Key’, Times Educational Supplmunl, 7 M a y 1954,
No. 2036, p. +I.
Gagg,J. C. First Steps in Reading: Present Practice’,op. cit., 14 M a y 1954,No. 2037. p. 477.
.z. Whitehead,Frank, ‘RivalReading Methods: Question ofTiming’,op. cd., z I M a y 1954,No. 2038,
Methodr of Teaching Reading
validity of this assumption has been questioned by Anderson and .Dearborn.’
Through an analysis of photographic records of eye-movements, they found that
good readers do not fix their eyes on phrases; fixations occur at more or less regular
intervals along the lines. T h e recognition of thought units-that is, of groups of
words that form phrases-is a mental, not visual process.
In this method, a phrase is often written on the blackboard as it comes up in
class. O r again, it is selected and written on the blackboard as a new unit to be
learned. In either case, it is looked at carefully by the pupils, repeated several times,
and compared with previously learned phrases. By repetition, the pupils gradually
learn to distinguish the new phrase from others. Familiar words within the phrase
are then noted and new ones learned. The elements of selected words may then be
studied, as in the word method, and applied in the recognition of new words.
The phrase method has all the advantages and limitations of the word method.
Whereas it places added emphasis on meaning, it is an uneconomical method of
word mastery. For this reason it has fallen into desuetude.
The Sentence Method
T h e sentence method represents a third stage in the evolution of analytic methods.
The arguments in its favour have been summarized by Huey as follows: ‘The
method urges that the sentence, and not the word or letter, is the true unit in language, expressing whole thoughts which are the units in thinking. If the sentence
is the natura1 unit in language, it is the natural unit in reading as in speaking.As the
word is not the mere sum of letter-sounds and word names, neither is the sentence
merely a sequence of word sounds and word names. It has a distinctive total sound
and appearance and meaning indicated plainly in the way it is spoken when its
meaning is felt. It is read and spoken naturally only when the total meaning is
prominent in the consciousness of the reader or the speaker.’2
In teaching by the sentence method without the use of a primer, attention is
first directed to some object or activity of interest to the class. As the pupils engage
in conversation, they make many interesting statements about it. O n e of the statements is then written on the blackboard by the teacher and read ‘naturally’-that
is, ‘with expression’-since it represents an idea that has meaning to the reader.
T h e pupils are then directed to find important groups of words within the sentence,
and specific words within each group. After the first lesson or two, they are aided
by the recurrence of familiar words. Through various types of exercise, the new words
are learned so well that they can be recognized at sight. Sooner or later, attention is
directed to the elements of the new words. Knowledge of these elements is then used
in developing ability to recognize new words independently. Figure g illustrates
the use of the sentence method in a primer. T h e various techniques used in the
sentence method are discussed in detail by Lukes and Jaggar.4
Several advantages attach to the sentence method. It is in keeping with the
global or ‘gestalt’concept of learning. It stresses the meaning of what is read and
thus cultivates an intelligent reading attitude and keen interest in reading. Schonell
points out that ‘one of the great values of the sentence method lies in the help it
offers to the pupil from the context and from the continuity of meaning that can be
Anderson and Dearborn, op. cit., p. 238
Huey, op. cit., p. 273.
3. Luke, Edith. The Teaching of Reading by the Sentence Method.London, Methuen & Co.,Ltd., 1931,
a2 p.
4. Jaggar, J. Hubert. The Sentence Mefhod of Teaching Reading. London, T h e Grant Educational Co.,
Ltd., 1929, 119p.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
embodied in the material’.’ According to Anderson and Dearborn, it helps to
‘preventword-by-wordreading’.2The method also develops accuracy and independence in word recognition by breaking down each word into its syllabic and letter
elements and attaching appropriate sounds to them. This is not regarded as the
chief aim but rather as an essential aid in developing independent, thoughtful
readers. It is therefore introduced either systematically from the beginning, or
gradually as the need arises for broader understanding of word elements and increased skill in their use.
At least two criticisms of the sentence method deserve emphasis. Formerly, the
sentences used as the basis for teaching were not related to the immediate interests
and experiences of the pupils and they often failed to arouse meaning associations
which would contribute to rapid, effective learning. During recent years this difficulty has been largely overcome through a better selection of content and vocabulary. The second criticism is that in actual practice so much attention is paid to
the meaning of what is read that the basic skills of word recognition are not properly
developed, or their development is too long postpcined.
If the sentence method is well applied, it lays the foundation of practically all
the attitudes and skills required for good reading-a thoughtful reading attitude, a
clear grasp of meaning, accuracy and independence in word recognition, intelligent
reaction to what is read, application of the ideas acquired, and interest in learning.
W h e n the reader advances beyond the initial stages, he is not faced with the difficulty of adjusting himself to a new set of reading attitudes; instruction develops the
attitudes and skills already implanted, improving and extending them. This ensures
uninterrupted growth and makes for economy and efficiency.
The Story Method
The story method is an expansion of the sentence method, using a sequence of
sentences in the form of a story as the unit of instruction in early reading activities.
As stories have a universal appeal for children, it is claimed that the story method
ensures keen interest in reading activities, thus overcoming some of the disadvantages
of the word and sentence methods. It also provides a more complete unit of thought
than the sentence, because it carries the reader through an entire series of events
which have a beginning, middle and end. Hence, it not only emphasizes meaning,
but trains pupils to anticipate and follow a sequence of ideas. Because of its very
nature, the story provides much greater opportunity for discussion and the understanding of relationships than the sentence. It also inculcates a love of reading and a
taste for good literature.
Interest in what is to be read is aroused when the teacher tells the pupils the
story in a modified version. Its details are then discussed in the order in which they
were related until they are fairly well known by the pupils. Understanding and
appreciation m a y be further developed by dramatization. Attention is then directed
to the story as written on the blackboard or as printed in a book. As the pupils
already know the sequence of events, they soon learn to identify individual sentences
within the story. Each sentence is picked out repeatedly until it is easily recognized.
In the story method, techniques similar to those of the sentence, phrase and word
methods are employed; important groups of words are first identified within sentences; individual words are identified within phrases ; elements of selected words
are studied; and the knowledge of these elements is applied in the recognition of
new words.
Schonell, op. cit., p. 50.
Andcrson and Dearborn, op. cit., p. 243.
Methods of Teaching Reading
O n e of the chief criticisms of the story method is that pupils tend to rely largely,
when reading, on their memory of the sequence of events in a story, as previously
related, rather than on the recognition of words and, consequently, their reading
is often inaccurate and incomplete. W h e n attempting to read new stories, they
resort to guess work and imagination. Such readers depart from the text and supply
whatever comes to mind or seems appropriate. This can be avoided by means
of well balanced emphasis on thoughtful, careful reading and word recognition.
T h e story method, like the sentence method, lends itself admirably to emphasis
from the beginning on all the basic aspects of efficient reading. It is in keeping with
the global concept of learning forms. If well taught, it lays the foundation for continuous development towards higher levels of competence in reading. As a rule, the
exclusive use of story material is better adapted to children than adults, though
the use of some stories in early reading materials for adults has proved very effective
in many centres. Even with children, other types of material should be used early
in the primary grades to ensure the development of wide reading interests and
increased capacity to read different kinds of material for different purposes.
In the foregoing discussion, the strengths and weaknesses of the word, phrase,
sentence and story methods have been pointed out. As improvements have been
made in methods of teaching reading, the procedures that formerly characterized
the word, phrase, sentence and story group methods have been modified in m a n y
respects and it is impossible to evaluate any of these as a unit. In fact, most recent
primers for either children or adults do not follow any one of them exclusively.
Words, phrases, sentences of longer units are used to introduce reading lessons
according to the needs of the occasion.
T h e discussion thus far has drawn attention to a series of specialized methods of
teaching reading which diverged sharply at their origin in two respects: the nature
of the language units used in the first reading lessons, and the basic mental processes
concerned. T h e changes made in these methods were designed to overcome weaknesses that had been revealed through their use, to meet theoretical objections, and
generally to facilitate ease and rapidity in learning. Each of the various methods has
become highly diversified thereby.
During recent years even greater changes have occurred in response to the everincreasing demand for improved methods,l changing conceptions of the aims of
schooling, and the results of experience and research. Although it is very difficult
to classify them, they will be considered, for the purpose of this discussion, under
two headings, namely ‘the eclectic trend’and ‘the learner-centred trend’.However,
these trends are not mutually exclusive. Some methods which combine the use of
techniques that formerly characterized other methods are also, to some extent,
learner-centred, and some which are predominantly learner-centred also make
use of various specialized techniques of teaching.
T h e eclectic trend was mentioned in the recent report on reading by the International
Bureau of Education, Geneva, which classified current methods into the ‘synthetic’,
Laubach, Frank C. Teaching the World to Read. London, United Society
for Christian
1948, Chaps. 3 and 4.
lh Teaching of Reading and Writing
the ‘analytic’, and the ‘analytic-synthetic’.T h e analytic-synthetic method, it said,
‘... entails the selection of carefully graded words, sentences and simple passages
which the children analyse, compare and synthetize more or less simultaneously
right from the beginning, and in doing so become acquainted with the elements of
language, in the desired order, while learning the mechanics of reading’.’
T o illustrate the use of analysis and synthesis in a specific teaching procedure,
brief reference was made to an early lesson in a primer widely used in Brazil (see
Figure 7). After a class has reviewed the top line in the example, attention is directed
to the word bola and the picture accompiinying it. Through association of wordform and picture, the word, bola, is identified. T h e word is then pronounced slowly
and divided into its two phonemic elements bo and la. T h e next step is to recognize
the five syllables composed of b and each of the vowels. Analysis is required to isolate
the sound of b from 0, and synthesis to combine it with the other vowel sounds.
T h e word lata is taught similarly, the sounds of both 1 and t being paired with each
of the vowel sounds. T h e next step is the recall, through visual analysis, of the
various syllabic units previously presented, and their combination in the recognition
of specific words. T h e final step consists of reading the last line on the page. Identifying the various syllabic elements brings in analysis, while combining them into
words and pronouncing them brings in synthesis. Thus almost continuous use is
made of both analysis and synthesis throughout the lesson.
It would be impossible to refer to each of the many eclectic procedures that have
grown up. Those of special significance combine into a single teaching programme
methods of encouraging a thoughtful reading attitude and a clear grasp of meaning
and methods of developing skill in word recognition. T h e following example is
taken from a report which the Department of Education of the Thai Government
submitted to Unesco in 1949:‘In about two weeks’ time w e had developed a lesson
book of nine lessons, each one in two parts. T h e first part of each lesson utilizes the
direct method, teaching the words in very well known proverbs, while the second
part teaches the letters found in those words, and combines the letters to form
new sentences. For example, Lesson I begins with a very c o m m o n Siamese proverb,
nai n a m mi pla, nai na mi kau”, (in the water are fish, in the fields is rice). T h e
illiterate, knowing the proverb by heart, can “read” it, and various restatements of
the proverb, once it is repeated by the teacher. Part 2 of Lesson I then teaches
the shape of six consonants used in the proverb by visual association with objects
for which those consonants are also the names. T h e four vowels used in the first
proverb are taught by associating them with the shape of the face while saying the
vowels. Then follows a page of new simple sentences made up of combinations of
the consonants and vowels, the first real phonetic reading the illiterate does, right in
the first lesson.’a
Eclectic methods make possible the attainment of broader objectives in teaching
reading than the highly specialized methods referred to earlier. T h e eclectic trend,
which represents an attempt to overcome the limitations of the specialized methods,
is very promising. Through the choice of appropriate teaching techniques, a programme of reading instruction can be organized to develop all the attitudes and
skills essential in meeting current needs among both children and adults.
Twelfth International Conference on Public Education, Geneva, 1949. The Teaching of Reading.
Paris, Geneva, International Bureau of Education, 1949,p. 24.
Laubach, Frank C. Technical Problem peculiar to the Siamese Alphabet. Bangkok, Teachers’ Institute
Press, 1949, bilingual edition: Siamese-English,p. I.
Methods of Teaching Reading
T h e underlying principle of the ‘learner-centred’trend is that the development of
the learner is the main purpose of schooling and that the mastery of subject matter
and the development of skills are not the chief goals. Since progress in reading is
regarded as an important aspect of individual development, the reader’s interests,
immediate concerns, previous experiences, special aptitudes and deficiencies are
given first consideration, both in the content and the methods of teaching.
Learner-centred procedures m a y be classified most readily according to the
nature of the reading matter, which is of three types; author-prepared, learnerteacher conceived, or elaborated as part of an ‘integratedinstructional’programme.
Methods are usually eclectic, but vary in detail according to the kind of reading
Author-prepared Reading Matter
Sets of readers prepared by an author are used far more among both children and
adults than anything else. Compared with most of the primers published in former
years, they are more colourful and attractive and their content is more closely
related to the interests of the age groups taught. T h e content of primers for children
is organized in the form of simple stories or episodes about the same characters (see
Plate IX);and primers for adults deal with adult experiences and needs. These
so-called ‘basic readers’ are accompanied, as a rule, by supplementary teaching
devices, such as charts, word and phrase cards, work-books, tests and teachers’
guide-books. Filmstrips and films based on the content of the readers are sometimes
provided. T h e methods used can no longer be classified as a word, phrase, sentence
or story method. T h e authors use words, phrases, sentences, or stories as the need
arises and most of them agree that the analysis of these units into their elements is
essential if independence in word recognition is to be acquired.They differ, however,
as to the time at which word analysis should be introduced and the amount and
kind of help that should be given. At one extreme, daily training is provided in
word discrimination and word recognition from the beginning; at the other extreme,
such training is not introduced for several weeks or months, or is given only on
T h e main argument in favour of author-prepared primers is that they interest
the learner and create favourable attitudes towards reading. O n the practical side,
these primers and the accompanying teaching aids conserve the time and energy of
Author-prepared materials, however, are not without their opponents, w h o
claim first that it is impossible for an author to prepare reading matter of equal
interest to many different groups and to all members of a class. Detailed studies
of the c o m m o n interests of children and adults have done much to overcome this
difficuIty. Linguists claim that authors are either not acquainted with or disregard
important facts about the nature of the language and the relative importance and
relationships of words and often fail to select words and to organize them in a way
to facilitate learning, but linguists are apt to disregard the interests of the learner.
T h e solution of this problem lies in the co-operationof those w h o are well acquainted
with the type of learner for w h o m the material is designed and those w h o have a
technical knowledge of the language.
At least three important trends m a y be observed in the methods used in teaching
reading by means of author-prepared primers. T o ensure adequate emphasis on all
the attitudes and skills required for efficient reading, many authors select procedures
?lu Teaching of Reading and Writing
from every source possible. Furthermore, training in reading is closely related to
that given in the other language arts, such as speaking, listening, writing and
spelling. Finally, the training given in early reading activities lays a broad foundation for the continuous development of reading interests, attitudes and skills that
will function both in later school activities and in meeting out-of-schooldemands.
T h e second trend is to use the methods of word recognition best adapted to the
language concerned. Thus some readers make almost exclusive use of phonetic
methods, others of syllabic (phonemic) methods, and still others use a variety of
aids to word recognition, such as the context, word-form clues, structural analysis
of words, phonetic analysis, and the dictionary. Others have abandoned highly
specialized techniques in favour of eclectic methods.
Finally, the authors of learner-centred primers are adjusting their methods to
the capacities and needs of the pupils, w h o are organized into groups accordingly,
and individual help is liberally provided. Teachers are on the look-out for any
physical, mental, social or emotional handicaps a pupil m a y have, and special
techniques are introduced, such as tracing the forms of words, to help the slower
Lcarner-teacher Prepared Reading M
This reading matter is based on the immediate interests of the group taught and is
prepared by the pupils with such guidance from the teacher as m a y be needed.
For example, the class discusses a c o m m o n experience and summarizes in a few
sentences the main points. T h e teacher offers suggestions, changes the words or
forms of expression, and then this material is used in teaching the group to read in
much the same way as in the sentence or story method Dr.Rodriguez B o d of the
University of Puerto Rico teaching adults to read Spanish proceeds as follows:
I. M u c h discussion precedes specific instruction in reading in order to win the
confidence of the adults, deepen their interest in learning to read and write,
and increase their familiarity with the words and forms of expression to be used
in the reading and writing lessons.
2. Teaching starts with the use of reading matter based on the actual experiences
of the adults, and called experience units. By means of questions the teacher
encourages members of the class to talk about their work. As the discussion goes
forward, the teacher writes brief statements on the blackboard. The record
relating to one pupil follows:
Dofia Julia is a cook
Doiia Julia es cocinera
She cooks very well
Cocina m u y bien
She is at school
EstA en la escuela
She wants to read
Quiere leer
She wants to write
Quiere escribir
She wants to speak well
Quiere expresarse bien
3. As soon as a unit has been completed, the teacher reads it as a whole, then it is
read by the class in unison, and afterwards by individual pupils.
4. The statements are then recorded on a chart. Again it is read in unison and
individually. During these reading activities, the unit as presented on the chart
is compared with its written form on the blackboard.
5. Attention is then directed to particular sentences, which are dictated by the
students, read in unison and individually from the blackboard and compared
enseilanza de lecturay esnitusa a adultas
analfabelos.Rio Piedra, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1953,39 p.
I. Puerto Rico. Consejo Superior de Enseiianza. Manual para la
Methods of Teaching Reading
with the sentences on the chart. As each sentence is read, it is cut out from the
chart. It is then read again and placed under its equivalent on the blackboard.
As soon as all the sentences have been dealt with, they are read in a mixed order.
T h e unit is then rebuilt from the sentences which were cut out from the chart.
6. As soon as the students can recognize the various sentences, attention is directed
to phrases. After a given sentence has been reread, it is divided thus: ‘DoiiaJulia’
‘escocinera’. Each phrase is read and compared with the phrase on the blackboard. T h e same procedure is followed for each sentence. All phrases are then
read in mixed order and are found on the chart. T h e phrases are put together
to rebuild the unit and are then read.
7. Similarly phrases are broken into words and learnt as sight words.
8. T h e sight words thus acquired are applied in the reading of new material.
As soon as the adults have learned 50 words and a few word-identification clues, a
primer is introduced. T h e third page of the primer which Dr.Rodriguez Bou uses,
after a series of lessons based on the immediate experience of the students, appears
in Figure IO.
This kind of reading matter-based on the immediate experiences of the pupilsusually elicits keen interest and hearty co-operation. As children or adults read
records of their experiences, the sight of the words calls forth associations similar to
those that were aroused when the original experiences occurred, and so the words
are learned easily and quickly. Interest in reading is heightened too by these
pleasurable early reading activities. Because the materials read have meaning, a
thoughtful reading attitude is established from the beginning. Since the pupils
participate in the preparation of the reading matter, their command of language
increases rapidly, gains in oral expression and reading reinforcing one another.
As a rule, teachers w h o use the method are keenly aware of individual differences
and bring in every device they know in adapting teaching to the capacity and
needs of each pupil.
Learner-teacher prepared reading matter has several limitations. Insufficiently trained teachers do not always choose words well, nor arrange them in
sequences so as to facilitate rapid mastery. T h e preparing of the material in good
form and its duplication demand much time and effort on the part of teachers. As
soon as children or adults have learned to engage in very simple reading activities,
there is a large demand for reading matter to satisfy their growing interest in reading
and to provide the essential practice. Therefore most teachers w h o use the ‘experience
method’ in early reading activities soon find it necessary to rely on printed matter.
Integrated Instructional Materials
As a final example of the learner-centred trend, reference is made to the methods
of teaching reading by means of integrated instructional materials. Such programmes
are based on a global concept of educating the child and include much more than
reading and writing. Learning activities are based largely on the immediate interests
of the pupils. Knowledge is acquired through related purposeful activities. General
ideas and total forms are perceived first. As learning proceeds, the necessary distinctions are made and the child gradually masters details. This general procedure, it
is claimed, follows the child’s natural mode of learning.
A second feature of this plan is that it centres attention on a few points at a time.
As the teaching of reading is related to the things studied during the day, strong
motives for reading develop and the content of what is read has meaning for the
pupil. Reading thus serves from the beginning to enrich experience, not just to
master basic skills; moreover, all the knowledge and skills acquired during the day
The Teeaching
of Reading and Writing
reinforce each other. Since activities are varied from day to day according to
pupil’s changing interests, better adjustments, it is claimed, can be made to
individual needs.
T h e reading materials used during the early stages m a y grow out of a c o m m o n
experience of interest to the pupils. In a class in Brussels, for example, one of the
pupils had found a strange looking insect while playing out of doors. W h e n it was
shown to the class, everyone became keenly interested in it. Under the teacher’s
guidance, the insect was discussed at length. W h a t occurred up to this point might
be described as a vital learning experience about nature. Near the end of the discussion, the pupils dictated a brief story about the insect, which was written on the
blackboard by the teacher. It was then read, discussed, and sentences were identified.
Attention was next directed to particular words within the sentences. As they were
recognized, they were combined with other words in the story to form new sentences.
Later, the words in the story were also combined with words previously learned,
thus providing additional practice in the recognition and use of words.
The story, which the pupils had thus prepared and read, was used in several
related activities. It was written by the pupils in their notebooks, thus providing
practice in writing. Each pupil then drew an appropriate picture above the story.
The spelling of the new words was studied during another period, and some of the
pupils went to the printing table, set the words up in type, and finally printed them.
In these and other ways, training in reading, spelling, writing, oral and written
language and drawing was built around a c o m m o n centre of interest.
After the material for a reading lesson has been prepared and used, as indicated
above, it is duplicated and each pupil is given a copy to file in his reading booklet.
In many schools the pupils are asked to set each unit up in type with a small printing
outfit, in the classroom. This plan familiarizes the pupils with the details of words
and encourages careful work, because ‘it must be accurate if it is to be read’. W h e n
printed, the lessons are usually illustrated. Plate X reproduces two pages from a
booklet prepared in Geneva, Switzerland. O n e or more such booklets provide the
main reading matter for the entire first year. As a rule, the booklets prepared by
previous classes are used for supplementary reading. At the beginning of the second
school year, regularly printed books are introduced.
T h e principles underlying the integrated plan of teaching can be applied in
areas where fundamental education programmes are in progress. Reading matter
can be based on the needs of either children in primary schools or adults in literary
classes. For guidance in the use of this plan, the reader is referred to three sources.
Dottrens and Margairaz’ discuss the psychological principles of the global concept
of teaching and give numerous examples of appropriate materials and teaching
procedures. Freinet2 discusses what he calls the natural principles of learning and
ways of preparing children to participate effectively in the plan. T w o points which
are much emphasized are the importance of writing in early learning activities, and
the utility of printing presses, magazines and exchanges as incentives to accurate
work. A manual which accompanies the Dutch reading materials prepared by
Even, Kuitert and van der Veldes describes the global method in detail and explains
h o w it contributes to all-round development,
T h e integrated plan is opposed on the grounds that it is so complex a procedure
that it can be carried out effectively only in relatively small classes and by highly
trained teachers, that the training given in the basic skills lacks sequence and that
I. Dottrens and Margairaz, op. cit.
z. Freinet, C.Mdthode naturellc de lecture. Cannes (Alp.-Mar.),Editions de 1’Ecole Moderne Frangaisc,
1947,59 p., illus. (Brochuresd’Education Nouvelle Populaire, No. 30, M a y 1947.)
3. Even, F., Kuitert, R. and van der Velde, I. Naar owe Moedertaal.Groningen, Wolters, 1952.
Metho& of Teaching Reading
restricting the programme during the first year to pupil-created materials limits
the extent of reading that can be done and imposes a heavy load on teachers. Nevertheless,many of its basic principles are exerting a profound influence on the organization of teaching activities in primary schools. For example, reading is m u c h more
closely related to other classroom activities than formerly and is serving more and
more as an aid to learning throughout the school day. Besides, many of the techniques
devised for integrated programmes are being adopted by teachers anxious to vitalize
and improve instruction in reading.
Whereas methods of teaching reading were once highly specialized, they have
gradually lost many of their distinctive features as efforts have been made to improve
their effectiveness. T w o distinct trends have arisen: most of the methods n o w used
combine into a single programme techniques which formerly characterized particular
methods and they are also based more and more on the immediate interests of the
pupil. These trends are consistent with the results of psychological studies. Experiments carried out to determine objectively, if possible, the relative merits of different
methods of teaching reading will n o w be described.
(See also Plates VII-X)
' Leziooe.
elia 6 leale.
le ali.
ella ii l'ala.
Figure 4. This is the second page of a primer. T h e five vowels were introduced on page I in cursive
and printed form. Their sounds were practised separately and in various combinations, e.g. ai, ie, oi,
w,U, aio, ah,aic. Page 2 is the first of a series of pages devoted to the consonants, which are combined
with the vowels singly and together,and used in words. T h e number ofwords-and
shortly sentencesincreases from page to page.
Pagani, Lorensi. Sei mesi di scuola. Metoak per l'insegnamcnto simultuneo della lettura
e &lla sm'ttura azli adulti. Torino, G.B. Paravie & C. ([email protected]), 78 p.
Methodr of Teaching Reading
Figure 5. This is the first of 50 pages of primer text. It is c-signedto facilitate the learning of the
forms and sounds of four vowels through onomatopoeic picture association. T h e script as well as the
printed forms of the letters are given. T h e nature and arrangement of the pictures make for variety
and interest.
Mtxico. Instituto de Alfabetizaci6n en lenguas indigenas. Cartilla nahuatl-wpaffol
para 10s monolingues del Erlado de Morelos y de Ins regiones central y sur del fitado &
Puebla. Mtxico, D.F.,Secretaria de Educaci6n Pbblica, 1946,p. 8.
Tht Teaching of Reading and Writing
Lecon I
gar i
Figure 6. This is Lesson I in a primer. A picture representing a word beginning with the sound of
the new letter appears in the column on the far lert. In the next column the letter is drawn over the
picture in such a way as to show resemblance between the shape of the object and the letter. T h e third
column presents the printed word in which the new letter figures. In the fourth column attention M
drawn to the new phonetic element. Vowels arc presented alone. Consonants are presented with a
previously learned vowel. T h e fifth column is for practice in combining familiar elements.
Frank C. Laubach, The each one kach one method (19.50supplement to Teaching Uw
world to read) ... a complete sei of lessom in Uw Swahili language. ...New York,
Committee on World Literacy and Christian Literature, 1951,p. I.
Plate VII. This is the first page of an Arabic primer. The sound of the letter is conveyed by means
of a picture representinga word,whose,initial sound is the same as that of the letter to be learned.As
the word is pronounced,attention is directed to its initial sound and the teacher points to its printed
form in the primer. In this way both visual and auditory associations are evoked.Because,in Arabic,
vowelsoundsare representedby diacriticalmarks,the mark for a is printed in red above the consonant
presented in each picture.
Khartoum, Institute of Education. Publications Bureau, Muftuh al-Mu’refu
Khartoum,n.d.,p. I.
arro soir panter
a a a
Plate VIII. This is the first of 109pages of text.The vowel a is introducedin printed and script form.
The sound of the letter is taught by means of pictures of children and things.The word for each is
printed below the picture.According to this plan, the letter to be learned (printed in red) appears
in various positions in the different words.
JauEret,Edouard.Les belles images: mkthode de lecture pour la classe enfantine. Paris,
Librairie classique.Eugkne Belin,t. 1948,p. 5.
J u m p , Spot.
J u m p ,jump.
Jump, Spot,jump.
C o m e , Spot,come.
R u n , run, run.
O h , Spot.
O h , oh, oh.
funny, Spot.
Plate 1X. In thesc four pages (thesixth story in the first booklet of a series ofreaders),their attention
centred on the events in the story. The previous five lessons introduced I O new words in equally
interestingsettings.T w o new words,namely.Spot and come, are introduced in this lesson,and learned
throughfrequentuse in this and the followinglessons.As they appear in conjunctionwith words similar
in appearance,attention is directed to similarities and differences in their form.Thus training in the
visual discriminationofwords begins early and is the prelude to trainingin other ways ofdiscriminating
Gray,William S.,Artley,A.Sterl and Arbuthnot,May Hill.The New We Look
and See.Chicago. Scott Foresman and Co.,c. 1951,pp.23, 24,25,26. (Curriculum
Foundation Series, The New Basic Readers.)
E a ,
.L a , v
Q *a
Methods of Teachinp ReadinR
bo la
bo le
bo lo
bo a
a ba
bo la
be ba
be be
be bi
be bo
be beu
ba la
be la
bu le
bu li
bai le
a la
e lo
e le
eu ia ao bai le
e la
Figure 7. T h e first page of this primer introduces the five vowels through the use of pictures
representing words whose first syllable consists of the vowels to be learned.T h e second page (reproduced here) illustrates the method of introducing the consonantsas integral parts of syllabic-phonemic
units. After attention has been directed to the first syllable in bola, b is combined with each of the other
vowel sounds to form syllables. T h e same procedure is followed for 1. T h e syllables so constituted are
then combined to form familiar words. T h e key word is presented in script form as a model for use
in writing exercises.
Brazil. Ministtrio da Educaszo e Sahde. Departamento Nacional de Educaqzo.
Campanha de Educasio de Adultos.L
r :pimeiro Quia de leituru. Rio de Janeiro,
'948, P. 3.
?he Teaching of Reading and Writing
e ,haa
ha &I
ma ma
sa po
za pato
Figure 8a. T h e first page of this primer consists of pictures illustrating the syllabln to be learned.
On this portion of the second page a and several of the consonants are introduced by means of
words beginning with those consonants. After the sound of a in ala has been learned, words accompanied by pictures are presented. T h e first syllable of each word begins with a new consonant combmed with the familiar vowel, a.
ma ma va
mamd va
ca sa
la ma sa
ma ma a m a sa
mama’ amasa
la masa
e9 8,/8 @@
pa pa
ma ma Ila ma
mama‘ llama
Figure 8b. This is a portion of the third page of a primer. It will be observed that immediately
af~ma and various syllables including it have been learned, reading begins. T h e child is here aided
in his recall of the syllables by the recurrence of the pictures with which they were first presented.
This use of pictures is discontinued soon after a word has been introduced into reading matter.
However, most primers employing the syllabic method do not use pictures as aids to recall in reading.
Uni6n Nacional de Periodistas, Quito (Ecuador). Cartilla &l
ndnploda por h U.N.P.Quito, 1949,pp. 4,s.
Dr. h b a c h
Mcrhodr of Teaching kbdiq
Figure 9. These two pages are the third and fourth in a primer of 127 pages. From well directed
discussion concerning the picture the children conclude that it tells them that ‘the papa reads’.
Attention is then directed to the sentence below the picture. It is read in unison several times, and then
by individual pupils. Then the sentence on the second page is read first as a whole, then bit by bit.
Finally, attention is directed to the words through the device used in the last three lines. Thus,the
sentence is split up into its components.
Chile. Direccibn General de Educacibn Primaria. M
i Icsoro. Primer &.
tiago de Chile, 1953. pp. 4, 5.
l7ic Teeaching of Reading and Writing
A leer, Juan.
A leer su nombre.
Si,a leer su nombre.
Figure IO. This is page 3 of a primer. In the previous two pages all of the words used on this page
had been introduced excepting a. In this lesson, the things and activities represented in the picture on
page I and the words introduced on pages I and z are reviewed. T h e picture on page 3 is then
discussed. By means of carefully worded questions, the teacher gets the class to read the different
sentences under the picture. A total of 52 words is used in this primer of 30 pages.
Puerto Rico. Consejo Superior de Enseiianza. A la escuela. San Juan, Departamento de Instrucci6n Pdblica, 1953, p. 3. (Serie IV, No.XLVII.)
As the changes described in Chapter V occurred, questions were raised as to the
relative efFiciency of the different methods used in teaching children and adults to
read. Should methods vary with such factors as age, intelligence, cultural and
environmental background of the pupil? In order to answer these and related
questions, we shall turn in this chapter to research findings. W e shall be concerned
with the relative efficiency of different methods of teaching reading, the principles
according to which they may be selected or elaborated on, and certain factors
influencing progress in learning to read. The usefulness of silpplementary aids in
teaching reading will also be considered.
Since 1900 many experiments have been carried out to determine the relative
efficiency of different methods of teaching reading. Unfortunately, the evidence
available does not show conclusively which of the methods in current use is the
best. Only a few of the many methods have been studied experimentally, and then
this was not always done with sufficient care to ensure that differences in the results
were due solely to variations in the teaching methods. Again, very few studies have
been concerned with adult subjects. Finally, the studies have not been repeated in
sufficient cultural and language areas to show that the tentative conclusions reached
have universal application. Nevertheless, the findings throw light on the problem.
In the following discussion the results of most of the important studies made during
the last half century will be summarized in terms of specific issues.
In 1912,Dumville’ reported the results of an experimental study of progress in
learning to read material written in the symbols of the Association PhonCtique
Dumville, Benjamin. ‘The Methods of Teaching Reading in the Early Stages’,School World,XIV
(November 1912), pp. 408-13.
lh Teaching of Reading and Writing
Internationale by means of the Dale Phonic Method and a see-and-say method.
T h e subjects were upper grade and high-school pupils. A year later, Valentine’
reported the results of an experiment with two groups of college students in which a
phonic and a see-and-saymethod were used in learning to read a passage of English
prose written with Greek letters.
Both these experiments were made to compare the relative effectiveness of the
phonic and look-and-saymethods when those w h o had already learned to read their
o w n language were learning to read material written in unknown phonetic symbols.
Although it is questionable whether the findings apply directly to children or adults
w h o have never learned to read and are attempting to learn to read their o w n
language, it is interesting to note that the findings were sometimes in favour of one
method and sometimes in favour of the other. This suggests that factors other than
the method used influenced the progress of the respective groups. Moreover, D u m ville obtained evidence which led him to believe that those taught by the look-andsay method would have been hopelessly inferior if they had not made ‘in their
minds’some analysis of the words read. Similarly, it was observed that those taught
by the phonic method were making progress in recognizing words as wholes. It m a y
be inferred, therefore, that the exclusive use of either method m a y not be as effective
as a combination of the two. Valentine’s data also indicated that a given method
m a y not be equally effective with all pupils.
In 1925,Wincha carried out an experiment with children between the ages
of 5 and 534 w h o were learning to read their o w n language. After a preliminary
series of teaching and testing exercises, two groups of pupils (19in each) of ‘approximately equal learning ability’ were selected. They were then taught for a period of
a month and a half, one group by a highly phonetic method and the other by a
look-and-say method. T h e instruction given to each group was very formal. At
the end of the training period. four tests were given, in which some of the sentences
were familiar to the pupils, others not. Ballard’s one-minute reading test was
also given. T h e results of the four tests were favourable to the phonic group in
accuracy of reading, and to the look-and-say group in speed. T h e results of the
Ballard test in both speed and accuracy were favourable to the phonic group. These
findings show that different methods vary widely in their effectiveness in developing
specific reading abilities. They also suggest that the results of an experiment m a y
vary with the kinds of tests used to measure progress.
These three experiments did not produce conclusive evidence. More recent
experiments on the relative merits of the phonic and look-and-say methods add
little to these findings, for they were carried out under very different conditions,
the teaching procedures used varied considerably, and in very few of them were all
of the factors sufficiently well controlled. Nevertheless, the results indicate: (a) that
different methods m a y not be equally effective in developing various abilities;(b)that
a given method m a y not be equally effective with all pupils; and (c) that progress
in various important aspects of reading should be measured to determine the relative
effectiveness of different teaching methods.
Valentine, C.W. ‘Experiments on the Methods of Teaching Reading’, Journal of fiperirnen6al
Pedagogy, I1 (June 1g13),pp. 99-112.
2. Winch, W.H.‘Teaching Beginners to Read in England: its Methods, Results and Psychological
Bases’,Journal of’Educational &search Monographs, No.8, Chap. V. Bloomington, Ill., Public School
Publishing Co., 1915.
Findings of Research that Help in rhs Choice of Methods
A second series of studies was concerned with the merits of a phonic approach to
reading as contrasted with the merits of laying chief emphasis on the meaning of
what is read. In 1912,Gill’ tried to determine the relative effectiveness of three
methods-namely, the Dale Phonic Method with slight modifications, a phonetic
method in which the forms of the letters had been made attractive to the children
by ingenious, but irrelevant association, and a ‘thought’or ‘sentence’method. Each
method was taught in a different school. T h e first two had been in use for two
years, the third, for 18months. T w o simple paragraphs of equal length were used
to measure progress. They were printed without punctuation or spacing between
the words. The time required to read the text passages by pupils w h o were taught
by the first two methods was double that of the pupils taught by the third
method, ‘who in fluency and intelligence of reading also were equally superior’. It
will be observed that the pupils taught by this method read more fluently than
the phonic group-as was true of those taught by the look-and-saymethod in the
previous series of studies.
According to Valentine,’ little significance can be attached to the results of
this study for three reasons: the comparative intelligence of the children was not
known; the general efficiency of the teachers was not considered (Gilldid state that
the teachers who taught by the sentence method were alert and progressive beyond
the average); and the form in which the passages were printed favoured the group
which had learned to read by sentence wholes.
Peyton and P~rter,~
in 1926,set out to determine by means of reading tests the
comparative achievements of pupils taught by a formal traditional method and a
more modern one. T h e older method stressed phonics. T h e content was uninteresting
to children, consisting largely of many short sentences composed so as to afford
practice in making important phonetic combinations. T h e contrasting method made
use of attractive books, with interesting content and emphasized the meaning of
what was read. Three schools took part in the experiment. All but one of the classes
were at the first-grade level. T o determine the learning capacity of the pupils, the
Detroit First-grade Intelligence and the Pressey Primary Classification Tests were
Pupils’ progress was measured by means of two standardized reading tests,
administered by the same person and under the same conditions in all first-grade
classes. T h e findings showed that those taught by the story method had made
distinctly superior progress. W h e n individual pupils were paired on the basis of
mental ability, it was found that those taught by the newer method had made about
twice as much progress as those taught by the older method. T h e gain made by a
third-grade class taught by the new methods was ‘considerably greater’ than that
of a class taught by traditional methods. These results assume even greater significance when it is known that the story method group averaged distinctly lower than
the phonic group in mental ability.
Although these results are highly favourable to the newer methods, the evidence
does not justify final conclusions. As stated by the authors, such factors as ‘the
teacher’s personality, the enthusiasm of the children, the correctness of the habits they
were forming, their rate of silent and, in most cases, oral reading’ were not measured.
Gill,E d m u n d J. ‘Methodsof Teaching Reading: A Comparison of Results’, journal of Experimental
Pedagogy, Vol. I (March I~IZ),pp. 243-8.
Valentine, op. cit., pp. 107-8.
3. Peyton, Edith M.and Porter, James P. ‘Oldand New Methods of Teaching Primary Reading’,
Journal of Applicd Psychology, Vol. X June 1gz6), pp. 264-76.
7 7 ~Teaching of Readinn and Writing
Other studies belonging to this series, which will be reviewed later in the chapter,
confirm the findings and reservations of Peyton and Porter.
Since about 1920 less formal and less dull methods of teaching reading have been
sought. Meriaml wrote: ‘(I)T h e best way to teach reading is not to teach reading
but to provide the occasion. . . in which reading functions. ... (2) Let pupils read
to learn, incidentally they will learn to read.’ A n d he submitted evidence that pupils
taught in accordance with these principles made more rapid progress than publicschool children w h o received systematic training in reading. Unfortunately, there
were no data on the background and mental ability of the two groups, the efficiency
of the teachers, or the nature of the learning situation. These factors are important
in this study, because the experimental group attended a university laboratory
A much more valid study was carried out by Gates, Batchelder, and Betzner,*
w h o compared two groups of pupils in a laboratory school. O n e group was taught
by a ‘ m o d e m systematic method’, and the other by a so-called‘opportunisticmethod’.
Twenty-five pairs of pupils in the first grade served as subjects. They were matched
on the basis of test data and the combined judgments of several teachers as to
‘(I)physical maturity and fitness, (2) mental maturity and c o m m o n sense, (3)social
maturity and adaptability, (4)emotional maturity and stability, and (5)educational
maturity and fitness for scholastic work’.
O n e group, including a member of each pair, was taught by the ‘modern systematic method’. As compared with the opportunistic method, ‘thedaily lessons were
more definitely arranged, periods for study of specific lessons more rigidly prescribed,
the accomplishment of particular tasks more strictly required, and the order of the
development of topics more fully determined by the nature of the subject matter
and more closely adhered to’. The opportunistic method allowed more freedom and
followed the interest and inclinations of the pupils. ‘To a greater extent, the teacher
waited for, and attempted to utilize, the spontaneous urges of the pupils to learn to
read, write, spell, etc. T o a smaller extent lessons and projects were set which the
pupils were encouraged or required to do.’
Preliminary and final tests measured pupils’ progress in reading, spelling,
arithmetic, drawing, information gained, social, emotional and moral traits, and
various attitudes and habits. T h e evidence was not explicit with regard to the
development of interest, initiative and some other personal and social qualities.
The opportunistic method resulted in ‘slightly higher achievements’ in the motor
functions-writing (manuscript style) ‘rather certainly’, and drawing ‘less surely’.
The modern systematic method resulted in considerably greater achievement in
specific school subjects. O n the reading test, there was ‘complete failure’ in 15 out
of 25 subjects taught by the opportunistic method, whereas none failed by the
modern systematic method. T h e former method resulted in no exceptionally high
achievements; by the latter, five pupils at the end of the first grade made scores
normally attained only by pupils from g to I I years old.
Discussing the findings, Gates said that if ability to read, as measured by objective
Meriam,J. L.‘AvoidingDifficultiesin Learning to Read‘, Educntionul Metho&, Vol. I X (April1g30),
PP. 413-19.
Gates, Arthur I., assisted by Batchelder, Mildred I. and Betzner, Jean. ‘A M o d e m Systematic
versus an Opportunistic Method of Teaching: an Experimental Study’, Teachers College Record,
Vol. XXVII, April 1926,pp. 679-700.
Findings of Research that Help in the Choice of Methoak
tests, were the only criterion, ‘the systematic method might lay claim to superiority’,
but if interest and enthusiasm for reading were considered highly important, then
the data were not conclusive. If the teaching of reading is to contribute to other
aspects of development than reading itself, this study is incomplete. In trying
to find out which of two methods is the better, w e must first ask: better for
what? Unfortunately, this question has received far too little attention in most
Closely related studies have been made of the efficiency of reading instruction in
conventional versus ‘activity’ programmes. The latter, at the first-grade level, are
based largely, if not entirely, on the immediate interests of the pupils. Instruction
is provided in the so-called basic skills as the need and opportunity arise in various
interesting class projects. Little or no commercially prepared material is used at the
beginning. In activity schools reading is taught by methods much like the ‘opportunistic’ method or those used in integrated instructional programmes. Because the
validity of procedures followed in activity schools has been challenged, the results
of objective studies of progress made in reading will be reviewed as a unit.
Dickson and McLean,’ in 1929, measured the progress made by a group of
31 children in learning to read when the training given was a part of an integrated
activity programme. T h e reading test scores made by the group as a whole were
very satisfactory. However, the children differed widely in the extent of progress
made. Analysis of test results and other information showed that mental age and a
broad background of experience greatly affected progress.
In 1933,Lee2made an extended study of the effectiveness of activity programmes
in teaching first-grade pupils to read. The Lee-Clark Reading Test was given to
I I, 167pupils in all parts of the State of California. Schools varying from the oneroom rural to highly graded city schools were included in the study, and results were
obtained from 144different classrooms. Information was also obtained concerning
‘the size of class, the number of classes in the room, the types of supplementary
material used, and the amount of activity work done’. The findings indicated that
‘pupils in classrooms doing a great deal of activity work do not learn to read as
well as do other pupils’. Progress made in other kinds of school work was not
measured, and the reading tests measured progress in only a few aspects of reading.
These limitations were recognized. Lee pointed out that final conclusions concerning
the relative effectiveness of the two types of teaching procedure could be arrived at
only by means of broader evaluation programmes.
Between 1930 and 1950 many further studies were made-Wright~tone’s~ is
an outstanding example. In 1941,studies4 published over the preceding IO years
were summarized and the chief conclusion reached was that ‘the influence of activity
programmes and informal methods on reading achievement was another of the
Dickson,Julia E.and McLean, Mary E. ‘ A nIntegrated Activity Program try-outin a First Grade
of the Public Schools’, Educational Method, Vol. IX, October 1929,pp. 31-42.
2. Lee,J. Murray. ‘ReadingAchievement in First-GradeActivity Programs’,Elementary SchoolJ o u ~ ~ ,
Vol. XXXIII, February 1933, pp. 447-52.
3. Wrightstone,J. Wayne. ‘Evaluationof the Experiment with the Activity Program in the N e w York
City Elementary Schools’, Journal of Educational Reseurch, Vol. XXXVIII, December 1944.
PP. 252-7.
4. Traxler, Arthur E.,with the assistance of Margaret Seeger and the Educational Records Bureau
Staff. Ten Years of Research in Reading. N e w York, Educational Records Bureau, 1941,pp. 38-9.
(EducationalRecords Bulletin, No. 32.)
7hc Teaching of Reading and Wtiting
debatable questions... to which research had not yet supplied a conclusive answer’.
In 1946,Traxler and Townsend’ reviewed the result0 of the studies reported
between 1940and 1945.T w o of these studies showed dearly that by the time pupils
w h o were taught to read as part of an activity programme had reached the upper
grades they equalled or excelled in reading achievement those w h o had been taught
by other methods. Another study showed that dull-normal children from underprivileged homes made as much progress as children attending regular schools.
In the light of the evidence available, Traxler and Townsend concluded, ‘The trend
of all these studies is apparently somewhat favourable to activity programmes,
although the evidence that activity programmes have a more desirable influence
upon reading development than conventional programmes is not very impressive.’
In 1951
,Wrightstone,a w h o had for years strongly supported activity programmes,
came to the following conclusions : T h e evidence from research indicates that the
real issue is not which of the two procedures under discussion is better, but rather
what is the role ofeach in contributing to development ih reading.W h e n the evidence
is reviewed from this standpoint, it is found that both methods of instruction contribute to the development of basic knowledge and skills in reading. Experience
charts are most effective in arousing interest and cultivating favourable attitudes
towards reading and in enriching the experience of pupils. (He had already pointed
out that basal readers developed reading attitudes and skills in accordance with
the findings of research.) T h e total reading programme provided in a school, he
considered, should avail itself of both methods of instruction.
From this it m a y be concluded that: experimental studies of the relative merits
of specific methods of teaching reading do not show conclusively which method is
best; they indicate rather that some methods further progress in certain aspects of
reading and other methods in still different aspects. As pointed out by Seegers,*
w h o studied the achievements of pupils taught by several different methods in
55 classrooms of Pennsylvania, no one method is wholly effective or ineffectiveeach has advantages and weaknesses.
These findings indicate that it is essential first of all to define the aspects of
reading in which growth is desired, and then to measure progress. T h e studies
reviewed were based largely on children and were carried out exclusively in Englishspeaking countries. Related studies in other languages will be referred to in the next
Although the results of research do not indicate conclusively which of the various
methods is the best, certain facts and principles emerge.
The fact that pupils taught by the same method do not progress at the same rate
was pointed out several times in the preceding section. Evidence of this is found in
Tder. Arthur E. and Towmend, Agatha. Another Five rears of Research in Reading. New York,
Educational Records Bureau, 1946,pp. 56-7. (EducatwnalRecordc Bulletin, No. 46.)
Wrightstone,J. Wayne. ‘ResearchRelated to Experience Records and Basal Readers’, lh Reading
Teacher,Vol.V, November 1g51,pp. 5-6.
3. Seegers, J. C. ‘Reading Methods in Pennsylvania First Grades’, Educational Method, Vol. VIII,
June 1929,pp. 510-15.
I 06
Findings of Research that Helb in the Choice of M e W
practically every study that has been published including detailed records of pupils’
As early as I g I 7, the author’ compared the rate and accuracy of oral reading
among the pupils of each of the first three grades’ in 44 schools of Cleveland, Ohio.
Three different methods were employed: 26 schools used the Aldine Method, in
which the reading of stories for meaning was emphasized; I 7 schools used the W a r d
Method, in which phonics and word recognition were stressed; and one school used
a method of its own. T h e results showed that both individual and class scores in
schools using the same method vaned a great deal. Of the schools which ranked
either highest or lowest in the school system some used the Aldine Method and
some used the Ward. Seegerss obtained similar results in a study of the silent reading
achievements of pupils in 55 schools of Pennsylvania using various methods.
Similarly, McLaren4 reported wide differences among children in Glasgow,
Scotland, w h o were taught by two methods, in each of which both meaning and
word recognition were emphasized. T h e chief difference was that in one case phonics
was taught separately from the reading period, and in the other case it was integrated with other aspects of reading instruction. Pupils were tested on picture
comprehension and recognition. Although the average scores of two groups were
practically the same, the individual scores vaned a great deal. Finally, a detailed
report5 of the progress of Belgian pupils taught in the French language revealed
wide variations in the achievement of pupils taught by the global method.
Even in studies that indicate some degree of superiority of one method over
another, the impressive fact is not the difference between the average scores of
schools using different methods, but the wide range of average scores made by
schools using the same method, and of individual scores within each group. These
findings seem to apply to children in all parts of the world. Comments and evidence
presented by teachers of adults suggest that they apply at that level too. Obviously,
factors other than the method used influence progress in learning to read. This
conclusion should not discourage people from trying to discover the best method for
specific purposes, but it means that the method used is only one of m a n y factors
that must be considered when reading programmes are planned.
A m o n g the most illuminating studies that have been reported are those which make
detailed analyses of the progress of pupils taught by contrasting methods. T h e
findings show clearly that contrasting methods usually develop different groups of
attitudes and skills. The results of three such studies will be reviewed briefly.
T h e first was made by Buswell6 under conditions that permitted him to obtain
detailed records of progress in various aspects of reading. The subjects were two
S.Studies of Elementav School Reading through Standardized Tests. Department of Education, University of Chicago, 1917. pp. 127-0.(Supplementary Educational Monographs, No. I .)
2. T h e first grade is attended normally by pupils during their first year in school, the second grade by
those during their second year, etc.
3. Seegers, op. cit.. p. 513.
4. McLaren, Violet M.‘Socio-economicStatus and Reading Ability-a Study in Infant Reading’,
in Scottish Council for Research in Education, Studies in Reading. London, University of London
Press, 1951,Vol. 11, pp. 1-62.
5. Seegen,J. E. La psychologic de la lecture et l’initiafion c3 la lecture par la d
c globale. h v e n , D e Nederlandsche Boekhandel, 1939,pp. 314-59.
6. Buswell, G u y Thomas. Fundamenial Reading Habits :a Study of Their Deuclopment. Department of
Education, University of Chicago, 1921,Chap. 111. (SupplementaryEducafwnal Monograph, No. 21.)
I. Gray, William
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
groups of first-grade pupils. With one group, skill in word recognition was emphasized. Elaborate phonic drill was provided in a separate period. Sufficient drill was
given to secure great independence in the recognition of words. In teaching a new
selection, the teacher first told the story in her own wor& in order to interest the pupils.
Next she wrote the new words on the board, drilling the children as she proceeded. . ..
After all the new words had been studied, the pupils read the selection aloud.
With the second group, emphasis was laid on the meaning of what was read, the
establishment of a correct reading attitude and a love of reading, by the provision
of interesting content. ‘The method proceeded from the whole story to lines and
phrases, and finally to individual word study.’ T h e word study was subordinated,
however, to the development of a proper reading attitude.
The experiment was carried out in two schools, each using a different method,
In order to study the progress of the pupils at two levels, in each school a group of
new pupils w h o were just beginning to learn to read was selected. T h e other groups
had been learning to read for six months. In order to limit the experiment to so-called
‘typical first-grade pupils’, neither the very good nor the very poor pupils were used
as subjects.
Progress studies were made at six-weekly intervals, thus providing six groups of
records for an entire year. These records were designed to throw light on pupils’
progress in four aspects of reading: a proper reading attitude, word recognition,
span of recognition, speed of recognition and regular procedure (of the eyes) along
the printed lines, and a rhythmic expression or interpretation of thought units as
contrasted with the mechanical pronunciation of words. T o obtain the data, Buswell photographed the eye movements of the pupils while they read aloud and at
the same time had sound recordings made. Detailed study of these records revealed
significant differences in the achievement of the two groups.
T h e pupils w h o had been taught with the emphasis on word recognition read
the words more accurately than the other group, followed the lines more regularly,
and read the page more faithfully. However, they tended to read in a more mechanical fashion, with less expression and with less show of interest. The pupils w h o
had been taught by the story method read less accurately and followed the lines less
faithfully,but they read in a much more animated manner and gave every appearance of enjoying the passages read.
The conclusion was: If the primary emphasis is placed on word recognition,
the outcome is the ability to follow the printed lines, to pronounce all the words,
but to display no vital concern for the content. It produces what is familiarly called
word reading. This is not the complete attitude of the mature reader. The method
goes far in the development of word recognition, an ability which all pupils must
ultimately develop. It does not help the pupil to read so as to grasp the sense. O n
the other hand, when the chief emphasis is placed on the thought.. . the pupils
become interested in content, but develop more slowly in word recognition and in
ability to follow the 1ines.l
Another study2 was made of first and second-grade classes. T w o groups of equal
numbers and ‘equal average ability’ were selected in each grade, one of which was
given concentrated training in phonics. ‘All words were developed phonetically.’
T h e other group was taught by a story method, the pupils receiving no phonetic
training. ‘Words were learned by quick perception and sense-content methods.’
Studies of the progress of all four groups led to the following conclusions: T h e
I. ibid, p. 72.
z. Currier, Lillian Beatrice and Duguid, Olive C. ‘Phonicsor No Phonics’, Elementary School Journal,
Vol. XVII, December 1916,pp. 286-7.
I 08
Findings of Research that Help in the Choice of Methods
phonic groups so concentrated upon letter sounds that attention was diverted from
the sense of the paragraph to word pronunciation. This brought about boredom and
fatigue and destroyed the pleasure which the story should yield. T h e reading was
generally less smooth, slower, and the ideas confused. T h e groups which were not
taught phonics were found to enjoy reading for its own sake. From the story they
got the sense. They were less careful and less correct than the phonic groups with
regard to pronunciation. Keeping the sense in mind, they often substituted words
from their o w n vocabulary for difficult or unfamiliar words in the text. They read
more swiftly and with more expression. Fatigue was reduced, because the story held
their interest and they were intent on the outcome.
Seegersl described the results achieved through the use of the ‘global method’
in one school. The chief aim of the study was to determine the nature and rapidity
of the progress made by different pupils. They came from a bilingual environment
and ranged in chronological age from 5 years 6 months to 6 years 1 1 months, in
mental age from 5.2 to 7.8,and in intelligence quotients2from 88 to I 18.
Materials and methods followed a frequently used pattern of global teaching,
in which reading is based on centres of interest and closely integrated with other classroom activities. The time devoted to reading never exceeded I O to 15 minutes for
exercises each morning and 15 to 20 minutes for reading games in the afternoon.
Reading was regarded as ‘a simple exercise in expression’. Exercises in the analysis
of words were systematically avoided until near the end of the year, and even
then only a limited amount of time was devoted to them. Such exercises took the
form of games which each child had the opportunity to do ‘according to his o w n
Tests were given to all pupils at frequent intervals throughout the year. T h e
first part of the final test consisted of a list of 75 different words and of I 16words in
I O sentences. Records were made of the time required to read them and the words
wrongly read. The second part of the test, which measured rate of reading, consisted of 25 syllables, I O words and one sentence. The words read correctly were
marked on an examination sheet. As the pupils read the sentences, the examiner
noted : ‘(I) if reading was sub-syllabic, syllabic, hesitating, fluent or expressive;
(2) the number of pauses; (3) duration of reading; (4)words read incorrectly’.
The following conclusions were reached: ‘With the global method, as it has been
applied, children with the average mental age of 6 can, in eight months, learn to
read about 300 words, by devoting 20 to 30 minutes a day to reading. Gifted children,
or those with particular aptitude for reading, can with these exercises read fluently
after five months. . .. It is sometimes necessary to provide for fairly marked individual
differences and to take into account possible anomalies which will prevent some
pupils from achieving the results achieved by average pupils.’
Seegers makes the following comment: ‘As already pointed out by Simon, the
results of children w h o have learned to read by the global method are completely
different from those w h o learn to read by the synthetic method. W e even admit that
we have frequently been most embarrassed to evaluate these results, and w e have
preferred not to point out those referring to time spent and pauses during reading.
Here are the reasons-our subjects used to recognizing known words by their
ensemble (general configuration, gestalt) make little effort to decipher meaningless
syllables and words alien to their vocabulary. During the reading of sentences they
omit unknown words.. . . O n e could consider this fact as a grievance against the
Seegers, op. cit., pp. 360-2.
A n intelligence quotient is obtained by dividing the mental age, in months, by the chronological
age, in months, and by multiplying the product by IOO in order to avoid decimal points.
Tht Tcaching ofJ&ading and Writing
global method, but w e think with Vaney that the child learns to read only after
several years.’
T h e foregoing examples supply clear evidence that different methods of teaching
reading develop different groups of attitudes and skills. This finding is supported
by practically all detailed comparative studies made among both children and
adults. The attitudes and skills developed m a y vary all the way from those that aid
in word recognition to those that promote keen interest in the meaning of what is
read. Or again, they may include most, if not all, those that characterize an efficient
Does it make any difference what kind of start is made in learning to read ?
As stated above, many pupils, after six months’ training by a method in which
chief emphasis is placed on content, acquired an active interest in meaning, but
were unable to recognize the words and to follow the lines accurately. According
to Buswell,’ advocates of this method maintain that ‘a correct attitude towards
reading is of such great importance that it should be pushed a long way towards
maturity, letting the other habits rest for the time being’. H e pointed out that the
danger does not lie in the early development of a thoughtful reading attitude, but
in failure to develop other important attitudes and skills. T h e time at which word
analysis should be introduced, however, is a highly controversial issue. M a n y believe
that it should be stressed from the beginning. Others, w h o are convinced that pupils
should ultimately learn to analyse words into their elements, insist that they should
not be forced to identifyword elements until they are psychologically ready to do so.
Buswell showed that pupils taught with the emphasis on word recognition were
able by the end of the first half-year to recognize words and to follow the lines
accurately, but had not acquired any concern for the content or interest and enjoyment in reading. Since words are the keys to meaning, the first task in teaching
children and adults to read should be to develop skill in word recognition. Here,
again, the danger, according to Buswell, does not lie in the early development of
word recognition skills, but in failure to cultivate other essential attitudes and
This question merits careful study. Of the many different methods used to teach
children and adults to read, each develops certain attitudes and skills and often fails
to develop others of equal importance. Thus thousands of children and adults in all
parts of the world w h o have received much training in reading have not acquired
all the basic attitudes and skills for efficient reading. A possible solution to this
problem is suggested by the results of research.
A recent trend in teaching reading has been to combine in a co-ordinated programme special techniques connected with particular aspects of reading. T h e
desirability of this trend has been brought out by the results of several experiments.
In a study carried out in Puerto Rico during 19-31-32 and 1932-33,8the proI. Buswell, op. cit., pp. 103-4.
2. Mo-ate,
Josefita and others. M
d &l metodo &rirnac y f d i c a para m&r a leer m el p
grado. San Juan, Puerto Rico, Negociado de Material-, Imprenta y transportes, 1934,p. 70.
Findings of Research h
f Help in rhs Choice of M e w
gress of first-grade pupils taught by a strictly phonetic method was compared with
that of a similar group taught by a combination of the global method (rhymes,
stories, sentences) and the phonetic method. With the experimental group reading
was regarded as the interpretation of the thought expressed by the written or printed
words, phonetic training was given when necessary, but considered as a means to
an end-that is, the deciphering of meaning. Both the experimental and the control
groups were selected at random from the pupils w h o entered a particular school
at the beginning of the year. There were 35 pupils in each group and the same
teacher taught both.
At the end of the school year tests we& administered to measure achievement
in three aspects of reading. In speed of silent reading the experimental group read,
on the average, 58.75 words per minute, and the control group, 39.38. In comprehension, the experimental group made a score of 18.1, and the control group, 14.2.
In average time in seconds for reading 38 words, the score of the experimental
group was 36.25, and the score of the control group, 55.83.
T h e next year the experiment was repeated in four cities of Puerto Rico6 classes using the phonetic method, and 13 classes using the combined globalphonetic method. W h e n the same tests were given, the results showed distinct
superiority of the combined method over the phonetic. In only one class taught by
the phonetic method did the scores exceed those of a class taught by the combined
McDowell,’ in 1953, tried to determine the relative merits of a phonetic approach
and of a more broadly conceived programme. T h e phonetic method characteristically demanded ‘thorough training and development of phonetic skills before the
child began to read. ..’. The initial aim was the development of the ability to
pronounce letters, then syllables and words, and finally sentences. T h e contrasting
method included phonetic training, ‘but as a subsidiary word attack skill, which was
developed gradually through analysis of meaningful material’.
Certain teachers were asked to experiment with the phonetic method for a
period of three years. W h e n the pupils concerned reached the fourth grade, their
progress was compared with that of pupils taught by the method used regularly in
the school system-firstly by means of the Iowa Silent Reading Test. T h e pupils
tested included 77 pairs of boys and 55 pairs of girls, w h o were closely matched in
intelligence. T h e scores showed that the pupils taught by the regular method ‘read
faster, understood words, comprehended sentences, used the index, and in general
read better than the phonetic group’. T h e latter, however, made superior scores
in spelling.
A second comparison was made by means of the Metropolitan Reading Test,
which was given to 128 paired sets of pupils, fairly well matched in intelligence,
the phonetic group being slightly superior.T h e group taught by the regular method
made higher scores in reading, vocabulary and language mastery. However, the
differences were not statistically significant. In spelling, the phonetic group was
clearly superior. This was attributed to persistent emphasis on spelling from the
beginning: as pointed out by McDowell, the ‘mental set’, which such a programme
established was quite obvious from observing any classroom situation or by examining the data already presented. ‘The child was attentive to pronouncing the word,
to getting anything that rhymed with the original word. .. and to spelling the word.
But the “mental set” of looking for meaning was not there.’
It would appear that emphasis on both meaning and word recognition is desirRev.John B. ‘AReport of the Phonetic Method of Teaching Children to Read’, T h e
Catholic Ehatwn Review, Vol. L October 1953,pp. 506-19.
I. McDowell.
Teaching of Reading and Writing
able from the beginning. A long experimentation at the University of Havana, Cuba,
shows that this applies to adults as well as to children. T h e aim of the study was to
determine the relative merits of the syllabic, word and sentence methods in teaching
adult illiterates. At the end of each year tests were given in word recognition and
comprehension.T h e three methods were then revised accordingly. As a consequence
of the changes made each year, the three programmes have become increasingly
similar, emphasizing both meaning and word-recognition skills from the beginning.
T h e chief difference was the size of the language unit used in the first reading
lessons-in two of the methods, words, in one sentences.
This practice follows the eclectic trefid described in the preceding chapter.
Both studies support the view‘ that ability to get meaning and recognize words
should be developed concurrently. T h e nature and extent of training in word analysis that children should receive during the early stages are still open questions.
Because of their greater maturity and more analytical habits, adults m a y be taught
word analysis to advantage from the beginning. Attention to meaning should not
be sacrificed, however.
In Chapter IV personal factors such as mental ability, command of language,
background of experience, emotional and physical conditions, and age were discussed. Variations in these factors demand adjustments in the content and methods
of teaching. Attention is n o w directed to cultural and environmental factors, which
also affect progress in reading and to which teaching should be adjusted.
The interests, ideals and attitude towards reading of a community are conditioned
by its culture. Some communities have ‘a burning desire’ to learn to read and
apply themselves whenever they have the opportunity. Others are self-satisfied or
just not interested in learning to read. Very different procedures must be adopted, of
course, if satisfactory progress is to be made in early reading activities and readiness
for progress.
Cultural differences also exist within communities. Children from homes where
people read have often looked at pictures and glanced through magazines as their
parents have read to them. They have also experienced some of the pleasures that
may be derived from reading and are keen to learn. Very often they have even made
some progress in reading signs, labels and very simple stories. Under these conditions, when they enter reading classes, they usually apply themselves vigorously.
Children from illiterate homes, on the other hand, come to school with few or
none of the experiences referred to above. M u c h time must be spent, therefore,
in arousing interest in learning to read in the early classes. Illiterate adults, too,
enter classes hesitantly. Sifite reading is for them an unusual activity, they look
upon ability to read as something only the superior can acquire. They therefore
doubt their capacity to learn. M u c h preparation is required before reading can be
introduced and the teaching must be adapted to their specific needs.
Teaching methods have of course been influenced throughout their development
by the kinds of characters used for writing. Forming self-reliant readers is a difI I2
Findings of Research that Help in the Choke of Mellrodr
ferent problem in China or Japan than in countries having alphabetic languages.
Within the alphabetic languages too, methods differ owing to linguistic differences. Such factors as phonemes, syllables, stress, tone, word order, inflection and
non-free forms make it necessary to modify in detail the methods used.1 In the
selection of methods, consideration must be given to special characteristics of the
language concerned.
It is often impossible to adopt m o d e m methods of teaching because teachers are
not adequately trained. In some regions, teachers have had no professional training
and are acquainted only with the method by which they learned to read themselves. If asked to use a different method, they express opposition and sometimes
In many communities it is deemed wiser to continue the use of less effective
methods-at least for the time being-than
to introduce forcibly new methods
before teachers and parents recognize their value. For instance, Zarilli and Abadie
Soriano,a after making a study in Uruguay, South America, to compare the relative
merits of ‘an ideo-visual, non-phonetic method’ and ‘a phonetic analytic-synthetic
method’, concluded that to ensure the best results the useful elements of the phonetic
method should be combined with the ‘highly educative’ global method. However,
when they studied the attitudes of teachers and parents towards the two methods,
they discovered that the teachers were familiar with the ‘phonetic analytic-synthetic’ method and co-operated in its use, whereas they were unfamiliar with the
ideo-visual method and opposed its introduction. Similarly, parents opposed the
ideo-visualmethod because they did not appreciate the educational value of the preparatory exercises. For these reasons, and owing to the lack of proper equipment,
ideo-visual procedures were not introduced.
Little or nothing can be gained by a method which arouses hostility, no matter
h o w valid and generally effective it m a y be. A teacher can usually get best results
with a method he knows and understands. W h e n circumstances do not justify the
adoption of an improved method immediately, teachers should first be trained in
its use, parents prepared for the change, and appropriate classroom equipment
If the chief aim of teaching is the all-round development of children-as
in the
global plan-the reading programme is naturally subordinated to it. T h e content
of the reading lessons, the vocabulary, the learning problems, are determined
largely by the children’s activities from day to day. Methods used in teaching are
influenced accordingly. Some of the striking differences, as contrasted with traditional reading programmes, were illustrated in the discussion of the integrated prgrammes of teaching in Chapter V.
Gudschinsky,Sarah.Handbook of Literacy.Rev. ed. Norman, Okla., Summer Institute oflinguistics,
University of Oklahoma, 1953,85 + vip.
z. Zarilli,Humberto and Abadie Soriano, Roberto. Mefodologia de la kctura; desde el delelreo a la
globalizacwn :fundomento del dtoh Abadie-/Zhrilli. Montevideo, 1946,pp. 165-71.
Teaching of Reading and Writing
T h e time available for teaching also influences the nature of teaching procedures,
their sequence and their timing. If, for example, children are to remain in school
for six or eight years, an easy pace can be adopted from the beginning, but if they
are only there for three or four years-as happens in many areas-they must be
pushed in all aspects of reading.
T h e time factor is also important with most adults, therefore the programme,
the methods used, their sequence and timing, must be such as to produce reasonably efficient readers within a relatively short time. But the aims adopted should
not be too narrow, or the adults will be able to make little or no use of the few skills
acquired once training is over. M a n y adults are in this situation today. Their
deficiencies can be compensated later only at the expense of much time and effort.
T h e programme should provide from the beginning for continuous development up
to the attainment of functional literacy.
At least two important conclusions m a y be drawn: in the selection of methods
of teaching reading certain facts and principles apply universally; and methods
often need to be adapted to different cultures, languages and communities. T h e
choice of methods must be based on a clear understanding of c o m m o n principles
and knowledge of local conditions and needs.
Reference should be made to the findings of research concerning the value of supplementary aids in teaching reading, which are increasingly used in many countries.
Ever since reading was taught in ancient Greece, instruction in reading and writing
has been closely related. Directions for teaching handwriting were provided in
primers or readers, and the same material was used in teaching both arts, until
recent times, when many practices have been followed varying between integration
of all the language arts and the separate teaching of reading and writing, if not the
postponement of the latter.
Practically all specialists in the language arts favour the introduction of reading
and writing at about the same time. They maintain that progress made in the one
contributes to progress in the other. T h e writing of words calls attention to their
details, helps to distinguish one from the other, and to build up a reading vocabulary.
Freinetl submitted evidence that writing is a very valuable aid both in developing
readiness to read and in hastening progress in reading. Hildreth,2summarizing many
objective studies, says that ‘writing reinforces word recognition and sentence sense.
It increases awareness of the characteristic features of words’ and helps pupils ‘in
building a sight vocabulary’. It also contributes directly to spelling ability. Fernald3
has supplied convincing evidence that the kinaesthetic method, which uses m u c h
I. Freinet, C. Mdthode naturelle de lecture. Cannes (AlpesMar.), Editions de 1’Ecole Moderne Franqaise,
1947, 59 p. + illus. (Brochuresd’dducation nowelle populaire, No.30.)
2. Hildreth, Gertrude. ‘Interrelationships among the Language Arts’, Elementary School Journal,
XLVIII (June 1948).pp.,538-49.
3. Fernald, Grace M.Remedial Techniques in Batic School Subjects.N e w York, McGraw-Hill Book CO.,
Inc., ‘943, 349 P.
Findings of Research that Help in the Choice of Methak
tracing and writing,is very effective with pupils who encounter difficulty in learning
to read.
Beyond the early stages of learning to read writing activities have also proved
very valuable.Sutton,lfor example,tried to find out what influence,ifany,‘emphasis
on writing stories, poems and reports to be read later by other members of the
class’ had on progress in reading. Over a period of four months the experimental
group advanced 0.9 of a grade, and the control group, 0.35 of a grade. Whereas
other factors may have contributed to the greater progress of the experimental
group, it is clear that writing activities closely related to reading are of great value
in promoting progress in reading. There is little or no experimental evidence as to
the relative merits of integrated and closely related instruction in reading and
Typewriters and printing sets are also used as aids in learning to read. Many specialists in the education of young children,such as Dottrens in Switzerland and Freinet
in France, advocate their use. As early as 1936,a series of studies of the influence
of typewriting on growth in reading2 led to the following conclusions: ‘ O n the
basis of the evidence now at hand, the typewriter appears to exert a favourable
influence on primary grade reading.. .. It contributes to clearer visual perceptions,
and probably to more meaningful auditory impressions.... In the intermediate
grades the typewriter has a definitely positive effect on pupils’ comprehension of
words and sentences. .. . It may be safely concluded that the typewriter influences
elementary school reading in a positive manner and to an important degree.’
Whereas similar studies have not been made of printing, it may reasonably be
assumed that its value is equally great.
Various visual aids are also increasingly used. Investigatorshave found that coloured
slides are very effective in providing a common background for early reading,
evoke clear visual imagery and are especially helpful to poor reader^.^ A few studies
have also been made of filmstrips and films. In one study4 material in the reader
was presented on a filmstrip before it was read from the book. It was found that
pupils made much more than the normal amount of progress. The explanation
offered was that the filmstrips aroused keen interest and added to the vividness and
clarity of the lesson.
Sutton,Rachael S. ‘Improvement of Reading Skills through Preparation of Materials’, JournaE
of Educational Research, XLVII (February 1g5+), pp. 467-72.
2. Haefner, Ralph. ‘The Influence of the Typewriter on Reading in the Elementary School’,
Elemenla7y EnElish Review, XI11 (December 1936), pp. 29114.
3. Jardine,Alexandre. ‘The Experimental Use of Visual Aids in Teaching Beginning Reading’, 27ie
Educational Screen, No. I 7, September 1938,pp. 220-2.
4. McCracken, Glenn. ‘The New Castle Reading Experiment: a Terminal Report’, E~ementafy
English, XXX (January I 953), pp. 3-2I.
T?u Teaching of Reading and Wn‘cing
Studies have also been made of work books,l practice materials,a gamesa and
tachyscopic or short-exposureexercises.’ In general the evidence is distinctly favourable to the use of such aids, under proper direction. Although most pupils profit
from them, they appear to be most helpful for slow learners.
Great improvements have been made in teaching methods by means of these
supplementary aids. Continued experimentation should lead to the development of
even more effective procedures.
O n the evidence n o w available, it is impossible to determine which of the current
methods of teaching reading is the best. Each has advantages and limitations,
and no method produces the same results in all situations. T h e latter finding suggests
that other factors affect progress in learning to read. Different methods emphasize
different aspects of reading and start pupils on different roads to maturity in reading.
T o become an efficient reader one must sooner or later acquire maturity in all the
essential aspects of reading. As a rule the best results are obtained by stressing both
meaning and word recognition from the beginning. However, many procedures have
to be adapted to the culture, the language, and conditions and needs peculiar to
each area. A sound reading programme for a .givencommunity can best be planned
by those w h o have a clear understanding of both the basic principles that apply
everywhere and local conditions and needs. The value of supplementary aids in
eaching should be kept clearly in mind
Pierce, R.P. and Quinn, Helen J. ‘AStudy of Certain Types of Work Materials in First-Grade
Reading’, Elementary School Journal, XXXIV (April 1934), pp. 600-6.
2. Scott, R. E. ‘Flash Cards As a Method of Improving Silent Reading in the Third Grade’, Journal
of Educational Method, V (November 1gz5), pp. 102-13.
3. G o h t h , Lillian. ‘AClasxoom Experiment in Teaching Reading and ArithmeticThrough Games’,
Journal of Educational Merhod, XVII (February rg38), pp. 231-5.
4. Davis, Lourse Farwell. Perceptual Training of Young Children-NationalCollege of Education; a monograph
on language arts. Chicago, Row Peterson and Co., 1949.
T h e preceding chapters have considered the nature and extent of the influence
of cultural, linguistic, personal and community factors in achieving literacy as an
aid to individual and group progress. They have also described the characteristics
of various methods now used in teaching reading and have reviewed their effectiveness. W e shall consider in this and the next chapter the kinds of reading programmes
which should be developed to ensure functional literacy. Attention will be directed
first to the nature and scope of such programmes for children in primary schools.
There are striking differences between countries in the progress made in establishing
schools for children, the conditions under which reading is taught, and the nature
and scope of the training provided. The brief descriptions that follow deal with
some of the chief problems in present-day teaching of children to read.
Very limited programmes are reported by many communities which are making
initial efforts to provide schools for children. T h e need for schools in many of these
areas has often not been widely recognized; the effort to develop them is limited to
a few individuals w h o are struggling to provide some schooling for their children,
usually without support from public funds. The school buildings, if any, are illadapted in space, lighting and equipment to the purposes of primary education.
The teachers have, as a rule, had little or no training, and can draw only upon a
very limited background of experience in organizing and directing class activities.
No teacher-training agencies or supervisory help are available.
T h e materials used in teaching reading consist largely of a primer based on very
formal methods. The chief aim is to develop the skills of word recognition; the
assumption being that if children learn to recognize and pronounce words, they
will be able to grasp the meaning of the passage read. Unfortunately, few or no books
are available which can be used in applying the skills taught in class. Such programmes and practices represent at best a beginning; they are incomplete and
usually fail to prepare children to use reading in enriching their experience or in
solving personal or group problems. Public support, vigorous leadership and concrete help over a long period are greatly needed.
l’hT m h i n g of Reading and Writing
Then there are the areas which still have a large percentage of illiteracy and are
in the midst of long-term efforts by government agencies to establish schools for all
children. Such a country as Brazil, for example, faces both very varying local
conditions and many serious handicaps. Whereas excellent schools have been
developed in some communities, in large areas of the country no schools of any
type are available. T h e buildings and equipment for the schools that have been
established vary all the way from ‘extremely limited‘ to ‘very good‘. At least a score
of different primers are in use, representing practically all methods of teaching
reading from a highly formal phonetic method to a modern sentence-story method.
As most of the teachers have had little or no training, great freedom is allowed
in the choice of primers and methods, and as most of the untrained teachers themselves learnt to read by formal synthetic methods, they usually choose primers based
on such methods. T h e resulting situation is ‘far from satisfactory’. The teachertraining agencies that have been established are doing as much as they can to
acquaint teachers with sound principles underlying the teaching of reading, but
until there is a rapid increase in the number of trained teachers and adequate
supervisory assistance in areas where it does not today exist, progress will be very
T h e lack of simple material to supplement the use of the primer is deplored by
most teachers and school officers. Owing to the small amount of reading done,
pupils fail to acquire either fluency or keen interest. Again, many of the books
used beyond the first year are largely made up of selections relating to history,
geography and nature, most of them too difficult. The pupils have to struggle
continually to overcome word difficulties, advance only very slowly beyond a wordby-word type of reading, and as the content is neither interesting nor related to their
experiences, the pupils find little or no reward in reading.
These problems are clearly recognized. During a recent conference, a local
author of a well-written primer was urged informally by members of the Brazilian
Ministry of Education to prepare a series of books based on the interests and experiences of children that could be used for progress in reading beyond the primer level;
it was pointed out that by so doing she could make a greatly needed contribution
to child development and to the reading programme of the country. The need for
more and better reading material is everywhere urgent.
In countries which have unified and well-organized school systems, provide schools
for most it not all children, and have reasonably good buildings and fairly welltrained staff, it is easier to concentrate effort on the improvement of the instruction
given. Through the help of a syllabus revision committee,’ New Zealand for example
is attempting to develop reading programmes that will ensure progress in all the
essential aspects of reading. As conceived by the committee, the chief aims are to
arouse and maintain interest in reading, to master the mechanics of word recognition,
to develop ability to secure meaning, to establish habits of effective silent reading,
to train in the art of oral reading, and to foster a love for good books. The ultimate
aim is ability to use reading as a vital aid in personal development and social efficiency.
New Zealand Educational Institute. Syllabus Revision Committee. ‘Reading in the Primary
School: Reports’, supplement to National Education. Wellington,N e w Zealand [ca. 19491,31 p.
I 18
Nature and Organization of Reading Programmes for Children
The proposed programme is divided into stages of instruction each of which
aims to achieve certain strategic goals. The first three of these stages are the ‘preparatory’,the ‘introductory’,and the Lcontinuation’.The first stage prepares the child
for rapid progress in learning to read; it extends, as a rule, through a period of
six weeks, though the time varies with the needs of the pupils and their ability to
learn.As the pupils associate with each other, an effort is made to instil confidence,
a feeling of security and good social adjustment. Special training is given in vocabulary expansion, speech improvement, ear training, visual discrimination, and
picture interpretation.
The ‘introductory’stage requires fromtfour to six months, during which from
75 to IOO words are learnt and the basic attitudes and skills involved in the reading
of very simple material mastered. A sight vocabulary is developed, and both silent
and oral reading of short stories is required. The ‘continuation’stage extends for
about a year and a half,during which specific training is given to develop skill both
in word recognition and in ability to grasp meaning. These two aspects are so
integrated that the child makes rapid progress towards independence in reading for
meaning. Comprehension is developed through word study, class discussion,supplementary reading and dramatization. By systematic training the vocabulary is
extended to a total of 800 or 1,000 words. The ability to read simple material
independently that is thus developed provides a broad basis for the training given
Obviously, the New Zealand programme has reached a much more advanced
stage of development than those referred to above. The steps that are now being
taken aim at helping all the schools of N e w Zealand to develop carefully planned
sequential reading programmes, through the elementary school period. Leadership
and careful planning of the types described are essential for effective results in any
school system.
The foregoing descriptions supply striking evidence that current reading programmes vary widely in nature and scope. Some of the differences are due to differences in the cultural level of communities and in the role of reading in the lives of
people. Others are due to differences in prevailing views concerning the chief purposes of schooling and the nature and extent of the training needed in reading.
Still others are due to differences in financial resources, the amount of reading
material at hand, the training of the staff,and the vision of leaders.
Sound policy dictates that efforts to improve reading programmes in specific
communities should start at their present level of development and make changes
only as rapidly as local conditionsjustify-all programmes, whether new or revised
must be adapted to the needs of the areas served. Obviously, the suggestions made
in a report of this kind cannot be equally well adapted to the needs of all areas.
The aim here is to point out the main problems encountered everywhere in planning
sound reading programmes and to describe the kinds of materials and methods of
teaching which seem to be most valid generally in the light of tested experience
and research. Such proposals provide a framework within which local communities
can proceed in developing programmes adapted to the specific conditions and needs
faced. In preparing the proposals that follow,use was made of the references cited
Benzies, D.Learning our Language. London, Longmans, Green and Co.,1951,138 p. (For teachers
in African schools where the mother tongue of the children is taught.)
Cruz GonzAlez, Adrian and Moya, Bolivar. hstruccwnes para emefianza de la lectura y la escritura
por el mitodo global. (San Jost, Costa Rica, 1954.) 7 leaves, processed (Carta circular no. I de la
Misi6n de Asistencia Ttcnica de la Unesco.)
Donnay, Jacques. La fonction de globalisation ct ses applications d l’enseignement en prem3re
nY Teaching of Reading
and Writing
It is recognized that certain of the proposals cannot be adopted by many c o m m u nities until larger resources and better trained teachers are available. They suggest
goals, however, toward which communities can work through constructive longtime programmes. T h e need for more and better trained teachers is so urgent that
measures for providing them will be discussed in Chapter XII.
In planning any reading programme the specific aims to be attained are of major
importance, since they influence not only its nature and scope but also the content
and methods of teaching. As a help in ascertaining current aims of teaching reading
in primary schools, three sources of information were reviewed-first, discussions
of the development needs of young children and the role of reading in providing for
them; second, reports of the reading demands made on children as they assume
their role in community life; and third, primary school reading programmes recently
developed in different parts of the world. With the help of these sources, two types
of aims were identified which are closely interrelated.
T h e first group is concerned with the values to be secured through reading. Every
lesson should contribute to pupil development through emphasis on one or more of
the following aims:
e d’ltudcs. 28 edition. Like, Editions Desoer, 1951,298 p. (Collection Plan d’ltu&s, No. 15.)
Dottrens, Robert and Margairaz, Emilie. L’apprtntissage & la lecture par la mltho& globale,
3’ edition revue. Neuchltel, Paris, Delachaux &NiestlC S.A., 1947,I I I p. (Actualirlspldagogips
at psychologiqucr.)
Elliott, A. V. P. and Gurrey, P. Lunguage Teaching in African Schools.London, Longmans, Green
and Co., 1949,150 p.
Gudschinsky, Sarah C. Handbook of Lilcrq, Norman, Oklahoma, Summer Institute of
Linguistics, 1953,85 p., illw.
Hamaide, Amelic. La mitho& Decroly. 48 edition. Neuchltel, Paris, Delachaux &Niestlb, S.A.,
1946, 261 p., illus. (Ach~alithpldagogiqucs et psyclrolgiques.)
Hendrix, Charles. L’enscigncment &la lecture par la d
c glob&. Li&ge, Editions Desoer, 1947,
87 p., illus. (Collection Plan dludcs, No. 17.)
International Coderence on Public Education, XIIth, Geneva, 1949.7hc Teaching of Reading.
Paris, Geneva, Unesco, InternationalBureau of Education, 1949,137p. (Publication No. I 13.)
Also published in French.
Janusevit,M.J. Mefodih nashuapochetnog chitunja ipisanja (Theteaching of reading and writing).
Beograd, Pedagogko DruStro NR Srbije, 1953,69 p. (Pcdagoskn Biblwtrka. 40.)
JimCnez Hernandez, Adolfo. E
l niiloy la lectura. SanJuan Bautista de Puerto Rico, 1952, 262 p.
+ index.
Marinho, Heloisa;Silveira,Juracy; and Lacombe, Mabel J. ‘Programade adaptaqsoa primeira
aerie’, Diario OJcial, 31 de maio, 1950.
Mezeix, P. and others. Mltho&s ds lt~tu~c.
Paris, Editions Bourrelier &Cie, 1947,85 p., illus.
(Cahiers &p4ahgogis modem. Clarses mlmullrs, Sectwm prlparatoires.)
National Society for the Study of Education. Reading in the Elemntasy School. Chicago,University
of Chicago Press, 1949,350 p. (Forty-eighth yearbook, Part 11.)
Polley, Mary E. Teaching Filipino children to Read; a Practical Manual for Teachers and Students.
2nd edition. Manila, T h e Associated Publishers, 1941,405 p.
Rio de Janeiro. D.F.O.Prefcitura.Departamento de EducaSSo Primaria.Secretaria Cera1 de
EducaGo e Cultura. Vi& e cducq-o no jardim &infancia. Rio de Janeiro, Editora A. Nocte, 1952,
Rother, Ilse. leaching the Basic Educational Skills. Report submitted to the Conference on
Education and the Mental Health of Children in Europe, Paris, 1952.(Unesco/Conf./EMH/2.)
Schonell,Fred J, 7hc Pphologv and Teaching of Reading. 2nd edition. Edinburgh, London, Oliver
and Boyd, 1946,128 p.
Zarrilli,Humberto and Abadie Soriano, Roberto. Mctodologia &la lectura; &s& el deletrco a la
globalizacidn. Fundamcntos del Melodo Abadis-Soriano. Montevideo, 1946,268 p.
Nature and Organization of Reding Prog~ammesfor Children
T o extend the experiences of children concerning things within the range of their
T o make their lives more meaningful through an understanding of the experiences
of others.
T o extend their knowledge of things, events and activities to other places, countries,
people, times.
T o deepen interest in their expanding world.
T o develop improved attitudes, ideals and behaviour patterns.
T o enable pupils to find the solution of personal and group problems appropriate
to their age level.
T o enrich their cultural background.
T o provide pleasure and enjoyment through reading.
T o develop improved ways of thinking and expressing ideas.
T o help them become more familiar with the interests, activities and problems of the
T h e second group of aims is concerned with the development of the reading attitudes
and skills needed to attain the various values listed above:
T o develop keen interest in learning to read.
T o stimulate the development of an inquiring attitude or a demand for meaning in
T o develop accuracy in word recognition.
T o promote efficiency in solving simple personal or group problems as one reads,
T o develop habits of effective oral reading.
T o increase the speed of silent reading.
T o cultivate interest in reading and the habit of regular reading for information
and pleasure.
T h e foregoing statement of aims differs in at least three ways from many which
appear in recent reports. It focuses attention, first, on the values to be secured
through reading rather than on the skills to be developed. It assumes that most, if
not all, reading lessons should help to enrich the experiences of children, clarify
their thinking, or further their development in one form or another. In the second
place, the development of the various attitudes and skills involved in efficient
reading is recognized as a means to broader ends. Indeed, the nature and variety
of the attitudes and skills that should be emphasized during any reading lesson are
determined in large measure by the values sought. Finally, a broader range of
reading attitudes and skills has been listed than has been usual in the past. Reading
can be used in achieving a much larger number of purposes in primary schools than
has previously been thought feasible. This, however, requires the early development
of many reading attitudes and skills that have usually been developed during later
school years, if at all. Whereas it m a y not be appropriate or possible in some c o m m u nities to achieve at present all the aims above, those responsible for developing programmes for immediate use should, nevertheless, have a clear understanding of the
broader aims which m a y sooner or later become desirable.
Next arise various questions concerning the scope an$ organization of the programme
needed to ensure the attainment of the aims. M a n y relevant studies have been made
in various countries during recent years. O n e of the chief conclusions reached is
that a carefully planned sequential reading programme is needed in each school.
This should concentrate at first upon a few vital aims and gradually expand in scope
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
until pupils are able to engage effectively in the various kinds and purposes of
reading normally expected of literate people.
At least three types ofinformationhave been used in developing such programmes.
T h e first relates to the nature and extent of the previous experiences of the children
to be taught and their chief interests and needs :such information suggests the kinds
of reading selections that will prove most effective, the motives for reading that will
make the greatest appeal, and the background of experience needed in interpreting
what is read. T h e second type relates to the level of development of the childrenmentally, physically, socially, emotionally. Such information is needed in determining the readiness of children for reading, when they enter school, their probable rate
of progi'ess,and the nature of the difficulties to be anticipated and overcome. T h e
third type includes records of the progress normally made by children in different
aspects of reading. They indicate the probable rate of progress that m a y be expected
in different aspects of reading and the emphasis that should be given to each in
Through the use of such information it has been found that pupils usually pass
through a series of periods, or stages of progress,' in becoming good readers: reference
was made above to the reading programme in N e w Zealand organized on this basis.
As a result of experiments in many centres, reasonable agreement has been reached
concerning the nature of the stages essential in attaining maturity in reading.' Four
of them are involved in achieving functional literacy. They are defined for use in
this report in terms that are applicable to all cultures and languages: Stage One:
preparing for reading; Stage T w o : learning to read very simple material; Stage
Three : promoting rapid progress in mastering basic reading attitudes and skills;
Stage Four: acquiring more mature reading interests and habits.
T h e nature and scope of the reading activities and methods of teaching essential
during each stage will now be considered. T h e suggestions made are based on the
results of research and the tested experience of teachers in various parts of the world.
T h e original draft2 has been modified in the light of constructive criticisms and
suggestions received from about fifty specialists in reading in many countries and
all continents. T h e proposals should however, be considered in the light of the
specific needs of a community and adopted or modified accordingly. T h e teaching
of handwriting should be closely integrated with that of reading, as discussed in
Chapter X.
This stage includes the period during which children acquire the first-hand experiences and receive the training that prepare them to learn to read eagerly and with
reasonable ease-the period before schooling begins until systematic training in
reading begins. Obviously, the home as well as the school helps to provide the
experiences and training needed. As discussed here, however, Stage O n e extends
from the time a child enters school until he is ready to learn to real.
I. Gray, William S. 'Reading', Child Deuelopmeni and the Ckrriculum. Thirty-eighth Yearbook, Part I,
of the National Society for the Study of Education.Bloomington, Illinois, Public School Publishing
Company, 1939, Chap. IX.
2. Gray, William S. Preliminary Surqy on Methodr of Teachins Reading and Writing, Parts I and 11. Paris,
Unesco, 1953. (Educational Studies and Documents, No.V.)
ganization of Reading Programmes for Children
7t.s when they enter school has
That children differ in their matun,,
che tests given by Dr.LourenGo
been shownrepeatedly. The results,foi /,
Ahapter V,supplied clear evidence
Filho in Brazil,to which reference was n.B/
that school entrants in that country vary
dtly in several of the mental abilities
involved in learning to read.
Other examples are equally illuminating. VernonS studied the vocabulary of
200 children in Scotland, varying in age from 4% to 5% years, who were just
entering school, using their conversation as the source of information: most of the
records varied from about 50 to 200 different words, with an average of 140,but
there was an extreme range of from 30 different words for one child to 500 for
another!Research3 during the past three decades has supplied convincing evidence
of wide variations in other aspects of the mental, physical, social and emotional
development of children; and many of these differences correlate closely with
variations in progress in learning to read.
Neither homes nor communities always develop essential interests, knowledge
and skills before children enter school. Beatty4 found that Navaho Indian children
reared in homes where reading is unknown come to school quite lacking in readiness
for reading: ‘They do not even know that language can be expressed in symbols.’
Inasmuch as their parents have never read to them they do not know that books
are sources of information or interesting stories.Since they do not live in an environment of billboards,signs, newspapers,and public notices they are not familiar with
printed forms and have not reached the ‘whatdoes it say’stage,normal in children
who grow up where printed signs are used widely.
Such findings emphasize the desirability of careful studies of the readiness of
children for reading at the time of school entrance and of a preparatory period for
all who need it. Note,for example,the recommendationof the Australian Council for
Educational Research: ‘Toensure that children will not fail in reading when they
come to school,there has been a growing recognition that we should not press them
and that, for many, normal teaching of reading must be postponed until they are
mentally and experientially ready for it.’5
Schonell’s conclusions are even more emphatic: ‘Mostchildren come to school
eager to learn to read, but too many of them lose this initial enthusiasm through
early failure and discouragement.W h y is this so ?’ It is ‘becauseinsufficient care is
devoted to creating the correct type and amount of preparatory background for
learning to read’.W h e n the facts are known, he adds, ‘it is impossible that anyone
should doubt the wisdom of a preparatory period in learning to read’.6 Practically
every book7 relating to the teaching of reading that has been published during
recent years has emphasized the importance of adequate preparation for learning
to read.
Lourenqo Filho, M.B. Testes ABC para vmijcagao da maturidade necessaria d aprendizagem da laitura e
escrita. 4a ediczo corn material para aplicaFZo, SZo Paulo, Brazil, Edigoes Melhoramentos (I 952).
Published also in Spanish by Editorial Kapelusz, Buenos Aires, 1952.
2. Scottish Council for Research in Education.Studies in Reading. London, University of London Press
Ltd., 1949, Vol. I, pp. 93-123.
3. ‘Reading’,in Monroe, Walter S., ed. : Encyclopedia of Educational Research. Revised edition. N e w
York, Macmillan Co.,1950. pp. 987-90.
4. Beatty, Willard W.‘Reading:a N e w Skill’, Educationfor Action; Selected Articlesfrom Indian Education,
1936-43.Chilloco, Oklahoma, Education Division, U.S.Indian Service, I 944, pp. 153-6.
5. Australian Council for Educational Research. The Approach to Reading. Victoria, Melbourne
University Press, 1952,p. 6. (Primary School Studies, No. I.)
6. Schonell, op. cit., p. 26.
7. For example, see the lists of references on page I 19.
7;hc Teaching of Reading and Writing
T h e foregoing discussion suggests several important questions. T h e first is, what are
the most important factors that make for readiness to learn to read? A brief but
illuminating answer to this question has been given by the Scottish Council for
Research in Education. 'It is obvious that the child at birth is not ready to learn
to read. Before he can begin this enterprise he must have sufficient visual acuity to
recognize slight differences in the complicated patterns of words. H e must have
sufficient auditory discrimination to tell one complex sound from another. H e must
have a sense of orientation both in vision and hearing before he can appreciate the
meaningful structure of words seen and words heard. T h e child w h o is to learn the
art of reading must have some ability in speech, for reading in its early stage consists
normally in matching the visual form of a word with its known meaning through
speech. Defective speech, whether due to prolonged baby talk or to neural and
muscular defect, retards reading attainment. T h e growth of intelligence is related to
reading readiness. Children w h o are seriously retarded in intelligence are incapable
of reading efficiently. T h e normal child, as he matures, enlarges his experience of the
world and extends his vocabulary and powers of oral expression. A steady emotional
development is also related to reading readiness. Before the child is ready to read,
he must have the power of sustained interest, and that can be retarded or prevented
by failure to attain integrated personality.''
A list of more than twenty specific factors which have been found to influence
progress in learning to read appears in the Reading Readiness Chart on page 126.
T h e results of related studies show that school entrants, wherever they have been
tested, differ greatly in each in each of them. Other studies show that progress in
learning to read is greatly increased following effective efforts to correct or overcome weaknesses.
T h e mental age desitable before reading is begun has been studied more widely than
any other factor. T h e conclusionss reached can be summarized thus: (a) a mental
age of 6% years is usually accompanied by rapid progress in learning to read, if
pupils are well prepared for reading in other respects; (b) a mental age of 6 is usually
accompanied by satisfactory progress if pupils have developed normally in other
readiness factors; (c) many pupils w h o have not acquired a mental age of 6 can
learn to read provided the reading materials are very simple and based on interesting,
familiar experiences and the methods used are adapted to the specific needs of the
learners. Indeed, studies made in Scotland' and the experience of several other
countries show that children w h o have developed normally can learn to read at the
age of 5 if instruction is adapted to their level of maturity. (Whether or no learning
to read is the most important aim of teaching children below a mental age of 6 is a
point calling for careful study.)
Children at any mental age level m a y fail to learn to read if they are seriously
retarded or handicapped in other essential aspects of development. Efforts to force
them to read under such conditions often result in developing hostile attitudes
toward reading and indeed toward all school activities. O n the other hand, bright
Scottish Council for Research in Education, Studies in Reading, op. cit., Vol. XI, p. 69.
'Reading', in Monroe, Walter S., ed.: Emydopcdw of Educational Research, op. cit., p. 988.
3. Scottish Council for Research in Education,Studits in Reading, op. cit., Vol. 11, pp. 64-80.
Nature and Organiration of Reding Programnus fw Chifdm
children are often well prepared to learn to read long before they enter school. In
their cases to postpone instruction in reading m a y be as great an error as to try to
force immature children to learn to read as soon as they enter school.
Unfortunately the evidence available concerning other requisites for reading
do not provide equally objective standards, but these probably include:
A speaking vocabulary that includes all the words used in early reading lessons, and
those essential in related teaching and learning activities.
Ability to express ideas clearly, to relate simple series of events or stories, and to
report what has been seen or heard.
Ability to use previous experiences in answering questions, making choices, and
solving simple problems.
Ability to look and listen with sufficient concentration to note and remember
important facts and details.
Ability to identify visual forms and sounds with sufficient accuracy to distinguish
one word from another.
Sufficient social and emotional development to be able to take part eagerly and
without undue restraint in group activities.
Sufficient adjustment to schoolroom procedures to follow directions and to attend
to the task in hand.
A desire to learn to read strong enough to mean a whole-hearted effort in early
reading activities.
Each of these attainments is desirable. However, experience and the results of
research show that progress in learning to read does not depend on specific levels of
attainment in any one of these factors, but rather on the total capacity to learn to
read that results from a child's attainments in all of them. It follows that children
w h o are able to learn to read may differ widely in mental ability or in any of the
other reading readiness factors.
Several methods are n o w used. M a n y schools give mental tests to all children at or
near the time of entrance. Some of these are given individually to each child,'
others are group tests.8 Although group tests are not as reliable as individual ones
they require much less time to give and provide results that are very helpful in
making decisions. Statistical studies show that there is a positive correlation of about
65 between the results of mental tests and progress in learning to read. Although
this is a fairly high correlation, it indicates that factors other than mental ability
also influence progress in learning to read.
A second method involves the use of so-called reading readiness tests.aThese aim
to measure attainments in each of several aspects of development which are known
to influence progress in learning to read. For example, Figure I I lists the readiness
factors that are measured by the Metropolitan Readiness Tests and includes samples
of the specific tests used. The results of such tests correlate as highly as do those of
mental tests with progress in learning to read.
Revised Stanford-Binettest of intelligence. New York City, Houghton Mifflm Company.
CaliJmia Tests of Mental Maturity. Los Angeles, Cal., California Test Bureau.
3. Metropolitan Reading Readiness Tat.Yonkers, N.Y.,World Book Company.
Le-Clark Reading Readiness Test.Los Angeles, Cal.,California Test Bureau.
Stevens Reading Readiness Test.Yonkers, N.Y.,World Book Company.
Monroe Reading Aptitude Tests.Boston, Mass.,Houghton Mifflin Company.
T h e Teaching of Reading and Writing
A third method makes use of one or more of the following steps: (a) observing the
characteristics and behaviour of children in their play activities; (b)studying during
class periods their responses in various learning activities; (c) getting reports from
parents and previous teachers, if any, concerning their interests, language ability,
and the general status of their mental, physical, social and emotional development.
The information thus obtained is often recorded on a separate sheet for each child.
The form which follows is an adaptation of one proposed by Schone1l.l
N a m e of child .........................................................................................................
Date of birth ........................... A g e in years ........................... and months ...........
Results of tests, if any are given:
Mental age .............................. Intelligence quotient ..............................
Reading readiness score ...........................................................................
Estimates of child’s development:
General mental ability
. . . . . . . . .
Background of previous experience .
. . . . . .
Range of speaking vocabulary .
. . . . . . .
Accuracy of pronunciation and related speech habits .
. .
Ability to express oneself clearly to others .
. . . . .
Habit of observing details and forming associations with things
seen or heard .
. . . . . . . . . .
Ability to perceive likenesses and differences .
. . . .
Ability to recognize relationships .
. . . . . .
Ability to keep in mind a series of events or other items
. . . . .
Ability to think clearly and in sequence
Ability to m a k e good choices and decisions .
. . . .
G o o d health .
. . . . . . . . . . .
A well nourished body . . . . . . . . . .
Freedom from undue fatigue .
. . . . . . .
Visual efficiency and discrimination .
. . . . . .
Auditory efficiency and discrimination .
. . . . .
Emotional balance
. . . . . . . . . .
. . . .
Social adjustment and feeling of security .
. . . .
Ability to focus on specific learning activities
Ability to follow directions
. . . . .
Ability to work effectively in a group .
Interest in pictures and the meaning of written or printed symbols
A desire to learn to read . . . . . . . . .
I = well below average;
5 = well above average.
= below average; 3 = average; 4 = above average;
Most teachers are helped by the use of such a reading readiness chart in studying
the attainments and needs of their pupils; the best results are obtained when a
teacher gives specific attention to a few items at a given time.T h e findings during a
Schonell,op. cit.,p. 27.
I 26
Nature and Organization of Reading Programmes for Children
week or two can be supplemented to advantage by an intelligence or a reading
readiness test, if available.
From the time pupils enter school many teachers make use of simple reading
activities based upon the immediate interests and experiences of the pupils. The
techniques will be discussed in a later section. As pupils engage in such activities
the teacher studies their responses. Some will participate eagerly and make rapid
progress; others w
ill show little interest and make little or no progress.Such findings
are helpful in determining the readiness of different pupils for daily instruction in
In the light of all the facts presented thus far,what plan should a teacher adopt at
the time pupils enter school? The fact is recognized that it should vary with community expectations, the age at which children enter school, their level of maturity,
and the testing and teaching materials available. The following proposals are for
cases where parents expect reading to be taught from the time pupils enter school
and where the instructional facilities are limited :
That definite time be reserved from the beginning for reading classes;
That during the first week or two,or even longer if necessary,the reading period be
used to study the attainments and needs of the pupils and their readiness for
reading.T o this end many things of real interest to the children should be discussed as a means of ascertaining their range of experience, their ability to
express themselves, and the level and quality of their thinking. Pictures should
also be looked at and discussed as a means of discovering their interest appeal
and the ability of pupils to interpret them. As such activities go forward the
teacher should write on the blackboard words or brief statements made by the
pupils and use them in informalreading activities.The eagerness and effectiveness
with which pupils participate are very revealing concerning their readiness for
That, as the activities described above go forward, the teacher should observe the
behaviour ofthe children at play and note their responses in other class activities.
The interests, abilities, and attainments of the pupils should also be discussed
with the parents. If mental or reading readiness tests are available they should
also be given. As the teacher becomes increasingly acquainted with the pupils
he should indicate on a reading readiness chart his judgment of the ability or
attainment of each pupil in the various aspects of development listed;
That those children who show greatest attainment and maturity and who take part
eagerly and profit from informal reading activities be given daily instruction
in reading in harmony with the suggestions that will be prescribed later for
Stage Two: learning to read;
That those who are less advanced and do not take part effectively in informal
reading activities be given training and experience making for greater readiness
for reading during the reading period and in other school activities.Ifcommunity
expectations are such that the teaching of reading cannot be postponed, very
simple reading activities of the type suggested for Stage T w o may be provided
daily for this group. However, no attempt should be made to force them to
advance as rapidly as the more mature pupils, and a good deal of time should
be allotted daily to promoting increased readiness for reading.
Teaching of Reading and Writing
T h e purpose of the learning activities provided will vary among schools, and
within given classes, according to pupils’ needs. In some cases the chief need is to
extend their understanding of all that goes on around them. In other cases it m a y
be to increase their vocabulary and develop their ability to express themselves
clearly. In still other cases it m a y be to promote ability to engage in the solution of
simple problems, to distinguish more accurately between things seen or heard, or to
stimulate interest in the meaning of written or printed symbols and in learning to
read. T h e good teacher studies the needs of her pupils continuously and provides
learning activities which promise to be most helpful in overcoming deficiencies and
in promoting needed growth. T h e following types of activities are widely used:
A daily conversation period in which recent events of interest or plans for the day
are discussed. T h e timid should be encouraged to take part, and those with poor
language habits should be helped tactfully in expressing their ideas.
A ‘show-and-share’period in which pupils bring things of interest from their homes,
and show and describe them to their classmates.
Looking at pictures or observing things and activities, both in and out of the classroom, to enrich experience and correct wrong ideas. Such activities should be
followed by vigorous discussions that help pupils focus attention on important
points, see likenesses and differences, recognize relationships, and solve simple
Taking opportunity during most periods of the day to extend and enrich the experiences of pupils concerning the social and natural world in which they live, to
increase ability to express themselves clearly, and to stimulate interest and an
inquiring attitude toward all that they see and hear.
Participation in games and rhythmic activities which provide opportiinities for
listening attentively, observing closely, and developing good motor co-ordination.
Modelling, using scissors, painting, tracing forms on the blackboard or in sandboxes to develop co-ordination of hand and eye.
Listening to stories and poems, looking at pictures in books, and discussing what has
been seen and heard, as an aid in developing interest in stories and in stimulating
a desire to learn to read.
Working and planning together to the end that happy cordial relations may be
established and emotional tensions reduced.
Providing informal reading activities, based upon the immediate interests of pupils,
to help to show them that written symbols convey meanings, to deepen interest
in learning to read, and to aid the teacher in finding out when pupils are ready
for daily instruction in reading.
T h e foregoing list of activities can be greatly extended through a study of the references in the footnotes.’ Their use should be continued until pupils have shown that
I. Basurto Garcia, Alfredo.Lo lcctura; pinc$iosy
baws para su meRanzay mjoramicnto an todos Los graabs
1953, 223 p. (Ensayospcdagdgicac11.)
Cruz GonzPlez, AdriPn and Moya, Bolivar. Imhuccionsr para m&wa &la lectura y la esm’tura
por el dtodo global, op. cit.
Egorov, T.G.Ocherki psikhologii olyhenia &lei gramote. Moskva, Izdatel’shro Akademii Pedagogicheskikh Nauk, R.S.F.S.R.,1950, p. 15. (Pedagogicheskaia Biblioteka Uchitelia.)
Freinet, C. Mkho& naturclle & bcture. Cannes (Alp-Mar.), Editions de 1’Ecole Moderne
Franpise, 1947,59 pp. illus. (Brochures d’6ducafion n o m & Popdaira, No. 30, mai 1947.)
Gudschinsky, Sarah, Handbook of Literacy, op. cit., pp. 9-14.
Hildreth, Gertrude. Readiness for School Beginners. Yonkers-on-Hudson,N.Y.,1950, p. 382.
Jimknez Hernandez, Adolfo, EL niby la Lectura, op. cit., pp. 21-49.
Monroe, Marion. Crowing into Reading. Chicago, Ill., Scott, Foresman and CO.,1951, p. 274.
&la enrefkvza pimaria. Mexico, Luis Fernandez, C.,
I 28
Nature and Organization of Reading Programmes for Children
they can master the skills involved in beginning reading activities.The time required
varies both among schools and among pupils within a school. In the case of many
children only two or three weeks are needed; in other cases a much longer period.
It m a y seem on first thought that to delay the teaching of reading is a waste of time.
Experiments show on the contrary that pupils w h o receive needed preparation more
than make up the time devoted to it by the greater progress made later in learning
to read; forcing a child to learn to read before he is ready usually results in confusion,
failure, and a hostile attitude towards reading.
As soon as pupils acquire keen interest in learning to read and show that they can
master the basic skills involved in simple reading, they are ready for Stage T w o .
T h e chief aims of teaching reading during this stage are:
T o deepen interest in reading and in learning to read well.
To cultivate a thoughtful reading attitude and the habit of looking for meaning in
all reading activities.
T o develop basic skills in word recognition appropriate to the language involved.
T o promote steady growth in ability to read simple material, both orally and silently,
with ease and understanding.
T o awaken interest in independent reading.
T o increase readiness for the broader range of reading activities that will follow.
O n e chief goal of Stage T w o has been achieved when children can read simple
interesting material eagerly, with little or no help, and with absorbed attention to
its meaning. The attainment of this goal is important for several reasons. It shows
that pupils have acquired the basic attitude and skills involved in securing meaning
from written or printed symbols. It enables them to begin to use reading in satisfying
interests and in acquiring information. It also prepares them for Stage Three, which
aims to promote rapid progress in ability to read well.
Progress in achieving the foregoing aims is influenced by many factors. First, a
primary school programme which is adapted to the present attainments and needs
of the children and which seeks to promote their all-round development; through
daily conversation and tactful guidance it should extend the vocabulary of the
pupils and improve their power of expression. Through directed observations,
projects of various kinds and pointed discussions, it should enrich the understanding
of pupils and cultivate interest in all aspects of their social and natural environment.
Also important are activities that promote their physical well-being,greater motor
control, and ability to make visual and auditory discriminations.
From the time pupils enter school, informal reading activities should be carried
on during various periods of the school day. For example, pupils soon learn to locate
the work materials they need by recognizing names on boxes or shelves; they study
National Society for the Study of Education. Reading in the Elemmtary School,op. cit.,pp. 57-70.
Roe, Frances. Fundamental Reading: the Teaching of Reading in Infant Schools. London, University
of London Press Ltd., 1944, pp. 6-21.
Schonell, op. cit., pp. 30-6.
Vermculen, A. ‘De studie van het milieu en het aanvankelijk Leesondervijs’, Pcrson en Cememchap, Vol. V, No. 2 &3, pp. I 36-40, 2 IO- 15, I 950. Antwerp.
77u Tecuhing of Reading and Writing
the words under pictures to find out what they say; they learn to read brief news
items on the notice board; they follow directions which the teacher writes upon
the blackboard. They thus come to realize that words represent meanings. They
also deepen interest in reading and promote rapid progress in learning to read. In a
large number of schools,simple books relating to health, social studies, the outdoor
world and numbers are used to enrich the experiences of pupils during class periods
devoted to the study of these subjects.
Learning activities of the type just described can be carried on best in classrooms which are well equipped and attractive. T h e equipment needed will vary, of
course, with the community and the nature of the learning activities. In addition
to good lighting and comfortable seats the things most needed are: a notice or bulletin board on which interesting news items can be posted; pictures to hang on the
walls; shelves for exhibiting materials of general or special interest; tables on which
individual or group projects can be developed ; construction and play materials;
simple picture books attractively arranged on a table; and shelves or cases for the
various kinds of reading materials provided. M a n y schools cannot be equipped at
once with all these. T h e proposals made, however, suggest types of material which,
over a period of time, schools should try to obtain.
Without doubt the most important factor in promoting both the general development of children and their progress in reading is the teacher. She should have a deep
interest in children, understand their characteristics and needs, and be able to
establish cordial relation with and among them. She should also be familiar with
effective teaching procedures. As many teachers in less well developed areas have had
little or no training, the need is urgent for establishing agencies that will provide
preparation for prospective teachers and help for teachers in service.
As to the kind and amount of reading material provided, many changes have occured
in this respect during the last few decades, and it seems advisable to review some of
these developments briefly. Formerly most schools used only a primer. In the
course of time, however, the typical primer was found to be quite inadequate. It
focused attention almost wholly on the development of skill in word recognition.
T h e content was of little interest to children; new words were introduced so rapidly
that they could not be mastered; and the material was insufficient in amount to
ensure the development of fluent and thoughtful readers. T o overcome these limitations an effort was made to provide reading materials of greater interest to children,
to introduce new words more gradually,and to increase the amount of material to be
read by providing both a primer and first reader for use during the first school year.
It became clear that very young children and slow learners would be greatly
aided in learning to read through the use of still simpler material. M a n y schools
began to use for the first reading lessons very simple pupil-teacherprepared materials,
known as ‘experiencecharts’. As soon as the advantages of this plan had been clearly
demonstrated, textbook publishers began to prepare booklets, aptly called ‘preprimers’, to precede the use of their primers. With this addition the reading materials
used during the first school year thus included one or more pre-primers, a primer
and a first reader.
The desirability of other changes soon became evident. It was found that small
booklets rather than large books could be handled more effectively by young pupils,
and the basic reading material for use during the first year is n o w often published
in the form of six or more booklets of about 50 pages each. T o increase the appeal,
Nature and Organization of Reading Programmes for Children
in some series every book is given an attractive title based upon its content. Finally,
supplementary aids to learning have been developed for use with each book in a
series. They include word and phrase cards for use in sentence building and helping
rapid recognition;work books which contain practice and exercises in many aspects
of beginning reading; and texts which aid in determining the progress of pupils and
in identifying individual difficulties and needs.
Paralleling these developments, changes have occured in the time devoted to
basic instruction in reading. Formerly, when primary schools devoted themselves
almost exclusively to teaching children to read and write, each reading class recited
three or four times daily. As school programmes were broadened, the number of
reading lessons a day was gradually reduced. Current practice in well organized
schools favours two basic reading periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
At least three successive tasks are faced in teaching reading during Stage Two.
They are ‘establishing initial reading attitudes and habits’; ‘teaching pupils to read
continuous verbal text’; and ‘promoting independence in reading’. T h e detailed
problems of teaching reading during Stage T w o will be discussed under these
headings. The chief purpose is to point out desirable trends and sound procedures.
M a n y schools will not be able to make use at once of many of the suggestions,
but by adapting them in so far as they meet local conditions, each school m a y be
able to improve the scope of its programme and the efficiency of its teaching.
W e have noted above the chief aims of the early steps in teaching pupils to read.
The time required to achieve these aims varies from about four or five weeks in the
case of the quickest learners to ten weeks or more in the case of the slower ones. It
is far more important that each pupil acquire these basic attitudes and skills well
than that a11 pupils advance rapidIy and at a uniform pace.
The Use of Teacher-pupil-prepared Materials
T w o types of reading material are used in establishing the initial attitudes and
skills: either experience charts or pre-primers. Pupil-teacher-prepared experience
charts are based on the immediate interests and experiences of the specific pupils
taught. As a rule, only a few words and sentences appear in the first charts used. For
example, after discussing the things they did in school, one group prepared the
following sentences which were used as a reading lesson: W e play; W e work; W e
sing; We read.
After the pupils had, with the teacher’s help, prepared these sentences, they
talked about the games they played, the work they did, the songs they sang, and
why they wanted to learn to read. Such discussions help to expand the meanings
of specific words and to increase the number of associations aroused as the pupils
read, and new words are thus learnt more quickly. Reading becomes a process of
thinking and a rewarding activity from the beginning. Suggestions for making
experience charts are given in the references in the footnotes.l Additional examples
are described on pages 161-3.
The global method has proved to be the most iffective in establishing the initial
Chart Making Committee of the Madison Public Schools. Th Use of Charts in the Primary Grades.
Madison, Wisconsin, Curriculum Department Madison Public Schools, 1949,p. 46.
Committee of the Division of Instructional Research. Experience Charts: a Guide to their Use in
7?u? Teaching of Reading and Writing
reading attitudes and skills involved in reading for meaning. Each sentence used
is first read as a whole. Soon, however, attention is directed to specific words; these
are then combined with other words which the pupils know to form sentences.
T h e sentences are written upon the blackboard and read both by the group as a
whole and by individuals. Each new word used is later writtcn on a card, the
cards being used from time to time in testing the pupils’ mastery of the new words.
They are also used in class and by pupils at their desks in making simple sentences.
T h e use of the global method in which words or even syllables rather than sentences
are used at the beginning has been discussed by Gudschinsky.’
As pupils acquire a thoughtful reading attitude and a small vocabulary of
words, known by their general form and particular features, attention is directed
to the details of words. M a n y devices are used. T h e teacher m a y write two words
on the blackboard and call attention to differences in their form. In alphabetic
languages pupils are also encouraged to note differences in the sounds of words
and to identify words that begin or end alike. In languages in which words are
composed largely of oft-recurring syllables, such as Spanish and Portuguese, attention is specifically directed to them.
In some countries, pupils make their o w n copies of an experience lesson after
it has been read from the blackboard. If the teacher insists that they copy it correctly
they are forced to look at each word carefully. Another plan used in several parts of
Europe is to have the pupils set u p type for printing the experience lesson, through
the use of primer-sized type provided in the classroom. Other methods used in
promoting rapid progress are described in the references given in the footnotes.’
Opinions differ as to the wisdom of using experience charts. For the reason
stated earlier some leaders, even in less well-developed areas, favour their use and
affirm that their teachers use them effectively. M a n y other leaders question their
use because of the time required to prepare them, lack of duplicating materials
and inability of teachers to prepare them in acceptable form. These differences
appear to be associated more directly with local conditions than with geographical,
cultural or linguistic factors. Even though experience charts m a y not be used for
initial reading lessons, all teachers should acquire the art of preparing simple reading
material because of its great value as a supplementary aid to teaching in many
school activities.
The Use of Pie-primers
other Simple Reading Booklets
As mentioned above, pre-primers, or very simple reading booklets, are today used
widely in establishing initial reading attitudes and skills. If properly prepared they
are based on the c o m m o n experiences of children, each lesson taking the form of a
simple interesting story or episode in child life, and being presented by pictures
Grades 1-3.New York, Bureau of Educational Research, Board of Education of the City of N e w
York, 18pp. (Educational Research Bulletin No. 13, M a y 1952.)
Gudschinsky, Sarah C. Handbook of Literacy, op. cit., pp. 25-55.
Dottrens and Margakaz, op. cit., pp. 76-9.
Hamaide, op. cit., pp. 108-49.
Ma&, op. cit., pp. 39-4.4, 75-87.
National Society for the Study of Education, op. cit., pp. 71-8.
Polley, op. cit., pp. 96-134.
Pourtois,M.C. ‘Lesfichanges interscolaires.L’imprirnerie. Les revues enfanthes’,in: Belgium.
Ministtre de l’htruction Publique. Direction de 1’Enseignement Primaire. L’meigncmmt & &a
lecture :semaines d’infomtion et de perfectionncmmt pldagogiguc, organis~%s en 1951 aux holes n o d e s I
1’Etatd Locken et d Tournai d l’intentiondupersonnel enseignanl primaire. BmxeUes, Moniteur Belge, 1951,
pp. 61-81.
Schonell, op. cit., pp. 34-43, 103-20.
Nature and Organization of Reading Programmes for Children
and a small number of words, p.hrases or short sentences. A n example is given in
Figure g (p. 99). At the beginning most of the incidents of the story are told by
means of pictures, but gradually the verbal text becomes more important. Early
reading lessons of this type ensure an interesting approach to reading, and provide
practice in the reading of materials in which the vocabulary is carefully controlled.
A thoughtful reading attitude and a basic sight vocabulary are acquired rapidly.
As a rule the teaching of each lesson in a pre-primer is divided into four stages
which follow each other in orderly fashion. T h e first is called ‘preparing for reading’,
and provides a background for the lesson by discussing incidents in the lives of the
children. As these incidents are discussed the new words of the lesson are used in
oral discussion and written on the blackboard. The child’s interest in and curiosity
about the story to be read is aroused.
T h e second stage is called ‘interpreting the story’. The pupils are first called
upon to study the pictures, so as to find out what the story is about. As they do so
they recall relevant experiences of their own, recognize interesting relationships
and anticipate what the verbal text says. As important words used in the book fit
into the discussion, they are written on the blackboard, and then read. Thus the
picture and verbal text are integrated and pupils are prepared to read the story as
a unit.
T h e third stage is called ‘extending skills and abilities’. Special questions,
directions and exercises promote memory of word form, visual discrimination
between words, auditory perception of syllabic or consonant sounds, meaning
associations with words, grasp of story events in correct sequence, and formation
of sensory images.
T h e fourth step in the lesson is called ‘extending interests’. Through discussions,
creative activities, and listening to stories and poems read by the teacher, thinking
is stimulated and keen interest in reading developed.
Early reading lessons based on the use of experience charts and of simple reading
booklets differ somewhat both in the kind of materials included and the stages in
the teaching; but they seek to achieve the same ends. T h e learning activities involved
are simple and interesting, and children of normal capacity can make rapid progress. However, a good teacher studies daily the responses and needs of his pupils
and ascertains the nature of the difficulties faced by each. H e keeps a record of the
facts observed and provides the kinds of group and individual help needed. H e
knows that the progress made later by each child depends in large measure on h o w
well he masters the early steps involved in learning to read.
As soon as pupils have acquired the initial reading attitudes and skills described
above they are prepared to begin the use of a primer, or a book of similar difficulty.
T h e aims n o w broaden in scope, with special emphasis upon the following: to
strengthen the habit of looking for meaning in all reading activities; to establish
the habit of following the lines regularly; to anticipate and keep in mind the sequence
of ideas read; to encourage the habit of interpreting what is read in the light of
personal experiences; to increase accuracy and independence in word recognition ;
and to deepen interest in learning to read well. A strategic goal has been reached
when pupils are able to engage in the continuous and understanding reading of very
simple material, with a limited amount of teacher guidance.
M a n y schools continue to base reading lessons upon the experiences and everyday language of the pupils. These lessons increase gradually in length and in the
Z h e Teaching of Reading and Writing
number of words used. Whenever possible they are printed, or duplicated in some
way, and bound into booklets. Drawings prepared by the pupils appear on many
of the pages. W h e n completed the booklets form a record of experiences that have
real meaning for the pupils.
Most schools use author-prepared primers or similar booklets having different
titles. Recent primers are as a rule based on the c o m m o n interests of young children
and expressed in everyday language. Interest in their content is increased through
the use of the same characters throughout a book, in the form of a series of short
stories based upon the daily activities of the characters. T h e primer should be well
illustrated with pictures that aid in recognizing words and grasping meanings, but
the proportion of the space devoted to verbal text should steadily increase.
T o achieve the aims outlined above, there should be guided reading of about
125 pages of material. If the primer is preceded by the use of experience charts or
pre-primers the first 20 pages, more or less, should consist of material limited to the
use of words already 1earnt.l This enables pupils to gain confidence,to focus attention on the meaning of what is read, and thus to secure pleasure through reading.
Beyond this point new words should be introduced at the rate of about one word
per page. Each new word should be used at least 15 times soon after it is introduced,
and repeated more or less frequently throughout the primer to ensure its recognition
at sight. By the end of the primer period, which requires from IO to 20 weeks, pupils
should be able to recognize at sight about 150 of the most frequently used words
in the language.
T h e general procedure in teaching a lesson is similar to that outlined for the
pre-primer. T o prepare pupils to read a story, the teacher should encourage pupils
to discuss similar personal experiences. As new words in the lesson are used in the
discussion they should be written upon the blackboard and attention directed to
them several times. Other words which are similar in form m a y be written above
or below them and differences noted.
T h e next step is to guide pupils in reading the lesson. They first study the pictures
to find out what the story is about and then look at and discuss the title. By means of
a carefully worded question the teacher directs attention to the opening sentence.
As soon as the pupils are ready to do so they answer the question by reading the
sentence. This is followed by another question such as, ‘What do you think will
happen next?’, and the search continues line after line to find out the events of the
story. Gradually the questions broaden in scope to cover two lines, three lines, and
finally an entire page.
By such guidance the pupils are enabled to discover that a story consists of a
sequence of events and they soon learn to find out h o w it begins, what the chief
events are, and h o w it ends. By means of other questions they are led to compare
what they read with their o w n experiences, to recognize similarities and differences,
and to discover ways in which they can use some of the ideas in the story in their
daily activities. A broad foundation is thus laid for a clear grasp of the meaning
of what is read and for thoughtful reaction to the ideas acquired. Such reading is
only possible when not more than one or two new words are introduced on each page.
During the first reading of a lesson words which are not recognized readily
should be pronounced by the teacher. This is advisable because the pupil’s attention
should, during the first reading, be kept primarily on the meaning of what is read.
T h e teacher, however, keeps a list of the words that cause difficulty and later gives
special help on them. H e notes carefully how well the pupils are able to follow the
If the primer is the first book used, the pupils will not be able to advance as rapidly as those w h o
have had previous training. During the first third of the primer, teachers should give detailed
guidance similar to that outlined in the preceding section of this chapter.
Nature and Organization of Reading Programmes for Children
lines regularly from the beginning to the end, and to go from the end of one line to
the beginning of the next. Pupils w h o have difficulty m a y be aided by placing a
strip of cardboard under the line to be read and moving it from line to line as the
reading proceeds. Additional suggestions for promoting progress during this part
of the reading lesson may be found in the references listed in the footnotes.’
The third step is to provide practice in various reading skills and abilities.
Sometimes it m a y be desirable to get a better mastery of words that are not well
known. The teacher may write them on the blackboard in simple sentences to be
read; he may present word-cards on which they are written or printed, or m a y
help the pupils to identify differences between their form and that of other words
which they know. Pupils should grow steadily in their mastery of word elements
and their use in recognizing new words.
In the case of highly phonetic languages2 rapid progress should be made in
learning the form and sound of the various letters, in combining word elements to
form words, and in using the pupil’s knowledge of them in recognizing new words.
In those languages in which syllabic elements are prominent, it is important to
identify the most frequently occurring syllables and to develop skill in using them in
recognizing new words. In languages in which the spelling and sounds of letters are
irregular, far less progress in mastering word elements is possible during the primer
period-no effort should be made, as a rule, to learn a specific word element until
it has occurred several times in the words known at sight and will be used frequently
in the reading lessons that follow.
Special types of training needed for certain languages should also be emphasized
during periods devoted to extending skills and abilities. For example, pupils need
help when learning to read Arabic and some other languages in mastering diacritical marks as clues to the sounds of vowels which are not printed. Similarly, in
learning so-called ‘tonal’languages, pupils need help in mastering the marks used
to indicate differences in inflection and meaning.3 All such characteristics should
be met first as parts of meaningful units.
The foregoing examples suggest only a few of the types of training needed in
extending reading skills and abilities. Primers now offer various suggestions, in the
teachers’ guides or through practice exercises in work books that accompany the
primers. In some cases appropriate exercises are included in the primer on one or
more pages following a lesson in which new items to be learned are introduced.
During recent years rapid progress has been made in developing techniques
for ascertaining the progress and needs of pupils in reading. M u c h emphasis
has been given to the importance of careful study by the teacher of the errors
and difficulties of each pupil. By focusing attention for a few days on the problems
faced by one or more pupils, rapid progress can be made in ascertaining the specific
types of help needed. It is useful to keep a record not only of specific difficulties
qut also of their probable causes-lack of interest, general immaturity, inability
to see or hear well, extreme nervousness or emotional instability.
As an aid in studying the needs of pupils, two kinds of tests are n o w available.
O n e is a general test of reading ability appropriate to the child’s level of advancement.
Examples of the types of reading exercises included in one such test appear in Figure 12.They measure the extent of a child‘s meaning vocabulary and his ability to
National Society for the Study of Education. Reading in the Elementary School, op. cit., pp. 70-9.
Polley, op. cit., pp. 134et seq.
Schonell, op. cit., Chaps. 111 and IV.
Roe, op. cit., pp. 24-36
2. Gudschinsky, Sarah C. Handbook of Literacy, op. cit., pp. 25-55.
3. ibid., pp. 56-8.
llu Teaching of Reading and Writing
understand the meaning of phrases, sentences, directions and paragraphs. Such a
list reveals not only the comparative ability of pupils within a class but also h o w the
class as a whole compares with other first year classes.
A second type of test is shown in Figure 13. It was prepared by the publishers of
a primer with a view to measuring the progress of pupils in the specific abilities and
skills which are emphasized in teaching. By giving the test according to directions
and then discussing the responses of each pupil with him, a reasonably clear understanding of the problems of each child can be arrived at. O n the basis of such findings
teachers plan special help and practice for small groups and individuals according
to their needs.
By the time pupils complete a primer and related reading activities, they should be
able with little teacher guidance, to engage in the continuous reading of interesting
material within a vocabulary range of some 150 words. The remaining aims during
Stage T w o are progress in all the basic reading attitudes and skills until pupils are
able to read simple material independently, with real interest in the content, and
begin to engage in some self-initiated reading.
As a rule, the basic reading material used in achieving these aims consists of a
first reader, or a similar book or books. It contains some 150 pages on the average,
and a corresponding number of new words. Pupils usually acquire a reading vocabulary of about 300 words by the time they complete Stage Two. M a n y schools
which use only pupil-teacher-prepared material report the mastery of about the
same number of words by the end of the first year.
These basic reading materials are used daily, preferably during the morning
reading period. The methods employed in teaching are similar in principle and involve
the four steps used during the primer period. During class activities approximately
equal use is made of oral and silent reading and pupils are helped both to grasp and
interpret the meaning of what is read and to develop increased accuracy and independence in word recognition. In the case of a highly phonetic language, by the
end of the first year most of the basic facts and principles involved in the recognition of new words have been introduced ; in the case of less phonetic languages,
only the simpler and more widely used aids can advantageously be introduced.
As to those languages which use word concept characters or syllabaries, or both,
and which make use of a supplementary system of phonetic symbols as aids in
recognizing words, there is usually complete mastery of the latter by the end of the
first year.
During afternoon periods an effort is made to establish the habit of reading
independently, with full attention to the meaning of what is read. Various types of
material are used for this purpose. Some publishers have prepared supplementary
booklets, relating to a variety of interesting topics, to be read parallel to the first
reader; certain schools use the primers of other series of readers or very simple
library books. Where none of these materials are available, many teachers require
much re-reading of the basic primer and first reader, but always for a new purpose.
They also write upon the blackboard or prepare duplicate copies for the pupils of
simple, interesting material’ secured from various sources. Teachers who use pupilprepared materials have the children read the booklets prepared by previous classes.
I. Hildreth, Gertrude. ‘Improving Reading with Script Text’, Elementary School Jwmal, Vol.LIII,
March 1953. PP. 387-95.
Nature and Organizalwn of Reading Programmes for Children
T h e need for supplementary reading material is so great that various plans have
been developed for providing it.
At the time such reading material is assigned, the teacher and the pupils usually
study together the title and pictures that accompany a story. As they do so they
anticipate the events of the story and m a y prepare questions that they hope will be
answered in the story. They then read and discuss together the events of the first
page. Really interested and with definite questions in mind, each pupil reads independently the remainder of the story. In the meantime the teacher observes the
reading habits of the pupils and gives any necessary help. W h e n most, if not all, of
the pupils have finished reading the story, they discuss its content under the guidance
of the teacher. By beginning at first with very simple materials, pupils make rapid
progress in ability to read independently and thoughtfully.
As pupils make progress, without the teacher’s help they usually begin to engage
in self-initiated reading. Various plans are used in stimulating such interest-for
example a reading table in the classroom on which simple, interesting books are
displayed. T h e pupils are encouraged to go to this table at any free period during
the day to look at the pictures and to read whatever interests them. Another device
is to read parts of some of the stories to the pupils, stopping at the most interesting
points. As soon as the pupils begin to read independently either in school or at home,
they should be given an opportunity to report what they have read to their classmates. This not only gives an added incentive to the one w h o reports but m a y
awaken or increase interest on the part of others.
Studies of the achievement and needs of pupils in reading should continue
throughout the latter part of Stage Two. The sooner pupil’s difficulties are identified
the more easily they can be overcome. T o find time for special help for those w h o
need it, the pupils w h o have advanced most rapidly should be given frequent
opportunity to read simple material independently. This will not only give them a
type of practice which they need but will mean more time for individual help for
others. Every effort should be made to try to help all pupils reach the goals of Stage
T w o by the end of the first year. Slower learners should not, however, be forced
unduly. They should be permitted to continue at the beginning of the second year
from the point reached at the end of the first year.
As soon as pupils have learned to read simple material independently and with
interest in its meaning, they are ready for Stage Three. This stage extends over a
period of about two years, during which pupils should make rapid progress in
mastering the basic attitudes and skills involved in fluent, thoughtful, silent reading
and good oral reading. The chief aims of teaching are:
T o deepen interest in reading as a source of pleasure and information.
T o extend the interests of pupils through both guided and independent reading.
T o promote rapid growth in ability to secure a clear, accurate understanding of
what is read.
T o develop the habit of reacting thoughtfully to the ideas acquired and of using
them in clarifying understanding, developing right attitudes and solving problems.
T o increase the number of words recognized quickly at sight to some 2,000.
T o develop word-attack skills so that pupils can recognize and pronounce independently all new words in the materials read that are within their speaking vocabulary.
of Reading and Writing
T o increase the rate of silent reading somewhat beyond that of oral reading.
T o improve the quality of oral reading.
A very important goal has been reached when pupils are able to read fluently and
well, both orally and silently, any material that is within the vocabulary range
suggested above and that relates to their everyday experiences. M a n y types of
training help to achieve the foregoing aims. They will be discussed under five
headings :developing increased ability to read ; making desirable habits permanent;
correcting or eliminating poor reading habits; furthering a permanent interest in
reading; using reading in other school activities. Each of these topics could take a
whole chapter, but here they can be discushed only in brief outline. T h e references1
listed in the footnotes will be found helpful as supplementary sources of information.
During one period each day, a rapid increase in the basic attitudes and skills of
reading should be aimed at. For this purpose, one or more graded readers should
be used each year. These should include at least three types of material: selections
based on the c o m m o n experiences of children; the best stories or folklore, appropriate for children of this age group, that the literature of the language provides;
informational selections at first within the range of the familiar but gradually
broadening in scope. In planning lessons based on such materials the teacher
should aim at progress in at least the following important aspects of reading:
Understanding and Intertreting w h a t is R e a d
T h e development of increased ability to understand and interpret what is read
requires daily emphasis throughout this period. During the first guided reading of a
story or informational selection, pupils should find out first what the selection is
about-if it is story material, w h o the characters are, the chief events in the story,
h o w it ends, important things the characters say and do, and why. If it is informational material they should identify the problem or topic discussed, the main facts
presented and conclusions reached. Following the first reading, there should be
much re-reading and discussion to correct and clarify the pupil’s understanding of
the topics discussed, to see the relationship of the events or facts presented to their
o w n experience, to grasp implied meanings, or to make fuller use of the ideas secured
in solving group or personal problems.
Accuracy and Independence in W o r d Recognition
Pupils should acquire the skills needed to identify all the words that are within the
range of their oral vocabulary.This means that all word-attack skills must be mastered
except those required in the recognition of longer, less frequently used and
technical words found in special subjects such as history, science and arithmetic.
T h e problems vary with different languages. In those which use concept characters
or syllabaries, or both, rapid progress should be made in the development of skill in
applying the supplementary phonetic symbols used in identifying words. In highly
I. National Society for the Study of Education. Reading in the Elementary School, op. cit., pp. 93-126.
Polley, op. cit., pp. 182-232.
Russell, David E. Children Lam to Read. N e w York, Ginn & Company, 1949,Chap. VII.
Saez, Antonia. L a lectura, &e del lenguaje. San Juan, Puerto Rico, [ImprentaVenezuela], 1948.
Schonell, Fred J. The Psychology and Teaching of Reading, op. cit., Chap. V.
Nature and Organuation of Reading Programmes for Children
phonetic, alphabetic languages, pupils should progress rapidly in applying the word
elements learned during Stage Two, and acquiring any new knowledge and skills
In the case of other alphabetic languages, pupils should improve steadily throughout Stage Three in the mastery of all word-attack skills’ needed in recognizing
words in their oral vocabularies. T h e new knowledge and skills should be acquired
through directed study of words that have already appeared in reading lessons;
special practice exercises should be prepared to facilitate their mastery. Responsibility should be gradually imposed on pupils to apply them in both directed and
independent reading. Rapid progress in ability to recognize new words is so important that the training needed must not be neglected.
Effective Oral Reading
Pupils should frequently review the points to be kept in mind when reading
to others-such as to read accurately and distinctly, and loud enough for all to hear
easily, and to express clearly the ideas to get over to the listeners. At times, they
should study selections specially to find out how different parts m a y best be read to
make the meaning clearer to others, for example, vivid descriptions, humorous
passages, conversations. Of great value are so-called motivated oral reading periods,
in which each pupil chooses a selection he would like to read to the class and prepares it. It is also helpful for pupils to plan for and participate in dramatizations of
selections that are adapted to that purpose.
O n e of the urgent needs during Stage Three is to acquire greater ease and fluency in
reading. This aspect is often neglected in the effort to obtain rapid progress in
reading increasingly difficult material, and as a result pupils fail to do much independent reading in school and little or no reading after they leave it. As an aid in
overcoming these difficulties pupils should have an opportunity to read a good deal
of material that is somewhat simpler than the basic reading material used during the
morning reading period. For this purpose various types of material are used :simpler
books of other basic reading series; library books that are correspondingly easy;
supplementary material that accompanies some series of readers. If none of these
materials are available, teachers either write simple material on the blackboard or
make duplicate copies of it for pupils to read.
In ‘sight oral reading lessons’ the title may be read, the pictures studied, and
interest aroused in the content of the story through a discussion of the pupils’experiences. Before a pupil begins to read, questions m a y be asked concerning the events of
the story. Following the reading of each unit there should be a discussion in which
the pupils are encouraged to raise questions to be answered through the reading
that follows. They thus acquire the habit of reading with an inquiring mind. As each
pupil reads, the teacher should make a note of the kinds of word difficulties which he
comes up against and give help at the end of the class period, or later.
Group silent reading is as important as oral reading. It may be introduced in the
same manner as the sight oral reading described above. Paragraphs or longer units
are read in response to questions. Following the reading of each unit the facts read
Gray, William S. On Their Own in Reading. Chicago, Scott Foresman and Company, 1948.
Preston, Ralph C.‘Comparisonof Word RecognitionSkills in German and American Children’,
Elementary School journal, Vol. LIII, April 1953, pp. 4.43-6.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
should be discussed and problems raised by the pupils used as guides in reading
the next unit, this procedure being followed until the story is completed.
Equally valuable is individual silent reading under the guidance of the teacher.
After interest has been aroused in reading a story, the pupils m a y be asked to read
it silently. As they do so, the teacher observes them for evidence of difficulty in
recognizing words or in grasping meanings, and needed help m a y be provided at
once. At the conclusion of the lesson, the incidents of the story are discussed. If a
good supply of library books is available each pupil can choose the one he wants to
read. This plan heightens interest in reading and results in greater concentration of
attention, increased effort and rapid improvement in ability to read quickly and
As pupils advance through Stage Three, the methods normally used in group
instruction are often not adequate to overcome the difficulties of some pupils. Reports
from practically all countries refer to the problems created by retarded readers.
Intensive studies are being made to ascertain the causes of slow progress and the
best ways to help.
In general, poor readers belong to one of three groups. The first includes the
slow learners w h o tend to lag behind their classmates in all learning activities;
in a large majority of such cases, they are making as rapid progress as their capacity
to learn will permit. It is inadvisable to try to force them to advance as rapidly as
average or above-average learners. They need planned teaching to ensure the best
progress they are capable of making.
A second group are mentally capable of making normal progress, but for one
reason or another the instruction given has not been adapted to their needs. It
m a y have failed to enlist their interest and co-operation.The books used may have
been uninteresting or too difficult, or poorly adapted to their individual requirements. They m a y have had poor teachers; m a y have been absent from school for
a time when important aspects of reading were taught; or the home m a y give little
encouragement. For these and other reasons there are some pupils in each class w h o
need special help. T h e first problem for the teacher is to ascertain the specific nature
of their weaknesses, e.g. inability to recognize words, poor grasp of meaning, inability
to follow the lines. In this connexion use should be made of daily observations and
of tests of reading ability; w e mentioned earlier the value of specific tests which
accompany readers and to general tests of reading ability. (References to descriptions
and sources of reading tests for use with children are given in the appendix to this
and the following chapter.) As soon as a pupil's weaknesses have been identified steps
should be taken to provide either small group or individual help. T o a large extent
the methods used in corrective or remedial work are similar to those used regularly
in teaching reading by good teachers. Special diagnostic techniques and corrective
procedures are discussed in the references listed in the f0otnotes.l
Education Centre; Firsf Annual Reporf,
1948-49.By Fred J. Schonell and W.D . Wall. Birmingham, [1g4gJ,28 p.
Conference on Reading, University of Chicago, 1953.Corrective Reading in Clarsroom and Clinic.
Comp. and ed. by Helen M. Robinson. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1953, 256 p.
(Proceedings;Chicago Uniucrsity Department of Education. S u p p h n h r y Educational Mono.graphs, No. 79.)
Dolch, Edward William.A. Manualfos RemedialReading. 2nd ed. Champaing,Ill., Garrard Press,
1945, 460 P.
Duncan,.John.Backwardness in Reading :
Remedies and Prevention. London, George G.Harrap &Co.
Ltd., 1953, 96 p.
I. Birmingham. University. Institute of Education. Remedial
Nature and Organization of Reading Programmes for Children
A third group of poor readers are mentally able to learn to read, but suffer from
one or more handicaps that seriously interfere with progress. It m a y be poor vision
or hearing, ill health, extreme nervousness, immature language development,
emotional difficulties. Intensive studies of such cases are being made in various
countries, and experiments carried out to ascertain the nature of the therapy and
training essential. Examples of the findings and proposals for the diagnosis and
remedial treatment of seriously retarded readers are given in the reference9 in the
Throughout Stage Three continuous effort should be made to broaden and
deepen interest in self-initiated reading. M a n y of the activities already described
contribute to this end. In addition, teachers make special efforts to secure as many
interesting, attractive books as possible for the reading table in the classroom, and
encourage pupils to spend any free time in reading them at the table or their desks.
Special periods are also reserved, two or three times a week or daily, when pupils
may read books of their o w n choice. During such periods the teacher not only
observes the reading habits of pupils but also talks with those w h o are least interested,
in an effort to discover the kinds of material that would interest them most. At times
the pupils gather around the teacher, discuss the stories they have enjoyed most,
and read portions of them to their classmates. T h e teacher m a y introduce a new
book which he has secured for the reading table by telling enough about its contents
to stimulate the pupils to want to read it. Interest in current events is cultivated
regularly through the use of a bulletin board on which important school and
community events are posted daily. A broad basis is thus established for developing
interest during Stage Four, in the reading of newspapers.
As pupils improve, more and more use should be made of reading material as an
aid to learning in all school activities. If simple books are available relating to such
fields as the social studies, the outdoor world and arithmetic, the pupils should be
guided in reading them with the same care as during the daily reading lesson. Special
Harris, Albert J. H o w to Increare Reading Ab&@ :a Guide to Individualized and Remedial Methodr.
2nd ed., rev. and enl. London, N e w York, Longmans Green and Co., 1947,582 p.
Kottmeyer, William. Handbook for Remedial Reading. St.Louis, MO., Webster Publishing Co.,
‘9479 ‘79 P.
Schonell, Fred J. Backwardness in thc Baric Subjects, [nnd ed.] Edinburgh and London, Oliver
and Boyd, 1945, Chaps. I-XII.
I. Borel-Maisonny, S. (Mme.). ‘Comment on apprend A lire; mtthode combinte.. . sptcialement
pour enfants prtsentant des troubles du langage et rencontrant des difficultts’,P.ychologie de I’enzant
el pLdagogie exphimcntule, bulletin No. 386 et 387; XII, 1948-111,1949,pp. 343-94. Paris, SociCtC
Alfred Binet.
Chassagny, Claude. L’apprentissagr de la lecture chez l’enfunt. Dyslexiedysgraphie. Paris, Presses
Universitaires de France, 1954, 190p. (Paideia: Bibliothtque pratique de psychologie et de
psychopathologiede l’enfant,dirigte par Georges Heuyer. Quatritme section: Pkdagogie pratique.)
Hallgren, Bertil. ‘Specificdyslexia’ [Congenitalword blindness], Acfa psychiatrica e6 ncurologka,
supplementurn 65. Copenhagen, Egnar Munksgaard, I 950.
Robinson, Helen M. W h y Pupils Fail in Reading. Chicago, Ill., T h e University of Chicago Press,
1946, 257P.
The Teeaching of Reading and Writing
attention should be given to the pronunciation and meaning of new words, to
getting a clear grasp of the meaning, and to interpreting the ideas acquired in terms
of the problems with which the class is concerned. If few or no such books are
available, the teacher should write on the blackboard (or prepare duplicate copies
of) interesting material relating to the problems under discussion, which he secures
from a book or prepares himself.This should be written within the reading vocabulary
of the pupils, except for the few words needed to present new concepts.
As soon as pupils have achieved the aims of Stage Three, they should advance to
the more mature reading interests and habits that characterize Stage Four. This is
essential in areas where many of the children do not remain in school more than four
years. The specific problems will be described briefly under two headings: promoting
further growth in and through reading; and introducing pupils gradually to some
of the simple adult reading activities of the community.
A well-conceived reading programme during Stage Four includes several important aspects. T h e first is carefully planned basic instruction in reading each day
for all pupils, the chief aims being :
T o stimulate interest in finding out, through reading, about the new and unfamiliar.
T o develop skill in recognizing the meaning and pronunciation of the new and
difficult words which appear with increasing frequency in the broader range of
materials n o w read. This includes training in the use of a dictionary or its
T o ensure rapid growth in ability to understand what is read, to react thoughtfully
to the ideas acquired, and to use them in enriching previous concepts and ideas,
in forming rational attitudes, and in acquiring improved behaviour patterns.
T o increase speed of reading.
T o improve the quality of oral reading.
T o broaden interest in self-initiated reading for pleasure and as an aid in solving
personal and group problems, and to enrich one’s cultural background.
T o provide special help to individuals w h o face difficulty in reading.
As a rule, a carefully planned series of basic readers is used as an aid in achieving
the foregoing aims. T h e reader for each year builds upon the vocabulary of the
pFevious books in the series and includes some 750 new words, of high frequency,
other words essential to the content also being used. Each basic reader includes
several types of material: interesting stories and descriptions of the activities and
problems of children of this age group; illuminating accounts of people, things and
activities in various parts of the world; interesting stories drawn from the fields of
adventure, travel, the outdoor world and history; and a good sample of the best
literature for children that the country or culture provides.
The general procedures and methods of teaching used are similar to those of
Stage Three, but adapted to the more advanced type of work. Each selection read
should be introduced in a manner that relates it to the immediate interests of the
pupils. Through questions, pictures, discussions, and the sharing of experiences, the
interests and experiences of the pupils can be extended and enriched. Provision
Nature and Organiratwn of Reading Propamm for Childm
should be made for much supplementary reading to satisfy present interests and
develop new ones.
T h e development of increased power and efficiency in reading requires m u c h
planning and daily effort. The problems that merit special attention are of four
types :
The Development of
Abilio to Recognize New Wor& Independently
Because of the wider range of material read during Stage Four, the number of n e w
words mounts rapidly. There is increased skill in recognizing multisyllabic words
and in the use of a dictionary for both meanings and pronunciations.
Enlargement of the Pupil?
Meaning Vocabularies
Owing to the nature of the material read, words representing new concepts
appear on almost every page, while familiar words are often used to convey new
meanings. As a result pupils need continuous training in deriving the meanings of
words from the context and from the clues inherent in parts of words. Such training
should be supplemented with explanations and with guidance in the use of a dictionary in selecting meanings appropriate to the context.
Promoting Growth in Comprehending and Interpreting Meaning
As pupils are n o w reading about things and activities that they have never seen,
they often need help in grasping and visualizing details accurately. Audio-visual
aids of various kinds are increasingly being used, supplemented by explanation and
discussion. Pupils should also progress rapidly during Stage Four in ability to secure
hidden meanings, draw inferences from what they read and reach conclusions on the
basis of the facts presented. As pupils read they should learn to compare ideas
secured from other sources and to pass judgment on their value and significance.
They should learn to weigh the evidence presented and to distinguish what is true
and relevant from what is not. They should also learn to judge the beauty and value
of good literature as contrasted with the commonplace and worthless, and gradually
acquire a preference for the former.
Speed of Reading
As many pupils fail to acquire the habit of moving along the lines with reasonable
speed, steps are often necessary to promote more fluent habits. The most effective
means is the wide reading of highly interesting reading material. Some pupils profit,
however, from practice exercises in which a limited amount of time is given for
completing assigned passages.
Teachers should be on the alert for pupils who are encountering more than the
usual amount of difficulty. Observation can be usefully supplemented by the results
of reading tests similar to those described for Stage Three. As the pupils w h o need
special help are identified, provision should be made for corrective and remedial
training. T o a large extent the methods used are those which a good teacher employs
daily, but are here concentrated upon special difficulties. Detailed suggestions are
given in the references in the footnotes on pages 140-I.
A good reading programme also provides guidance in the reading required in
the various school subjects. M u c h of the material n o w available is too difficult for
pupils to read and understand readily. Before materials are assigned for study teachers
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
should build up a background of related experiences and explain the meaning of
unfamiliar words. Through discussions and teacher-pupilplanning, specific questions
should be raised or problems identified which as the pupils read, will direct attention
to important issues.
Continued effort is essential also in promoting personal reading among pupils
for pleasure, to broaden their cultural background, and as an aid in solving personal
and group problems. Such habits should be established while pupils are in school
if they are to read widely after they leave school. All the methods suggested for
promoting interest in reading during Stages T w o and Three m a y be used during
Stage Four, and time should be reserved daily in which pupils m a y read books of
their o w n choice. Wherever possible, the co-operation of the public librarian, if
there is one, should be obtained in providing books for pupils' use in school and at
home. Books for recreational reading by children are not yet available in many
communities, but they are of such importance in achieving the purposes of an
adequate reading programme that every effort should be made to provide them as
soon as possible.
At least two steps can be taken to encourage reading activities that approach those
of adult members of a community. O n e is to stimulate interest in current events.
If a community has a newspaper a copy of it should appear daily, or weekly, on the
reading table; pupils w h o do not have it at home should be encouraged to read
it at school. If no newspaper is published, pupils may be encouraged to report news
items to the teacher,w h o will place those ofpublic interest on a special bulletin board
in the classroom. In any case, time should be reserved during some period of the
day, such as immediately after lunch, for discussing important events that have
happened or will occur soon, and their importance to the community, or to individuals, should be considered at length.
T h e school should study some of the problems which the community as a whole
is facing. A problem m a y relate, for example, to the need for better sanitary conditions,to improved ways of raising crops or to the building of a new road. The pupils
should be encouraged to think about these issues, to bring to school and read any
relevant bulletins or folders that have been distributed, and to consider ways in
which they m a y help, individually or as a group, to improve conditions or to solve
the specific problems at issue. Through frequent discussions and activities of this
type pupils gradually acquire an interest in community problems and a feeling of
responsibility to help in solving them.
I I.
Metropolitan Reading Readiness Test.’
Test I. W o r d Meaning. In each of 19 such rows the pupil is to select and mark the picture that
illustrates the word the examiner names: For example: ‘Mark the baby’.
Test 2. Sentences. In each of 14 such rows the pupil is to select and mark the picture as directed.
For example: ’Find the child w h o is carrying a pail and a shovel’.
Test 3. Information.In each of 14such rows the pupil is to se1ec.t and mark the picture that best suits
the examiner’s description. For example, ‘Mark the thing to use when you play outside with a
Test 4. Matching. This is a test of visual perception. In each of 19 such rows the pupil is to draw a
frame around the picture that matches the one in the centre.
Published by the World Book Company. Yonkers-on-Hudson,N.Y.
l7u Teachina of Readinn and Wn'fing
a dog eating
men working
a boy running
a horse rumkg
a boy singing
Mary is a little
Put an X on the doll.
One day it was cold Jack was glad that his blue coat was so
One day it was
hot rainy cold dark warm
Jack's coat was
Figure 12. A General Test of Reading Achievement. Examples of types of exercises in
hading Tests.'
The Chicago
Test I. Comprehension of Words
(12similar tests). The pupil is directed to find the word 'hat' and
put a line under it.
Test z. Comprehension of Phrases (12 tests). Draw a line under the words 'a boy running'.
Test 3. Comprehension of Sentences (8tests). Draw a line under the word that finishes the sentence
Test 4. Comprehension of Directions (7 tests). Read the direction and do what it says.
Test 5. Comprehension of Paragraphs ( 1 2tests). Read the story in the first two lines. Then read each
of the sentences that follow and mark the word that finishes it best.
I. Prepared for the Chicago Board of Education. Published by E. M.Hale
during the first and second year in school.
&Co., Chicago, for use
Nature and Organization
“Look, puff,” said Sally.
“Look, Spot.
of Reading Progr.mmcs for Children
See what you did.”
a baby kitten
a yellow duck
a little chicken
She went to get Little Rabbit.
She went to get Sally.
She went to get Grandmother.
Figure 13. Example from a Reading Test accompanying a Primer.’
Comprehending sentence meaning. T h e teacher directs the pupils to draw a lie under each ofthe
words that tell w h o m Sally meant by the word you.
z. Forming sensory image. T h e teacher says, ‘Think of a fluffy little animal that has wings and swims.
Which of these things did you think of? Draw a line under it.’
3. Perceiving relationships. T h e teacher relates the story background of the picture and then say
‘Draw a line under the sentence which tells w h o m mother was going into the house to get.’
Test to accompany Fun un’th Dick and Janc, Scott Foresman and Company,
New Basic Readers, Chicago.
I. N e w Basic Reading
7hc Teaching of Reading and Writing
“No,Spot,no!” said Jane.
“You cannot have the doll.
Put that doll down.
I do not want you
to play with it.”
Father said, “Come,boys.
5 I
-a surprise for you.”
Father works with a L
The children have three
Fig. I 3. Example from a Reading Test accompanying a Primer’ (cont.).
4. Recognizing emotionalreactions.‘Readthis story.Then draw a line under the face that shows how
Jane felt and looked.’
5. Visual scrutiny-meaning. ‘Readthe two sentences.Draw a line under the word below that belongs
in the blank space.’
6. Phonetic analysis. Draw a line under the object the name ofwhich begins with s and completes
the sentence.
7. Structural analysis-meaning. ‘Read the sentence. Which of the three words belongs in the blank
C H A P T E R VI11
T h e task of developing a generation of functionally literate adults is no less challenging than that of promoting desirable reading interests and habits among children.
T h e problem has been studied carefully during recent years in various parts of the
world, and, as a result,a body of tested experience and research findings has accumulated which m a y be used to great advantage as a guide in current efforts to promote
world literacy. In this chapter w e are concerned particularly with the nature,
scope and organization of reading programmes that m a y be used in teaching
adults to read. In writing it, w e found the w o r b mentioned in the footnote very
I. Agorrilla, A m a d o L. Adulf Education in the Philippines. Manila, R. P. Garcia Publishing Company,
1952, pp. 51-89,162-267.
Bivar, H.G.S. Education for All within Six Month :a brochure on adult education with special reference
to Bengali. Calcutta, Rabindra Publishing House, I 949.
Buswell, G u y Thomas. H o w Adults Read. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, University
of Chicago, 1937,158p. (Supplemenfa<vEducational Monograph, No. 45.)
Departmat of Mess Education in Indonesia. Issued by the Department of Mass Education, Ministry
of Education, Instruction and Culture, Republic of Indonesia.
Griffin, Ella Washington. Let’s he& the Ten Million: teach’s manual, in: U.S. Office of
Education. Project for Literacy Education. H o m e and Family L$e Series. N e w London, Conn.
Educator’s Washington Dispatch, 1950.
Gudschinsky, Sarah. Handbook of Literacy. Rev. ed. Norman Okla. University of Oklahoma.
Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1953.
Kotinsky, Ruth. Elementary Education of Adults :a m’tical interpretation. N e w York, American
Association for Adult Education, 1941.pp. 54-135.(Studies in the social signijcance of adult education
in the United States, No. 26.)
Laubach, Frank C. Teaching the World to Read: a handbookfor literaGy campaigns. London, United
Society for Christian Literature, 1948.
Puerto Rico, Consejo Superior de Enseiianza. Educacidn de adultos (orientacioncsy ticnicas). Rio
Piedras, Puerto Rico, Universidad de Puerto Rico, I 952. (Publicacionespedagdgicas. Serie 11, 1952,
No. 13.)
Roberts, D.B. Types of Organization in Adulf and Mass Literacy Works. Sydney, South Pacific
Commission, I 952. I Op. (Technical Paper No.32).
Teachs Guide, prepared by Unesco Group Training Scheme for Fundamental Education,
Yelwal, Mysore, 1954,43 p.
Whipple, Caroline A., Guyton, Mary L., Morris, Elizabeth C. Manual for Teachers of Adulb
Elementary Studen&. Washington,D.C. United States Office of Education, Department of the
Interior, n.d. (Prepared for the American Association for Adult Education.)
Witty, Paul. ‘Principles of Learning derived from the Results of the Army’s Programme for
Illiterate and non-English-speakingMen.’ Adult Education Bulletin, No. I I, June 1947,pp. 131-6.
Department of Adult Education, National Education Association, Washington,D.C.
lh Teaching of Reading and Writing
In a surprisingly large number of regions of the world there is little or no Literacy
training. In such cases, effortto extend literacy must start from the beginning, often
without public support, with few (if any) trained teachers and with little or no
instructional material.
T h e programmes in existence vary widely in both scope and organization. At
one extreme are those in which the instruction given is limited to the use of a primer
and ends as soon as ‘minimum literacy standards’ are attained. Restricted programmes of this type have often been adopted because of lack of funds, trained
teachers, and adequate instructional materials. In many cases, however, they have
been approved in the belief that if adults once acquire the skills of word recognition
they can become efficient readers through their o w n efforts-although in fact
experience has shown repeatedly that this hope is not realized in the case of a large
proport on of adults w h o receive limited training.
At a somewhat more advanced level are programmes which make use of more
extended basic reading materials. For example, the Ministry of Education in Brazil’
published in 1948 a two-booklet series, one of which was called LeT, meaning to
read, and the other Saber, meaning to learn. Even longer series were prepared for
use in the 1950 literacy campaign in the SudanZ and for general use in Puerto Rico’
and elsewhere. T h e use of such series usually carries the student while still in class
to a much higher level of achievement than was attained through the use of traditional primers only.
A still broader type of programme provides not only extended basic reading
materials but also ‘follow-upmaterial’, that is simple materials to be read independently by the student as soon as, or even before, the basic materials are completed.
They are prepared by literature ~ommittees,~
educational agencies, religious organizations and publishing houses. Their content covers practically all subjects of adult
interest. If simple enough to be read with ease and pleasure, they develop increased
skill and promote interest in personal reading.
As literacy programmes have expanded, some communities have found it advisable to divide them into a series of periods or stages, each of which aims at certain
clearly defined goals. Such a programme was proposed by Bivar5 in 1949for use in
Bengali. Another was used in the recent Community Development Project in rural
areas of India.6 It included four stages. Stage one consisted of the informal mastery
by students of literacy charts posted in convenient centres in the village; stage two,
the reading of a primer; stage three, the guided reading of a second book with a
vocabulary of 520 words; and stage four, the more or less independent reading of
materials relating to farming and various problems of daily living. A recently
developed programme at Mysore, India,’ is also divided into four stages. ProBrazil. Ministerio de EducaGo e Saude. Departamento Nacional de Educagfo. Ler :primciro guia
&leitura. Rio de Janeiro, 194.
2. Yusif, H
assan Ahmed. Organization of Adult Literacy Campaigns in 1950. Bakht er Ruda, E d Dueim,
Sudan, 1950.
3. Puerto Rico. Consejo Superior de Ensefianza. Libros de lectura. San Juan, Depto. de Instrucci6n
Publica, 1953.Titles published in this series include: A la cscwla. Lar trabajadores.A cuidar la salud.
El Ciudodano en una democracia. A divertirnos sanammie.
4. Read, Margaret. ‘Some Aspect of Adult Education.’ Community Development Bulletin, Vol. VIII,
No. 4, December 1952,pp. 62-82.
5. Bivar, H.G.S. Educclrion fw All within Six Month. op. cit.
6. Chatterji,U.N. ‘Literacy training becomes a part of rural development’,Indian Farming, Vol. 11.
No.4. JdY!952, P P 28-9.
7. Teachers Cud, op. at.
Teaching Adults to Read
grammes' divided into three stages have been recommended for use in Spanishspeaking America.
Paralleling these and other developments, varied types of programmes have
been organized to meet specific conditions and needs in given communities. In
the Philippines,* for example, the chief aim of recent literacy training is to promote
a high level of competence in reading as an aid in the study of personal and social
problems, to enrich readers' experiences, broaden their cultural background,
provide pleasure and stimulate thought. Following a series of primer lessons, several
types of reading materials are used: a Citizen's Reader including 35 stories based on
social and economic problems; a book entitled In Our Community, emphasizing the
practical ideals and virtues of a good citizen; and Citizens Letters which are published
weekly and which present material of immediate interest to adults. Assuming that
the guidance provided is effective the result is a rapid development of reading
interests and skills, a growing understanding of personal and community problems,
and a cultural background making for fuller living and constructive community
service. Such results are highly desirable and merit vigorous effort everywhere to
attain them.
There is a world-wide need for training that will ensure functional literacy on the
part of alI adults. It should be based on sound principles of learning and adjusted
to the specific local needs and conditions. Efforts to improve existing programmes
should begin at their present level of development and introduce changes only as
rapidly as local conditions justify.
Obviously it will not be possible in this chapter to outline reading programmes
' adjusted to the needs of every community. It seems advisable rather to describe
in some detail features which have wide application and which are supported by
the results of tested experience and research. W e recognize that many of the proposals made cannot be adopted at once in certain communities for reasons such as
lack of funds, poorly trained teachers and inappropriate instructional materials.
It is hoped, however, that they will serve as helpful guides in all communities which
are engaged in long-term efforts to develop programmes of the scope and efficiency
that current life demands. M a n y of the steps involved in adjusting reading programmes to specific conditions and needs in given communities will be discussed
in Chapter XII.
Of primary importance in -organizingor improving an adult reading programme
is a clear statement of aims and purposes. As shown in Chapter I, the broad objective
toward which current reading programmes should be directed is functional literacy.
This was defined as ability to engage effectively in all those reading activities normally
expected of a literate adult in his community. T h e reading done during the training
period should aid also in promoting individual welfare and group progress. In
harmony with this view, important aims of teaching reading to adults are presented
here in two closely interrelated groups. T h e first is concerned with the values to be
acquired through reading and m a y be expressed thus :
T o meet the practical needs of daily living such as being alerted to danger, finding
one's way about, keeping posted on current events, keeping in touch with
relatives and friends.
Gudschinsky, Sarah. Handbook of Lihucy, op. cit.
Agorrilla, A m a d o L. Adult Education in the Philipinar, op. cit.
17u Teaching of Reading and Writing
T o improve health, promote good sanitation, improve child care, raise better crops,
increase economic status.
T o promote a growing understanding of one’s physical and social environment,
the personal and group problems faced, the issues involved, possible solutions.
T o develop an understanding of local traditions, institutions and prevailing practices.
T o cultivate the attitudes and ideals that make for worthy membership of a family,
community, nation.
T o increase understanding of other places, countries, peoples and times.
T o deepen interest on the part of students in their expanding world.
T o broaden their cultural background and to enrich life through a growing acquaintance with the group’s literary heritage.
T o help satisfy religious aspirations through the reading of sacred literature.
T o get enjoyment and pleasure out of reading.
These are merely suggestions: the needs and values that merit most emphasis vary
among communities and cultures. It follows that, if its citizens are to engage effectively in the activities and thought of the broader culture of which they are a part,
each community must make a detailed study of the local needs to be met and the
values to be attained through reading.
T h e second group of aims is concerned with the reading attitudes and skills
essential in attaining functional literacy and in securing the various values sought
through reading. The list that follows is based on the results of research concerning
essential reading attitudes and skills, as summarized in Chapters I11 to V. It has
also been checked carefully with current statements of aims secured from various
parts of the world.
T o develop a ‘compelling’interest in learning to read.
T o cultivate a thoughtful reading attitude, or a demand for meaning, in all reading
T o develop accuracy and independence in word recognition.
T o promote ability to secure a clear grasp of the meaning of what is read, including
literal, related and implied meanings, as discussed in Chapter IV.
T o cultivate the habit of reacting thoughtfully to what is read.
T o develop ability to make use of the ideas acquired in clarifying one’s understanding, in acquiring rational attitudes, and in solving personal and group
T o increase the speed of reading with clear grasp of meaning.
T o promote reasonably good oral reading on the part of all, but to strive for superior
quality only on the part of those w h o are keenly interested and show capacity
to profit from the training given.
To broaden interest in reading and to cultivate a growing preference for good
reading material.
T o establish the habit of reading regularly for pleasure and information.
T h e task of promoting functional literacy as n o w conceived is a far broader one
than that of merely arousing enthusiasm for literacy status and the provision of
training limited to the use of a literacy chart and a primer. T h e time required to
achieve the broader goals sought will vary among communities but it m a y be
assumed that from I 50 to 300 hours of carefully planned teaching will be needed.
Teaching Adults to Read
As pointed out above, one important trend during recent years has been to divide
reading programmes into a series of units, or stages, each of which seeks to promote
definite progress toward functional literacy. A practical advantage of this plan is
that many adults w h o hesitate to register at the outset for a long period of training
will often register for the first stage, which aims at reaching simple reading activities
in a relatively short period of time. As they make progress toward this goal, keen
interest in further training can often be developed.
Research shows that individuals pass through similar stages of development as
they make progress toward maturity in reading. For example, they first acquire the
basic attitudes and skills involved in reading very simple passages. They then make
rapid progress in learning to read, and interpret any material within the range of
familiar experience that is expressed in the vocabulary of everyday usage. Finally
they acquire ability to read and interpret effectively more mature types of material
needed in meeting personal and group needs.
As reading programmes developed which were based on the foregoing considerations, it was discovered that many illiterate adults are not well prepared to learn to
read readily at the time they enter literacy classes. T h e nature of their deficiencies
will be discussed later. T h e point here is that a preparatory stage is essential for
many adults, during which training can be provided that will ensure more rapid
progress in early efforts to learn to read.
A review of the evidence available led to the decision to organize the programme
outlined in this chapter into four stages: Stage One, preparing for reading; Stage
Two, establishing initial reading attitudes and skills ; Stage Three, growing rapidly
in ability to read; Stage Four, acquiring greater maturity in reading.
T h e nature and scope of the training needed during each stage will n o w be
described. M a n y communities find it desirable to grant certificates on the completion
of each stage, beginning with Stage Two. This practice not only provides incentives
for individual effort but stimulates community-wide interest in attaining higher
levels of literacy.
T h e nature and scope of the activities needed during Stage O n e are determined
by two aims: to study the readiness of young people and adults to learn to read,
and to help remove handicaps and promote increased readiness on the part of all
w h o need such help. These steps should be parallel in time and closely integrated
with the preparatory stage in learning to write, as described in Chapter XI.
Young people and adults w h o enrol for literacy training differ widely in their rate of
progress. M a n y of the explanations1 for such differences relate to variations among
individuals within groups in such characteristics as ability to learn, background of
experience, command of language, condition of health, ability to see and hear, and
Griffin, Ella Washington, op. cit., pp. 19-22.
Gudschinsky, Sarah, op. cit., Chapter IV.
Puerto Rico, Consejo Superior de Enseiianza, op. cit.
Wall, W . D. ‘Reading Backwardness among M e n in the Army’. British Journal of Eduational
P~ychology,Vol. XV, Feb. 1945, pp. 28-40,and Vol. XVI, Nov. 1946, pp. 133-48.
Teaching of Reading and
so on. Others relate to factors that often affect some communities more largely than
others. A few examples follow.
In a recent report, Agorrillal states that many adults in the Philippines have
lived for years without recognizing any loss that m a y have resulted from inability
to read. They will have to be persuaded of its value before they become willing to
establish the habit. Again, the Filipino has learned to work for pay. H e has not
discovered that reading m a y provide a different kind of reward or compensation
that justifies the effort required in learning to read. O n e of the steps essential during
the preparatory stage is to provide convincing evidence to adults that reading m a y
provide satisfaction and rewards.
Reports from other areas state that many illiterates look upon ability to read as a
superior achievement and lack confidence in their o w n ability to acquire the art.
They either do not join literacy classes or are so timid that they make little progress
after they enrol. The fact has been demonstrated repeatedly that once confidence
has been established many of these adults make very satisfactory progress.
In some remote communities little or no use has as yet been made of written or
printed symbols. As a result young people and adults are not familiar with signs,
printed notices, newspapers, or other printed materials. They have not yet learned
that language can be expressed in symbols. Obviously such groups are far less well
prepared to learn to read than those living in communities where printed symbols
appear everywhere and in which many people read regularly in carrying on their
daily activities.
Intensive studies* on this point justXy two important conclusions: first that
many personal, social and environmental factors directly affect readiness to learn
to read; and second, that when appropriate steps are taken to remove handicaps
and to provide the necessary preparatory training many adults w h o had previously
failed to learn to read are able to make rapid progress.
T h e foregoing findings emphasize the need of a clear understanding of the facton
that influence progress in learning to read. Both experience in teaching and the
results of research indicate that to a greater or less extent, each of the following
factors are involved.
Sufficient mental ability to learn to translate the printed word into meanings. As
pointed out in Chapter VII, most children w h o have attained a mental age of
six or more, and are otherwise prepared for reading, are able to learn to read
fairly well. Because of the greater age and wider experience of most young people
and adults w h o enter literacy classes they are usually much more mature mentally
than children-although there are striking exceptions. Furthermore, experienced
workers with native groups find that some w h o are innately more capable than
children seem to have lost their capacity to learn because of fixed habits. It
Agorrilla, A m a d a L., op. cit., pp. 229-30.
Chenault, Price, ed. Diagnostic and Remedial Teaching in Correctional Ins6irUrionr. Albany, New York,
State of N e w York, Department of Correction, 1945.
Goldberg, Samuel. A m y Training of Illiterates in World War II. New York City, Bureau of
Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1951,Chap. VI. (Contribulionr tu Educdon,
No. 966.)
Griffin, Ella Washington. hi's Help the Ten Million: &acher's manual, op. cit., Chap. V.
Wall, W.D. 'Reading Backwardness among M e n in the Army: I and II', pp. 28-40.EriiriSih
Journal of Educational psycho lo^, Vol.XV, Feb. 1945, Vol.XVI, Nov. 1946, pp. 133-48.
Teaching Adults io &ad
follows that careful studies need to be made to ascertain the probable learning
capacity of those w h o enrol for literacy training.
A ‘compelling’interest in learning to read.
A clear recagnition of the fact that printed or written words represent meanings.
A reasonably wide range of information,and familiarity with the things and activities
that will be referred to in early reading lessons.
A wide speaking vocabulary and command of more mature forms of expression than
those used in early reading activities; also ability to speak with sufficient accuracy
and clarity to be easily understood.
Ability to think clearly and to make use of what the reader knows in grasping
meanings, seeing relationships, making choices and solving simple problems.
Ability to hold attention to the task at hand, to listen and look carefully, and to
distinguish the important and relevant in what is seen and heard.
Ability to discriminate between different sounds and forms well enough to be able
to distinguish one word from another.
Ability to interpret pictures well enough to use any that appear in assigned reading
materials as aids in understanding what is read and in recognizing words.
Ability to work with others, to follow direction, and to adjust oneself readily to
various learning situations.
Freedom from disease, worries and emotional tensions that distract attention and
effort from the learning task at hand.
Although all of the foregoing requisites for learning to read have been found to
apply more or less universally, each community should review them in the light
of their respective needs and make changes or additions that seem desirable.
Various steps may be taken in determining the readiness of young people and
adults to learn to read. The first is a carefully planned community study before
literacy classes are organized, seeking answers to such questions as the following :
What is the current role of reading in the community? W h a t other purposes might
it serve? What reading materials are available to satisfy current needs and interests ?
W h a t proportion of the young people and adults read? T o what extent are those
w h o are illiterate keenly interested in learning to read? T h e answers to such questions reveal the nature of the problems to be faced in promoting readiness to learn
to read and in raising the literacy level of a community.
A second step involves personal interviews by the teacher with prospective
students. In preparation for these he should take part in the survey suggested above.
A n alternative plan is for him to make a personal study of the community, to become
acquainted with its people and to know ‘theiractivities, their characteristics,and the
general pattern of their lives’.l As a rule, the personal interview with prospective
students occurs later, at the teaching centre.
A special effort should be made by the teacher to establish cordial relations
with each student. He should try also to learn as much as he can about the motive of
the student in enrolling for literacy training, his eagerness to learn to read, his hesitancy and fears, if any, and his apparent maturity, background of experience and
other attainments referred to in the preceding list of requisites for learning to read.
The third purpose of the interview is to secure such items of information as the
Teachers’s Guide, op. cit., pp. 4-5.
The Teaching
of hading and Writing
student’s name, address, approximate age. M a n y communities provide a record card
on which entries can be made. A list of the items on one such form follows:
N a m e ................................................... Village ......................
A g e ...................................................... Date ..........
Occupation .......................................... Conducted by .........
literate, semi-literate or illiteraie
Years .............................. Months ............
to school ..............................................................................
W h a t kind of materials he/she would like to read ...................................................
Does hejshe want to become literate .....................................................................
H o w m u c h time can he/she devote to literacy .........................................................
Whether m e m b e r of any society ..............................................................................
Positions in the community ....................................................................................
Position in the family ................................................................................................
Whether married or unmarried ..............................................................................
A n y special interest or hobby .................................................................................
A n y other important information ...........................................................................
T h e form used should be adjusted to the needs of the community. Space should be
reserved also for items of information relating to readiness to learn to write, as
suggested in Chapter XI. M u c h of the information can be entered on the form as
it is obtained informally during the interview. M a n y teachers have also found it
advisable to make a record on a supplementary sheet of important comments and
responses made by the student; if this disturbs the student the teacher should try to
keep such items to mind and summarize them after the interview is over. In some
communities a mental test2 and simple visual and hearing tests are given at the
close of the interview by qualified local specialists. T h e information thus secured can
be summarized to advantage on a Reading Readiness Chart similar to the one on
page 126.In the light of the tentative findings the teacher can plan with reasonable
confidence the nature of the work for the opening classes.
T h e experiences and the training that further increase readiness for reading are
provided in different ways. They are discussed here under two headings:
?bough Community Effort
M a n y different methods are used by communities to stimulate adults to want to
learn to read. A method much used formerly was to organize a spectacular drive
to secure enrolment in literacy classes. Wide use was made of posters, parades,
public meetings, personal interviews. T h e value of reading and the ability of recent
illiterates to read were demonstrated. W h e n enthusiasm reached its height, enrolI.
Teacher’s Cuid~,op. cit., p. 37.
See list of reading tests for adults in the appendix to this chapter.
Teachinz Adults tn Read
ment for literacy classes began. Though valuable results were obtained through
such campaigns, many who enrolled soon dropped out of class-probably because
enrolment occurred more as a result of group enthusiasm than because of personal
interest in learning to read.
In areas where reading is little used, constructive effort may begin by putting
up signs such as ‘danger’and calling attention to their meaning. A bulletin board
may be erected in a public place on which brief but important news items are
posted. Adults who are literate may gather round the bulletin board and read and
discuss the various items. A n effort is made to stimulate those who cannot read to
participate in the discussion.Posters and leaflets relating to topics ofwide community
interest are also posted on the bulletin board and treated in the same manner as the
news items.
A n effective method used by workers in fundamental education projects is to
create situations in which it becomes apparent that ability to read is an essential
aid in solving a problem or in securing a coveted satisfaction or reward. Examples
given in Chapter I showed how keen interest in learning to read developed in some
areas as soon as people learnt that printed materials could help them to produce
better crops, raise chickens or compete successfully in making hats for sale.
Some communities emphasize the pleasure and other advantages of reading.
Those who cannot read are invited to meet to listen to the reading ofstories,descriptions, sacred literature.At times the reading is interrupted and the group is encouraged to discuss what has been read to them. As a result of several such meetings
those who are unable to read get a vivid impression of the pleasures and satisfactions
they might enjoy if they could.
Thus various methods are used in increasing the desire to read. They will vary
with a community’s cultural status, its contact with other cultural groups, the role
that reading already plays in the community,the desires and aspirations of individuals.The more that is done before classwork begins to broaden understanding and
to intensify the desire to learn to read, the greater the likelihood of rapid progress
from the beginning and the ultimate attainment of functional literacy.
Through Teacher EJort
A teacher should begin where the community leaves off. H e should have clearly
in mind the attainments and needs of individual students as revealed through his
interviews with them. H e should know the nature of the understanding, and the
interests and attitudes, that have been developed through community effort.
The first two class meetings are often used, in part at least, to induce greater
readiness on the part of all. Students are encouraged to discuss why they want to
learn to read.The values they seek are discussed in relation to their home life,work,
community needs and personal development. As this discussion goes forward, the
teacher raises questions and offers suggestions which encourage the more timid to
express their views and stimulate all to express their ideas clearly. One good result
of such discussions is a clearer understanding on the part of teachers of the varying
capacities, attainments and needs of different members of the group.
It is also advisable to introduce a few simple reading activities during the first
class meeting, so as to satisfy the keen desire on the part of students to start to learn
to read;to emphasize the fact that the chiefpurpose of reading is to secure meaning;
and to help convince the less confident that they are able to learn to read.To achieve
these purposes a few signs can be used to advantage, such as ‘Danger’,‘Stop’,‘Go’,
‘Keep off the grass’, and names of streets or buildings.
This part of the class period may begin with a discussion of the reasons for
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
traffic directions, warning signs, names on buildings, etc. After their importance has
been considered the teacher asks the class if they know of any signs or notices that
appear about the community. As examples are given the teacher writes them on the
blackboard in script, which is the style recommended in Chapter XI for use in
learning to write. Following the writing of each sign or notice the teacher reads it,
has different students read it, and then has the class as a whole read it. If more than
four or five signs and notices are mentioned the group m a y select a few of the shorter
and most important ones to learn. Practice in reading these signs continues until the
students can recognize them readily. In pointing to each in turn the teacher asks:
'What does this sign say?' H e leads the students to recognize that printed signs and
notices give us directions, warn us of danger, or tell us where w e are. Interest is
also awakened in discovering before the next class meeting any additional signs in
the community and what each says.
These examples illustrate only a few of the steps which a teacher m a y take in
preparing adults to learn to read. According to Rodriguez Bou,~
the chief purposes
to be achieved are to expand the oral vocabulary of students, increase their ability
to express themselves freely and clearly, broaden or clarify concepts, establish the
fact that words convey meanings, develop a small sight vocabulary, and stimulate
increased interest in learning to read. (Added suggestions m a y be secured from the
references in the footnotes.)8 In the past, little time has been devoted to such activities, but experience shows that progress is more rapid in the end X a few class periods
are devoted to the stimulation of greater readiness for reading on the part of less
well-developed students. If for any reason it is inadvisable to delay formal instruction
in reading, some time should be reserved daily during the early part of Stage T w o
for promoting increased readiness to learn.
Stage T w o begins as soon as it is clear that students are prepared to learn to read
with reasonable ease. The chief goal sought is ability to read simple material with
attention focused on meaning, such as signs, notices, brief news items and letters,
and simple directions. T h e attainment of this goal enables students to meet the
minimum literacy standards of the past. It also represents an important mile-post
on the way to functional literacy.
The aims of this stage are substantially the same for all countries and languages:
T o deepen interest in learning to read.
T o promote increased readiness for reading.
T o cultivate a thoughtful reading attitude and a demand for meaning in all reading
T o develop a sight vocabulary of carefully selected words of high value in meeting
the simplest reading needs of adults.
I. Puerto Rico. Consejo Superior de Enseiianza, Manual para la
dfabetos, op. cit., pp. 12-15.
Whipple, Guyton, Morris, op. cit., pp. 39-40.
Gudschinsky. Sarah. Handbook of Literacy,op. cit., pp. 9-14.
enseAonur &ledura y esm'tura o adullar
Teaching Adults to Read
T o develop skill in recognizing new or unfamiliar words accurately (the difficulty
of the process vanes as between different languages).
T o promote a clear grasp of the meaning of what is read.
T o cultivate the habit of reacting thoughtfully to what is read and of applying the
ideas acquired in meeting personal or group needs.
T o stimulate interest in reading for pleasure and information.
T o stimulate a desire to acquire ability to read beyond the level attained at the end
of Stage Two.
T h e amount of time needed to achieve these aims varies widely among communities
and cultures. In general, some 24 to 40 class periods of an hour each are required.
Training should continue until students are able to engage in continuous and
understanding reading of very simple material and have begun to use reading in
meeting at least a few of the practical needs of daily living.
In many communities it is necessary to provide most of the literacy training at times
and places convenient to individuals. But group instruction has many advantages
during the pre-primer period. It brings students together in a social situation and
relates the efforts of each to the needs and aspirations of the group as a whole. Those
w h o have not yet acquired a ‘burning desire’ to learn to read are influenced by the
enthusiasm of others. Those w h o learn slowly profit from the insights and responses
of those w h o learn rapidly. Moreover, because essential directions and explanations
can be given to many at the same time, group teaching is more economical. Classes
are best limited to not more than twenty. If a larger number enrols at any given
time students should be classified into groups on the basis of their probable ability
to progress, as revealed by the evidence secured during Stage One.
If group instruction is used classes should meet, if possible, in attractive rooms
equipped with comfortable desks, a teacher’s table, a blackboard, bulletin board
and reading table or shelves. T h e teacher should place signs about his room which
are used widely in the community, hang interesting pictures or posters on the wall
with brief titles written below them, write ‘good evening’ on the bulletin board and
place pictures, a few simple books, and a newspaper on the reading table. As the
students assemble, he will talk informally about these items and try in various ways
to arouse interest in them and a desire to find out what the words ‘say’.
T h e nature of the initial steps taken in teaching adults to read merit special study.l
They determine to a large extent a student’s attitude toward reading, his willingness
to apply himself whole-heartedly to assigned tasks, and his progress in learning to
read. In an effort to vitalize early reading activities, in practically all parts of the
world some teachers postpone for a time the use of primers. During this period they
base the instruction given on materials that relate directly to the immediate interests
and experiences of the group taught. This plan is adopted in the belief that such
materials will arouse keener interest and stimulate greater effort among students
than those in most primers. They have the added advantage that they can be used
also in promoting increased readiness for reading wherever such steps are necessary.
Gudschinsky, Sarah. Handbook of Literay,op. cit., pp. 26-50.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
Use of Signs, Familiar Sayings, Songs
S o m e teachers make use of words and short statements which have already acquired
vital meaniilg in the daily lives of students. In some communities, for example, use
is made for a few days of signs. Because of the increasing role that signs and posters
are now playing in many communities their use in adult classes arouses interest at
once. They are prepared on cardboard in script writing or written on the blackboard and shown time after time until recognized at sight.As soon as a sign consisting
of two or more words is known as a whole, individual words are identiiied and
learned. S o m e or all of the words learned are then broken down into their elements
and used in building other words already in the oral vocabulary of the students.
Through discussions about the value of each sign, teachers can further a growing
understanding of community need and practices and an inquiring attitude toward
the meaning of any word seen. By stimulating interest in learning what all the signs
in the community say most students acquire a small sight vocabulary rapidly. Such
an approach is soon supplemented, however, by the use of other types of material.
In parts of South America, Africa, India and other regions where printed signs
are not widely -d, brief sayings or proverbs which are familiar to all are often used
in early reading activities. They are first learned as wholes. Individual words are
then id,ntified and later broken down into their ekments. These are used in turn in
composing new words and in recognizing unfamiliar words. Experience shows that
the use of such material helps in cultivating a thoughtful reading attitude and, if
carefully chosen, in developing a sight vocabulary of very useful words. O n e of the
difficulties inherent in this method is that students do not distinguish one word from
another readily when several new ones are presented at once in a sentence. This
difficulty can be avoided by introducing new words slowly, not more than one or
two in a sentence. These new words should be used orally and written upon the
blackboard separately before the written or printed proverb or saying is presented,
so that their identity will be known.
For initial reading lessons teachers, particularly in missions, often use familiar
songs' which include a great deal of repetition. T h e books containing a song, or
duplicated copies of it, are placed in the hands of the students.As they sing the song
they study the words until they can distinguish one from another and recognize each
word at sight. In a short time some of the words which contain important phonetic
elements are broken down into their parts. These are combined in turn into other
familiar words and used in recognizing new words in other songs and printed material.
Wide use has also been made of so-called literacy charts2which introduce words
through the use of pictures. T h e word is pronounced and then broken down into its
elements. T h e chief aim is to familiarize the students with the sounds of the various
letters in the language before the use of the primer is begun. T h e Method of the
Normal Words3 has also been used for the same purpose. Both plans have been
criticized on the ground that they concentrate so exclusively on sound elements that
the meaning aspects of reading are neglected. This criticism can be largely overcome
by introducing each word in a picture or verbal setting that attaches a vivid meaning
Holding, Mary. 'Adult Literacy Experiment in Kenya.' Overseas Education, XVI, Oct. 1945,
pp. 2o4-R.
2. Laubach, Frank C. The Each One 'Teach One Method: 1950 supplement to Teaching the World to Read.
New York. Committee on World Litrracy and World Literature, 156 Fifth .4venue, 20 p
3. Designed by Karl Vogel (Des Kindes erstes Schdbuch. Leipzig, 1843) this method. has been widely
used in Latin America. It was introduced in Mexico at the beginning of this century by the Swiss
educator Heinrich Rebsarnen, as reported by Alfredo Basurt.1 Garcia in his La ledura, "p. cit.,
Teaching Adults h Rcud
to it, and by providing much reading of sentences that include them as soon as the
words are recognized at sight.
T h e use of these has increased rapidly during the last decade. They can be used in
presenting any of the types of material w e have referred to. Wide use was made of
them, by various countries during World W a r 11, in providing literacy training for
m e n in the armed forces. They proved very effective in presenting the sight and
speaking vocabularies which the m e n needed in camp. ‘One filmstrip,’ The Story of
Private Pete, introduced the most frequently used nouns, while another, Introduction
to Language, was employed to present verbs and propositions.’
Each frame in the filmstrip consisted of a picture below which there was a brief
caption. As each picture was presented the thing or activity illustrated was discussed
and in some cases demonstrated. T h e soldiers thus developed vivid associations with
the words in the caption. T h e training developed a sight vocabulary which enabled
the m e n to attack the lessons in The Army Reader with success and confidence.Because
of the distinct success which has accompanied their use, filmstrip will doubtless
play an increasingly wide role in literacy training in thc future.
Experience Charts
T h e materials which are probably used most often in pre-primer activities take the
form of so-called experience charts or records. These are prepared through the
combined effort of teachers and students. A n example from an adult literacy programme developed in Puerto Rico2appears on page go of Chapter V.A brief description of the methods followed in developing the materials and in teaching students to
read through their use accompanies the example. Vigorous effort is made to develop
both a thoughtful reading attitude and a sight vocabulary of some fifty words,
before a primer is introduced. Some of the words taught are also broken d o w n into
their phonetic elements and combined into new words.
Experience charts vary considerably. In areas where a fundamental education
programme is in process they are often based on some vital or urgent problem
affecting the community. Let us assume, for example, that a community is in urgent
need of pure water. Following a discussion of the fact that a member of the c o m m u nity is sick because he drank impure water, the following sentences m a y be written
on the blackboard :
Mr.Brown is sick.
H e drank water from our well.
T h e water is not good to drink.
W e need pure water.
As these sentences are written upon the blackboard and read, vivid meanings are
associated with the various words used and as a result they are learnt quickly. T h e
use of such lessons also prepares adults within a reasonable time to read simple
Witty, op. cit., p. 132. For detailed information concerning the content of this filmstrip and the
methods used in presenting it see Illustrated Znstructors Reference :to be used in conjunctionwith FS
12-5 The Story of Private Pete, 15 June 1943. Washington, D.C.,United States Government
Printing Office, 1943,58 p.
Puerto Rico, Consejo Superior de Enseiianza. Manual para la enreknza de lecturay escritura a adultos
analfabctos. Rio Piedras, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1953,39 p.
? h e Teaching of Reading and Writing
material relating to the group problem. This approach is therefore favoured by
many w h o are working in communities on fundamental education projects. Care
must be observed, however, not to introduce new words too rapidly or to neglect
the words of greatest value in general reading activities.
In order to use experience charts effectively teachers should make a careful
study of the techniques used in preparing them. T h e outline that follows describes
very briefly some of the steps that have proved effective in preparing and in using
At the beginning of a class period, the teacher focuses attention on some question,
activity or event of immediate interest to all, such as: ‘What do w e do at school?’
This question is then written on the blackboard.
Through the use of questions and comments members of the class are encouraged
to suggest answers. After several answers have been given the students choose
those which, in their judgment, are the most important. They are expressed in very
simple form and written below the questions:
w e do in school?
e read
e write
e spell
e sing
T h e teacher reads the first line. T h e class as a whole reads it. It is then read separately by several members of the class. The other lines are read similarly.
T h e teacher then asks members of the class to find specific lines in response to
such questions as: ‘Which line says ‘ W e read”?’
After the various lines have been identified the teacher gives the following
directions in turn: Find the word ‘we’,‘read’, ‘sing’,‘spell’, ‘write’.
As each word is identified it is written on the blackboard. Soon all five words
appear in a column. T h e teacher then asks the students to identify the words as he
points to them and to find them in the sentences on the blackboard.
O n the following day the lesson is reviewed briefly. It is helpful to prepare cards
in advance on which the new words have been printed separately in block type, or
written in script large enough for the class to see them easily. They are presented
one after another as an aid in helping the class to recognize them quickly at sight.
A new lesson is then developed which builds on the vocabulary of the first day
by adding a new word. For example:
can read.
can write.
can spell.
can sing.
T h e various sentences and words are then identified by the methods used on the
first day. As soon as the students can recognize all the words the teacher m a y ask:
‘What do w e learn in school?’As the students respond the teacher writes the following sentences on the blackboard which are studied in the usual manner.
W e learn to read.
W e learn to write.
W e learn to spell.
T h e teacher writes a n e w sentence on the blackboard made u p of the words already
known. For example: ‘ W e can learn to read.’ T h e students read the sentence as a
I 62
Teaching Adults lo Read
whole, identify the separate words in it, and find them in the sentences already
written on the blackboard.
T h e students then make other sentences out of the words they know. Possible
examples follow :
W e can learn to write.
W e can learn to spell.
W e can learn to sing.
The phrase ‘in school’ m a y n o w be added to any of the sentences that have already
been used. Thus the scope of the vocabulary grows steadily. Not more than two or
three words should be added at a time, slow learning groups m a y learn only two
or three words during a class period; rapid learning groups m a y learn five or more.
At each step in this procedure the teacher should ask the students to identify individual words wherever they appear on the blackboard. This helps them in learning
to distinguish one word from another and thus prepares them for the analysis of
words into their elements.
In this way teachers can develop reading materials for class use1 that are based
on the immediate interests of the adults taught. T w o of the problems faced in doing
so are to introduce new words slowly and to provide much repetition of each word,
in various sentences, to ensure mastery. As pointed out in Chapter VII,experience
charts have both advantages and limitations. Even though they are not used as
basic materials in early reading instruction, all teachers of adults should be familiar
with the techniques involved in preparing them; records of the activities and thinking of the students can then be used almost daily as valuable supplements to the
basic programme followed.
Methods and Goals
A careful survey of the various types of pre-primer programmes n o w in use shows
that with few exceptions they make use of the global concept of teaching. Each
word and sentence read, no matter what kind of characters is used in writing a
language, is presented in a context that is familiar and significant to the learner.
As a result the basic attitudes and skills involved in reading for meaning develop
rapidly, and the details of written or printed words-that is the form and sounds of
letters and the various markings that indicate appropriate sounds,stress or tone-are
learned in a functional setting. Their knowledge thus acquired can be applied
intelligently in reading new material.
Students w h o have acquired the attitudes and skills described above approach
a primer or reader quite differentlyfrom those w h o have not had such training.
They are familiar with the fact that written and printed words represent ideas.
They recognize at sight most of the words used in the early part of the primer.
Since they have acquired an interest in the meaning of what is read they begin to
read their first book with the attitude of an efficient reader. Hence they advance
far more rapidly than those whose initial instruction in reading is based on the use
of a primer. Otherwise the problems faced in achieving the goals of Stage T w o are
much the same and will be considered in the section that follows.
I. For additional information concerning types of experience charts and steps involved in
them, see references in the footnotes in Chapter VII, pp.
The Teaching of hading and Writing
Primers, or their equivalent, are used far more widely today than any other type of
material in teaching adults to read. They are greatly preferred where teachers have
had little or no training-untrained teachers being unable to provide an effective
sequence of early reading activities without a well-prepared primer as a guide. In
the discussion that follows attention is directed to some of the problems involved in
teaching adults to read through the use of primers.
[email protected] of Students
Group and individual teaching, are both widely used. Their relative merits have
been well summarized in an unpublished report by Dr. K.Neijs,l Literacy Adviser
of the South Pacific Commission. With respect to group instruction he points out
that it has certain socio-psychological advantages in many areas. In Melanesia,
for example, adults like to meet and organize for any purpose. Group organization
serves, therefore, as a natural and effective approach to learning activities. Group
instruction is also economical and provides mutual stimulation among students
and opportunities for building up a c o m m o n cultural background.
O n the other hand, it is often difficult to provide group instruction at times and
places convenient for all students; since adults differ widely in their rate of learning
those w h o learn slowly cannot keep up with the class and those w h o learn rapidly
are unduly held back; it is difficult to adjust the teaching to the needs of all. T o
meet the situation, in many countries an effort is made to organize groups more or
less similar in ability and needs, to supplement group instruction with individual
help, and to transfer individuals from one group to another where their needs can be
met better.
Individual instruction has the advantage that it can be fitted readily into the
working schedules of adults. In Israel, for example, it has been necessary for this
reason to make wide use of it.
Individual instruction does not, however, provide the stimulation and help
from other students inherent in group teaching, while. it is often difficult to find
enough literate adults to serve as teachers. Effort, therefore, is made in many areas
to secure highly literate adults as teachers and if possible to train them in advance.
This type of individual instruction should not be confused with the each-one-teachone plan, as generally used; the latter plan has succeeded in some communities
and failed in others. M a n y adults resent being taught by those w h o can read little
better than themselves, and such teachers are unable to provide help beyond the
most elementary steps in learning to read.
Thus both group and individual instruction have advantages and limitations.
For the reasons given above, the plan which works best in one community may not
be adapted to the needs of another. It follows that a careful study should be made
of the attitudes, needs, and resources of given communities, and decisions reached
accordingly. Of primary importance in any plan adopted is the need for teachers
themselves functionally literate and familiar with the problems involved in teaching
adults to read and the best methods for effective progress. Problems in developing a
trained staff of teachers are discussed in Chapter XII.
Dr.K. ‘The class method versus the “Each one teach one method”.’Unpublished report
on file in the Education Clearing House, Unesco, Paris, France.
I. Neijs,
Temhing Adults to
lh Inrtructional Materials Needed
As a rule, the only materials used in the past in teaching adults to read were those
included in a primer. These were wholly inadequate to ensure satisfactory progress.
T o overcome these limitations the following types of materials are today being used
more and more widely.
I. A carefully prepared primer or, preferably, series of primers or booklets, each
about fifty pages in length and including a total of 150 pages more or less, for
use in achieving the aims of Stage Two. T h e content of those booklets should
relate to the immediate activities, interests or felt needs of the group taught.
This enlists the whole-hearted co-operation of students and means quicker
progress. Obviously groups differ in the types of content that makes the strongest
appeal, The problems thus created are discussed in Chapter XU.
T h e materials are organized to include vital content from the beginning.
Pictures are used freely in introducing words and ideas in a meaningful setting.
Very soon, however, the verbal text consists of a sequence of ideas that stimulates
keen interest in finding out what the words say. The new words introduced in
the early lessons are recognized first as wholes and thereafter used in reading for
meaning. In order to promote growth in word-attack skills, key words that have
been learned as wholes are broken down into their syllabic or phonetic elements.
These are used in subsequent lessons in the recognition of new words containing
the same elements. Similar principles are followed in learning to interpret any
marks that accompany printed words to indicate variations in letter sound, in
stress, or in tone.
T h e vocabulary introduced during Stage T w o is limited to about 250 of the
most frequently used words in the everyday language of adults, plus such additional words as m a y be needed in presenting vital content. The material is carefully graded, the average number of new words per page being about two. Each
new word is repeated 15 or more times as soon as possible after it is introduced,
and a total of 50 or more times during Stage Two. Additional details concerning the nature of effective basic reading materials are described in the references
in the footnotes1 and will be discussed more fully in Chapter XII.
2. O n e or more work books to provide added practice on specific aspects of reading;
for example, the ability to recognize specific words at sight, to discriminate
between word forms, to analyse words into their elements, to associate meanings
with words, to find answers to questions, and to master unique features of
printed words, such as those indicating variations in sounds of letters, in stress
and in tone. The specific exercises for a given day are closely related to the
materials read in the primer. Figure 14 at the end of this chapter presents examples
of types of exercises included in one work book.
3. W o r d and phrase cards which aid in promoting the rapid mastery of new words
and in checking the progress of individuals. Some publishers provide printed
sets to accompany their primers. W h e n not available in this way teachers often
prepare sets by writing the new words introduced from day to day in script on
strips of cardboard. Some teachers encourage students to make sets of their o w n
as soon as they have made sufficient progress in learning to write.
Gudschinsky, Sarah. Handbook of Literacy, op. cit.
Griffin, Ella. 'Writing Graded Textbooks for Literacy Training', Fudamental and Adult Educetion, Vol. VI,No. 3, July 1954, pp. 102-8.
Rodriguez Bou, Ismael. Suggestionsfor fhc Preparation of Reading Material. Paris, Unesco, 1949.
(Occarional papers in education, No.2.)
llae Teaching of Reading and Writing
4. Word games.’ O n e which has proved valuable is called ‘Word Lotto’. Pieces
of cardboard, 6 x 8 inches,are divided into 25 squares and the words to be learned
written in them, the arrangements of the words being different on each card.
As the teacher calls a given word the students look at their cards carefully to
identify it and to place a small piece of paper on it. T h e first student w h o covers
all words in a designated row is the winner. Such a device not only arouses
interest but stimulates visual discrimination and effective memory of word
5. Supplementary reading materials’ that include material of high interest value
and are limited in vocabulary to the words already learned in the primer.
Additional details on such materials are given in Chapter XII.They are read
independently by students and the results checked in class. They are being used
more and more widely during Stage T w o because of their value in developing
word mastery, habits of fluent reading, and the habit of reading for meaning.
M a n y other types of materiala are used, such as filmstrips, that present
words and phrases, ‘literacy charts’ that aid in mastering word elements,
films that present content on which reading lessons are based, pictures, posters,
cartoons, maps, diagrams, and actual objects. In her Handbook of Literacy, Sarah
Gudschinsky4 describes various types of practice exercises which she has found
valuable in her work in Latin America. T h e fact is recognized that very few
literacy classes can secure all of the types of material suggested above. It is
hoped, however, that the description given m a y prove helpful as a guide to
local groups in selecting or preparing materials adapted to their specific needs.
Procedures in Teaching
Assuming that appropriate reading materials are available, what general procedures
should be adopted in teaching a lesson? Good teachers find it advisable to divide a
lesson into three parts. Sometimes all three occur during the same class period and
at other times they m a y be distributed over two or three periods. T h e suggestions
that follow relate not only to classes whose initial training in reading is based on a
primer but also to those w h o receive some training before a primer is used.
Preparatory steps. Before asking students to read a primer lesson, teachers try to
awaken interest in its content, to develop backround for understanding what is
read, and to introduce in meaningful settings the new words that will appear
in the lesson. As such words are used in the discussion the teacher writes them
on the blackboard, so that students become acquainted with their form as well
as their meaning. H e m a y also write known words on the blackboard and direct
the students’ attention to similarities and differences. If the students are already
familiar with any of the phonetic or syllabic elements included, they identify and
use them as aids in recognizing new words. Various devices are used to arouse an
attitude of expectancy concerning the content of the lesson through a discussion
of the title, by studying the pictures, and by raising problems that can be answered
through reading.
Townsend, Elaine Mielke. ‘TheConstruction and Use of Readers for Aymara Indians,’Fundamental
and Adult Education, Vol.IV, No.4, 1952, p. 24.
2. T
eachers Guide, op. cit., p. I.
3. Witty, Paul A. and Goldbcrg, Samuel. ‘The Use of Visual Aids in Special Training Units in the
Army,’ Journal of Educational Pychology, XXXV,February 194,pp. 82-90.
4. Gudschinsky, Sarah. Handbook of Literacy, op. cit.
I 66
Teaching Adults to Read
Reading the lessons. As soon as the students are well prepared and eager to read,
the second stage begins. Its chief aim is to help them get a clear grasp of the
meaning of what is read. By means of carefully selected questions the teacher
stimulates thoughtful reading of one sentence after another. As each question is
asked the students read the appropriate part silently to find out what it says.
They are helped in doing so by their knowledge of words learned previously, by
their brief acquaintance with the new words placed on the blackboard during the
preparatory stage, and by their knowledge of any word elements that have already
been learned.
As soon as a sentence has been silently studied, a student m a y be asked to tell
what it says and another to read it orally. After the lesson has been read in this
manner it may be re-read silently to find answers to other questions asked by either
the students or the teacher. At first the questions asked should be such that they can
be answered in terms of specificwords or sentences in the lesson; later the questions
m a y call for answers that can be best expressed in the student's o w n words. Before
the class period is over, selected parts or all of the lesson m a y be read orally. Throughout the entire period the teacher should note carefully any errors or difficulties
that m a y require specific attention later.
Supplementally practice. The third step in the lesson aims first at providing help on
specific difficulties met in reading it. At times, the teacher m a y concentrate on a difficulty felt by all members of a class; or he m a y focus attention on individual needs.
In the former case, he m a y write two words upon the blackboard that were confused by the students as they read, and ask them to point out significant differences
in their form or in the known elements which they contain. In the latter case, he m a y
ask all the students to re-read the lesson with an assigned problem in mind. While
they are reading, he passes from one student to another, providing in each case the
kind o help most needed.
A second purpose of the supplementary practice period is to develop new understanding and skills needed in developing added power in reading. Some of the
techniques that may be used are discussed in the section that follows. In addition
the teacher supervises the students as they do assigned work book exercises, discusses
their understanding of previously assigned supplementary reading and gives tests
that measure the progress of the students.
Developing Word-attack Skills
In view of the difficulties, the problem of developing independence in recognizing
words deserves careful study. M a n y primers include exercises which aim at familiarizing students with word elements and at developing skill in using them in recognizing
new words. This practice is illustrated in Figure 15, which reproduces three pages of
a Spanish Primer.' Page 2 presents a picture and a sentence which serve as the
reading lesson for the day. Page 3 shows that the word Arado is composed of the vowel
a and two syllables, ra and do. Page 4 combines these elements into six words. If
the primers or work books used in a class do not include such exercises teachers
should provide similar types of training during the supplementary practice period.
T h e problem of developing word recognition skills is a relatively simple one in
languages in which the words are highly phonetic and spelt regularly. It is far
greater in languages which are more or less non-phonetic.In such cases the teacher
directs attention from the beginning to similarities and differences in word form and
Mi tierra. Silabario para adultos. Santiago de Chile, Ministerio de Educacibn, 1949,pp. 2-4.
Ihc Teaching of Reading and Writing
sound and to distinguishing features of words. As soon as students learn that a given
word such as ran, begins with the sound r they are asked to name other words that
begin in the same way. In this manner the form and sounds of various letters are
As the consonant sounds are learned, they m a y be used as aids in identifying
new words which are similar in all but one consonant. For example if the new word
to be recognized is can, the students will quickly recognize that it is similar in all
respects but one to the known word ran. If they have learned the sound of c they
substitute it for the sound r in the word ran and thus derive can. By the end of Stage
T w o the students should know the sounds of most of the letters and be able to use
them, with the additional help of the context, in recognizing new words. They
should also have made definite progress in recognizing the structural elements of
words, such as endings (0,ed, ing) prefixes and suffixes, and in using them as aids in
deriving the pronunciation of new words. As a result of the systematic training
given, students should progress rapidly in their capacity to use various aids1 to
word recognition, namely, meaning, word forms, structural analysis and phonetic
T h e basic principles underlying the foregoing procedures apply also to the stages
involved in learning other essential facts about printed words. For example, vowels
are not presented in some languages, such as Arabic. Instead, various marks are
placed near consonants, or some modification made in their form, to indicate the
vowel sounds that go with them in pronouncing specific words. Again, different
marks are used in some languages to indicate variations in stress and tone. These
and other unique features of a written language should be used first in a normal
reading situation. Their functions should then be identified and the knowledge thus
acquired used in recognizing other words and reading other sentences. No method
of teaching is adequate which neglects these aspects or uses procedures which are
not psychologically sound.
With only slight modifications the same methods are used in developing independence in the recognition of word concept characters and syllabic sound characters.
After a small sight vocabulary of Chinese or Japanese words has been acquired, some
of the known words are expressed in phonetic symbols. The various phonetic elements
are then learned, as in any highly phonetic language, and are applied in identifying
other words written in phonetic symbols. As an aid to the reader, the words thus
written are printed next to the same words written in Chinese or Japanese.
Different languages present unique problems which must be solved in teaching
adults to read. It lies far beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss the form and
structure of various languages, the nature of the word elements involved, and other
distinctive features. For detailed discussions of such matters, authors of primers,
teachers, and literacy specialists are referred to the general references in the footnotes2 and to those listed in Chapter 111. In addition they should read the best
analyses available of the characteristics of their respective languages.
Promoting Growth in
Aspects of Reading
In order to achieve the aims of Stage T w o there are many other aspects requiring
emphasis. It will be possible to discuss only two of them here. Adults should learn
Gray, William S. O n Their Own in Reading. Chicago, Scott Foresman and Company, 1948.
Pike, Kenneth L. Phonemics, a Technique for Reducing Languages %t Writing.Ann Arbor, Michigan,
University of Michigan Press, 1947.
Nida, Eugene. Morphology, the DesCriptivc Analysis of Words. nnded. Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of Michigan Press, 1949.
I 68
TeachinE Adults to Read
early to read with reasonable speed. T h i s involves the quick and accurate recognition of words, often in units of two or more words. T o this end various types of
practice are provided. For example, word and phrase cards are exposed briefly;
sentences cbntaining no new words are written on the blackboard and erased
quickly; a limited amount of time is allowed in which to read a page to find an
answer to a question. Such devices help towards quick recognition and an increasingly
wide span of recognition.
Wide use is made today of simple supplementary reading materials limited to
words already introduced in the primer. Such materials are needed because the
basic primers or booklets used do not firovide sufficient practice in reading to
develop fluent reading habits. Their use provides opportunities for students to do
much reading with attention focused on meaning. After their use begins, teachers
assign one or more selections to be redd at home, between classes.
Secondly, since many students do not go beyond Stage T w o every effort should
be made while they are in class to stimulate interest in independent reading and
establish the habit of regular reading for pleasure and information. T h e use of
supplementary readers, as described above, is of great value in this connexion.
Teachers should keep on the reading table any very simple, interesting material
they can secure, and direct attention during classes to items of special interest to
individuals or to the group as a whole. Portions of them are read to the class from
time to time to stimulate interest. Those w h o do independent readins are encouraged
to make brief reports of it to the class. News items are also discussed regularly and
students urged to read news bulletins or newspapers. In these and other ways
continuous effort is made to awaken interest in private reading.
Measuring Progress and Providing Special Help as Needed
Efficient teachers note daily the difficulties of individual students and help them
accordingly. They give tests1 from time to time to secure objective evidence of
their progress and needs. Brief descriptions follow of tests that seek to do four
H o w well do students recognize at sight the words already presented in the primer?
For this purpose select 30 words and arrange them in IO horizontal lines with
three in a line. Then direct the students as follows: Put a line under the word
............in the first line; under the word ............in the second line; etc. T h e
number marked correctly by the different students indicates their comparative
efficiency-and needs-in word mastery.
H o w well do students understand the meaning of what is read? Prepare a short
passage limited to the vocabulary already read in class and followed by two or
more questions expressed in known words. Each question should be followed by
three suggested answers, only one of which is right. T h e students should read the
test passages and check the right answers to each question. N o time-limit
should be set. A study of the responses of the students will show their progress in
H o w well can students recognize new words composed of known word elements?
The teacher selects a group of new words and places them on the blackboard
one at a time. After allowing a brief time for study, he asks how many know the
new word. By noting the students w h o do not raise their hands, and by checking
I. Very few reading tests for near-literateshave been published, as revealed by the list in the appendix.
As a result those w h o give literacy training either use tests prepared for young children or
develop tests of their own. T h e need for adult reading tests in various languages is urgent.
The Teachirq
of Reading and Writing
the responses of those w h o do, the teacher can find out readily w h o are making
satisfactory progress and w h o are not.
How rapidly do the students read? T h e teacher selects or prepares a passage consisting of kriown words. T h e students are asked to read it to find the answer to a
question that can be given only after reading the entire passage. They are
directed to raise their hands as soon as they have read the passage once. By noting
the order in which the students raise their hands the teacher will gain useful
information concerning their rate of reading.
Such tests should be very simple at first and increase in scope as the students advance.
Tests of other aspects of reading can also be used. As the weaknesses and needs of
students are ascertained special help should be provided. Sometimes most of the
students need the same kind of help, and in such cases it can be given during regular
class periods. At other times the class can be divided into small groups and each
given help according to his needs.
the Attainment of the Goals of Stage Two
Through the use of observations and tests teachers can determine with fair accuracy
when students have completed the aims of Stage Two, as outlined on page 158.
As soon as a group of students have made satisfactory progress they should be
granted a certificate indicating the extent of their progress toward functional
literacy; at the same time, vigorous efforts should be made to induce them to
register for additional training. Those w h o have not completed Stage T w o should
continue to receive training at that level.
Stage Three builds upon the basic reading attitudes and skills acquired during Stage
T w o and seeks to prepare adults to read with ease and understanding any material
within the range of their everyday vocabulary.
The specific aims of the training given during this stage are:
T o deepen interest in becoming an efficient reader.
T o extend the sight vocabulary in reading to include most of the words commonly
used in personal correspondence, news items, notices and simple bulletins, and
books written for popular use. The size of the essential sight vocabulary varies
from 1,500to 2,500 for different languages. It should be large enough for the
number of new words usually met in reading the types of material listed above
to be not more than one in ten.
T o provide all the training needed in word-attack skills to enable adults to recognize
independently any word in their oral vocabulary.
T o develop increased breadth and depth of understanding in reading, including
ability to recognize literal, related and implied meanings, to react thoughtfully
to the ideas thus acquired, and to recognize their value and use in solving personal and group problems.
T o promote skill in reading various kinds of materials and in reading for different
T o increase the speed of silent reading distinctly above that of oral reading.
Teaching Adults to Read
T o improve the quality of oral reading on the part of those who encounter no serious
difficulty in oral expression.
T o increase interest in personal reading.
T h e time required to achieve the foregoing aims varies with such factors as the size
of the sight vocabulary to be mastered, structure of the language, availability of
appropriate reading materials, efficiency of teachers, the vigour with which students
apply themselves to the activities assigned, etc. Estimates from field workers vary
from 72 to 150 hours of class work devoted exclusively to reading, plus related
outside study.
M a n y types of students enrol for training at the beginning of Stage Three, including
not only those having recently completed Stage T w o but also those w h o went to
school as children or had some literacy training elsewhere and n o w wish to learn
to read better. T h e training needed can be given either individually or in groups.
In either case, it should begin as nearly as possible at the present level of reading
ability of each student. If group instruction is used each class should include not
more than 20 students more or less similar in reading attainments and needs. As
a rule the group training provided should be supplemented by a good deal of
individual help, adapted to the sprcific needs of students.
As an aid in ascertaining the attainments and needs of the students some form
of reading placement test is advisable For example, the authors of the Home and
Family Li$e Series’ developed such a test including four measures of reading ability.
A n example of each type is shown in Figure 16.Since such tests are not always
available, brief descriptions follow of informal tests that can be given to advantage
during the first class meeting. For this purpose all students should meet at the same
time and place and then be divided at random into groups of about 20 each. A
teacher and an assistant should be assigned to each group to conduct the tests.
A word recognition test. Prepare a test composed of 15 rows of words with three
words in a row. T h e first row should include three words from the earliest part of
the basic reading material used during Stage Two. T h e words for the next I I rows
should be selected at equal intervals throughout the remaining material used
during that stage. T h e last three rows should include words which will be taught
early during Stage Three, As soon as the lists have been distributed tell the students
that you will pronounce one of the words in the first row and they are to identify
it if they can, and put a line under it. Have the assistant check the first response of
these students to find out if they understand what they are to do. Then pronounce
a word in each of the remaining rows. T h e students’ score is the number of words
underlined correctly. A study of the words missed is usually very revealing.
Rate and comprehension. Prepare a story or description containing 100,150,or 200
words each of which was taught during Stage T w o . It should be multigraphed
so that each student m a y have a copy. O n a separate sheet prepare a list of five
questions each of which is followed by three statements,only one of which is the
right answer. Before handing out the story to be read give the following directions :
‘ W e are going to place on your desk a story to be read silently. Later w e will give you
‘Reading Placement’, Home and Family LiJe Series. Project for Literacy Education under the
sponsorship of the Federal Security Agency, Office of Education, U.S.A. Washington,D.C.
Washington Educators Dispatch.
Tht Teaching of hading and Writing
a sheet containing questions to be answered about the story. W h e n I tell you to do
so you will pick up the sheet on your desk and read the story once from beginning to
end. Keep in mind what you read so that you will be able to answer questions about
it. W h e n you have finished reading the story raise your hand. The assistant will then
hand you the second sheet, which contains several questions each of which is followed
by three statements.Y o u are to read the questions and underline the right answers.’
Write a similar exercise on the blackboard and show h o w it should be done.
As soon as the directions are clearly understood, the assistant should distribute
the sheets containing the story, reminding the students not to pick it up, or to look
at it, until told to do so. W h e n the sheets are all distributed, say to the group:
‘You m a y pick up the sheet so that you can begin reading when I tell you to. Look
at m e now. W h e n I tell you to do so you will read the story from beginning to end
just once, keeping in mind what it says. As soon as you reach the end raise your
hand. W h e n the assistant gives you the second sheet read the questions and underline the right answer in each case. Are you ready? Begin to read.’ Prepare in advance
a plot of the group and record on it the order-1, 2, 3, etc.-in which the students
finish reading. Keep a record of the number of seconds required by the fastest and
by the slowest reader to finish the reading of the story. The number of questions
answered correctly is the students’ comprehension score. It is advisable for the
assistant to pick up the first sheet when he hands out the questions so that the students
cannot refer to it while answering.
Oral reading lest. It is helpful also to give an informal oral reading test. For this
purpose select two or three stories that are similar in difficulty to the material
that will be used at the beginning of Stage Three. After talking about the title have
each of the students read a few lines in turn. If time permits,ask each student to read
twice. As he reads, the assistant should make a record of the number and kinds of
errors made. It m a y be advisable to ask those w h o do least well to read additional
passages later, so that a more careful study can be made of their errors and needs.
O n the basis of the information thus obtained the students may, at the second
class meeting, be organized into classes. They may be told that the tests revealed
wide differences among them in ability to read and that each is being assigned to
the group where he can be given the kind of help he needs. As each teacher continues
to work with his group, he should study carefully the responses of each student,
and will often find that transfers from one group to another are desirable. If a
student objects seriously to a change, only moderate pressure should be exerted
until he discovers that he is getting behind and that the proposed change would be
to his advantage.
T h e purpose of the basic instruction given during Stage Three is to develop through
carefully planned lessons the various understanding and skills needed to ensure
rapid progress. A minimum of 250 pages of carefully graded reading material is
essential, introducing 700 new words of high frequency in reading materials for
adults; they should be so chosen so as to include most if not all types of word difficulties that will be met during Stage Three. Each word should be repeated a minim u m of 20 times-preferably 50 times. The material should relate to things, events
or activities that really interest adults. It should be divided into units of about six
pages each. Each book should be accompanied by a work-book providing needed
practice on word-recognition, and comprehension skills.
Teachinn Adults to Read
T h e practice of dividing each lesson into three parts, as described on page 166,
m a y be continued to advantage. During the preparatory stage the new words that
are likely to cause difficulty m a y be written on the blackboard as they are used in
presenting a background for a thoughtful reading of the story. Just before beginning
to read these words should be reviewed. If the students are familiar with all the
elements included in a given word they should be asked to identify and use them in
recognizing it. Other words m a y be compared with known words that are more or
less similar in form,and any distinguishing features pointed out.
While reading the selection attention should be focused primarily on the meaning
of what is read. Through the use of carefully selected questions the teacher m a y
guide the silent reading of paragraphs or longer passages. T h e discussion that follows
the reading of each passage should focus attention on the story, events or facts
presented. The students may also be stimulated to recall previous experiences that
help to make clear the meaning of what was read. As soon as the lesson has been
read once in this manner it m a y be re-read to find answers to other more penetrating
questions. Some of them m a y require the students to search for implied meanings,
to recognize conclusions that are justified by the facts presented, or to use the ideas
acquired in trying to solve a personal or group problem. Finally, parts or all of the
lesson m a y be read aloud. T h e oftener the material is re-read, always with a new
problem or purpose in mind, the quicker the progress in mastering essential reading
skills. Throughout the reading at the lesson the teacher should be on the alert to
identify the kinds of difficulties the students encounter and the types of help needed.
The first purpose of the supplementary practice or drill period is to give help in
overcoming specific difficulties. This m a y call for a more careful study of certain
passages in the book or for explanations, demonstrations, or the doing of exercises
written upon the blackboard. A second purpose is to develop new understandings
and skills as they are needed from day to day. T h e specific problems that merit
emphasis will vary, of course, for different languages; they may relate to word
recognition, grasp of meaning, or unique features of the particular written language.
Finally, directions for doing the work-book exercises should be given. They m a y
be done at home and the responses checked with the group during the next class
Wide reading of supplementary material is essential in achieving the aims of Stage
Three. It not only deepens interest in reading but makes for rapid progress in acquiring the attitudes and skills involved in fluent thoughtful reading. Best results are
secured when the supplementary materials are specially prepared to accompany the
basic readers. In this case they should relate to topics of c o m m o n interest to all
adults in the area served. From 500 to 1,000new words should be included, which
the students can pronounce through the use of the word recognition skills developed
in class. Not more than four and preferably only three new words should be met
on a page. If such books are not available, material meeting as far as possible the
above requirements should be selected.
Time should be reserved near the close of a lesson to set the supplementary
reading to be done before the next class meeting. Teachers should list on the blackboard the new words that m a y cause difficulty and provide whatever help is needed
in recognizing them. The students should be advised to read a selection silently
three or four times until they can read it easily without hesitation, and then to read
it aloud to members of their family or friends. As they do so the value and implica-
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
tions of the ideas are discussed at length. W h e n carried on in this way supplementary
reading m a y aid not only in promoting rapid progress in students but in demonstrating to others the value of reading and in arousing interest among them in learning
to read.
As students read the assigned selectionsthey should make a record of any problems
which they could not solve themselves. During the next class meeting, time should
be reserved to discuss the content of what was read and to provide any help needed.
It is also advisable to have the selection read aloud at times as a check on the progress of individuals.
Groups in specific areas m a y acquire interest in one or more problems not discussed
in either the basal or supplementary materials used. As soon as such interests develop,
an effort should be made to obtain relevant material that the students can read with
reasonable ease and to provide needed guidance in reading and interpreting it.
T h e amount of such material that is available varies widely in different parts of
the world. Fortunately, its need has been recognized widely. M a n y useful leaflets
and small booklets have been prepared during recent years by such agencies as the
Literature Bureaux' in Africa, the Pan American Union for Spanish-speaking
people, agricultural, religious and educational organizations, and private publishing
houses. If a search for relevant material fails to discover any that can be used, one
should try to produce it locally. T h e need for training teachers to prepare simple
material based on the immediate problems of specific groups is so urgent that courses
in the preparation of reading material are n o w being offered in several countries,
notably India and the United States of America.
Time should be reserved in the literacy programme for the study of urgent
personal and group problems. T h e nature of the problem and the kind of information
needed in solving it should be discussed by the group. As a rule special help is needed
in recognizing new and technical words. Of special importance is the need of help
in ensuring a clear understanding of the ideas presented and in recognizing their
value and application to the solution of the problem in question. Often new concepts
are presented which need explanation and clarification. T h e directed reading of
each short passage should be followed by a full discussion. T h e chief aim of the
teacher is to help the group clarify its thinking and reach sound conclusions.
During Stage Three the development of interest in personal reading is important.
This involves first of all the arousing of keen interest in current events and the
development of the habit of reading a newspaper regularly. M a n y teachers secure
enough copies of a newspaper for class use and give guidance in finding and reading
different parts of it. Opportunity is also given for students to report in class news
items which they have read at h o m e or elsewhere.
Important also is the stimulation of interest in reading books for pleasure and
information.Teachers make every effort possible, therefore, to get hold of interesting
books that are within the reading vocabulary of the students. They direct the
See: Unesco. Education Abstracts, Vol.VI, No.2. 'Literature Bureaux and Production Centres'.
Paris, 1954.
Teaching Adults to Read
students’ attention to any new material on the reading table, discuss briefly their
content, and read aloud interesting passages. Frequently opportunity is also given
for students to make a brief report on what they have read and to explain why
others might find a given book interesting. Of special value are meetings, open to
the public, at which students dramatize a story or read interesting passages to the
audience. Such programmes not only provide strong incentives for effort on the
part of students but awaken interest throughout a community in reading as a source
of pleasure, inspiration and practical help.
Throughout Stage Three continuous effort should be made to ascertain the nature
of the difficulties that block progress on the part of students. Good teachers not only
observe the errors and difficulties during class activities but give frequent tests, such
as those described earlier, so as to get fuller information concerning the attainments
and needs of their students. In the case of every student w h o is not making satisfactory progress, a record is kept on a separate sheet of examples of the kinds of
errors made and difficulties encountered.
As information accumulates the teacher seeks to ascertain the nature of a student’s
chief difficulty-word recognition, comprehension, etc. Whatever the nature of the
difficulty the next step is to identify its cause-lack of interest, failure to prepare
lessons outside of class, inability to see or hear well, poor health, timidity, emotional
disturbances, inadequate language development, limited background of experience.
A wide range of possible causes of failure in reading have been discussed at length in
recent reports1
As soon as the nature and causes of students’ difficulties are known corrective
steps should be taken. Some perhaps need to be transferred to a different class,
another should have his eyes examined, and still others need individual help to
overcome their difficulties. This can often be given during regular class periods; in
other cases, it m a y be desirable to provide it after class or during special meetings
arranged for the purpose. T o a very large extent the methods used are similar to
those employed in effective group teaching-while adapted to the specific needs of
By the time adults have completed Stage Three they should be able to read any
material limited to the vocabulary of daily usage. If the materials read do not go
beyond this limit, additional training m a y not be needed in providing for minimum
needs. In most areas of the world, however, this is not the case and additional
training is essential to ensure functional literacy on the part of all and genuine
community leadership on the part of some.
Burt, Sir C., and Lewis, R.B. ‘TeachingBackward Readers’, Britbh Journal of Educational Psychology, XVI,Nov. 1946, pp. 116-32.
Duncan, John. Backwardness in Reading. George G.Harrap and Co.,Ltd. 1952, p. g6.
Schonell, Fred J. ‘Causes and Symptoms of Disability in Reading’, Backwardness in the Baric
Subjects. London, Oliver and Boyd, 1948, Chap. IX.
Wall, W . D. ‘Reading Backwardness among M e n in the Army’, British 3ournal of Educational
Psychology, XVI, NOV.1946,pp. 133-48.
7% Teaching of Reading and Writing
The distinctive aims of the training during this stage are:
T o complete the training needed to ensure accuracy and independence in recognizing
new and unfamiliar words likely to be met in reading, including the use of a
dictionary or similar some of help if available.
T o encourage growth in ability to understand printed materials relating to things
and ideas outside the range of familiar experience, for examples: new ways of
doing things, descriptions of people and activities in other lands, new practices,
procedures and standards, concepts and ideals in one’s o w n and other countries.
T o develop increasing capacity to react thoughtfully to what is read, to recognize
its value and limitations, and to make use of new ideas in solving personal or
group problems, and in modifying, if desirable, one’s ideas and behaviour.
T o extend one’s acquaintance with the various kinds and sources of reading materid
available-current events, bulletins relating to practical problems of daily living,
magazine articles, books of difftrent kinds-the folklore and history of one’s
o w n people, descriptions of other peoples, places and times, humour, adventure,
poetry, sacred literature.
To cultivate curiosity and an inquiring attitude that leads to reading and to establish
the habit of it regularly for pleasure and information.
T h e amount of time devoted to Stage Four will vary widely among communities
and individuals. It is suggested that advanced training be provided for a minimum
of 24 class periods during which as m u c h help as possible be given in achieving the
foregoing aims. Careful studies should be made of the ability of adults to engage
effectively in all the reading activities normally expected of literate adults in the
community. M a n y of the students will attain functional literacy by the end of the
course, others will not. Additional training should be provided for the latter.’
All students w h o have completed Stage Three or made similar progress, but have
not attained functional literacy, m a y be grouped together for training during Stage
Four. If there are more than enough for one class they m a y be classified into groups
on the basis of their achievement in reading, as revealed by tests similar to those
used at the end of Stage Three. The fact should be kept in mind, however, that the
grouping of students reduces the range of ability within a class. It follows that all
teachers should continue to study the specific difficulties of each adult and provide
for their respective needs.
At least three types of instructional material are needed. For the first two or three
class meetings a few relatively simple selections, interesting to all, should be read, to
develop in the students a feeling of confidence and enthusiasm for the course. Very
soon, however, use should be made of various types of material that are normally
read by literate adults in the community-newspaper and magazine articlesf bulletins, books. They should be slightly more difficult than the materials used in Stage
I. T h e characteristics and needs of retarded adult readers are discussed at length by
Chenault (editor), op. cit., Goldberg., op. cit., and Wall,op. cit.
Buswell,op. cit.,
Teaching Adults 60 Read
Three and introduce the students to the longer, less familiar, and more technical
vocabulary normally met at the adult level. It is a good idea to centre the reading
around certain issues of interest to the group at the time-group or individual
problems, sxial issues, literary interests, spiritual needs. Several such subjects
should be dealt with during the course in order to provide guidance in the reading
of different types of matter.
A third type of material is needed that can be read independently and is accompanied by tests that check the reader's comprehension of what he has read. T h e
well known magazine, Reader's Digest,' has recently prepared two small volumes that
illustrate admirably one form that such materials m a y take. They are called Adult
Education Reader, Level A and Level B. Each reader contains many selections
relating to topics of c o m m o n interest to adults and each selection is followed by
a series of questions to be answered. Examples of such questions are shown in Figure
17.This type of material m a y be assigned at the close of each class period and the
answers recorded by the students should be checked at the next class meeting.
Carefully planned guidance in reading during class periods is as necessary during
Stage Four as during the preceding stages. As the preliminary discussion goes
forward, the teacher arouses interest in the materials to be read, recalls related
experiences that will aid in interpreting the selection to be read, introduces new
words or concepts, and directs attention to the problems or issues to be studied.
T h e reading of the lesson divides itself into two broad stages. T h e students first
read the selection silently, to secure an over-all grasp of the scenes, events, or
answers to assigned questions. At the conclusion of the reading their understanding
of the passage should be checked; it is important that they gain a clear understanding of the main statements made before they attempt a more detailed study.
Guided by questions and suggestions from the teacher they n o w re-read to discover
any implied meanings, to consider the value or significance of the ideas presented,
to see their application to personal or community problems, and to consider h o w
the ideas presented affect previously held views or current ways of thinking or
behaving. There should be plenty of discussion during this part of the lesson.Through
the sharing of ideas and the pooling ofjudgments students not only acquire a clearer
understanding of the issues but reach more rational conclusions.
As the reading proceeds, the teacher will note the difficulties encountered in
recognizing words, grasping meanings, or interpreting the ideas acquired through
reading. Time should be reserved before the end of the class to provide any specially
needed help. By the end of Stage Four students should have acquired sufficient
skill, or be able to use needed sources of help, to meet independently most if not all
of the difficulties that they will meet in future reading.
Every effort should also be made to encourage broader and more mature reading
interests. T o this end the teacher should secure for classroom use an exhibit of the
various kinds of adult reading materials available in the community. In various
countries teachers are n o w being supplied-through educational agencies, literature
T h e Reader's Digest Educational Service, Inc., Pleasantville, New York.
7hc Teaching of Reading and Writing
bureaux, and library organizations1-with lists of books classified by topics and
according to reading difficulty. Such lists are of great value. Time should be
taken during each class meeting to discuss some of the materials on exhibit, to read
passages of special interest to the group, and to encourage students to take books
home to read. If there is a librarian in the community his help should be sought in
acquainting students with books relating to specific topics and in loaning books to
them. As during Stage Three, current events should be discussed regularly and the
daily reading of newspapers encouraged. In these and other ways teachers work
steadily to increase both the amount and qyality of thc personal reading done by
adults. As an aid in this connexion small library centres are today being established
in many local areas.
As students show capacity to engage independently in the various types of reading
normally expected of literate adults in a community they should be granted a final
certificate-their achievement is of sufficient importance to merit distinct social
recognition. It is hoped, however, that each community will also provide opportunities for those w h o receive the certificate to make further progress by enrolling in
classes where they m a y continue to receive guidance in reading in fields of special
Wallace, Viola. Booksfor Adulr Beginners.Grades I to VI. American Library Association, I 954,p. 66.
H m are
John Brown
The Bmwm
little Sally Bmwn
Mn B m m
Mary Brown
Here am
J o b Brown
M n Brown
Mary B m m
Hen II
B m m
The Brown#
Sally Brown
rim. for bed.
Eight o’clak i.
time for dinner.
m d y for bnakfur
R* chlldm are
ready for bed.
M n Brown U h e a
Bed rim. i.
fivr o’clock.
eight o’clak
Th. Bmwm
go to bed arly.
go to work togethr.
Figure 14. Examples of exercise in a work-book to accompany a basic reader. The exercises on
page 5 aim to promote visual discrimination of word forms. Those on page IO require much more
detailed visual discrimination. T h e exercises on page I I require accurate recognition of words and a
clear grasp of meaning. Those on page 40 require visual discrimination, accurate recognition of words
and a grasp of meaning.
Workbook in Leamina lo Read Bct&r. To Accombanv Reader One. A Dav with the Brown
Family. Washington, D.C.,Educator’s W & h & t o n Dispatch, 1950. (Ha&
Familv Lijie scrie~)
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
I 80
Teaching AduIh
working on his car
eating his dinner
writing in his book
cleaning the house
washing the clothes
Figure 16. Examples of four types of tests used in measuring the reading attainments and need of
students entering literacy classes. Ten such exercises are included in the test. T h e student’s score is the
number of exercises completed correctly.
Test I. Ability to Recognize a Word Pronounced by the Teacher.
Test 2. Ability to Recognize the Word that Tells What the Picture Shows.
Test 3. Ability to Recognize the Phrase that Tells what the Picture Shows.
Test 4. See over page.
Reading Placemnt. Project for Literacy Education under Sponsorshipof the Federal
Educator’s Washington
Security Agency, Office of Education.Washington,D.C.,
Dispatch, 1949,pp. 1-4.(Home and Farnib L$e serie~.)
7hc Teaching of Reading and Writing
She is singing in church.
She is buying food.
She is working in the garden.
She is cooking dinner.
She is taking a book to school.
Fig. 16 (cont.).
I 82
Test 4. Ability to Recognize the Sentence that Tells what the Picture Shows.
Teaching Adults to Read
IV. Right Order, Please!
Number these sentences from 1 to 4 to show what happened in the story.
......The men brought sandbags to help hold the dike.
...... The dike master and his men made the rounds.
...... Church bells called men from bed.
...... For two hours men held the dike cut.
V. Match Words of Opposite Meaning
Draw a line from each word in List 1 to the word in
List 2 that has the opposite meaning.
List 1
List 2
VI. Learn to Read Aloud Well
1. Be ready to read aloud from the story the answer to this
question: Why is the sea a n e n e m y of &he Dulch people?
First,read it to yourself to make sure you know the words.
As you read aloud, stop only at the stop signs. Speak
2. Read aloud rhe sentences you chink are mosr exciting.
Adapted from They Made D Living Dike,by Dick Hendrikx
The Reader’s Digest. June,’53 (from The Christian Science Monitor)
Figure 17. Examples of the test exercises in an adult reader. Those included follow a story which
describes the effort of the Dutch people on the night of I February 1953to save their land from the
angry sea.
Map of the World and other Sfories. Reader’s Digest: Adult Education Reader,
Level B. Pleasantville, T h e Reader’s Digest Educational Service, Incorporated,
1954. PP. 17-18.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
Reading Tests ( F o r m A or B). T w o parallel forms prepared by the Australian Council
for Educational Research (age: 10-13 years). Tests are satisfactory for both group and
individual use. Five tests with instructions and practice examples: I. Word knowledge;
2. Speed of reading; 3. Reading for general significance; 4. Reading for note details;
5. Reading for inference. (Reference:Australian Council for Educational Research. Test
Division Catalogue. Melbourne, I 954, pp. I 0-1 I .)See also :ACER Reading Test (Form C),
prepared by the Australian Council for Educational Research (for primary grades from
grade 111 in Western Australia, elsewhere from grade IV). Three tests: I. Word knowledge; 2. Speed of reading; 3. Reading for meaning. (Reference:op. cit., p. I I)
Achievement Tests in Silent Reading: Dominion Tests. Grades I, 2, 2-3,3-4,5-6;1941-50.Prepared
by the Department of Educational Research, Ontario College of Education, University
of Toronto, distributed by Vocational Guidance Centre. (Cf.Buros, Oscar Krisen. The
Fourth Mental Measurements Yearbook. Highland Park, N e w Jersey, The Gryphon Press,
1953; entry 529, PP. 567-8.)
B a d m e de Vamy. Devised by V. Vaney to measure individual reading ability. (Cf.Ferrt,
Andrt. La tests i l’kcole, 2e td. Paris, Editions Bourrelier, 1949,pp. 30-2.)
California Reading Tests. Vocabulary and comprehension. Primary (grades I-low IV). LOS
Angeles, Calif., California Test Bureau.
Comprlhension de lecture. By Th. Simon. Contains Ier degrt ‘avec images’, 2e degrt ‘avec
images’, 3e degrt ‘sansimages’.N o m given in Bulletin de la Socikti Aljred Binet, Nos. 308-9.
(Ct:Ferrt, op. cit., pp. 62-65.) (Silent reading.)
Diagnostu Reading Tests.By Fred J. Schonell. Four individual tests (silent reading test A;
silent reading test B; simple prose-reading test; graded word-reading test) intended for
diagnosis of backwardness in reading. See: (a) Schonell, Fred J. Backwardness in the Basu
Subjects. Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd Ltd., 1942.(b) Schonell, Fred J. and Schonell.
F. Eleanor, Diagnostic and Attainment Testing; including a manual of tests, thhr nature, use,
recording and interprsfing. Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd Ltd., 1950, 168 p. (c) Schonell,
Fred J. T h e Psychology and Teaching of Reading. 2nd ed. Edinburgh, London, Oliver and
Boyd Ltd., 1946, 128 p.
Durrell-Sullivan Reading Capacity and Achievement Tests. Grades 2.5-4.5 and 3-6.Yonkers-onHudson, N.Y., World Book Company.
Elementary Reading: Every Pupil Test. Grades i-3;1931-36;four scores:form recognition,vocabulary,comprehension,total; Forms I (1936),2 (1936); manual [1936]. Helen Sue Read
and M a y V. Seagoe; California Test Bureau. (Cf.Buros, op. cit., entry 532, p. 577.)
Examen de lectura de Haggerty: Sigma I. By Sa61 M.Mendoza and Rent Halconruy. Para grados
1-3. Sucre (Bolivia), Escuela Nacional de Maestros, no date. Gives age, grade, and sex
norms. (Silent reading.)
Gates Primary Reading Tests. Grades 1-3.Word recognition and paragraph meaning. N e w York,
Teachers College, Columbia University.
Gates Reuding Readiness Tests. Grade I; 1939;five scores: picture directions, matching, wordcard matching, rhyming, letters and numbers; one form. Arthur I. Gates; Bureau of
Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University. (Cf.Buros, op. cit., entry 566,
PP. 603-4.)
Graded W o r d List Test. By Cyril Burt. References to which may be found in: Burt, Cyril.
Mental and Scholastic Tests. 2nd ed. London, Staples Press Ltd., 1947,467 p. (Cf. Buros,
op. cit., entry B.74, pp. 872-3.) See also: Vernon, Philip E. T h e Standardization of a Graded
W o r d Reading Test. London, University of London Press, 1938-43,34 p. (Publications of
the Scottish Council for Research in Education [no.] 12.) Provides Scottish norms for
Burt’s Graded W o r d Reading Tes6 and a new scale more suited to Scottish conditions.
Group Test of Reading Readiness: Dominion Tests. Grades kindergarten-1; 1949-51; six scores:
discrimination of objects-symbols-words, listening-remembering-observing,familiarity
with word forms, motor co-ordination, total; Forms A (1949),B (1949); mimeographed
; profile chart (1951).Prepared by the Department of Educational Remanual (1951)
Teachin8 Adults tn Read
search, Ontario. College of Education, University of Toronto; distributed by Vocational
Guidance Centre. (Cf.Buros, op. cit., entry 567, p. 604.)
Individual Reading Test.B y Lois W.Allen in co-operation with ACER. Similar to some of
Burt’s reading tests (51/2
to IOyears). Consists of three sections: I. W o r d reading; 2. Reading
comprehension; 3. Speed of reading. (Cf.Australian Council for Educational Research.
Test Division Catalogue. Melbourne, 1954,p. I I.)
7he Inter-America Tests. Parallel English and Spanish editions, each in two forms. All are
arranged for scoring by the International Electrical Test Scoring Machine. Language
tests include: Reading, general; Reading in subject-matter fields (vocabulary); and
Language usage. (Cf.American Council on Education. 7he Teaching of English in Pwrto
Rico. San Juan, Puerto Rico, Department of Education Press, 1951,pp. 181-203.)
rcittungsmessung H I 19,Form V. By Erich Hylla and Karlheniz Inserhamp. Padagogische
Arbeitsstelle Wiesbaden, 1948. Contains: subtests I (reading); z (vocabulary); and 6
(multi-mentalvocabulary). (Silent reading.)
Lcistungsmessung HK 20. By Erich Hylla and Dietrich Kunze. Padagogische Arbeitsstelle
Wiesbaden, 1950. Contains Test I (silent reading) and z (vocabulary.)
Metropolitan Achievement Tests: Reading. Grades 3-4, 5-7.5, 5-9.5; a subtest of Metropolitan
Achievements Test; three scores : reading, vocabulary, total ; three levels ; directions for
administering. Prepared by Richard D. Allen and others; World Book Co. (Cf.Buros,
op. cit., entry 543, pp. 582-5.)
Melropolitan Readiness Tests. End of kindergarten and first grade entrants; 1933-50;
four scores:
reading readiness, number readiness, drawing a m a n (optional), total; Forms R (1949),
S (1950);F o r m R manual (1950).By Gertrude H . Hildreth and Nellie L. Griffiths;
World Book Co. (Cf. Buros, op. cit., entry 570, pp. 604-6.)
The Nelson Denny Reading Tests: Vocabulary and Paragraph; the Clapp- Young Sew-Marking Tests
Grades 9-I 6; I 929-38;three scores : vocabulary, paragraph comprehension, total; IBM;
Forms A (I gzg), B (I930); manual (I 938). Separate answer booklets or sheets must be
used. M . J. Nelson and E. C. Denny; Houghton Mifflin Co. (Cf.Buros, op. cit., entry
544, PP. 585-6.)
N e w Stanford Reading Test. W o r d and paragraph meaning. Primary form (grades 2 and 3).
Intermediate form (grades 4-6).Yonkers-on-Hudson,N.Y.,World Book Company.
Oral W o r d Reading Test.Prepared and standardized by A. E. Fieldhouse, with Manual oj
Directions. Wellington, New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 1952, 16 p.
(‘For use only with 7-11’s N e w Zealand childrrn whose mother tongue is English.’)
Prueba de lectura silenciosa. Grades 4, 5 &6. By Alfred0 M.Ghioldi and Victor M.A. Baleani.
Buenos Aires, Editorial Kapelusz & Cia.
Pruebar de instrwcidn ACV. By Gonzalo Abad, E d m u n d o Carbo and Ermel Velasco. Quito
(Ecuador), Talleres Grlficos Nacionales, no date, 142 p.
Seven Plus Assessment: Northumberland Series. By C. M . Lambert. London, University of London
Press [1g31]. Three tests: arithmetic, reading, spelling. (Cf. Buros, op. cit., entry 24,
pp. 60-1.)Attainment tests.
Silent Reading Comprehension: Iowa Every-Pupil Tests of Basic Skills, Test A. Grades 3-5, 5-9;
I 940-47; three scores: reading comprehension, vocabulary, total; IBM for grades 5-9;
two levels; Forms L (1940),M (1941),N (194z), 0 (I943); manual (I945); battery
manual (1947).H.F. Spitzer in collaboration with Ernest Horn and others; Houghton
Mifflin Co. (Cf.Buros, op. cit., entry 554, p. 592.)
Stanford Achievement Test Reading. Grades 2-3,4-6,7-9;1923-43; a subtest of Stanford Achievement
Test; three scores; paragraph meaning, word meaning, total; three levels; Forms D
(1940), E (1940), G (1942), H (1943)
; directions for administering (1940). T r u m a n
L. Kelley, Giles M.R u c h and Lewis M.Terman; World Book Co. (Cf.Buros, op. cit.,
entry 555, PP. 592-34
Test Boliviano de lectura szlenciosa. By Rent Halconruy (7 m e Dumont-d‘urville, Paris). For
grades 3, 4 and 5, with Manual de instrucciones. Sucre (Bolivia), Editorial Charcas, 1944,
20 p. W
ith norms for males and females by grades. (Cf.Halconruy, Rent, ‘Crtation et
ttalonnage du Test mttrique de lecture silencieuse en Bolivie’, Journies internationales de
psychologic de l’enfant, 21-26 avril 1954.Paris, Muste Ptdagogique, 1954, p. 79.)
Test de Graduacidn: Baterfa 11-Forma A. Para los grados 2 y 3. By Jost M.Gutitrrez and M e r -
i’hTeaching of Reading and Writing
cedes GonzAlez Arias. Contains subtests I (lectura-completar), 2 (pArrafos) and 3 (vocabulario). (Silent reading.) Habana, Editorial Minerva.
Test de Graduadn; Bateria III-Forma A. Para 10s grados 4, 5 y 6. By Jose M. Gutitrrez and
Rosa Seara Pazos. Contains subtests I (lectura) and 2 (vocabulario). Habana, Editorial
Minerva. (Silent reading.)
Test de lectura de palabras. Primer grado, Forma A. By JdM.Gutitmez. Habana, Editorial
Minerva, no date. (Silent reading test.)
Test de lectura en silmcw Tip0 A: Lectura para apeciar el signijiadn general. Grados 38. By Jast
M. Gutierrez and Maria Luisa Pedroso. Habana, Editorial Minerva. (Silent reading.)
Test &lcctura Gates-GutitSrez.Grados I y 2. Havana, Editorial Minerva. Tipo I, reconocimiento
de palabras; Tipo 2, lectura de oraciones; Tip0 3, lectura de parrafos.
Test de lcctura para la meiionra primoria nrpcriory secundaria-Forma A. By Jose M.Gutitrrez.
Habana, no date. (Silent reading test.)
Test &lectura segwa. By Jose M.Gutitrrez. Habana, Editorial Minerva, 1941.
(Silent reading
Test &lectwa silenciosa M.H.Para 10s c u ~ o sL, 3 y 4.By Sa61 M.Mendoza and Rent Halconruy. Sucre (Bolivia), Escuela Nacional de Maestros [printed by Editorial Charcas], 1942.
(Cf.Halconruy, Rent. ‘Tests de lectura silenciosa’, N m s Rumbos, Revista de la Escuela
Nacional de Maestros; Septiembre de 1942,pp. 93-152,Sucre, Editorial Charcas.)
Tist&lectura silenciosa [email protected] B;Lectwa para enltndcr imtruccionesexactas. Grados 3-6.By M.Gutitrrez and Ignacio Ma. Alfonso. Habana, Editorial Minerva.
Test de Lectura silencwsa Tip0 C; Lectura para enlnrdcr imtrucciones exactac, Grados 3-6. By Jost
M. Gutitrrez and Esther Porras. Habana, Editorial Minerva. (Silent reading.)
Test de lectura silmwsa Tip0 D;Lectura para emontzar &hlles. Grados 3-6.By Jost M.Gutitrra
and Ignacio Ma. Alfonso. Habana, Editorial Minerva.
Test & lecture. Devised by Jean Simon (3 rue Pleyel, Paris) to predict success in reading.
(Cf.Simon, Jean. ‘Une batterie d’tpreuves psychologiques pour la prkdiction de la
rtussite en lecture’, E n f m e , novembre-dtcembre 1952,pp. 475-80. Paris, Presses Universitaires de France.) Adapted and standardized in Belgium under the direction of M.Hotyat.
Test de lecture silencieuse. By Gladys Lowe Anderson. Norms age 8-16.(Cf.Anderson, Gladys
L.La lecture silencieuse, preface de Pierre Bovet. Neuchitel,Paris, Delachaux &Niestlt,S.A.,
1929,159p. (Collection d’actualilt!spkiagogiques). Also adapted to Spanish and described in
La lectura siLenciosa. Madrid,Espasa-Calpe.,S.A., 1934,pp. 120-1.Also adapted in Venezuela
by Rosa Padlina as Test &lectura silenciosa: F6rmula A, F6rmula B. Caracas, Instituto
Pedag6gico Nacional, 1936.
Test individuel. Designed by Miss Remy to measure reading readiness and to group children
accordingly. Paris, Socittt Alfred Binet. (Cf. (a) Ferrt, Andrt. Les tests h I‘~cole. Paris,
Editions Bourrelier, 1950, pp. 26-9 (Carnets de pidagogie patique); (b) Remy, M.‘Testa
rapides de lecture’, Bulletin &la SociLtk Alfred Binet, Nos. 202-3,pp. 87-9,Paris, 1926.)
Test mitrico dr lectura silenciosa. Devised by Rent Halconruy (7 rue Dumont-d’Udle, Paris).
With manual. Sucre (Bolivia), 1948. Measures the speed of reading comprehension in
g to 12-year-oldchildren. Includes two forms: A (with illustrations) and B (without
illustrations). Has been widely used in Bolivia and Ecuador. The author has adapted it
to French and has published it as Teff m’trique&lecture silminrse, with manuals. It is being
standardized for Belgian children. (Cf.Halconruy, Rent. ‘Crtation et ttalonnage du
test mbtrique de lecture silencieuse en Bolivie’,J o m ’ e s inhnatwnales depsychologic de l’enfant,
2 I -26 avril I 954. Paris, Muste Ptdagogique, I 954, p. 49.)
Testes A B C p a r a veriJiqZo da maturidadc necessaria a apendizagem da leitura e escrita. [By] Manuel
B. LourenGo-Filho.4a. ed. corn material para aplicaqlo. SBo Paulo, EdiG6es Melhoramentos, 1952,I 22 p. (Bibliotecade Educapio, vol. 20). See also the Spanish adaptation translated
by Jose D.Forgione, Buenos Aires, Editorial Kapelusz, 1952.Diagnostic test for reading
Tests d’instruction Remy-Simon. Paris, Socittt Alfred Binet, 1941.
7ltorndike-L.orgeReading Test. Grades 7-9;1941-47;Forms A. Rev. (1947).E. L. Thorndikc
and Irving Lorge; Bureau of Publications,Teachers College, Columbia University. (Cf.
Buros,op. cit., entry 558, pp. 596-7.)
I 86
TeachinR Adults lo Read
Adult Reading Test. Forms I and 2. Institute of Educational Research, Teachers College,
Columbia University.
Watts-Vmn Silent Reading Tat.This test was calibrated with pre-war tests and an approximate
set of pre-war n o m was reached for the new tests by the method of equivalent percentages.
(It has not been published, but it is controlled in: (a) Duncan, John. Backwardness in
Reading; Remedies and Prevention. London, George G.Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1953, pp. 20-1;
and (b) Great Britain. Ministry of Education. Reading AbiliQ. London, HMSO, 1950,
pp. 10-13.) London, Ministry of Education and the National Foundation for Educational
Ability to write is not only a hallmark of literacy; it is an essential aid to individual
progress and group welfare, and there is interest throughout the world today as to
the most effective methods of teaching children and adults to write legibly. Fortunately, many of the basic problems involved in teaching handwriting have been
studied for centuries, and much has been learned about the difficulties in learning to
write well and the relative merits of different methods of teaching handwriting.
Furthermore, research during recent years has thrown additional light on the
nature of handwriting and the factors that influence its development.In the discussion
that follows attention will be directed toward certain facts and principles, supported
by the results of past experience and research, that m a y be used as valid guides in
developing handwriting programmes adapted to current needs.
A survey of earlier practices shows that attention in teaching handwriting was, in
the past, centred largely1 on matters relating to form and quality. Even as late as
the nineteenth century a superior quality of handwriting was so greatly prized
in many countries that schools devoted much time and effort to attaining high
I. Cf. the following publications:
Bivar, H.G.S. ‘Learningto Write’, Education-/orAll within Six Month: a brochure on adult education
m’th special refweme to Bengali. Calcutta, Rabnidna Publishing House, 1949,Chap. VIII.
Callewaert, H.Physiologie de l’km’turecursiue,avec 56 figures groupant des’croquis de U.Wernaers,
dcs photogravures extraitea de films,des reproductions d’Ccritures, etc. Paris, DesclCe de Brouwer
& Cie, n.d., 122p., illus.
Dottrens, Robert. Cetu km’ture sm)t.... Gentve, Imprimerie du journal de Carouge S.A.,
19519 31P.
Dottrens, Robert. L’enseigmnt de l’hcriture ; nouuelles dthodes. Paris, Editions Dclachaux &
NiestlC, S.A., 1931, 148 p. (Collectioiu d’actualitds pddagogiqws et psychologiques.) (Discusses the
deficiencies in earlier methods, describes the characteristirs of the newer methods together with
the evidence that supports them, and considers many practical problems faced in teaching handwriting.)
Freeman, Frank N. ‘Language:the Development of Ability in Handwriting’,Child Development
and the Curriculum.Thirty-eighthYearbook, Part I, ofthe National Society for the Study of Education.
Bloomington, Ill., Public School Publishing Co., 1939,.pp. 255-9.
Freeman, Frank N. Teaching Handwriting. Washington, D.C., Department of Classroom
Teachers and American Educational Research Association of the National Education Association,
1954, 33 p. (What Research Sqvs to the Teach.4.)
Freinet, C. M&tho& nahrrelle de lecture. Cannes (Alpea Mar.), Editions de 1’Ecole Moderne
Franpise, 1947, 59 p. illus. (Brochures d‘kducation nowelle populaire, No.30, M a i 1947.)
Fernindez Huerta, Jd.
Escrirura (didktica y escala grdjca). Madrid, Consejo Superior de
I 88
BnriG Pri’nciples Underlying the Teaching of Handwriting
standards in this respect. There were also many schools which specialized in the
production of excellent penmen.
Emphasis on form and quality was particularly marked in countries in which
logographs (as in China), syllabaries (as in Japan), and non-Roman form letters
(as in many sections of Asia) have been used. This was due to the fact that such
characters are very complex and difficult to learn. In each country that used such
characters one or more standard styles of writing were prescribed. In China, for
example, similar models were provided in primary schools independent of the local
dialects used. Practice began on the simplest characters and proceeded gradually
to the more complex ones, until hundreds or even thousands had been learned.
Some of the specific steps involved are outlined briefly in Chapter I1 (page 33).
Although repeated efforts have been made to simplify the process of learning to
write Chinese they have not proved very successful, owing to the highly complex
nature of the characters. T h e solution, according to the Research Committee on the
Reform of the Chinese Written Language,’ lies in the development of a phonetic
system for writing that language.
In India, as contrasted with China, each province prescribed a style of handwriting that was suited to the needs of the local language. In teaching both children
and adults to write, practice2 was provided first in the basic forms c o m m o n to most
letters-horizontal lines, vertical lines, oblique lines and curves. As these were
mastered they were combined into letters which in turn were used in writing words
and sentences. Synthetic methods were also widely used and applied in practically
all other countries using non-Roman letters for writing. During recent years, efforts
have been made in several countries to simplify the process of writing through the
use of connected letters, to make use of word wholes in early writing activities, and
to adjust teaching procedures to pupil needs. In Siam,s for example, the ‘programme
of studies imposes a fixed type of handwriting which is connected and perpendicular
or slightly inclined to the right’. Some preliminary exercises are provided to prepare
children for writing. No special method of teaching is required. Some copy books
are used, but ‘children are generally taught to attain perfection and form right
habits by trying to imitate the writing of teachers’.
Until the middle of the nineteenth century synthetic methods also prevailed to
Investigaciones Cientihcas, Instituto San Jdde Calasanz de Pedagogia, 1950, 225 p. (Summarizes scientific evidence from various countries relating to the nature of handwriting and
methods of teaching pupils to write.)
Hamaide, Amklie. La d
e DecroIv. 4e ed. Neuchitel et Paris, Delachaux & Niestlk, 1946,
261 p. (Actwlitds pidagogiques et psychologiques.)
‘Handwriting’, in: Monroe, Walter S., ed. Encyclopedia of Educational Research. N e w York,
Macmillan Company, 1950,pp. 524-9. (Summarizesresearch carried out in the United States of
International Conference on Public Education, XIth. The Teaching of Handmiling. Paris,
Geneva, Unesco, International Bureau of Education, 1948. (Publication No. 103.) (Summarizes
replies from 48 countries to a questionnaire on current practices in the teaching of handwriting,
sent out by the International Bureau of Education, Geneva.)
Limmel, Arnold. Elementc des Schreibem. Iserlohn, Brause & Co., 1951, 96 p.
Dal Piaz, Riccardo. La scrittura nella scwla elmlare. Terza edizione aggiornata.Torino, G.B.
Paravia & C., 1950.(Discusses a series of problems involved in developing and maintaining a high
quality of handwriting.)
Wright, G.G.Neill. The Writing of Arabic Numerals.London, University of London Press, 1952,
424 p. (Publications of the Scottish Council for Research in Education, XXXIII).
Yee, Chiang. Chinese Calligraphy :an Introduction to its Aesthetic and Technique. London, Methuen
& Co. Ltd., 1938, Chap. VIII.
I. Chueh, Wie. ‘The Problem of Reforming the Chinese Written Language’,People’s China, IO, 1954,
pp. 18-26.
2. Bivar, H.G. S. ‘Learning to Write’, op. cit., Chap. VLII.
3. International Conference on Public Education, XIth. The Teaching of Handwriting, op. cit., p. 105.
l l ~Teaching
of Reading and Writing
a very large extent in most countries using R o m a n letters. About 1850 notable
reforms began to be introduced. For example, the use of copy books and pens spread
rapidly and the muscular movement in writing was introduced. According to its
proponents,’ ease and rapidity in writing could be achieved only through the free
and co-ordinated action of all parts of the body involved. In a sense departure from
extreme devotion to form paved the way for the recognition of the role of other
personal factors in learning to write.
T h e latter half of the nineteenth century was a period of vigorous discussion
concerning such issues as styles of writing, position in writing and methods of teaching.
Various systems of handwriting developed, each of which had its ardent advocates.
As a part of this general development, vertical handwriting was introduced. It
originated in France and Germany and spread rapidly to many other’countries.
This system was intended to eliminate some of the unhygienic aspects of the prevailing
Since 1900,there have been many other developments. For example, the use
of ‘print-script’or ‘manuscript’ writing8 was introduced during early school years
to overcome some of the difficulties encountered by young children in learning to
write. Words and sentences were used from the beginning with the object of
motivating writing practice and making the various steps in it more meaningful.
Provision was also made for transition in the early school years to a cursive style of
writing. In response to the demand for a more uniform and standard type of writing,
handwriting scales and methods of diagnosing and correcting deficiencies in writing
developed. As an aid toward securing valid answers to many of the controversial
issues raised, hundreds of scientific studies have been made. Through the influence
of such leaders as Decroly, Dottrens, Freeman, and Freinet, many other changes
have been made in writing programmes to adjust them better to the characteristics
and needs of learners in general and of individuals in particular.
During the course of the developments that have been described, there was strong
controversy as to the merits of some of the earlier procedures in teaching handwriting. The issue most widely discussed concerned the validity of synthetic methods
of teaching. In their defence, the following reasons were advanced: they aimed at
high levels of competence in handwriting; they provided for the orderly mastery of
the necessary skills by proceeding systematically from simple to more complex
elements; the various steps could be described clearly and followed easily by teachers.
While recognizing these values, the use of synthetic methods was criticized by
many teachers and writing specialists on other grounds. Of special interest are the
views of Dottrens and of Freeman, both of w h o m are psychologists and specialistsin handwriting of world-wide reputation.According to Dottrens,athe chief weakness
of the synthetic method is that it ignores the principal factor-the learner. As will
be explained later, a person’s writing is a mark of his personality. By imposing a
uniform pattern on all, individual differences are disregarded. Dottrens also pointed
out that the forms of letters when they are connected in writing are affected by what
precedes them. H e maintained, therefore, that letters should be taught in relationI. Footer,B. F.Practical Pcnmumhz), a Dcwlopmmt of the Carstairian System. Albany, N.Y.,A. Stele, 1832.
z. Both ‘print-script’and ‘manuscript’writing are simplified forms of writing. Each closely resembles
print. Both are composed, as a rule, of straight lines and circles. Connected forms of letters are
often used to aid in the transfer to cursive writing.
3. Dottrens, Robert L’mcigMNnf &L’lm’tureop. cit.
Baric Principles Underlying the Teaching of Handwriting
ship to each other. Furthermore, he criticized the use of straight lines in preparatory
exercises. He agreed with the conclusions of Montessori, w h o opposed the policy of
laying emphasis on them at the beginning for two reasons :most letters have rounded
forms, and the drawing of straight lines is harder than the writing of letters.
Freeman’ stressed the fact that the chief purpose of handwriting is to express
meaning. ‘This intimate relation between writing and meaning affects profoundly
the nature of the act ofwriting. Their union makes writing fundamentally a different
thing from the movements by themselves or the meaning by itself.’ The chief faults
of the synthetic method are that ‘it fails to harness the child’s desire to write in the
full sense of the word until he has gone through a long course of training, which to
him has little significance’; and ‘the act of writing and the expression of meaning
tend to remain separate in the child’s experience’ and ‘do not fuse as completely as
they should’.
As a result of an extended survey of the literature on handwriting, Fernandez
Huerta2 summarized the limitations of earlier methods of teaching as follows:
loss of initial interest in learning to write, because the exercises used failed to provide
motive; division of the child’s activities into unrelated fields; insistence on a perfection at the outset which can rightly be expected only at the last stage of learning;
the rigidity of the process, with little adaptation to individual differences ; little
stimulus to creative capacity and development of personality; unwise use of sharppointed pens and of double-lined paper.
As implied by the foregoing criticisms, synthetic methods of teaching handwriting focused attention exclusively on the form and quality of writing. The style
was dictated by purely external standards. In seeking to achieve superior quality,
scant consideration was paid to the learner. Besides, only limited provision was made
for growth in the functional and creative aspects of writing.
T h e methods of teaching handwriting that have developed during recent years are
the product both of changed conceptions regarding the chief purposes of schooling
and of research on child development and the psychology of learning. While modern
practices differ in many significant respects, they generally coincide in a few basic
principles and procedures. T h e points on which there is wide agreement will be
considered first.
In introducing this section we refer briefly to four conclusionsreached by the members
of the eleventh International Conference on Public Education, which was attended
by representatives from many countries in all continents and which focused attention
during certain sessions on the problems of teaching handwriting. These conclusions
were as follows: ‘Writing is not only an educational technique but also a means of
expression and an art which should combine personal style with the m a x i m u m
elegance’; ‘The rhythm of modern life demands more and more speed in writing’;
method should be ‘progressivelybetter adapted to the latent capacity of the child’;
and the purpose of teaching handwriting is ‘to enable every child to write as well as
Frank N. The Teaching of Handwriting, op. cit., pp. 9-10.
Fernindez Huerta. JOSC. ficritura (didktica .Y escala grdjca), op. cit.
I. Freeman,
llu Teaching of Reading and Writing
he is able to at a reasonable speed’.’ T h e above conclusions harmonize closely with
the results of research as summarized here.
Recognition of the Characteristics of the Learner
Underlying most modern methods of teaching handwriting is the assumption that
they should be adapted to the characteristics and needs of those taught. In applying
this view, the requirements made at different age levels are adapted to the stage of
development of the learner, the standards set and the techniques used being adjusted
to individual capacities, while the progress required is based on a recognition of
differences in rates of learning.
In support of the basic principle under discussion, Dottreq2 cites the results of
research. H e first calls attention to the findings of Vogt, w h o studied the anatomy
of childrens’hands and showed that there are various morphological types. H e also
showed that the differences between these types affect handwriting and that the
same tools for writing are not equally well adapted to all.
Dottrens also refers to the findings of Rossgers, w h o asked children to reproduce
a model of the teeth of a handsaw in order to test their aptitude for writing and to
evaluate their power of graphic expression. After analysing these reproductions,he
classified the children into four groups: those w h o reproduced the drawing accurately; those w h o reversed the direction of the teeth; those w h o reproduced only the
vertical lines; and those w h o merely scribbled. H e concluded that the fourth group
were not yet ready for writing and that the others required individual attention
according to their classification.
T h e importance of attention to the characteristics and needs of individuals is
further supported by the following conclusion, based on a summary of research
concerning individual differences in handwriting. ‘It appears clear that instruction
[in handwriting] should be individualized at least to the extent of varying the
requirements according to the abilities of pupils and of giving individual guidance
in learning. T h e analysis and correction of errors is one mode of such guidance. T h e
adjustment of hand position and movement to the peculiarities of the individual m a y
be another.’a
T h e differences between children and adults also merit further study. Adults
have greater muscular control than children but their hands and fingers are stiffer.
Again, most adults w h o enter literacy classes are far more ‘self-motivated’and can
be counted on to apply themselves more steadily and to work harder. T h e current
recognition of the importance of such differencesjustifies the assertion that instruction
in handwriting is far more learner-centred than formerly.
Activities that Prepare for Writing Essential
Closely associated with the foregoing trend is the fact that much preliminary training
is n o w provided for young children before actual instruction in learning to write
begins. ‘Before the tools for writing are put into the child’s hands and he is asked
to trace his first letters and his first words, it is necessary that he should be prepared
for this new and, for him, difficult accomplishment by means of exercises, the
importance of which is prim~rdial.’~
This need is so fundamental that it was recognized long before modern methods of teaching handwriting were developed. During
International Conference on Public Education, XIth. Proceedings and Recommendations, op. cit.
z. Dottrens, op. cit., p. 34.
3. ‘Handwriting’, in: Monroe, Walter S., ed. EncyCopedia of Educational Research, op. cit., p. 527.
4. International Conference on Public Education, XIth. 17u Teaching of Handwritinp, op. cit., p. 15.
Baric Principles Underlying he Teaching of Handmiting
recent years increasingly wide use has been made of preparatory exercises in many
communities, independent of the type of character used in writing. In most cases
where children attend nurseries, kindergartens or infant schools, preparatory
training is provided through simple play activities of various types-handwork,
drawing or modelling. In other cases the training provided is much more specific;
for example, free motion at the blackboard, or the tracing in the sand of a word,
such as one’s name.
T h e importance of highly motivated activities that prepare children for writing
is emphasized by Freinet.l In discussing the early develoment of children he points
out that the desire to learn to write has its origin in the ‘natural’desire of the child
to express himself. As he plays with a pencil he gradually learns to draw simple and
later more complex objects. In the course of this development, he acquires motor
control and comes to realize the fact that he can give expression to his ideas through
drawing. After seeing his teacher write and recognizing that words represent ideas,
he begins to feel rhe need to write captions under one or more of his pictures. Through
imitation a written legend, however imperfect, is added. Thus gradually, step by
step, the child, through responding naturally to his o w n urges and the stimulus
provided by his environment, makes himself ready to participate in a broader range
of writing activities. In Freinet’s judgment, the foregoing process precedes, as a rule,
the emergence of 9 desire to learn to read.
The value of drawing in promoting readiness for writing was recognized more
than a hundred years ago. In a review of Pestalozzi’s theory and practice, as well
as those of some of his contemporaries, Walch reached the following conclusions:
‘Because the child is able to draw pictures at least two years before he is able to
wield a pen sufficiently well to write, children should be taught to draw before
learning to read. .. . Practice in drawing makes the formation of letters easier, and
less time is needed to teach their formation because the child has acquired a certain
degree of accuracy, precision and perfection.’a
Emphasis on Wholes in Initial Teaching
Most modern methods of teaching handwriting begin by laying emphasis on
words or larger units rather than on letters. In support of this practice, Dottrens3
cites the findings of Winckler, w h o studied the ability of 2,000 children between the
ages of 5 and 7 to recognize forms differing in regularity of outline. Wide differences
were revealed. Since the outlines of letters differ to an even greater extent, he
concluded that children would have even greater difficulty in recognizing such
details. H e maintained that the traditional practice of starting with the elements
of words was erroneous and that the proper approach is through larger language
In reaction to the foregoing view, Freeman agreed that the teaching of handwriting should begin with wholes, but for a somewhat different reason. According
to him, ‘the word is not a simpler perceptual or writing unit than the letter. Neither
can be a motor whole until the child has learned the constituent movements by
which it is produced. H e can learn each movement separately,or he can learn them in
sequence; they become fused with practice. T h e greatest value of beginning with
I. Freinet, C. Mithode naturelle de lecture, op. cit.
Walch, Sister Mary Romana. Pcslalozzi and th Pestalouian 7heory of Education. A Critical Study.
A doctor’s dissertation,T h e School ofArts and Sciences,T h e Catholic University of America, 1952,
PP. ‘34-5.
3. Dottrens, Robert. L‘enseignement de l’kcriture, op. cit.
?ht Teaching
of Reading and Writing
the whole lies in the fact that it alone has meaning and it is the meaning that leads to
the fusion of the separate movements.’
Evidence of the practical value of beginning with words and phrases was secured
by Dottrensl and Miss Margairaz, w h o carried out a series of studies to determine
the effectiveness of the global approach to handwriting. T h e results showed that the
child learns to write as well, if not better, by the global method as by the method of
isolated signs. It is indeed a double error to try to teach pupils to write by a synthetic
method. In the first place, a child can identify the whole readily, but he can visualize
details at first only with difficulty. Secondly, the details of letters and words as
taught by synthetic methods have no meaning or significance for him. Attempting
to learn by such procedures is, therefore, a seemingly purposeless task which fails
to elicit vigorous effort.
T h e evidence just cited was obtained largely through experiments based on the
use of Roman-type letters. However, reports of the problems faced in countries
using other types of charactersjustify the belief that the conclusions arrived at apply
generally. Owing to the highly complex nature of the characters used in some
countries, special problems arise in attempting to use meaningful wholes from the
beginning. They merit intensive study ir.the-e&t
-to develop methods that are
psychologically sound.
Use of Simple Forms of Writing
As a means of overcoming some of the difficulties faced by young children in learning
to write, simple styles of writing have been adopted in many countries. They consist
of plain letter forms usually based on straight lines and curves, and are referred to by
different writers as ‘script’, ‘printscript’ and ‘manuscript’writing. Although the
forms adopted vary somewhat in different countries, their purpose and underlying
principles are identical; these are : ‘legibility and neatness, facility of acquisition,
similitude between the written and printed letter forms (an advantage when reading
and writing are taught simultaneously), simplicity and aesthetics.’2 W h e n the worldwide summary of current practices in teaching handwriting was prepared in 1948,~
the term ‘script’ writing was applied to the various simple forms of writing there
reported. This term will also be used in the discussions that follow, except when
quoting or referring to studies in which either ‘print-script’ or ‘manuscript’ is
As a rule, script writing is used during the first two years of school.It is both more
legible and more rapid than cursive writing for pupils in the primary school and is
learned easier and q~icker.~
We give below a recent summary6 of the advantages
01’ script writing at this level.
‘The letters have simpler forms than in cursive.
‘Nostrokes are needed to join the letters, although connected forms are often used.
‘Manuscript is similar to drawing with which the children are acquainted.
Dottrens, Robert. L’emeignement dc l’krihnr, op. cit., p. 39.
InternationalConferenceon Public Education, XIth.The Teaching of Hanubiting, op. cit.,pp.17-18.
3. ibid.
4. ‘Handwriting’,in: Monroe, Walter S., ed. Ewyclopedia OfEducatwnal Research, op. cit., p. 525.
Voorhis, Thelma G. The Relative Mnits of Cursive and ~Manlcrcript Writing. N e w York, N.Y.
Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1931.
Heese. J. de V. ‘TheUse of Manuscript Writing in South African Schools’,Journal of Educutkmd
Research, Vol. XL, Nov. 1946, pp. 161:77.
Philippines. Department of Education. Bureau of Public Schools. Bulletin No.26.Manila, 1951.
5. NEA Research Division. Manurcsipt Handwriting. Washington, D.C.,National Education Association of the United States, 1951,pp. 6-7.
Basic Principles Underlying the Teaching of Handwriting
‘Manuscriptuses the same alphabet the children meet in reading and thus eliminates
confusion arising from having to learn two forms of each letter.
‘Childrencan learn to express ideas on paper more quickly if they use manuscript,
so that thcy get an early feeling ofsatisfaction.
‘Thereare fewer failures.
‘ O ncharts,booklet covers and art work,manuscript has a clearer and more pleasing
appearance than cursive writing.
‘Children can compare their letters with printed ones and thus more easily detect
errors in the formation of letters.
‘Lesseyestrain and possible physical strain is involved in the learning of manuscript
than is involved in learning cursive.
‘There is need for less supervision of the pupils than in teaching cursive.
‘Manuscript,by making written expression easier, encourages creative expression.
‘The clarity of manuscript tendF to create emotional security.
‘Manuscript is suited to the muscular and motor development of primary children.’
The most frequent arguments against the use of manuscript are the following:
‘Children must learn a second form of letters when they transfer to cursive
‘They may have difficulty when required to make the change, thus affecting their
rate of learning.
‘Many children who learn manuscript have difficulty in reading cursive writing.
‘Unlessmanuscript writing is well done it lacks the rhythm of cursive writing.
‘Some critics of manuscript maintain that there is less chance for individuality of
style in manuscript than in cursive writing.
‘Many teachers are not trained to use or teach manuscript.
‘Parentsoften prefer cursive writing and insist that it be taught.’
The prevailing practice’ in several countries is to teach script writing in grades I
and 2 and then to discontinue its use in the third grade in favour of cursive writing.
Very few schoolscontinue to use it throughout the elementary school period,although
several educators argue,on the basis of a certain amount of objective evidence,that
it should be retained as the permanent form of writing. School authorities in the
Philippines2recommend that the transition should be made during the latter part
of the second grade. As a result of a comparative study of the handwriting scores
made by over three thousand pupils in standards I to 7 of South African schools,
Heese3 found that pupils ‘who made the transition from print-script to cursive
writing at an early stage scored significantly better than those who changed over
at a later stage in their school career’.Equally important is the fact that ‘significantly
better scores were obtained by those pupils who first used manuscript writing and
then changed over to cursive writing at an early stage than those pupils who always
used cursive writing’.
The wisdom of continuing the use of script writing beyond the early school
grades has been widely discussed. One of the chief issues lies in the comparative
speeds of script and cursive writing among more advanced pupils. Most of the
Freeman, Frank N.‘Surveyof Manuscr pt Writing in the Public Schools’,Elementary School Journal,
Vol. X L V I , March 1946, pp. 375-80.
Polkinghorne,A d a R. ‘Current Practices in Teaching Handwriting’,Elementary School J ~ u r m l ,
Vol. XLVII, Dec. 1946, pp. 218-24.
Wisconsin. Department of Education. Committee for Research in Handwriting. Handwriting
in Wisconsin. A Suruty of Elementary School Practice. Madison, University of Wisconsin, 1951, 77 p.
(Bulletin of the School of Education.)
P. Philippines. Department or Education, Bureau of Public Schools. Tentatiue Guide in Teaching
Manuscript Writing. Manila, c. 1951.(Enclosure to Bulletin, No. IG.)
3. Heme, op. cit., p. 176.
The Teeaching
of Reading and Writing
findings reported indicate that cursiv riting is the more rapid.’ Exceptions have
been noted in the case of high sc 001 pupilsa w h o have always used manuscript. In
discussing this issue Freeman points out that longer pauses are made between letten
in manuscript writing than in cursive. This slows down the writing. ‘Ifit is speeded
up to equal cursive writing, it loses its characteristics merit, legibility.’ Others
maintain that this limitation can be overcome through the use of connected letters.
Obviously further research is needed before final conclusions can be reached.
T h e relative advantages of script and cursive writing for adults have not been
studied as extensively as they should. T h e opinion prevails that adults usually
write more legibly when using script. T b e increasingly large number of requests
that print-style writing be used in filling out forms supports this view. Results of
objective studies show that adults usually do script writing more slowly and carefully
than cursive writing. Washburne* points out that this is due primarily to the greater
amount of experience and practice in cursive writing. No study has been made as
yet to determine whether script writing, when produced as rapidly as cursive writing,
is as legible as the latter. Moreover, little evidence is available concerning the
comparative speed and quality of script and cursive writing among those w h o have
had equal amounts of training in each.
T h e greater simplicity of the script forms and the stiffness of the fingers and
hands of many adults argue for the use of script writing in literacy classes, at least
at the beginning. This issue will be considered further in Chapter XI, which discusses
the handwriting programme for adults.
The Development of the Handwriting Movement
M a n y studies have been made during the last 50 years of the nature and development of the handwriting movement, particularly in cursive writing. T h e main
findings of these studies, as summarized by Freeman,s are as follows:
Uniformity.A n analysis of changes in both speed and pressure shows that the ‘child’s
writing movement is more irregular or variable than that of the adult’. Individual
strokes are made with greater uniformity of pressure and speed as the child matures.
In fact, uniformity is a characteristic of increasing skill and maturity.
Continuity. T h e writing movement also gains in continuity and structure with increase
in maturity. Research by various investigators shows that the adult ‘tends to write
letters and words as units, whereas the child writes them as a series of more nearly
separate strokes. Furthermore, the child makes longer pauses between strokes’.
These facts argue, according to Freeman, for the use by younger children of script
writing, ‘which consists of separate strokes’, and by older children and adults of
cursive writing, ‘which permits words to be written as units’.
Rhythm.T h e results of various studies indicate that writing becomes more rhythmical
with increasing skill and maturity. This is related to the fact that mature writing
tends to be written in wholes rather than in a succession of separate strokes. Each
such unit is one of a succession of movements which tend to be made in equal timeintervals. T h e acquirement of a rhythmical succession of movements is another
feature of the maturing process.
‘Handwriting’,in: Monroe, Walter S.,ed. Enqclopcdia of Educational Research, op. cit., p. 525.
Washburne, Carlston and Morphett, Mabel Vogel. ‘ManuscriptWriting-Some Recent Investigations’, E h e n t a y School Journal, Vol. XXXVII, March 1937,pp. 517-29.
3. Freeman, Frank N. ‘Language:the Development of Ability In Handwriting’, Child Dewlopment
and the Cum‘mlm,op. cit.. pp. 255-60.
Basic Principles Underlying the Teaching of Handwriting
Special form of movement. This refers to arm or muscular movement. T h e evidence
available shows that when a child is required to learn to use arm movementin writing,
he does so slowly.Those in the first year of school use a little arm movement, those in
the second year a little more, and so on. ‘This indicates that arm movement is
difficult to acquire, is unsuited for young children, and, if it is taught at all, should
not be emphasized until the child has acquired a fair degree of motor skikprobably
in the intermediate grades.’
In the light of the above, the conclusion was reached that a complex motor skill
such as handwriting is the result of slow growth. It is the product, of course, of both
maturation and practice. A reasonable amount of skill can be acquired in the early
school years if the type of writing and the requirements of speed and quality are
adjusted to the ability of young children; but practice in writing should be continued
throughout the elementary school period and until reasonable efficiency in a mature
form of writing has been acquired. Dottrens pointed out that changes occur in
writing during puberty, as in the case of the voice; this justifies the recommendation
that the supervision of writing should continue during this period.
T h e foregoing discussion has identified five widely accepted principles or practices
in the current teaching of handwriting to children :
I. T h e learner is the chief focus of attention, and many adjustments are made in
teaching procedures in recognition of individual differences.
2. Preliminary training is provided to promote increased readiness for writing
whenever it is needed.
3. Initial writing experiences tend to be based on words as contrasted with word
4. A simplified form of writing is used in preference to cursive writing during early
school years in most countries using an alphabetic language and to some
extent in other countries.
5. Skill in handwriting develops slowly as a result of both maturation and practice.
At this point, theory and practice begin to differ and controversial issues emerge.
O n e of the striking differences in the current theory, as well as in the practice, of
teaching handwriting relates to the style of writing to be used. In many countries a
selected style of cursive writing is used either from the beginning or, preferably,
following the initial use of script. The aim of the guidance provided in such cases is
to help pupils to attain the selected style as nearly as possible. This practice is based
on several assumptions.T h e first is that some styles of writing are superior to others
in the sense that they are better adjusted to the child’s physiological characteristics,
are superior in legibility, are more artistic, or favour greater speed in writing while
maintaining good quality. A great deal of constructive thought has been given to
these issues. As a result numerous systems of handwriting have developed whose
claims to superiority are partly based on considerations of specific characteristics of
style. Various styles of writing used in different countries and related systems of
teaching handwriting are discussed at some length in The Teaching of Handwding.l
Other assumptions underlying the use of a given style are that (a) when used
throughout a school or school system it ensures progressive development from year
to year: (b) it leads to better quality of writing because all teachers are aiming at
International Conferenceon Public Education, XI&. The Teachinp of Handwriting,op.cit., pp. I 7-24.
&Teaching of Reading and Writing
similar results; and (c) its use over a period of time enables teachers to develop
increased skill in teaching pupils to write well.
It is also claimed that wherever commercial interests are involved the advantages
and limitations of the respective styles of writing are studied more thoroughly, and
that better equipment and more effective guides or manuals for teachers are made
available. All of these assumptions have some validity. T h e real issue is: are such
advantages greater than those attaching to other plans ?
A C o m m o n Versus an Individual Variation in Style of Writing
In opposition to the policy of using a selected style, many authorities maintain that
the child should be left free to create the letter forms that he will use. This point of
view was expressed as early as 1917in the following statement by the Ministry of
Education in Prussia: 'During the process of teaching, the child must not be obliged
to follow a special type of writing but must be allowed to develop according to the
measure of his personal aptitudes. T h e results of teaching should be to obtain good
handwriting having a personal character.'
Decroly and Dottrensl favour this point of view. Children belong to different
morphological types which influence their individual style of writing. By allowing
them to develop according to their personal aptitudes it is assumed that each will
discover the style of writing most appropriate to him. As an aid in this connexion,
Lamme12 recommends that various good letter forms should be presented as models
rather than a single fixed form.
A m o n g those w h o believe that individual styles of writing should be aimed at
there are differences in point of view concerning when and how individuality should
be encouraged. T h e preceding discussion implied that it should be encouraged from
the beginning. Freemans maintains that the child has to copy some form when he
first begins to write. As the child develops, individuality begins to express itself if it
is not suppressed. It should be encouraged, so Freeman thinks, in so far as it does
not result in illegible writing. Other writers, such as Lammel, agree that the child
should at first use forms that are easy and familiar to him. T h e use of capitals has
been recommended in the case of languages with Latin characters. A n experiment
carried out in Geneva with children between the ages of 5 and 6 showed that they
wrote in capitals more quickly than they did in small letters.
Those w h o favour the plan of permitting the child to discover the forms best
adapted to his needs do not agree that his development will be unduly delayed as a
result. They maintain that if the child does not quickly discover such forms he will
the more readily accept guidance from others. In brief, the plan enables the child
to make as much progress as he can on his own. Based upon the results of his efforts,
a plan of teaching is adopted which will help him along the lines of his individual
potentialities to develop a legible style of writing.
T h e discussion has thus far indicated that certain advantages attach to the adoption of a specific style of writing and that other advantages attach to permitting the
child to discover the style best suited to his aptitudes.T h e choice will depend largely
on circumstances. Given a well-trained group of teachers w h o are familiar with the
course of child development and are skilled in the art of adjusting instruction to
individual needs, the latter system secures excellent results. But with a relatively
untrained group of teachers, the former system will be easier to apply and will
Dottrens, op. cit., p. 45.
Limmel, op. cit., p. 44.
3. Freeman, Frank N. Child Development and the Cum'culum,op. cit., p. 259.
Basic Principles Underlying the Teaching of Handwriting
doubtless prove more suitable. Of the two, it is the one more widely used at present.
All teachers should bear constantly in mind, however, that individuals tend naturally
to adopt styles of writing in keeping with their particular capabilities.
Vertical versus Slanted Writing
Where some prescribed style is preferred, the question arises as to which of the
various styles should be chosen. T h e problem that has been most widely discussed
and investigated, apart from script versus cursive writing, concerns the relative
merits of vertical and slantrd writing.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the belief arose that vertical writing
was superior to slanted writing because it promoted better writing posture and was
easier on the eyes. T h e unfavourable conditions which the advocates of vertical
writing sought to correct resulted from the habit, developed by pupils using slanted
writing, of sitting with the right side of the body towards the desk with the left
elbow unsupported. These difficulties were largely overcome when a front position
with both arms on the desk was assumed. It also equalized the distance from the eyes
to the material being written.
T h e advantages and disadvantages of the adjustments proposed above have been
brought out clearly in the following summary of research and expert opinion:
‘It is true that when the paper is tilted as in slanting writing there is a tendency for
the head to be turned to the left and tha‘t this m a y produce some curvature of the
spine. However, the position of the paper in slanting writing, which is perpendicular
to the forearm, conforms better to the requirements of movement of the head and
arm. It permits the hand to move across the paper by a sideward movement of the
forearm about the elbow as a centre. T h e downward movements of the letters are
naturally made towards the body. This direction, in combination with the position
of the paper, determines the slant of the writing. T h e advantages in respect to
movement have been commonly taken to outweigh the disadvantages due to the
tendency of the head to turn to the left, although no scientific evaluation of the
relative importance of those two factors has been made.”
Additional studies referred to in the summary from which the preceding paragraph is quoted show that the ‘sideward movement of the hand made by rotating
the forearm is among the easiest and most rapid’ of the various movements investigated. T h e evidence also suggests that movements towards the body (the up- and
down-strokes of the letters) are most preferred. W h e n these two sets of movements are
combined the result is slanted writing. In other words, the evidence n o w available
favours a moderate amount of slant. It does not, however, determine which of the
various systems of slanted writing is the best. As Fernandez Huerta points out, it is
impossible at present to pronounce judgment in favour of a specific system because
the objective evidence on which such a decision should be based is not yet available.
M a n y questions arise concerning the best practice to adopt in specific situations.
This section attempts to provide brief answers to some of these questions. Unless
otherwise indicated, the answers given are based on a summary of research in handwriting,2 to which reference has already been made in this chapter.
‘Handwriting’,in: Monroe, Walter S., ed. Encyclopedia of Educational Research, op. cit., p. 525.
ibid., pp. 524-9.
Tht Teaching of Reading and Writing
Should Finger Movements supplement the Larger
Arm Movements in Writing?
T h e results of observation and objective studies show that children and adults tend
to use, as a rule, a combination of movements of arm, hand and fingers. Certain
studies among children indicate that those w h o use the combined movement write
as well as those w h o use the arm movements only. It is particularly important that
the position of the hand should be such that the movement from one letter to the
next and from one word to the next can proceed smoothly. This is achieved by
observing the ‘traction’ principle, which involves ‘arm movement and the pivotal
movement of the hand on the wrist, the fingers resting lightly on the pen.”
Are Special P m ’ o & Desirable for Practice
in Handwriting ?
It is sometimes argued that improvement is best secured when attention is directed
entirely to the ideas being expressed rather than to the specific improvement of the
writing. While the evidence is inconclusive, ‘general observation appears to indicate
that where the incidental method is used exclusively, writing is inferior’.
Is there a
Relationship between the A m o u n t of T i m e devoted to Special Practice
in Handwn’ting and the Rate of Improvement?
Available data reveal little, if any, relationship. It has been suggested that this
m a y be due to lack of motivation and to the use of methods which are inefficient
and unprecise.
Is the Analysis
of Errors in Handwriting a Valuable
to Improvement?
T h e results of several experiments indicate that it is very effective. T h e types of
analysis that can be made will be discussed in the section on ‘diagnosis’.
Should Ball-pointed and Fountain Pens be Used?
In the opinion of the specialists w h o were consulted, the ball-pointed pen m a y be
used instead of pencils after the initial stages in learning to write, provided the size
is appropriate to the child’s hand. Wright2 points out that the fountain pen has the
advantage of freeing the writer from ‘the need to carry an ink horn’ and from the
use of pencils and ball-pointed pens that smudge. This implies a disadvantage in the
use of some ball-pointed pens.
Should Pupils be Permitted to Write
with their hftH a n d ?
Writing specialists have often recommended that left-handedwriting be discouraged
because the conditions of writing favour the right hand.g Psychologists, however,
warn us that the left-handed child should not be compelled to write with his right
hand. They believe that a forced change results in poorer writing, and in some
cases. in speech disorders. O n the basis of available evidence two conclusions seem
valid: ‘strongly left-handed children should be allowed to write with their left hand’;
and ‘ifpreference is not very decided, it is better to teach the child to use his right
I. International Conference on Public Education, XIth. The Teaching ofHanduniting, op. cit., p. 21.
z. Wright, op. cit., p. 194
3. T h i s discussion assumes that Roman characters are used and that progress is from left to right
across the page.
Basic Principles Underlying the Teaching of Handwriting
hand’. W h e n the left hand is used, the position of the paper on the desk should be
reversed, that is, tilted slightly to the right. At this angle the left-handed pupil m a y
write back-hand more easily than forward slant. As pointed out by Freeman,’ the
foregoing facts imply that steps should be taken as soon as a child enters school to
find out by suitable tests whether he is more skilful with his left or his right hand.
Teachers have always measured progress in learning to write in terms of personal
judgment. They have also collected samples of children’s writing and by comparing
specimens submitted on different occasions have been able to verify progress made.
During the last few years, objective techniques for measuring progress have been
developed which can be applied more or less uniformly by teachers in different
schools or communities. T h e chief writing characteristics measured have been speed
and quality.
The speed of writing is usually measured by the number of letters written in a
given length of time. T h e material written is something which the pupils have
memorized thoroughly, or know so well that writing is continuous during the test
period. Every effort is made to avoid any pauses in writing due to thinking about
what is being written or attempting to recall the next word or sentence. T w o minutes
have been generally adopted as the length of the writing exercise. It is important
that all pupils should begin and stop immediately the signals ‘begin’and ‘stop’are
given. At the end of the test the number of letters written is counted. As a rule, the
score is expressed in terms of the number of letters written per minute.
The quality of handwriting is measured objectively through the use of a handwriting scale. This consists of a series of samples arranged in order of increasing
merit. T h e first scale of this type was published in 1910by Thorndike.2 T w o of the
most recent scales published were devised in Spain, one by FernAndez Huerta18
and the other by the Escuela Especial de Orientaci6n y Aprovechamiento (Special
School for Educational Guidance and Proficiency) at Valencia4 (see Figure I 8).
A special scale for measuring the quality of the handwriting of adults6 was published
as early as 1920 by the Russell Sage Foundation (see Figure 19).
Those responsible for the handwriting scale shown in Figure 18adopted a relatively simple procedure. Twenty-four representative samples of writing were selected
from those submitted by 2,330 pupils. Each of I I teachers was asked to grade these
samples from good to poor in order of preference. The median of the various grades
given was selected ?s an index of quality of each sample. Through the use of the
Catell Well Technique the order of priority was determined. By selecting each
alternate sample two scales were devised, one of which is reproduced in Figure 18.
In using a handwriting scale, the teacher places the specimen of writing to be
judged opposite the best sample on the scale (see (I) in Figure 18).T h e specimen is
then moved along the scale from (I) to (111), (V),etc., until a sample is found
which appears to be the same as the one being judged. T h e same procedure is
Freeman, Frank N. Teaching Handwriting, op. cit., pp. 20-2.
Thorndike, E.T. ‘Handwriting’,Teachers College Record, Vol. 11, 1910,pp. 1-93.
3. Fernindez Huerta, op. cit.
4. ‘Medida del rendimiento escolar: el nosograma’, Reuirta a% Psicologiay Pedagogia Aplicadas, Vol. I,
Nos. I (pp.65-98)and z (pp.61-98),1950. Valencia, Escuela Especial de Orientaci6n y Aprovechamiento del Excmo. Ayuntamiento.
5. Ayres, Leonard P. A Scalefor Measuring the Qual;@ of Handumting of Adults. N e w York, N.Y.,Russell
Sage Foundation, 1920,p. I I.
20 I
77rc Teaching of ReadinE and Writing
repeated, beginning with the poorest sample on the scale and moving towards the
better samples. W h e n agreement is reached by the two procedures, the value of the
selected sample on the scale is adopted as the score of the specimen. It is usually
advisable to judge a specimen on three separate occasions before reaching a final
Obviously, in using a handwriting scale individual opinion is involved. T w o
people will not always agree on the same score to be given to a particular specimen
of writing. However, experiments have shown that the use of a scale ‘resultsin more
reliable measurements than those which teachers assign without a scale, and that
training in the use of a scale increases the reliability of the scores’.l
T h e use of objective measurements of speed and quality of handwriting makes
various types of study possible, such as: the current progress and needs of individuals;
the relative achievements of different classes, schools and regions; the relative merits
of different methods of teaching handwriting, and other issues arising from hand
writing programmes. Examples of such uses of objective measurements will be given
in Chapters X and XI.
Teachers have always studied with care the nature of the difficulties encountered
by children and adults in learning to write, and on the basis of the facts ascertained
have given individual guidance in meeting them. During recent years, much progress has been made in developing methods of achieving these ends more objectively
and expertly.
As early as 1915,
Freeman2 devised an analytical scale for judging handwriting
(see Figure 20). It includes samples illustrating varying degrees of quality with
respect to five elements,namely, uniformity ofinclination, alignment,width ofstrokes,
form of letters, and spacing. By following the directions that accompany this scale
it is possible for a teacher to identify the various individual errors being made. O n
the basis of these facts a correct programme can then be developed for overcoming
each of them in turn.
A second aid in determining the weaknesses and needs of individuals is a score
card for the measurement of hand~riting.~
A n example is given in Figure 21. It
directs attention to the following aspects of writing :heaviness of line, inclination,
size, alignment, spacing of lines, words and letters, neatness and formation of letters.
Through its use a detailed study can be made of individual needs and appropriate
teaching procedures. Obviously, the specific items included on a score card will vary
with the differences in the chief characteristics of the writing of different languages.
O n e of the best recent summaries of the efforts made so far to develop diagnostic
scales and score cards was prepared by Fernindez H ~ e r t a .It~includes an extended
bibliography of more than 200 scientific studies and reports on handwriting prepared
in various countries.
T h e special difficulties encountered by pupils in learning to write have been
studied by specialists in several countries. As a result of experiments in Italy with
slow learners, Maria Montessori5 found that tracing letters both in the air and on
‘Handwriting’,in: Monroe, Walter S.,ed. Enyclopedk of Educational Research, op. cit., p. 528.
Freeman, Frank N. ‘An Analytical Scale for Judging Handwriting’, Elemlay School journal,
vol. Iv, 1915, pp. 432-41.
3. Gray, C.T.Gray’s Score Card for the M e a m r m n t of Handwriting.
4. Fernindez Huerta, op. cit.
5. Montessori, Maria. Formazione delhomo ;Pregiudize e neb& Anafabctbmo mondiale. (Cernusco SUI
Naviglio, Italy) Garzanti (1949)pp. log-lo.
Basic Prin+lrs
Underlying the Teaching of Handwriting
special forms was of great help. Bonnis’ carried out studies with retarded children
in France, including both left-handedones and those with speech defects.
In order to help them become thoroughly acquainted with the letters and their
distinct forms, he devised a series of alphabetic teaching methods which he made as
simple, amusing and effective as possible. T h e letters were printed on small charts
along with pictures and words representing them. Each such word began with the
letter to be learned. Through interesting game devices associations were established
between the sight of the letter, its sound and a recognizable object.
As a result of extended studies of children w h o had difficulty in learning to read,
Mrs. Borel-Maisonny2 found that children w h o failed to learn to read readily
because of inaccurate orientation (order and correct position of letters) had difficulty
also in learning to write. Various investigators have reported on the value of tracing
exercises in overcoming this handicap. M m e Borel-Maisonny further found that
writing difficulties m a y be due to lack of motor co-ordination and other physical and
neurological maladjustments which often call for the help of specialists in correcting
T h e discussions in this chapter indicate that whereas changes in the teaching of
handwriting were limited in number and occurred slowly prior to the nineteenth
century, reforms have followed each other in rapid succession during recent decades.
In reviewing these developments attention has been directed to the principles and
practices in teaching handwriting that are supported by the results of experience
and research. A number of controversial issues which merit further study have also
been noted. In the next two chapters w e shall discuss the nature and organization of
handwriting programmes adapted to the needs of children and of adults.
Bonnis, L. ‘Apprentissagede la lecture (simplificationet cornbinaison des mbthodes en usage)’,
Psychologie de I’enfant el pddugogie expkrimtale. bulletin mensuel no. 405, IV-VI 1952, pp. 125-8;
no. 407, X-XI 1952,pp. 174-80.Paris, Sociktt Alfred Binet.
2. Borel-Maisonny,S. (Mrs..) ‘Comment apprendre A lire; rntthode comhinke. .. spbcialement
pour enfants prtsentant des troubles du langage et rencontrant des difficult&’, P:ychologie de l’cnfunt
et pddagogie exphimentale, bulletin no. 386 et 387, XI1 1948-I11 1949, pp. 343-94. Paris, Sociktb
.41fred Binet.
Basic Principle5 Underlying the Teuhing of Handwriting
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
Bnric Principles Underlying h Teaching of Handwriting
Uniformity of Slant
Uniformlty of Alinement
Quality of Line
Letter Formation
Figure 20. The Freeman Chart for Diagnosing Faults in Hmdmiting. T h e Riverside Press, Cambridge,
Teaching of Reading and Writing
Standard Score Card for Measuring Handwriting
Pupil...................................................... Age ............... Date.......................................
Grade ................................................
Sample N u m b e r ........................
- - Teach
2 $
... ....
... ...
... ...
.... ...
.... ...
.... ....
.... ....
8. Neatness ................................. 13
.... ....
.... ....
.... ....
.... ....
.... ....
.... ....
- ....
2. Slant .......................................
Too large
T o o small
4. Alignment
Too close
Too far apart
6. Spacing of words ..................
Too close
Too far apart
7. Spacing of letters
Too close
Too far apart
9. Formation of letters
General form .....................
Letters not closed
Parts omitted
Parts added
Scored by
Figure z I. A Score Card for the Measurement of Handwriting. The score card indicates the items
which should be considered in scoring the quality of handwriting and the total amount of credit for
superior achievement in each item. These values were determined through the pooling of judgments
of handwriting specialists. For more details concerning the development and use of this score card,
see C. Truman Gray. ‘A Score Card for the Measurement of Handwriting’, Bulletin of Lhc Uniuersily
of Texar, No. 37, I July 1915,p. 45.
In the task of teaching all children of school age to write, handwriting programmes
are needed which are adequate in scope and well adjusted to the maturity levels,
abilities,presentinterestsand developmental needs ofthe pupils taught.The problems
encountered in providing such programmes vary widely according to the school.
In schools which are just being organized programmes must be designed that are
sound in principle and well adapted to local needs and conditions.In schools already
established,existing programmes should be reviewed critically and revised in the
light of tested experience and research. As a possible aid in such activities, this
chapter' describes the purposes, scope, organization and teaching procedures that
harmonize with the basic facts and principles presented in Chapter IX.
A first requisite in designing a sound programme for use in primary schools is a clear
understanding of the role of handwriting in child life. Reports show that it can serve
many purposes in the out-of-schoollives of children. For example, they write their
names on prized possessions;they use handwriting in various indoor and outdoor
games;they give titles to the pictures they draw;they prepare invitations to parties;
they write letters to friends and relatives.Experience shows that when the teaching
of handwriting is based, in part at least, on such interests and felt needs children
engage eagerly in assigned writing activities and apply themselves vigorously in
learning to write.
Handwriting is now used more or less regularly throughout the school day as an
aid in many learning activities.For example, children write the new words which
appear in their reading lessons; they make simple records of the things they learn
through observation,class discussion and reading; and they use handwriting regularly in doing school exercises or homework.To ensure a satisfactory quality ofhandwriting in these various activities, almost continuous guidance is needed. By the
end ofthe primary schoolperiod definite progress should have been made in achieving
a good quality of handwriting in both the self-initiatedand the required writing
activities in which children engage.
Handwriting is also a very valuable means of self-expression.Consequently,
children in all types of communities are now encouraged daily to write down their
ideas and reflections on matters of vital interest to them. At this level handwriting
In preparing this chapter wide use was made of the facts,principles and recommendationsincluded
in the 15 references that appear on pages iEE-g, Chapter IX.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
is far more than a skill; it is an essential aid to expression. It follows that it should
be so taught that it becomes ‘a smoothly working and efficient means of expressing
T h e nature and extent of writing activities vary widely in different schools. This
is due to differences in the cultural level of communities, in the size of the school
programmes, and in the preparation and vision of the teachers. In many schools,
unfortunately, most of the writing done during early school years is with the sole
object of improving the quality of handwriting.
T h e need is urgent, therefore, in most communities for careful studies of those
writing activities which should be encouraged, so as to show the various purposes
served by handwriting in the daily lives of young children; the uses that should be
made of it in various school activities as an aid to learning;and the opportunities it
provides for independent thinking and self-expression. O n the basis of the facts
obtained, a programme should be devised in which handwriting is used to achieve
many purposes of real interest to children, thus bringing them to recognize the value
of handwriting and apply themselves to acquiring needed skills.
T h e foregoing discussion suggests two basic objects of a handwriting programme :
it should stimulate rapid progress in the ability to write clearly, legibly and with
reasonable speed, and this should be achieved through purposeful activities that
elicit whole-hearted co-operation and effort. Furthermore, various uses of handwriting should be encouraged until as high a quality has been reached in all writing
activities as can reasonably be expected of each child.
As pointed out above, the training should always be adapted to the children’s
level of maturity, capabilities, and actual interests and needs. It should also anticipate
future needs and prepare for them. In efforts to develop handwriting programmes
along these lines much has been learned that m a y be of service in current
Owing to the fact that many children are not prepared when they enter school
to acquire the technique of handwriting easily, they must receive special training.*
Most young children are not able, at the outset, to grasp the complex forms of handwriting usually employed by adults. T o overcome this difficulty, simplified forms of
handwriting are n o w widely used during the first two years or more of the primary
school period. Mastery of the more complex forms of handwriting prescribed by
social usage is achieved later, after pupils have acquired increased motor control.
Handwriting programmes should be thus organized in three stages : Stage One:
Preparation for handwriting; Stage T w o : Learning to write; Stage Three: Mastering
a mature style of handwriting.
Most of the evidence in support of these stages was obtained largely from countries
that have alphabetic languages and use R o m a n letters. Enough additional evidence
comes, however, from other countries to justify the belief that they are equally valid
everywhere. A n analysis of current handwriting programmes shows that efforts are
being made to achieve the purposes of Stage Three wherever primary schools exist.
Freeman, Frank N. Teaching Handwriting. Washington, D.C.,Department of Classroom Teachers
and American Educational Research Association of the National Education Association, 1954, p. 3.
(WhatResearch says lo Teachers, 4.)
z. Cruz Gonzilez, Adrih and Moya, Bolivar. ‘Instruccionespara ensetianza de la lectura y la escritura por el mktodo global’, Carta Circulur, no. I (de la Misibn de asistencia tkcnica de la Unesco].
San Jose, Costa Rica (1954). 7 leaves processed.
2 IO
Teaching Handwriting to Childrm
Similarly, the need for the preparatory training proposed for Stage O n e is widely
recognized in practically all countries. Stage T w o presents real problems. Whereas
the difficulties young children find in mastering complex forms of handwriting are
universally recognized, it is difficult to develop simplified forms for use in most
languages which n o w employ very complex characters. In the sections that follow
attention will be drawn to types of adjustment that are being made in such cases to
simplify the process of learning to write.
T h e chief purpose of Stage O n e is to stimulate keen interest among children
in learning to write and prepare them to acquire the requisite technique with
reasonable ease. These preparatory activities should take place as far as possible
during the pre-reading period, in order that early training in handwriting and
reading m a y begin at about the same time. In the case of children w h o enter school
at a more advanccd age than is usual, such activities m a y be pursued in conjunction
with initial instruction in writing.
M a n y years ago, Maria Montessori,l as a result of much experimental work
with young children, declared that learning to write requires both intelligence and
an efficient motor mechanism. T h e latter, according to her, involves both ability to
hold the writing tool and ability to perform the movements required. A child acquires
mental readiness through experiences that reveal the value of handwriting and
promote interest in learning to write. H e acquires motor readiness through activities
that enable him to learn to hold the writing tools and to engage in the simplest
writing movements.
Some of the experiences that prepare for handwriting are acquired incidentally
during pre-school years as children play and engage in various activities at home. As
a rule, the child w h o plays with other children and does things continually with his
hands develops types of motor control and ability to discriminate visually that are
needed for initial writing activities. Moreover, if he is reared in a home where writing
is carried on regularly he comes to school more or less familiar with the nature of
the writing act and with some of its uses. H e m a y even have acquired a keen interest
in learning to write. In the case of the child w h o comes from a home where little or
no writing is done, his preparation for learning to write is largely sensory and motor.
D u e to wide differences in rate of development, children from each type of home
vary significantly in their readiness for writing when they enter school.
Teachers should always examine children’s readiness for handwriting, noting
carefully the extent of each child’s motor control and visual ability as he engages in
regular classroom activities. Through conversations with pupils concerning ‘what
w e want to do in school‘, a teacher can find out the extent to which they are eager
to learn to write. In the course of these observations and discussions, he should
observe individual differences and decide upon the probable types of stimulus and
training needed in each case.
I. Montessori, Maria. PLdugogie scienlifique; la dicouuerfe de l’enfant.
[Paris]Desclte de Brouwer [19521
p. 158.
21 I
T h e Teaching of Reading and Writing
T h e practices that are most effective in promoting readiness for writing’ have been
studied in segeral countries. Space permits specific reference to only a few of them.
According to Freinet2 readiness to learn to write should be acquired as a part of
the ‘natural’process of child development. T h e initial experiences of children in the
schools which he directs are, therefore, very informal and varied and in harmony
with their immediate interests. Steps are, however, taken to develop them in desired
directions. As a result of the procedures described in Chapter IX,the child begins to
express himself through drawings, and this develops the required motor control.
Sooner or later, motives for learning to write are acquired, and models are provided
which can be copied. Gabrielli3states that many of the methods now used in Italy,
while conforming to the so-called ‘natural’ method, are based on the belief that
drawing and preparatory writing should not only be done spontaneously but also from
memory of models.
In Germany, a procedure‘ called ‘Sprechspur’has achieved a certain popularity.
While the teacher reads a sentence from the blackboard the spoken words are
accompanied by rhythmic hand movements which are imitated by the pupils.
These movements correspond in detail to the inflexions of the voice. T h e chief purpose is not to reproduce the letters or the mouth movement; it is rather to establish
as close an equivalence as possible between the sensations of the sound produced and
the sensation of motion. It is claimed that the child is thus helped in grasping the
structure of language and writing, the concepts represented by written words and
phrases, and in discovering corresponding graphic signs. In addition he gains a
clear notion of how letters function in the writing act, and is thereby able to make
progress in writing and reading.
Modern infant schools and kindergartens rely largely on informal and highly
motivated activities of various kinds for promoting writing readiness. Through the
use of games, building with blocks, modelling and drawing, motor control is developed. As these activities proceed, other useful types of experience are provided.
For example, the teacher m a y write the names of the pupils on their desks,
books or other belongings, or he m a y write labels on boxes containing different
materials, or the name of the day of the week on the blackboard each morning,
together with a list of important things to be done. At times he may also write a
letter to a sick pupil, the members of the class dictating the message.
Through many types of experience similar to those just described, children
become interested in seeing their thoughts recorded in written form. They also
receive visual impressions of the direction and sequence of strokes in writing. They
thus learn, more or less unconsciously, such matters as correct form, proper arrangement and even the use of punctuation marks. It is very important that children
should be both mentally and physically prepared before undertaking what is for
them a new and difficult task.
Specific values attaching to different kinds of motor exercises are suggested by
the following summary of practices in Geneva, Switzerland : ‘exercises in cutting
Cruz Gonzllez and Moya, op. cit.
z. Freinet, C. Milhode naturellr de lecfure. Cannes (Alpes Mar.), Editions de 1’Ecole Moderne Frangaise,
1947,.49 p., illus. (Brochures d’idueation nouuelle populaire, no. 30, Mai 1947.)
3. Gabrielli,Giorgio, in his preface to Agazzi, Aldo. L’apprendimentodel legcue e delle scrioere (fondamenti
e didaflica del ‘melodo naturale’). 4a. ed. accresciuta, con una appendice sull’insegnamento della
lingua italiana. Brescia, ‘La Scuola’Editrice, 1951,p. 17.
4. Moers, Martha. ‘Die Kindertumlichkeit der Sprechspur’, Psychologische Rundschau. Reprint from
Vol. 3, No. I, 1952,Handbuch dtr Sprechspur. Fritz Hoke, Bochum, Verlag Ferdinand K a m p .
Teaching Handwriting to Children
and in pasting (lightness, precision and taste); modelling (flexibility and careful
fingering); painting and drawing (lightness, precision, good taste); sensory exercises of touch, sight (observation of forms), and muscular exercises for the fingers,
wrist and forearm (flexibility, posture).’’ In addition, many schools make use of
activities suggested by the Montessori method, which are more closely akin to the
movements in handwriting. They include ‘tracing letters in s a d a and ‘outlining
letter forms by touching with fingers, chalk or pencil’. Some countries, such as
Chile, provide copper plates on which are imprints of letters, numbers and pictures
which the children can trace. This procedure involves the use of both sight and
touch in establishing a feeling for the writing movement.
Reports from Indias,where complex characters are used in writing,describe the
following types of preparatory exercises adopted,particularly in Bombay: ‘(I) drawing straight lines, slanting and curved lines, semi-circles,etc.; (2) drawing letten
in sand or in sawdust, (3) forming letters with a wire, small thin sticks,seeds,etc.;
(4)children stick sand on letters drawn by the teacher on cardboard; (5) children
rub the slate pencil on the slate and thus prepare a fine white surface on which
they are asked to draw the letters with their fingers; (6)drawing letters in the air
with a finger.’
The foregoing examples indicate that many types of training and experience are
used today in preparing children to learn to write with reasonable ease. They vary
from activities that are only remotely connected with handwriting down to those
which have been favoured in the past during the initial stages of learning to write.
As yet research has not determined their relative merits. Some of them can be
criticized on the ground that their use is based on the belief that the elements of
letters need to be mastered in the first place.
It may be safely assumed that the less highly specialized forms of training are
preferable at the beginning.They should be continued until the child expresses keen
interest in learning to write and has attained sufficient motor control to hold the
writing tools and engage in the larger movements required. If, for practical reasons
it becomes necessary to begin the teaching of handwriting before some pupils are
fully ready for it, preparatory training should be continued on a parallel basis.
Stage T w o provides initial training in learning to write. It begins as soon as pupils
have acquired sufficient motor control to learn simple forms of handwriting, but
not enough to master highly complex ones. Because the forms and styles of handwriting used in different parts of the world vary considerably,a number of problems
arise. These will be discussed under six headings: aims to be achieved; relation of
basic training to other school activities;tools and equipment; teaching procedures;
diagnosing and correcting difficulties and guidance in the use of writing.
I. InternationalConferenceon Public Education,XItb..The
Teaching OfHandwriting, op. cit.,pp. 15-16.
Jowitt,Harold. Suggested Methodsfor the African Schools. Longmans, Green and Company, London,
1951, PP. 213-14.
3. International Conference on Public Education,XIth. n
e Teaching of Handwriting, op.cit., p. 84.
T h e Teaching
of Reading and Writing
T h e chief purpose of the training given during Stage T w o is to develop the basic
skill required for simple writing activities. A more detailed statement of specific
aims is given below:
T o deepen interest in learning to write.
T o stimulate awareness of an increasing number of situations in which handwriting
helps in achieving desired ends.
T o promote the orderly development of the requisite attitudes and skills.
T o help pupils to overcome difficulties in learning to write by studying carefully
the nature and causes of their difficulties and by providing appropriate assistance
in each case.
T o encourage pupils in the use of writing for meeting personal needs, as an aid to
learning, and as a means of self-expression.
T o prepare pupils for more advanced stages of development in the use of handwriting.
As a rule, these aims are largely achieved during the first two school years.
In planning a handwriting programme the relation of the basic training given to
other school activities merits careful study. A survey of correct practices reveals at
least four possible types of programme. In the first, all the basic training is provided
during periods reserved specifically for that purpose and aims primarily to promote
skill in handwriting as quickly and effectively as possible. Little or no attention is
paid to the uses it m a y serve in the child's daily life or to its connexion with other
language arts and school activities. T h e materials used are usually prepared by
handwriting specialists and are designed to ensure orderly progress from simple to
more complex writing forms. Valuable as such training m a y be in some respects,
it violates certain principles of sound learning emphasized in Chapter IX and fails
to cultivate all of the attitudes and skills essential during Stage Two.
A second type of basic training is closely integratedl with the teaching of reading
and is based largely on the materials provided in primers. According to its advocates,
it has the following advantages: economy of instructional materials; a definite
sequence of writing activities which most teachers can easily direct; and close
co-ordination between reading, writing and spelling, practice in one also promoting
development in the others2 This plan has been vigorously criticized for several
reasons: it provides little incentive for practice; if synthetic methods are used,
attention is focused on the elements of words before pupils recognize their significance either through reading or writing; it develops the attitude that writing consists
primarily of copying models rather than expressing ideas; and it often neglects
many contributions that writing might make to pupil development in other parts
of the curriculum.
A third type of training is conceived as an essential part of a closely integrated
instructional programme. A n example is given in Chapter V , pages 91-3.This
For a statement of the advantages and disadvantages of this plan see: Gudschinsky, Sarah, Handbook of Likrucy. Norman, Okla., Summer Institute of Linguistics. University of Oklahoma, 1953,
PP. 23-4.
S o m e of the experimental data do not support this view, see: Clemente, Tito. 'Should Writing be
taught Simultaneouslywith Reading in the First Grade', Primary Educafion,Vol. 11, December
'937) PP. 466-72.
Temhing Handwriting to Children
type is favoured on several grounds: practice in writing is based on the use of concrete
experiences; specific motives for writing are provided which elicit whole-hearted
effort; learning to write is closely related to most school activities, including the
other language arts; the steps taken in learning to write are well adjusted to the
child’s stage of development; and some freedom is permitted in the style of writing
adopted by each pupil. It has not been widely followed because of the prevailing
assumption that it can be used only by well trained teachers.
A fourth type of training is given as part of a combined language arts programme.
A special period is reserved each day for activities that develop the various language
arts-listening, speaking, reading, writing, spelling and written expression. In many
cases time is set aside daily for special emphasis on each of the language arts. In
other cases, the language arts period is divided into two parts; one for daily instruction in reading; the other for emphasis on the other language arts. In the latter case
the training is either provided separately for each of the arts, or else in units laying
emphasis on each of them daily as the need arises. T h e aptitudes thus developed are
applied during all periods of the school day in which handwriting serves a useful
Because of its many merits the system just described has been followed more
and more during recent years. It recognizes the various values and relationships of
handwriting and makes use of sound principles of learning. It provides for specific
and highly motivated training in the basic skills of handwriting. As in the case of
the integrated instructional programme, this system is often criticized on the grounds
that teachers do not have the time and are often not prepared to plan and direct
the necessary handwriting activities. T o help overcome these difficulties many
schools are preparing bulletins on the subject. In addition, authors and publishers
are providing sets of exercises for promoting parallel and co-ordinated growth in
all the language arts. Special efforts are also being made to provide motives for
writing that are so compelling that ‘thechild will work up to the hilt of his capacity.”
N o matter what pattern of basic training is followed, the style of handwriting used
is of supreme importance. As shown in Chapter IX, many of the styles of handwriting used in adult life are too complex for young children. If ability to write is
to be readily acquired, so that it can be used during early school years, simplified
styles of handwriting are essential. W e n o w draw attention (a) to plans that have
been adopted by many countries to meet this need, and (b) to the problems faced
by other countries which still use complex styles of handwriting in teaching young
children to write.
Use of Script Writing
Reports show that many countries which use R o m a n letters are n o w adopting a
simplified form of handwriting, called script, during early school years. T h e chief
reasons given for this are that script is simpler and easier to learn than cursive
writing and is better adapted to the child’s capacity for motor control. These claims
are amply supported by the evidence summarized in Chapter IX.
Whereas the various styles of script writing in use, including ‘print-script’and
Elliot, A. V. P., and Currey, P. Language Teaching in African Schools, London, Longmans, Green
and Co. Ltd., 1949.p. 61.
7 h Teaching of Reading and Writing
‘manuscript’,differ in many details they are all similar in that they resemble print
more or less closely. T h e script letters that are different are composed wholly or in
part ofstraight lines (I,D),
circles (o,g), and parts of circles (c,d). In order to simplify
space relations for beginners, several authors of bulletins on script writing suggest
that the capital and tall letters should be made twice as high as the small letters.
O n e exception to this rule is the letter t, which should be somewhat shorter than
the other ascending letters. T h e descending letters, such as g, bear the same relation
to the letter n, as do the ascending letters. As pupils acquire experience in writing
script, the ascending and descending letters can be shortened slightly so that the
written lines do not interfere with each other.
T h e form of unlinked R o m a n letters used differs to some extent in different
countries and also within the same country. In a recent survey of handwriting in the
State of Wisconsin’ an analysis was made of the forms of the letters in five different
commercial systems of manuscript writing current throughout the State. Figure 22
shows the variety of capital forms used. As indicated by the forms for each letter,
there was complete agreement in the case of only one letter, namely P. For the
remaining 25 letters, there are two to four different forms. Figure 23 shows the
variety of small letter forms. There was complete agreement in the case of three
letters-e, i and 0. Most of the variations are minor ones. N o objective evidence is
available concerning their relative merits.
As indicated by the arrows in Figures 22 and 23, certain principles are followed
in forming the different parts of letters: vertical and slanting lines are made with a
down-stroke;part circles start at the top and move either to the right or to the left;
the letter o is made counter-clockwise;horizontal lines begin at the left. Each part
of a Ketter is formed as the pupil comes to it, while moving from left to right
across the page or on the blackboard. T h e letters of a word should not touch
each other. Those composed of circles should be spaced close together; those composed of circular and vertical lines should be farther apart; vertical letters should
be farthest apart. Words m a y well be one finger space apart on paper and the width
of an eraser on the blackboard.
Although the use of script was vigorously opposed at first, its use has spread
rapidly during recent years. This is due largely to the fact that it can be learned more
easily and written more legibly and rapidly. It is, therefore, of considerable use
during the greater part of the first two school years. Because of its proved advantages,
all countries which use R o m a n letters, but which have not yet adopted the use of
script during the first two years, should seriously consider the wisdom of doing so.
Problems Encountered where Complex
of Writing are Used
Teachers in practically all countries have long recognized the difficulty which
young children find in learning to write because of complex characters. In China,
for example, where logographs are used, efforts have been made for centuries to
simplify the learning process by beginning with those characters which have the
fewest strokes.Though this procedure was found helpful, it left many of the difficulties
unsolved. For example, it was still necessary to devote long periods to arduous
practice on individual characters before actual writing was possible. For this reason
amongst others, efforts are n o w being made to develop a new form of written lanI.
Wisconsin, Department of Education. Committee for Research in Handwriting. Handwrihg in
Wisconcin: A Surue,vof Elementary &hwl Pracfice, Madison, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin, 1951.
(Bulletin of the School of Education).
Teaching Handwritinn to Childrsn
guagel for China, adapted to its culture and needs, and which children and adults
can learn to read and write with reasonable ease.Similar problems have to be faced
in Japan, and there have been many efforts by individuals and committees to find
solutions for them. Thus far not a great deal of progress has been made.
In most other countries using complex forms of writing,various steps have been
taken to simplify the process of learning to write. The most common one is to teach
the elements of letters first, namely straight lines and curves. As soon as they have
been learned they are combined to form letters, and these in turn to form words.
As previously pointed out, the use of purely synthetic methods of teaching handwriting has several drawbacks.A much more promising effort to find a solution is
being made in some countries through modifications in the style of writing. For
example, in Assam, an upright style with joined letters is being recommended for
use in primary schools as compared with a slanting style in the higher grades. ‘In
Bombay, print script (de0 Muguri) is now more favoured than the cursive (modi)
Until simplified forms of handwriting can be developed, many countries will
have to go on using a complex style for teaching young children to write. Every
effort should,therefore,be made to simplify the proce~s.~
Practice should be provided
in situations which carry meaning for pupils, provide strong motives, and make
demands on them.
The writing tools and materials used also merit careful study.In many countries the
pupils do their first writing on the blackboard4with soft chalk,which young children
can learn to handle easily.The writing is at the level of the child’seyes. Very soon,
however, children begin to write at their desks on paper. For this, large-sizedlead
pencils of good length and with soft lead are preferable.For health reasons,slates are
not used as much now as formerly and are actually forbidden in some places.
The use of pen and ink during early school years is questionable.In the past,they
have been extensively used in the second school year,and often in the first, particularly in schools using cursive styles of handwriting. It has been argued that they are
essential in achieving quality and beauty in handwriting.But this is to place undue
emphasis at the beginning on the desired end. The tendency in schools which use
simplified forms of handwriting at the beginning is to postpone the use of pen and
ink until cursive styles of writing are introduced. In China, brushes are used in
learning to write the characters and also in the practice of calligraphy.After pupils
begin to use writing in various school activities,pencils and pens gradually take the
place of brushes.
Children should be made to adopt a good posture in writing. W h e n at the
blackboard, they should stand squarely on both feet,directly in front of the part of
the board on which they are writing, and well back from it. W h e n at their desks,
they should sit comfortably back in their seats in an erect position, with both feet
resting on the floor and their bodies leaning slightly forward from the hips, but not
Chuch, Wei. ‘The Problem of Reforming the Chinese Written Language’,Peoples’ China, IO, 1954,
pp. 18-26.
International Conference on Public Education, XIth. Th Teaching of Handwriting, op. cit., p. 84.
Sweden, Kungl. Skoloverstyrelsen. BetZnkdemed farslag till udervisning~planfor riketJ folkJkolor
(Proposalsof the Swedish Board of Education for primary school curriculum). Stockholm, Svenska,
Bokforlaget. Norstedl, 1953,pp. I I 1-17.
Gudschinsky, op. cit., p. 25.
The Teazhing
of Reading and Writing
touching the desk. Both arms should rest on the desk, with the elbows extending
slightly beyond the edge.
In the case of the right-handed child, the paper is held with the left hand which
moves it upwards as the writing of the successive lines moves downward on the page.
In the case of the left-handed child, the paper is controlled with the right hand.
W h e n a slanted style of handwriting is used, the paper is placed at a slight angle on
the desk. For the right-handed child the paper slants to the left at the top; for the
left-handed child it slants to the right.
T h e most effective steps in teaching vary in many respects with the kind of characters
used and with prescribed styles of handwriting. Experience shows, however, that
certain general principles can be applied.
I. Pupils should become well acquainted with written forms and their uses before
practice in handwriting begins. This is achieved in many schools through the
teacher writing on the blackboard the day of the week, the names of pupils, a
list of the things to be done that day, or a brief account of some interesting
experience. Progress in becoming acquainted with correct forms is more rapid
if the teacher writes clearly, legibly, and in the style in which the pupils are to
learn to write.
2. T h e act of writing should begin in a situation which has meaning and purpose
for the child. T h e item to be written m a y be his name, a label for a picture,
the day of the week. As a compelling motive for writing develops, the teacher
places on the blackboard a clear copy of what is to be written. Such steps not
only give meaning to the writing act, but provide the perceptual experiences
that are necessary before any attempt to write can be successful. This is true
even in the case of schools which lay great stress at an early stage on the mastery
of the so-called elements of handwriting.
3. At first, too much should not be demanded of the pupils in reproducing the
models on the blackboard. Thus, many teachers allow them to copy the models
with little, if any, help. They believe that the pleasure in satisfying a felt need
in a new way is of far greater importance than the quality of the product. T h e
result is that the characters, letters or words are perceived and reproduced
largely through the child's o w n efforts, and often quite inaccurately. Through
continued practice, more and more details are observed, and the written forms
become more accurate and regular.By due emphasis on correct spelling,attention
is gradually focused on all details of words and letters.
4. Informal writing activities which are highly motivated should be supplemented
early on by special practice periods of short duration. T h e purpose of these is to
inculcate the basic skills' required in handwriting. In this connexion, two
things need to be kept clearly in mind: pupils w h o advance slowly in the perception and mastery of the details of words and letters should not be forced to progress
more rapidly than their stage of development justifies, and due consideration
should be given to individual differences in attempting to acquire the prescribed
style of handwriting.
5. T w o principles underlie the selection of the materials to be used in practice
exercises: by their very nature they should focus attention on those items which
call for improvement and they should have a meaning for the child. A n experienI.
Gudschinsky, op. cit., p. 23.
Teachina Handwritinp to Children
ced teacher is often able to select appropriate practice materials from the informal
writing activities described above. A distinct advantage of using such material
is that vivid meanings are already associated with it, and motives for improvement
can readily be developed. M a n y inexperienced teachers are unable to select
appropriate practice material. In such cases a set of practice exercises devised
by specialists in the style of handwriting used has distinct value. Each exercise,
however, should be preceded by a discussion in which its meaning and the
motives for engaging in it are explained.
6. A clear perception of the words and letters to be reproduced in writing is essential.
As a rule, vivid impressions through various sense avenues are desirable. Let us
assume that the form of a new letter is to be mastered. T h e pupils proceed to
(a) trace a model of the letter with a forefinger, naming the letter as they do so;
(b) trace the letter several times, first with the finger and then with a pencil;
(c) cover the letter and write it once on paper; (d) compare the letter with the
model. If correct, they then write it several more times to ensure mastery. If
incorrect, they trace it a few more times before writing it again independently.
This general procedure m a y be applied in many ways for helping children to
remember and learn to write letters or words accurately, and to overcome
specific difficulties.
7. In order to attain the level of mastery desired, specific features of handwriting
must be regularly repeated. This can be done, in part, during special practice
periods. But maximum results will not be achieved until the new skills are used
daily in various purposeful writing activities.
W e have drawn attention to certain guiding principles which underlie the teaching
of handwriting in most parts of the world. T h e step-by-stepprocedures in learning
to write are far too detailed to be considered here. Teachers are therefore, advised
to procure themselves copies of the best guides available relating to the particular
styles of handwriting they have to teach. Those w h o have not previously taught
script writing should study recommendations for teaching it. Bulletins' on this
subject published recently by various agencies,which discuss in detail the procedures
which have proved most effective, will also be found of great value. Those prepared
by Ministries and Departments of Education2 in various countries merit special
As children make progress in learning to write, teachers should note daily the nature
of their individual difficulties, and should help each child according to his needs,
after a careful study of his stage of general development, motor control, mental age,
physical defects, background of experience, and home environment.It is particularly
Swan, Agnes. We Learn to Write. Manuscript Writing. Detroit, Board of Education of the City of
Detroit, 1951.'Book One. Teachers' Guide'.
Richardson, Marion. Writing and Writing Patterm. London, University of London Press, Ltd.,
1948, 5 vols.
Douet, Kathleen. Script and Writing Patternsfor African Schools. London, University of London
Press, Ltd., 1949,2 vols.
Madison Public Schools, Handwriting Committee. Manuscript Writing in the Primary Grades.
Madison, Wisconsin, Curriculum Department, 1951,32 p.
Philippines. Department of Education. Bureau of Public Schools. 7 7 ~Usc of Manuript Wrifing
(print-script) in Grades Z and II. Manila, 14 July 195I, 3 p. mimeo. (Bulletin No. 16,s. 1951.)
-. Tentatiue Guide in Teeaching Manuscript Writing.Manila, 1951,I O p. (Enclosureto Bulletin No.16,
S. 1951.)
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
important that a child should not be required to reproduce exactly the prescribed
style of handwriting if it presents unusual difficulties for him.
As a guide in the diagnosis of pupil’s difficulties, the following qualities should be
studied in the order listed: legibility, letter formation, spacing, and slant if a cursive
style is used. By comparing samples of the writing of individual pupils with the
adopted forms, specific deficiencies can be readily identified in the case of those
who are not making satisfactory progress. Corrective training is usually not effective
unless a pupil recognizes his deficiencies and is eager to be helped. It is therefore
advisable to encourage pupils to keep a folder of samples of their ‘best’writing and
to study the improvement made from time to time. They then become keenly
interested in the quality of their handwriting, begin to note their o w n deficiencies,
and gladly accept help.
As soon as pupils have acquired even a small amount of skill, they should be encouraged to write whenever this serves a useful purpose. Indeed, the motive for much of
the practice necessary in learning to write well should spring from a real need for
recording or expressing ideas. T h e teacher should, therefore, encourage pupils to
say in writing whatever they can with the words they know. Some pupils may
wish to label pictures or to write a simple message; others m a y wish to tell in writing
the part of a story they liked best. As a result of a class discussion, interesting facts
m a y emerge which the pupils wish to record in their notebooks. Before they attempt
to do so, they and the teacher should discuss the actual points to be recorded, the
new words that are needed, and other pertinent matters. Very often the teacher
will have to SIJFPIY models for a few words which the pupils have not yet learned.
M a n y of the uses which young children make of writing require a knowledge of
correct forms and procedures. T h e writing of a letter to a sick classmate is a good
example. As a first step, the teacher should list the things which the pupils need to
know: h o w and where to date the letter; how to address the person to w h o m the
letter is written; how to clqse the letter, and how to address an envelope. A correct
model is provided by the teacher writing on the blackboard the message which the
pupils wish to send. Only as pupils acquire such information and the necessary
technical skill will they be able to satisfy the urge to write a letter. T h e teacher
should also propose other uses of writing which are normal for children at this age
level. By this means their efforts at mastering handwriting will receive the appropriate stimulus.
Finally, writing as a means of self-expressionshould be encouraged during Stage
T w o . Pupils should be urged to relate, both orally and in writing, stories and accounts
of personal experiences. A desire to write stories m a y be stimulated through the
reading and enjoyment ofa story during a reading period. In response to a suggestion
from the teacher, pupils m a y prepare a brief summary of the story. It should be
done with the teacher’s help and written on the blackboard. Later it should be
copied down by the pupils. After a few such exercises, individual children may
attempt to write brief accounts of stories which they have read independently. T h e
next step is for them to write stories of their o w n invention. Similar procedures m a y
be used in encouraging children to engage in other types of creative writing based
on their o w n interests.
TeachinR Handwritinz to Children
The problems in Stage Three centre round the needs of two groups of pupils. The
first includes those who learned to write during Stage Two through the use of script,
or some other simplified style of handwriting, and are now ready to begin the use
of a more complex style. The second includes those who learned to write through
the use of a cursive style, or some other complex form, and are now sufficiently
advanced tojustify a special effortbeing made to improve both the quality and speed
of their handwriting. This stage begins,as a rule,early in the third school year, and
continues throughout the remainder of the primary school period, and far beyond.
The chief purpose of teaching handwriting during Stage Three is to help pupils to
acquire the adult style of handwriting in common use around them. Other aims
that merit special emphasis are:
T o cultivate a growing interest and pride in achieving a good quality of handwriting.
T o develop the attitudes and skills required for writing clearly, legibly and with
reasonable speed.
T o discover the reasons for individual failure to make satisfactory progress in handwriting, and to apply the necessary correctives.
T o encourage pupils in the various uses of handwriting.
Whereas the main purposes of teaching handwriting are essentially the same everywhere during Stage Three, the initial instructions given vary considerably among
groups. This is because the training provided during Stage T w o differs both in kind
and amount. Schools which make use of a cursive or other complex style of handwriting will begin at the level of competence reached at the end of Stage Two.
Because of the greater physical maturity of the pupils the training can now be more
vigorous,with greater insistence on the attainment of a satisfactory quality of handwriting. Since the need for writing increases rapidly during the third and fourth
school years, the speed at which pupils write clearly and legibly assumes greater
importance than hitherto. O n the other hand, schools which use a script or other
simplified style of handwriting during Stage T w o are now faced with the necessity
of selecting a cursive style and of making the transfer from script to cursive writing.
As pointed out in Chapter IX,some authorities favour the continued use of script
throughout later school years. However, until the evidence is more convincing and
the plan meets with wider social approval, it seems advisable to transfer from a
script to a cursive style at the beginning of Stage Three.
The countries which have adopted a cursive style of handwriting may be classified
in three groups:‘(a) those advocating an upright style; (b) those favouring slanting
writing derived from script; and (c) those inclining towards a filiform style’.] The
filiform style is a rounded, slanted writing ‘whose d’Dwn-strokesand loops are so
formed as to promote facility of execution’. According to the results of scientific
studies,a style of writing with a moderate forward slant is desirable. This involves a
‘sideward movement of the hand made by rotating the forearm’,which is easiest
International Conference on Public Education, XIth. The Teaching of Handm‘ting, op. cit., p. 19.
22 I
T h e Teaching
of Reading and Writing
and most rapid with up- and down-strokes. Most of the decorative features that
characterized many former styles of handwriting are eliminated. This results in the
development of increased speed, which is essential in meeting the greater demand
for writing as a child matures. Unfortunately, however, research does not yet provide
a final answer to the question: which system of writing that conforms to the foregoing
principles is the best?
M a n y countries, after carefully studying the merits of various cursive styles,
prescribe a specific style for general use. In such cases commercially standardized
materials, or other guides which serve the same purpose, are usually adopted. In
other countries the different administrative areas are permitted to select the style
which they will use. In still other countries, each community is free to choose the
style to be used. Often Ministries of Education issue bulletins on handwriting as a
guide to teachers in making decisions and in providing adequate training.
In order to enable pupils to continue to use handwriting during the period of
transition, many teachers permit the use of script until the elements of cursive
writing have been mastered. Pupils are also encouraged to go on with it whenever
it serves a useful purpose, such as in writing labels and signs, captions for pictures,
and in filling out forms. A distinct advantage of this plan is that the ability to write
script is thus maintained and can be used readily throughout life as occasion demands.
Before taking up cursive writing, pupils should have frequent opportunities of
becoming familiar with it. T h e same material can be written on the blackboard in
both script and cursive styles, and the similarities and differences between them
noted. Practice can also be given in reading instructions, notices, etc. written in
cursive style. In addition, the following methods are widely followed in effecting
the transfer:
I. T h e pupils face their desks squarely, as in script writing, with both elbows
supported but extending slightly below the edge of the writing surface.
2. T h e ‘traction principle’ is observed. T h e muscular movement is aided because
it reduces the contraction of the fingers on the pencil or pen, as occurs in pressure
writing; requires less effort, and is therefore less tiring.
3. A moderate amount of movement of the fingers is permissible, supplementing
the larger arm and hand movements.
4. Special periods are reserved for guided practice to supplement the incidental
guidance in handwriting given during all school activities in which writing is used.
As a rule, recommended practice materials are used during such periods. T o an
increasing extent, however, supplementary types of training are provided, based
on the specific difficulties encountered by pupils.
5. T h e amount of time devoted to special practice periods varies according to the
needs of groups and of the individuals in a class.
6. During both special practice periods and all other handwriting activities, pupils
are encouraged to criticize their o w n writing, analyse the mistakes they make,
and set about correcting them.
7. T h e aim is not strict conformity to a specific style of handwriting. It is rather to
develop a good quality in the selected style, but with such variations as m a y result
from personal capabilities and temperament. According to Dal Piaz,’ the
Piaz, Riccardo. La scrifura nclla scuola clemcnfarc. Terza edizione aggiornata Torino, G. B.
Paravia & C., 1950,p. 8.
I. Dal
Teaching Handwriting to Children
desirable characteristics of personal handwriting are that it should be simple,
clear, legible and attractive.These must be attained even at the sacrifice of much
time and effort.
T h e above methods apply generally,wherever cursive forms of handwriting are used.
For information on more detailed problems in connexion with teaching specific
styles of cursive writing, w e refer the reader to manuals issued by various authors
of such styles and to reports on the teaching of cursive handwriting prepared by
specialists in different countries. W e give some examples.1
As effort to improve the quality of handwriting continues during Stage Three,
special emphasis should be laid on those items which directly influence its legibility.
This is true for no matter what form of written language or style of handwriting.
Teachers have to a large extent been guided in the past by the recommendations of
specialists in the specific styles used. During recent years, much research has taken
place, the results of which are strongly influencing the type of guidance n o w offered.
W e refer briefly in the following paragraphs to two examples of such studies.
In the first example,2 an effort was made to determine the relative importance
of five basic aspects of cursive handwriting : letter formation, spacing, alignment,
regularity of slant, and quality of line or stroke. Eye movement records were obtained
as adult subjects read samples of writing which differed widely in respect of each of
these factors. T h e results showed that all factors are involved and must be recognized
in teaching handwriting. However, good letter formation was seen to rank highest
in determining legibility. Uniformity of slant and fairly compact patterns of writing
ranked next in order. T h e evidence was not conclusive concerning the need for
evenness of alignment and quality of line or stroke. Such a study indicates where
special emphasis should be laid in teaching in order to develop clear, legible handwriting. Studies are also needed to show where extra emphasis is wanted so as to
ensure an attractive style of handwriting.
A second study3 aimed at finding out the chief errors in letter formation which
make handwriting illegible. A n analysis was made by 24 different persons of over a
million letters included in samples of handwriting from more than 2,300 children,
young people and adults. T h e study disclosed the following percentages of errors by
grade school children: failure to close letters, as in a and o, 24 per cent.; top loops
closed (1 like 1 or e like i), 13;looping non-looped letters (i like e), I 2 ;using straight-up
I. Australian Council for Educational Research. Handwriting. Sydney, March 1950, 30 p. processed.
(Curriculum Suruq Report, No. 6.)
Dottrens, Robert. L’emeiEnemmt de l’kriture :nouucllcs mithodes. Neuchitel, Editions Delachaux
& NiestlC S.A., 1931,148 p. (Actualitispddagogiques et psychologiques.)
Eigenmann, Karl. Das Schrcibcn. Wegleitung J ~defr
Y Untenicht. Herzogenbuchsee, Verlag Ernst
Ingold &Co., 1949,32 p.
Engelbret-Pedersen,P.and Rolver,Johannes.Pruktik handbog for unge laere. 2. Udg. Kobenhavn,
GyIdendal, rggr, r70 p.
Freeman, Frank N. Teachins Handwriting, op. cit.,
Lammel, Arnold. Elemente des Schreibem. Iserlohn, Brause & Co., (1951?),95 p.
Wenz, Gustav and Pfizenmayer, Otto. Der Weg zum selbstandigen Schreiben. Stuttgart, Loewes
Verlag Ferdinand Carl, 1950,96 p.
2. Quant, Leslie. ‘FactorsAffecting the Legibility of Handwriting’,Journal of Experimental Education,
Vol. XIV, pp. 297-316,June 1946.
3. Ernest, Newland T.‘AnAnalytical Study of the Development of Illegibilitiesin Handwriting from
the Lower Grades to Adulthood’,Journal of Educational Research,Vol. XXVI,pp. I 249-58,December
7he Teaching of Reading and Writing
strokes rather than rounded strokes (U for n or h like li), X I ; end stroke difficulty
(not brought up or down, not left horizontal), I I ; top stroke short as in h, 6;difficulty
in crossing t, 5; difficulty in dotting i, 3; various, 15.
Studies of this type are very revealing.They show that a relatively small number
of errors vitally affects the legibility of handwriting. Sixty per cent of the above
malformations were of four types. Forty-five per cent consisted of illegibilities in
regard to only four letters-a, e, T, and t. Experience shows that wherever such facts
are known teachers can rapidly improve the legibility of handwriting by focusing
attention on a few crucial items. They can then undertake the correction of other
types of errors and the improvement in speed. T h e need for similar studies in all
forms and styles of handwriting, is, therefore, urgent.
As pupils make progress in learning to write legibly, frequent studies should be
made of both the speed and quality of their handwriting. T h e methods of obtaining
objective records of these aspects ofwriting were discussed in Chapter IX.By making
records under uniform conditions at intervals of two months or more, progress m a y
be measured over a period of time. However, speed should not be stressed at the
expense of quality of writing. In the case of many pupils, emphasis on speed is not
appropriate until the fourth school year.
A second use of such records is to determine whether or not the group as a whole
is making as much progress’ as might normally be expected. This can be done by
comparing the average speed and quality of a class with that of previous classes,
or of other groups w h o have attended school for the same period of time. Careful
studies should also be made of the various conditions that might influence the
progress of particular groups of pupils; for example, irregular attendance, poorly
trained teachers, lack of the necessary materials, little or no motivation.
Objective records are often of service also in deciding important issues such as
those relating to the style of writing and the methods of teaching. For example,
much interest has developed recently in Scotland and England in the use of ‘italic’
writing. It is favoured by many because of its more attractive appearance as
compared with other cursive systems. No-one questions the value of the system on
these grounds, but many are doubtful as to its claim to greater speed and legibility.
In order to obtain objective-evidenceregarding these matters, Thompson carried
out a study2 in four schools using different systems of handwriting. T h e pupils in
various grades were asked to write for two minutes in three separate ways: their
very best handwriting of a sentence copied down; as much as they could when
writing an ordinary letter, and as much as they could when using their fastest
scribble.By comparing the writing samples thus obtained, the conclusion was reached
that whereas the quality of writing .decreasedgreatly in the case of all four systems
as the speed increased, nevertheless the ‘italic’samples were ‘on the whole completely
legible and good to look at’. Furthermore, the italic writing was 6.4 per cent faster
than any other style. At least a partial answer to a very controversial issue was thus
given through the use of objective records of pupil achievement.
Freeman, Frank N. ‘Standardsin Handwriting’, Teaching Handwriting, op. cit., pp. 3-6.
Thompson, George T. ‘Italic Handwriting for Schools’, The Scottish Educational journal, Vol.
XXXVI1,June 1954,pp.376-7.
Teaching Handwitinn ta Childre
In the case of pupils w h o make slow progress in learning to write legibly, detailed
studies should be made of the nature and probable causes of their difficulties.
Diagnosis should be undertaken as set forth in the diagnostic chart for measuring
handwriting, shown in Figure 21, Chapter IX.As a rule, it is advisable to make
an intensive study of the needs of one pupil at a time. As soon as the nature of the
help needed by the first pupil has been fairly well identified, a similar study should
be made of the deficiencies and needs of the next one, and so on. In the meantime,
the corrective programme planned for the first should continue. By adopting this
general procedure, a teacher can soon arrive at a relatively clear understanding of
the kind of problems facing each pupil.
A few pupils have serious difficulty in learning to write due to physical deficiencies,
such as poor vision, poor motor co-ordination,or malformation of the hand. Special
efforts should be made to correct or counteract such deficiencies. A pupil will
sometimes be found w h o reverses letters1 or fails to write the letters ofa word in the
right order. M u c h tracing of letters and words and repeated practice in writing
them will help to overcome these tendencies. In dealing with handicapped pupils
the fact must be borne in mind that, as a rule, they will not be able to attain the
usual standards or follow closely the prescribed style of handwriting.
pour enfants prtsentant des troubles du langage et rencontrant des difficultts', P&wEo~~~
el pidup~itexphimentale, bulletin no. 386 and 389, XI1 1g48-I111949,pp. 343-94.Paris,Socikte
Alfred Binet.
I. Borel-Maisonny, G. (Mrs.)'Comment
on apprend 1 lire: mtthode combinke..
Figure 22. Varied capital forms used in five systems of manuscript writing taught in the State of
Wisconsin, U.S.A.Note that the forms for each letter vary from one in the case of P to four in the
case of K, M, U,V, X, r.
Wisconsin. Department of Education. Committee for Research in Handwriting.
Handwriting in Wucm'n.
A Survey of Elementaty SchoolPractice.Madison, Wisconsin,
University of Wisconsin, 1951,p. 51, (Bulletin of the School of Education.)
Teaching Handwriting lo Children
Figure 23. Varied small letter forms used in five systems of manuscript writing taught in the State
of Wisconsin, U.S.A. Note that the forms for each letter vary from one in the case of e, i, and 0, to five
for q and w.
Wisconsin. Department of Education. Committee for Research in Handwriting.
Handwiting in Wisconsin. A S U T Uof~ Elementary
School Practicr, op. cit., p. 52.
Most adults w h o are illiterate are as eager to learn to write as to read. Field workers
in some areas report that the desire to learn to write is the chief reason why many
adults join literacy classes. In efforts to satisfy this need much valuable experience
has accumulated. Unfortunately, the results of very little research have been
reported concerning the d.ifficultieswhich adults find in learning to write, or the
merits of different teaching procedures. The suggestions made in this chapter, are
based largely on the experiences of field workers. They have been checked, however,
by the results of research1on handwriting among children, in so far as the latter are
T h e uses which handwriting serves today among adults vary widely in different
parts of the world. In the past, handwriting in some communities has often been
limited to little more than the signing of one’s name or the writing of very brief
statements. In such cases, the minimum standard for literacy in handwriting
demanded was: ‘To develop the basic skills of writing well enough to be able to
write one’s name or a simple paragraph.’
A somewhat broader use of handwriting is reported from certain communities,
particularly in South Africa, where m e n leave their homes to work elsewhere. O n e
of the chief objects of attending literacy classes in such regions is to learn to write
and read letters. T h e effort to meet this demand is reflected in the following requirement included in the description of a proposed literacy test: ‘Writing a letter to a
specific person containing specific information: T h e letter must be framed in the
customary form, contain the sender’s address, and his personal signature.A n envelope
should be prepared according to the accepted method and inscribed in such a way
that the addressee is sure to receive it.Q A significant feature of this test is that it
requires not only skill in handwriting, but the ability to achieve a specific
purpose through its use.
As a result of a survey3 made in the Philippines in 1951,it was found that adults
much use will be made in this chapter of the results of research on handwriting among
children, it is recommended that all concerned with the issues discussed should read Chapter IX
2. Conference of Provincial Representatives. Zaria, Nigeria, 12-16
June 1950.Report on a Confmnct
of Provincial Reprcsentatiucs lo dimss the Adult Lileraty Campaign. Northcm Region. Zaria, Gaskiya
Corporation, 1950,p. 6.
3. Isidro. Antonio. Tb Use of the V d m in and out of Schools in thc Philippins. Quezon City, 1951,
pp. 65-8.
I. Since
Teaching Handwriting lo Add&
used handwriting for various purposes, such as to keep accounts; write short notes
or directions to those w h o m one is unable to see personally; write letters of praise
or complaint on the right occasions; write down things to remember-the names
of friends or things to be done in the future.Reports from Jamaica1 indicate that the
uses made of handwriting are similar to those in the Philippines in some respects
and different in others. For example, adults keep personal accounts, prepare minutes
of meetings and maintain group records, carry on correspondence, including the
ordering of material for individual or group use, and note down important points
macle at meetings, lectures or demonstrations.
Reports from Puerto Ricoe lay special emphasis on two functions of handwriting
in addition to those mentioned above: to fill out forms and write letters of application
for a position, and as an aid in one’s job-for example, keeping records and making
reports. Such uses of handwriting are assuming increasing importance in areas which
are rapidly becoming industrialized.
As indicated by the foregoing example, the functions that handwriting serves
today vary considerably. In order to develop a handwriting programme adapted to
the immediate and probable future needs of the adults of a community two things
are essential. The first is to determine through inquiry the various purposes that
handwriting now serves and their relative importance. The second is to ascertain
through a conference of community leaders the additional functions that it should
serve in the future in promoting both individual and group welfare.
A second problem in developing a sound handwriting programme is to define the
aims to be achieved through the training given.As implied by the foregoing discussion,
these must be adjusted, in part at least, to the varying needs for handwriting in
different communities. As a guide in preparing an adequate statement of aims, an
analysis was made of the aims reported in all the handwriting programmes for adults
that could be located. O n this basis the following composite statement was prepared:
T o arouse and deepen interest in learning to write.
T o develop the ability to write clearly, legibly and with reasonable speed.
T o guide adults in the use of handwriting until it serves the practical needs of daily
life effectively.
T o develop pride in one’s handwriting and the habit of self-criticism in regard to it.
T o promote the additional qualifications in writing required to increase one’s
economic status and social efficiency.
T o stimulate interest in writing as a means of self-expression and of sharing experiences and ideas with others.
As indicated by the wider uses made of handwriting today, the first four of the
six aims listed above should be stressed vigorously everywhere. In addition, each
community should make as generous provision for the fifth and sixth-and possibly
other-aims as is justified by local needs and available resources.
I. Reported by the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission? 3 June 1951.
Puerto Rico. Consejo Superior de Enseiianza. ‘Exposici6n rnetodol6gxa sobre la enseiianza de
lectura a adultos analfabetos’,Educacidn &addtas :wkkuionrr y Llnricas. Rio Piedras, Universidad
de Puerto Rico, rg52, Chapter VII. (PubficacwnesfmfagdgiCar. Series 11, 1952,No. 13.)
Xb Teaching of Reading and Writing
T h e aims described above indicate that there are two main aspects of a sound
handwriting programme, namely, teaching the basic skills of handwriting and
developing proficiency in its various personal and social uses. Experience shows
also that many adults require some mental, physical and emotional preparation
before training in handwriting can be started with profit, and that the welfare and
progress of a community depend, in part, on the presence of individuals w h o advance
far beyond the minimum level of competence in handwriting necessary for all. In
the light of these facts, handwriting programmes can be suitably organized in four
stages: Stage One: preparation for handwriting; Stage T w o : mastering the basic
skills of handwriting; Stage Three: learning to use handwriting in meeting practical
needs; Stage Four: acquiring added proficiency in writing.
Because the teaching of reading and handwriting go in conjunction in most
Literacy programmes, each of these stages should be timed so as to correspond with
the respective stage of the adult reading programme discussed in Chapter VIII.
Moreover, levels of achievement should be defined for each stage following the first,
and should be attained before certificates are granted indicating progress toward
functional literacy.
In planning1 the nature and scope of the training to be given during each stage
certain characteristics of adults should be kept clearly in mind. Because of their
@eater physical maturity they have far better control of their muscles than children.
O n the other hand, their hands and fingers may be stiffer. Adults are generally more
)self-motivated and apply themselves more steadily. Most of them are also more
willing to engage in drill activities in order to achieve desired ends. As a result of
their wider experience, they have become acquainted with the details of many
matters, recognize their importance, and consequently try to grasp the details of
a new problem quickly. T o a large extent they proceed much more systematically
and logically in achieving their aims than do children.
Most reports on teaching adults to write emphasize their very different characteristics and needs, and show h o w many of them require mental, physical and emotional
In studying the problems during each of the four stages in a handwriting programme, the following
references proved very helpful :
Bivar, H.G.S. ‘Learningto Write’, Educationfor All within Six Months, a brochure on adult education
to BenEali. Calcutta, Rabnidra Publishing House, 1949, Chapter VIII.
wilh special r&me
Carpenter, A.J. Reading and Writing for All. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1948,57 p.
(Applies specifically to teaching of four West African languages.)
Mitchell, Eva Cornelia and Murphy, Marion McCown. Language workbooks : A Workbook
in Simple Language Arts, tu accompany Readers One, Two, Three and Four. Washington, D.C., Federal
Security Agency, Office of Education, Educator’s Washington Dispatch, 1950. (Home and Family
Lge Series.)
Puerto Rico. Consejo Superior de Ensefianza. op. cit.
Silveira,Juracy.‘Metodologiade leitura e escrita’, in: Brazil. Campanha Nacionalde EducagBo
de Adultos. Fundamentos e mtodologia do eruino supletiuo; curso de orientacZo pedagdgica. Rio de Janeiro,
Departamento Nacional de Eduraszo, 1950. pp. 161-79. (PublicagBono. 12, Agosto de 1950.)
Unesco Group Training Scheme for Fundamental Education, Yelwal, Mysore. ‘Teaching
Adults to Write’, Teachers Guide. Mysore, 1954, Chapter 11.
Whipple, Caroline A., Guyton, Mary L. and Morris, Elizabeth C. Manual for Teachers of Adult
Illiterates. American Association for Adult Education in co-operation with the United States Office
of Education, Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.,pp. 49-57.
Teachinf HandwritinR lo A d u b
preparation for learning to write. Carefully planned encouragement and training
in such cases are of prime importance. Accordingly, the chief aims of the teacher
during Stage O n e should be to become well acquainted with the members of his
class and to provide the preliminary experiences that will enable them to learn to
write with ease and rapidity.
In order to guide students effectively in learning to write, a teacher should know
their general level of maturity, their previous school or literacy training, if any, the
extent to which they have learned to write, if at all, and the motives for their present
class attendance. A personal interview preceding class work is highly desirable. It not
only enables the teacher to obtain the necessary information under conditions least
embarrassing for the adult, but it provides an opportunity to win his confidence and
enlist his whole-hearted co-operation.
As a rule, the members of an adult class engage in different types of work and
play varying roles in community life. It is important, therefore, for the teacher
to know the answers to such questions as the fo1lowing:l What kind of work does each
do and what are the responsibilities involved? Is the adult by nature a leader or a
follower? Is he aggressive or timid?W h a t are his favourite recreational activities?
T o what organizations, if any, does he belong? Does he hold any position of importance in them? In what ways would ability to write be of value to him either in his
work or in his recreational and social activities? Such information enables the teacher
to plan the type of guidance suitable for each student during Stage One.
Adults often have defects that interfere seriously with their progress in learning
to write. For example, their fingers m a y be stiff, their hands calloused, or their
muscles unaccustomed to making the fine adjustments required in writing. Prelirninary exercises are then needed to counteract such defects. They m a y also have visual
difficulties which prevent them from recognizing differences in the forms of words
and letters. These difficulties can often be identified by pointing to a given letter,
such as n or h, and asking the student to find the same letter wherever it occurs in a
short paragraph of three or four lines. Passages printed in I I or I z point type should
be used for this purpose. Failure to respond successfully m a y point to the need for
an eye examination. If the difficulty is serious and cannot be corrected, the adult
should be advised not to try to learn to write, but if it is a minor one, the teacher
should keep it in mind as the training proceeds. Other drawbacks that should be
studied are defects of hearing, inability to give close attention to what is said, and
difficulty in carrying out directions. T h e more fully a teacher is acquainted with
such characteristics the better will he be able to guide his students in their efforts
to learn to write.
As an aid to further study of the members of a class and to preparing them for
systematic training, a preliminary project is recommended. O n e of the things that
most students want to do as soon as possible is to learn to write their names. By
making use of this motive, interest and enthusiastic co-operation can usually be
aroused. In this connexion, the following steps are suggested:
Puerto Rico. Consejo Superior de Enseiianza, op. cit.
%Teuhing of Reding and Writing
Write the name of each student on the blackboard in fairly large letters, using
the style of handwriting that is to be taught. If their names are long, write only the
first name to begin with. M a k e sure that all the students observe the teacher’s movements when writing and imitate them by motions of the arm in the air. rhis exercise
should be repeated several times for each name.
As soon as all the names have been written on the blackboard, each member
of the class should focus his attention on the movements involved in writing his o w n
name. As individuals acquire eese and confidence they may trace their respective
names on the blackboard, trying to develop freedom and speed in doing so.
Before the beginning of the next class period, write each student’s name on a
piece of blotting paper with the end of a pen-holder or other similar instrument. T h e
name should be written about twice the ordinary size. M a k e each student trace his
name with a pencil, holding it as nearly as possible in the approved manner for
writing. Wide variations are to be expected at first in the way the pencil is held. In
the case of right-handed students the paper should be tilted slightly to the left. If an
adult expresses a decided preference for the left hand he should be permitted to use
it and in this case the paper should be titled slightly to the right.
Each student should trace his name several times.
As soon as a student has learned to trace his name with considerable ease and
confidence, provide him with a sheet of paper on which to copy it down. After he
can do this reasonably well, he should try to write it from memory, not letter by
letter, but as a single unit. If he makes serious mistakes, he should retrace his name
on the blotter until he thinks he can write it from memory. This process should be
continued until fair success is attained.
By this means the members of a class can acquire a notion of the writing act and
start adjusting themselves to it. The teacher should observe carefully the facility or
otherwise with which they follow the directions outlined above. H e will thus learn
what kind of help each one should receive.
T w o additional steps m a y be taken at this time in preparing adults for instruction
in writing. The first is to use handwriting for various purposes during class periods.
For example, the teacher m a y write on the blackboard as he begins the first class
meeting: ‘Good evening’-I a m ‘Mr.
Jones’-Our class will meet every ‘Monday
evening’. After writing each set of words in inverted commas on the blackboard,
he m a y repeat the words, pointing to each in turn. Similar exercises may be done
later during the same or subsequent class meetings. T h e chief object of such exercises
is not to provide material for the students to read or write, but to show them that
writing serves many useful purposes. As a result, a growing appreciation of its value
T h e second step is to stimulate discussion about the purposes that writing may
serve in daily life. It is helpful in this connexion to list, first, the most important
uses that each member of the class expects to make of handwriting. A second list
should then be drawn up showing other uses that it may serve. T h e importance
of each use should be fully discussed. T h e teacher should add any uses not mentioned
by the class that are of importance to the community or to certain individuals in the
In these and other ways motives for learning to write m a y be established before
systematic training begins. As students make progress, additional steps may be
taken to prepare them for increased competence in handwriting.
Teaching Handwriting to Adults
T h e amount that can be achieved is limited by the time reserved for this stage, which
varies from 24 to 40 class hours in different communities. As a rule, group instruction
is preferable, unless the working hours of the students make this impossible. Even
when most of the training is given individually,a few class meetings at the beginning
and subsequently at intervals are desirable for group encouragement and general
T h e problem of selecting a style of handwriting varies in different parts of the world.
Most countries that use complex graphic signs (logographs,syllabariesand ideographlike letters) have only one style of handwriting. In such cases no choice has to be
made. However, the wisdom of adopting simpler styles of handwriting has been
seriously considered in many of these countries. As pointed out in Chapter X,
experimental use of modified characters has recently been made in a few countries,
and even more radical changes have been proposed in others. Such innovations
merit careful study wherever a system of complex characters is in use.
The need for selecting a style of handwriting for use in literacy classes arises
in most countries which have R o m a n letters. Several issues are involved. The first
concerns the wisdom of selecting a script or a cursive style. T h e fact that the latter
is used almost entirely at the adult level is a strong argument in its favour. O n the
other hand, script is easier to learn than cursive, and is usually written more legibly.
This is partly due to the fact that many adults find it difficult to make the muscular
movements necessary for efficient cursive writing. Moreover, the use of print-script
is being required today to an increasing extent in signing names and filling out forms.
T h e additional fact should be mentioned that most adults attending literacy classes
will use handwriting only to a limited extent. Apart from personal preferences,
therefore, it does not matter much if they do not learn cursive writing. For the
various reasons given, the use of a script style of handwriting-at least during the
early stages in learning to write-has distinct advantages.
As soon as a'script style is adopted, the question arises concerning the relative
merits of connected and unconnected script. The latter is simpler and corresponds
more closely to print. Its use, therefore,results in more rapid progress in learning
to read. However, in the opinion of many literacy specialists, notably K. Neijs,
Adviser on Literacy, South Pacific Commission-connected script is preferable.
This is because the transfer can be made more readily later to cursive writing. Some
w h o favour this plan begin with the use of unconnected script, transfer a little later
on to connected script, and finally provide training in cursive writing. This has
distinct advantages if cursive writing is ultimately to be taught.Before it is introduced,
a choice must be made between various systems of cursive writing. As pointed out
in Chapter IX,available evidence favours the use of a moderately slanted filiform
style,rwhosedown strokes and loops are so formed as to promote facility of execution'.
The use of a script style of handwriting at the beginning of Stage T w o often creates
problems. Some adults are opposed to script writing, either because it is used by
children or because they are preparing for a position which requires cursive writing.
7hc Teaching of Reading and Writing
In Puerto Rico’ and many other centres, it has been found advisable, if problems
arise, to give students the opportunity of choosing the style of writing they will learn.
They can make a sound decision, however, only after the relative merits of script
and cursive writing have been discussed and they have had at least some practice
in writing each. T o provide the necessary practice some centres use the following
exercise,’ which should be duplicated, if possible, or written on the blackboard :
(Picture of a cat)
As soon as copies are in the hands of a class, or on the blackboard, attention should
be directed in turn to each of the two styles of handwriting represented. Their
relative merits should be considered with emphasis on the fact that one is used most
by adults and the other is easier to learn. JtAk.aJs~-ad$&~
general intention
is to teach script writing first and cursive writing later to those w h o
iYolearn it. T h e students should then be told to write each word twice on the
left-hand side of the sheet, using first one model and then the other. After several
such exercises have been completed, they should be asked to write each word again
under the picture on the right-hand side, using the style of writing they prefer.
As a rule, the decision made by each student should be respected. If an individual
is uncertain as to which style to select, he should be encouraged to use script at first
and to change later to cursive writing if he wishes to do so.
T h e choice of a method of teaching handwriting is no less challenging than the
selection of the style of writing to use. Here the central issue concerns the wisdom of
initial practice in the elements of handwriting as contrasted with practice in forming
letters or whole words. Three different procedures are widely followed. In many
parts of the world practice is given, first, in the basic strokes involved in forming
most of the letters. T h e following quotation describes this procedure as used in
teaching adults to write Bengali.
The basis of Bengali writing is the horizontal line over the top of characters (fortunately,
the pupil will not have to overcome the tendency of those knowing the R o m a n script to write
above and not below ‘the line’). T h e next main form is the vertical upright stroke. Hence the
pupil should first be practised in writing horizontal and vertical lines and in joining them
Fortunately for the pupil, curves do not come in early as in R o m a n script.
T h e next lines the pupil will learn are lines sloping at an angle of 45 degrees in each
direction. ... Seven letters can be formed from these lines.. .. Next the pupil should be
practised in drawing small curves clockwise and anti-clockwiseat various angles. From these
he can add six letters. . ..After the pupil has mastered his ‘pot hooks’ (the basic forms c o m m o n
to most letters) as above, he can be taught to write other letters. T h e pupil should be taught
to write as soon as he can read a sufficient number of letters and, thereafter, when a n e w letter
is taught the pupil should always be taught to write it. T h e essential part of every letter
which distinguishes it from others should be pointed out to the pupil, and care taken that he
learns never to omit this part when he begins to write fast. T h e pupil should be given plenty
of writing to do, so that he feels he can write easily as well as read.$
Puerto Rico. Consejo Superior de Ensefianza, op. cit.
United States Armed Forces Institute. Improvingyour Reading. Bwk One.New York. Ginn and Co.,
1943, p. 15. ( W a r Department Education Manual, E.W.155.)
3. Bivar, op. cit., pp. 25-6.
Teaching Handmding to Adults
T h e foregoing plan, as applied to R o m a n letters, has been criticized by Montessori,
Dottrens and others on the ground that making straight lines is often harder than
making curved lines, or indeed entire letters. Moreover, practice in forming the
elements of letters is to a large extent a meaningless task and often fails to evoke
interest. These arguments apply to adults as well as to children. T h e fact must be
admitted that the forms of letters in some languages are far more complicated than
those of R o m a n letters. T h e writer has been unable to discover studies of the relative
merits of analytic versus synthetic methods of teaching handwriting where highly
complex graphic signs are used. Objective evidence is greatly needed concerning
this important issue.
Instead of beginning with the basic strokes of letters, a second plan provides
practice first on separate letten. They are introduced either in the order of presentation in the primer, in alphabetical order, or in groups that are similar in form.
Advocates of this plan claim that adults are greatly aided in learning to write by
comparing and writing letters which differ only in minor respects. As soon as a
sufficient number of letters have been learned they are written as parts of words.
T w o criticisms are made of this plan: it is difficult to arouse keen interest for any
length of time in making separate letters, and the writing of a letter is influenced to a
considerable extent by what precedes and follows it. These criticisms are being largely
obviated in some places by providing only a small amount of practice in forming
letters before the writing of words and short sentences actually begins.
A third plan starts with a whole word or phrase which the adult wants to write.
This is the so-called global plan of teaching handwriting. O n e of the advantages
claimed for it is that both the initial effort to write and subsequent practice are more
highly motivated than in either of the preceding plans. As new letters are introduced
they can be readily identified through analysis, followed by special attention to their
unique features. As an aid in learning to identify specific letters, some teachers w h o
favour the global plan place a copy of the alphabet in the hands of students to begin
with and make them copy all the letters two or three times, noting the special
characteristics of each one. As particular letters are later identified as parts of whole
words, additional practice is given in them to the extent needed.
Similarly, when students make mistakes in writing words attention is drawn to
the parts that cause difficulty. As progress in correcting mistakes is made, practice
in regard to the whole word continues. The distinct advantage of this plan is that
most of the practice is on the whole word, which alone has meaning. A n d it is the
meaning of what is written that brings about the continuity and fusion of the
successive movements required in writing. Because of the ability of most adults to
analyse wholes into their parts, attention can be concentrated on the improvement
of specific letters as parts of words almost as soon as practice in handwriting begins.
At least two important criticisms are made of this plan: too little attention is often
given to the correct formation of letters to ensure clear, legible writing (this is an error
on the part of the teacher rather than a weakness of the method) and it requires
insight on the part of teachers to deal with difficulties and make the necessary
adjustments in teaching to overcome them. Without doubt the training and experience of teachers and their personal preferences should determine the final choice
of a method; however, a clear understanding of individual difficulties and h o w to
meet them is essential in teaching adults to write whatever method be adopted.
W e may conclude that in the light of the evidence now available, it is difficult
to defend a method of teaching adults to write which concentrates attention at the
beginning on the elements of letters. Even when highly complex characters are used,
additional evidence is needed in order to justify its use. A far more valid method
concentrates attention from the beginning on the writing of whole words, coupled
lh Teaching of Reading and Writing
with sufficient practice on specific parts of words that cause difficulty to ensure
clear, legible writing. Reports from various centres point out the value of a brief
comparative study of the shapes of the letters and their striking features shortly
after training in handwriting begins. This enables students quickly to identify new
letters as they appear in words that are to be written. A n important outcome of the
use of this general procedure is a growing mastery of handwriting as an aid in the
expression of meaning.
W e n o w turn to the type of material that should be used in adult classes in mastering
the technique of handwriting. A c o m m o n practice has been to copy out new letters
and words introduced daily in the primer. This practice has the advantage that it
is economical, easy to work, and promotes progress in the recognition of n e w words.
Its weakness lies in the fact that the items written are unrelated to the writing
interests of adults; hence there is little incentive for engaging in it. It also tends to
cultivate the idea that writing consists primarily in copying rather than in giving
expression to ideas. These drawbacks have been partly overcome in recent reading
material for beginners' through the introduction of subject matter of immediate
interest to adults.
Another practice is based on material which the students are keenly interested
in learning to write, such as their names, addresses, the days of the week, things
to remember. Because the need for learning to write such items is clearly recognized,
the students give themselves whole-heartedly to the task. T h e usual procedure is as
follows :the teacher writes the material to be copied on the blackboard; the students
copy it as accurately as they can; mistakes are pointed out and rectified; the material
is rewritten until a clear, legible copy has been made. This procedure is criticized
because it requires careful planning by teachers to ensure orderly progress in
mastering all the essential aspects of handwriting and to adjust the practice activities
to the needs of individuals. In many places it is claimed that the literacy teachers
available are unable to plan and direct such a programme.
A third plan makes use of a set of practice materials which include carefully
worked out sequences of writing exercises. In the past, the materials used were
prepared by handwriting specialists and the same is true to some extent at present.
As a rule, the practice exercises provided were chosen with little or no recognition
of the felt needs of students for learning to write specific items. Because this plan
often failed to encourage students and prepare them directly to engage in writing
activities of immediate practical value, new types of practice materials2 have been
These newer materials take the form of workbooks and possess at least three
c o m m o n characteristics: they place great emphasis on the immediate handwriting
needs of adults; they provide copies and space for daily practice and they promote
language habits essential in most writing activities. T h e content of such workbooks
should vary, of course, to meet the needs of specific language and cultural areas.
If workbooks of this type are used they should be supplemented almost daily by
writing activities that grow out of the immediate interests and needs of a class.
Smith, Harley A. and King, Ida Lee. Z Want to Read and Write.Austin, Texas,The Stack Company
Publishers, 1950, 128 p.
Mitchell and Murphy, op. cit.
Owens, Albert A. and Sharlip, William. Elementary Education fw Adulfs, Philadelphia, Pa.,
John C.Winston Company, 1950,126 p.
Teaching Handm'titg &o Adults
For parts of the world where appropriate materials are lacking, responsible
agencies' often prepare manuals for the use of teachers which outline the essentials
in teaching adults to write. Such manuals are very useful in that they provide
guidance in selecting specific practice activities adapted to local needs. They do not
do away with the necessity for careful planning of handwriting programmes by
local groups or teachers.
Of great importance in teaching adults to write is a good u a c & w t
is a,valuable
aid in acquainting students with many practical u x n d w r i t i n g and in providing
them with models to be copied. Some of the initial writing activities of students can
also be carried on to great advantage at the blackboard.
tha alackboards
are rather expensive and sometimes difficult
to import, some communities cannot easily obtain them. Fortunately there are
O n e is a sturdy 'blackboard cloth' which can be tacked on to a flat surface.
Or the students 'can be encouraged to sand pieces of board or packing boxes, and
paint them with blackboard paint. These serve very well, even though the black
paint rubs off rather easily. Ordinary chalk can be used on either of these surfaces.
If there are schools in the area, it is possible that the blackboard cloth, blackboard,
paint and chalk can be obtained from the same company that suppliesthe schools.
No matter what style of writing is used, plain whit%lmruled paper and-$is&
smooth pencils with
or soft lead are needed. If the teacher or some agency
.supplies these materi
&ity is desirable. If the students purchase them, a clear
description of the types needed should be given. If those acquired vary somewhat
in nature, the resourceful teacher need not be discouraged. A-pen shp&d!_nGotw he
uzed during Stage T w o or until consider
with a pencil has been
achleved. Depending on tlie &&ice of th
dwriting specialist ConsuTtEiT, fountain
'pens m a y be used as soon as the students are ready to use ordinary pens. They have
the advantage of doing away with the need for ink-bottlesor wells. Ball-pointed pens
may be used as soon as students have learned to write fairly well with pencils. Like
the latter they often leave smudges on the paper.
As previously remarked, the teaching of handwriting should be intensely practical.
It should be based on materials adults want to write and should therefore be highly
motivated. T h e writing activities on a given day should be such that they can be
readily mastered, so that the students acquire a feeling of accomplishment and
progress. If prepared guides are available which are in harmony with sound procedures, they should be used, particularly by unexperienced teachers. As a partial
guide in areas where such materials are lacking, the following suggestions are put
I. Report on a Coursefw OrganizersofAdult Liilcmq Schemes, JVmthernRegion, held at Zaria from 23 M a y
to 3 kune 1950. (See also: Gray, William S.,Preliminary Suruty on Methodr of Teuhing Reading and
Writing, Part 11. Educational studies and documents, Education Clearing House, Unesco, Paris,
19538 PP. 71-3.)
2. Gudschinsky, Sarah. Handbook of Litcrucy. Norman, Okla., Summer Institute of Linguistics,
University of Oklahoma, 1953,p. 25.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
Adults should acquire an acquaintance with written symbols and their uses
before efforts to master the basic skills of handwriting begin. In communities in
which reading and writing are already cultivated this is usually managed for most
students before they enrol for literacy training. W h e n it is not, the types of activities
outlined for Stage O n e m a y have to be expanded and continued well into Stage Two.
Since all students want to learn to write their names, the effort which began
during Stage O n e m a y be continued to advantage. At the beginning of the handwriting period, provide each student with a copy of his first name. Call his attention
to the long and short letters and to other striking features. After he has written his
first name several times as a whole, he should practise writing each letter separately.
If connected script or cursive writing is used, at first, the teacher should rewrite the
name of each student leaving the letters unconnected. As the student practises with
each letter, his attention should be drawn to mistakes and he should be given the
necessary help. Near the end of the period he should write his first name again
several times as a whole.
During the next five practice periods the same procedure should be followed as
the students learn to write their last names, their whole names, and their addresses,
including house number and name of street, if any. Before beginning each new step,
the previous items learned should be reviewed. As the letters are practised they
should be compared with a complete set of the letters on the blackboard or on a chart,
Some teachers provide each student at this time with a copy of all the letters written
in capital and small form, one above the other. These are referred to daily by the
students in comparing the accuracy of the various letters which they write. As each
new letter is learned, the student should memorize its name for future use. H e should
also check it against his personal set of letters in order to note the progress he is
making from day to day.
By this time most of the students will have learned to write half or more of the
letters. Different students will know different ones of course. They should be
encouraged to learn to write the remaining ones as quickly as possible. S o m e teachers
give different words from day to day representing things or activities in which the
students have expressed keen interest. Practice is then provided in writing each
word as a whole and in mastering its details, according to the plan outlined above.
Other teachers prepare a sentence which includes all the letters in the alphabet
(e.g.: ‘The brown fox jumps over the lazy dog quickly’). T h e students are then
encouraged to practise writing the various words. They should be able to do much
of this work at home. T h e teacher should therefore supply each student with a carefully written copy of the sentence. Students should keep a record of the results of
their initial efforts in writing each word, each new letter, and then the word as a
whole again.
W h e n the students present their homework each day the teacher should look
over it carefully. If the final copies are unsatisfactory, he should ask the students
to identify the mistakes made by comparing their copies with the letters on the model
chart. Any assistance in identifying mistakes should be provided. Gradually,
however, all students should be able to judge of the accuracy and quality of their
o w n handwriting. As specific mistakes are noted they m a y be dealt with by students
in the following manner: (a) tracing a model of a letter, saying its name; (b) tracing
it several more times with a pencil; (c) covering the letter and writing it once on
paper; (d) comparing the letter with the model ; (e) if correct, rewriting it several
more times to ensure mastery; if not, repeating the preceding steps until reasonable
accuracy is attained.
Students m a y also begin to write the new words in the reading lesson as an aid to
remembering their form and learning to spell them. T h e value of such exercises is
Teachim Handwritinn to Adults
enhanced to the extent that the students have already learned to form all the letters.
Effort can then be concentrated on remembering the word and on its spelling. As
soon as students have learned all the letters they can begin to write sentences. Such
tasks may also be set as homework. The results should be reviewed in class the next
day and rewritten, if necessary, to ensure a clear, legible copy.
W h e n the various letters of the alphabet have been mastered, effort m a y be
concentrated throughout the remainder of Stage T w o on learning to write items of
practical value to students, such as how to compose a letter, laying emphasis on each
of the following: (a) the addressing of an envelope, first to oneself and then to the
person to w h o m the letter is to be sent; (b) the date of the letter with the writer’s
address above it; (c) the salutation; (d) the body of the letter-this should be very
short (rWe are all well. W
ill you write to me?’) ; (e) the close of the letter. After
this preliminary training, each student m a y attempt to write a very short letter to
someone. This should be preceded by a discussion of the things they might wish to
say. Model sentences should be written on the blackboard to be copied as needed.
T h e teacher m a y find it necessary to provide individual students with additional
models. After the letter has been written it should be appraised by the student and
rewritten until a clear, legible copy of it is achieved.
The above are suggestions only. They m a y be modified or extended to meet
the needs of specific communities. If script writing is used, teachers will find the
references on page 2 I 5 and in Carpenter’s Reading and Writing for ALP very helpful
both in learning to write script and in getting to know important details with regard
to teaching it. If a cursive or other complex style of writing is used, each teacher
should get hold of the best guide for the system used and study it carefully so as to
familiarize himself with its special problems and difficulties.
Because many adults drop out of literacy classes at the end of Stage Two, two additional steps are desirable.T h e foregoing training in writing letters should be supplemented by providing students with models of several types of brief personal and
business letters for which they will probably have greater need. If duplicated copies
cannot be provided, they m a y be written on the blackboard and copied by the
students. Special attention should be called to the form of the heading, the salutation,
the body of the letter, the complimentary ending and signature. If students attempt
to adapt any of the suggested forms to their personal needs during Stage T w o , help
should be given wherever necessary.
In some illiterate classes adults are provided with a booklet of forms,2 which
serve as a guide both while classes are in progress and as a source of self-help after
the training period is over. A booklet of this type has been used also in literacy work
in the Sudan.3 It opens with a discussion of h o w to write a letter. This is followed by
descriptions of situations which often lead to letter writing, each accompanied by a
sample letter. Typical samples are: a letter from a father to his son; a letter to a
government inspector applying for permission to build a d a m ; a letter from a husband
to his wife; a letter of condolence; a request for a loan; an application for a job, etc.
Another thing that should be done is to familiarize the members of a class with
I. Carpenter, A.J. Reading
and Writing for All, op. cit.
Rosenfeld, Jeannette B. and Casa, Angelica W. Write your Own Letters. Simple Letters for Adults.
N e w York,Noble and Noble Publishers, Inc., 1950, 64 p.
3. Khartoum. Institute of Education. Publications Bureau. Kai~ kktub khifiban (How to write a
letter). Khartoum, 1952, 32 p. (Serial No. P/B/E/q.)
7% Teachiq of Reading and Writing
such printed forms as are used in the community and which must be filled out on
occasion by adults. A display of deposit slips, notes, receipts and money orden
should be posted on the bulletin board where they can be studied at leisure. Time
should be ieserved during class periods to discuss the purpose of each, how it is
used, and the way to fill it out properly. Copies of the various forms should be
obtained in sufficient quantity so that every student can fill out one of cach kind,
preferably in script, and keep the lot as models for future use.
The chief objects of the training given during Stage Three are to improve the quality
of the handwriting of students and to promote increased competence in its use in
meeting practical needs. These objects are achieved during a period in which adults
learn to spell and read the most frequently used words in their oral vocabulary.
At the beginning of Stage Three, the teacher should make a careful survey of the
chief uses of handwriting among adults in the community and of the information
and skills required in each case. T h e members of the class are, of course, a valuable
source of information. In addition, the teacher should confer with such people as
the postmaster, the storekeeper, employers, literate farmers, the magistrate, the
town clerk etc. In the light of all the information obtained, the teacher should plan a
programme of handwriting to meet the various practical needs of local life.
Definite improvement should be made during Stage Three in ability to write clearly
and legibly. If a prescribed system of handwriting was used during Stage Two, it
should be continued, as a rule, unless it has been found to be unsatisfactory for
any reason. If, however, unconnected script was used, and it is planned to transfer
to cursive writing later, connected script should be introduced at or near the
beginning of Stage Three. As a partial guide to teachers w h o find it necessary to
plan the handwriting programme for their students,we offer the following suggestions:
I. A review of the items which the students learned to write during Stage Two,
their names, addresses, the letters of the alphabet, and numbers I to IO. In
reviewing the letters of the alphabet, use should be made of words of high
interest value and of the sentence comprising all the letters of the alphabet that
was suggested for Stage Two.
2. Capital letters. Students should learn to write and use all capital letters. The
same words which begin with small letters should be written by them beginning
with capital letters. Whenever a student is uncertain, he should refer to his
standard copy of the letters and practise writing the word with a capital letter
until he has learned to write it legibly and without hesitation. Tests should be
held from time to time to see ifstudents are able to write down given words with
capitals without reference to any such standard copy.
3. Difficult combinations of letters. Each alphabetic language has combinations
of letters which are more difficult to write than others. For example, bay on, vi,
we and qu present problems where R o m a n letters and cursive writing are used.
Each such combination should be discussed, attention being called to the way
in which the two letters are joined. Frequent opportunities should be provided
for practising difficult combinations until they can be written correctly.
Teaching Handwriting to Adults
4. Forming and writing sentences. If adults are to use handwriting for conveying
ideas to others, they should learn to plan and write sentences. A helpful exercise
is to place on the blackboard questions which the students can answer in complete
form. For example: ‘Do you like to read?’ T h e students write: ‘I like to read’.
By carefully selecting his questions the teacher can acquaint students with many
characteristics of a written language, such as the use of marks to indicate tonal
5. Copying new words and short passages that appear in reading lessons. T h e
purpose is not only to improve the quality of the handwriting but to learn to
spell words which adults will be continually using in their o w n writing activities.
Teachers should give frequent spelling and dictation tests to check up on the
progress in spelling.
In effortsto improve the quality of the handwriting in all types of practice activities
various devices m a y be employed. T o stimulate a student’s pride in his handwriting,
well merited praise is often very effective. T h e use of a bulletin board on which good
samples of students’ handwriting are posted usually promotes keen interest and
competition. It is also useful to make each student keep dated samples of his writing
in a folder and compare them from time to time for evidence of progress.
Another device is to develop the habit of continuous self-appraisal on the part
of students. (An individual copy of the letters in both capital and small form is
essential in this connexion.) They should be encouraged to compare their o w n
writing with their copy of the letters after each practice exercise. If mistakes are
found, efforts should be made to correct them by means of the techniques described
in Chapter X.As soon as this has become part of a student’s routine, his handwriting
activities can largely be carried on at home. S o m e of them, however, should still
take place under the teacher’s supervision so that he can provide the necessary
guidance, and all homework should be brought to class for him to examine. Anything
not satisfactory should be rewritten until it is perfectly legible.
Training in the practical uses of handwriting should parallel the effort to promote
greater mastery of the skills of handwriting throughout Stage Three. It m a y begin
with a review of what was learned during the preceding stage about letter writing.
This can be done by means of a letter of excuse written to a day-school teacher.
At the suggestion of the class, the teacher writes on the blackboard the date, the
salutation, the body of the letter (‘Jane was sick yesterday. She could not go to
school. Please excuse her’), the complimentary close, the signature. Each student
then makes a copy, compares it with his standard copy of the letters of the alphabet
and rewrites the letter, if necessary, until a legible example of it has been made.
In order to deal with the problems encountered by students in writing personal
letters, the following methods m a y be adopted :
I. Discuss briefly the purpose of such letters, the occasions when they are usually
written, and the principal contents (date, opening words, body of the letter,
closing words, signature and address).
2. Consider more fully the importance of the writer’s address and the date, and their
place in the letter. Write on the blackboard the several ways in which the address
and date can be written (complete,incomplete,at the beginning, at the end, etc.).
Discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of each. D r a w attention to the
most generally accepted form. M a k e each student write the appropriate address
in his own case, and the date.
lh Teazhing of Reading and Writing
3. Discuss next the purpose of the salutation or greeting, the form to use in writing
to members of one’s immediate family, to relatives, to close friends and to
acquaintances; also the use of ‘Doctor’or other special titles. Then give practice
in selecting and writing the appropriate salutationb the casg &various people.
4. T h e body of a letter should be studied with special care. After reviewing the
reasons for personal letters, each member of the class should decide on some
reason for corresponding with a particular person and should write a very brief
letter with that purpose in mind. While the students are thus occupied, the
teacher should move about among them and give help where needed. As soon
as the letters are finished, some of them should be read to the class for comments
and suggestions.
5. T h e closing of the letter and the signature can properly be studied together.
T h e same method should be used as the one suggested for teaching the different
kinds of greeting.
After this series of discussions, several periods should be devoted to practice.
Encourage the students to prepare letters they really want to write. Limit the length
of the letters at first to a very few sentences.As a rule, the content of the letter should
be expressed in the words the students know. If, however, a particular student cannot
spell a word essential to his letter, the teacher should spell it for him.
As progress is made in the writing of personal letters, the form and content of
business letters should be studied. T h e various parts of such letters should be
considered individually, according to the procedure outlined above for personal
letters. Attentjon should then be given, in turn, to writing a series of short business
letters which the members of the class would most likely have occasion to write-a
request for a catalogue, the price of an article or other specific information, an
order for goods, a letter containing a remittance, a request for street or road
improvement. As attention is concentrated first on one type of letter and then
another, the teacher should help the students word the letter. After it has been
completed the students should copy it and rewrite it, if necessary, until a legible
copy has been made. This should be kept in the student’s folder or workbook
for future reference. This procedure is essential, particularly if a printed copy
of samples of letters, similar to the one referred to on page 239 is not available.
At frequent intervals throughout Stage Three a careful study should be made of
the various printed forms which were placed on the bulletin board and examined
briefly towards the end of Stage Two. They include such items as deposit slips,
money orders, notes. It is advisable to secure for class use twice as many copies
of each form as there are students.T h e various items on the form should be discussed
in order, until their meaning and importance are clear, special attention being paid
to the parts that have to be filled in. See that each student practices writing the
various items until he can do so clearly and legibly. A copy of the form should then
be filled out by each student and placed in his folder for future reference.
Throughout Stage Three teachers should give special attention to the needs of all
students w h o find it difficult to learn to write well. It is advisable to limit such
attention to the needs of one student at a time, beginning with the student having
greatest difficulty. T h e first step is to examine a student’s handwriting critically to
find out the nature of his errors or difficulties. A detailed comparison of the student’s
writing with good models of the system of handwriting used is generally very
revealing. T h e technique to use in making such an analysis is illustrated by Free-
Teachina Handwriting
man’s chart for diagnosing faults in handwriting, (see Figure 20). T h e fact should be
kept clearly in mind, however, in making such a diagnosis, that the chief aim is not
exact conformity to the model but a clear, legible style of handwriting adapted to
the capabilities of the student. T h e second step is to observe the student during the
process of handwriting to identify possible causes of error or difficulty-failure to
observe the forms of letters carefully, inability to keep essential details in mind,
stiffness in muscles or joints, carelessness. T h e third step is to adopt a series of
practice exercises adapted to his specific needs and closely to supervise his efforts
until improvement occurs. Special attention can then be given to a second case.
In the course of a few weeks the teacher should acquire at least a fair understanding
of the main difficulties each student encounters in learning to write, and should
have made definite progress in overcoming them.
A n examination test at the end of Stage Three m a y include the writing of a personal
letter a business letter, the filling out of forms, and the writing of a series of two
or more brief paragraphs limited to words in the thousand most frequently used words
in the language. In judging the students’ efficiency, such matters as the following
should be considered: quality of the handwriting, correctness of the forms used in
writing letters-spelling, punctuation, and language usage.
At least four aims direct the nature and scope of the handwriting programme during
Stage Four. T h e first is to continue the training of students in the skills and uses of
handwriting along the lines suggested for Stage Three. For those w h o do not care
to learn a cursive style of handwriting, continued use should be made of script
writing. The second is to effect the transfer to cursive writing in the case of all students
w h o now prefer it. If they have been taught to use connected script, as suggested
earlier, the change to cursive writing should not be difficult. Intensive training
should, however, be given as soon as possible. This involves, first, a careful study of
differences in the forms of the respective letters and, secondly, repeated practice in
making them, preferably as parts of words, until students are able to write them
clearly and legibly. In this connexion, good use can be made of the steps outlined
in Chapter X, page 218 and 223-4. A good quality of handwriting should be
attained before emphasis is laid on speed.
A third aim is to prepare adults to use handwriting as an aid in earning a living.
T o an ever-increasing extent many types of jobs require the use of handwriting in
one form or another. T h e teacher should make a study of such requirements in the
community and develop among his students the knowledge and skills needed. It is
often very useful to get an employer to describe to the students the kinds of forms
to be filled out and reports to be made. More and more, those w h o wish to apply
for jobs are being required to do so in writing. These letters are read carefully, first,
for the specific information they contain and, secondly, for clues concerning the
applicants’ neatness, carefulness, preciseness. Extended training in the content, form,
effectiveness of expression and quality of writing in letters of application is therefore
very important.
M a n y of the young people and adults n o w in class are potential community
7 7 ~Teaching of Reading and Writing
leaders. U p o n them will be placed responsibility for preparing minutes of meetings,
keeping records of organizations, and summarizing in written form the results of
observations, discussions and community projects of various types. Furthermore,
some of them w
ill derive increasing pleasure from recording their experiences and
expressing their ideas in written form.As a result of advanced training, young people
and adults should be able to participate in these various activities with greater
effectiveness. This means ability to express ideas clearly, forcefully and in a correct
It follows that the language arts programme at the adult level should be
I extended far beyond its usual limits in most communities.F+oyision should be made
I for the s y s t e a'dance .oftho_sew h o s h prkse w d g r c eager to improve
eir writ
asampetentAea&er.~f gral and written expression. A first
a teacher is to help adults discover motives for writing and
aid them in finding appropriate content. A second is to examine their written work
with care and find out the strong points, deficiencies and needs of each one. A third
is to provide the special information and skills required to overcome defects and
increase the effectiveness of their writing. A fourth is to provide continuous encouragement and sympathetic guidance. As a result, many young people and adults will
not only be able to live their o w n lives more fully and abundantly but will be prepared to render community service of greater value.
T w o facts stand out impressively in the preceding discussions. The first is the need
vkorous effort everywhere if world liter
to b g a ~ a e d .The second is the
need for adopting literacy programmes and
ing procedures tQ the demands of
specific communities. This implies that local leaders face challenging responsibilities
in developing appropriate programmes and in providing the human and material
resources required. -It seems advisable, therefore, as the final stage in this report,
to discuss the main problems with which these leaders will be called upon to deal.
Qwing to the great urgency2f these probless, the discussion will be limited to the
promotion of literacy at the adufi-k?Gf'and in the vernacular.
Let us, first, review briefly the main facts and conclusions reached in previous
sections of this report. They form the basis of the proposals which follow.
The promotion of literacy is not an end in itself It is rather an integral part of a
broad attack on all the conditions that are detrimental to individual welfare and
+etard group progress.
As one of the vital factors in this process, fundamental education seeks to help
people understand their immediate problems and provide them with the attitudes
and skills needed for solving them through their o w n efforts..In carrying out these
purposes, every means of communicating ideas and all available aids to learning
are used. Although concrete aids to learning are employed almost entirely in the
initial attack on problems, sooner or later ability to read and write is essential in
promoting individual and group progress.
Reading is of great value in meeting the practical needs of daily life,in improving
health and standards of living, in acquiring a growing sense of citizenship and
willingness to work for the good of all, in widening one's understanding of the
world, broadening one's cultural background, and satisfying religious needs and
aspirations. It is of particular importance in the study of personal problems.
If reading and writing are to achieve the broad purposes outlined above, the
minimum standards of literacy that prevailed earlier are no longer adequate.
Instead, the training must be continued until functional literacy is attained. This
was defined as that level of ability to read and write which enables individuals to
engage effectively in all those activities normally undertaken within a specific group
and within the broader culture of which it is a part.
T h e nature and scope of literacy programmes and many of the specific e d s to
;i be achieve are definitely influenced by the needs and conditions prevailing in
Ilu Teaching of Reading and Writing
I specific areas. This is due to the fact that individuals and groups are in large measure
the products of their cultural heritage. They vary in their needs, level of advancement and aspirations, in their anthropological and historical background, their
geographic location and their contacts with other cultures and groups, and in the
various social, economic, political, religious, and educational forces operating among
them. As a result, the nature and extent of their immediate need for literacy differ
T w o main principles have been adopted as valid guides in planning literacy
training:first, the nature and duration of the training should be adapted to the needs
of the specific group served, and secondly, the reading and writing activities provided
shbuTd'Ije based on the immediate interests, motives and purposes of those taught.
T h e nature of the training given is further influenced by the form and structure
of the language involved. Specific problems encountered in developing skill in word
recognition depend, in part, on the kind of characters used in the written language.
Moreover, many languages which employ the same kind of characters differ in other
important respects which make the use of special techniques necessary.
Fortunately, however, the reading act as such is the same in most, if not all,
languages. For example, all good readers read with their minds intent on meaning.
As they do so their eyes move along the lines in a series of short alternate movements
and pauses. As a rule, they recognize words as wholes, usually in units of two or more.
At times, they make regressive or backward movements along the lines in the effort
to grasp a new word accurately or to obtain a clearer sense of the meaning. However,
they have mastered the basic reading skills so well that they engage with little or no
difficulty in either silent or oral reading.
The basic attitudes and skills involved in reading are the same in all languages,
and m a y be classified under four heads: the accurate perception of words, a clear
grasp of the meaning of what is read, thoughtful reaction to the ideas acquired, and
their use or application. This provides a c o m m o n framework, or set of objectives,
within which many of the problems faced today in promoting world literacy can be
discussed to advantage.
The methods of teaching reading which have been used in the past vary both
in their nature and in the assumptions that underlie them. They were studied first
historically to identify the trends which developed as a result of tested experience.
The earliest methods concentrated at the beginning on the elements of words, on
the assumption that a mastery of them was an essential aid to word recognition.
These methods were followed in turn by others which made use from the beginning
of word wholes and larger language units. The words thus learned were sooner or
later broken down into their elements and used as aids to word recognition. The
assumption was that the meaning of what is read should be stressed from the
beginning, and that this approach to word mastery harmonizes closely with the way
in which both children and adults learn in general. Recent trends have been eclectic
in character, thus incorporating into a single system many elements of earlier
teaching procedures of established worth. They are also learner-centred, on the
assumption that learning is more rapid and effective when the materials used are
based on the learner's immediate interests and felt needs and the methods are adapted
to his level of maturity and unique characteristics.
A study of the results of research into methods of teaching reading led to four
significant conclusions: (a) A given method does not always produce equally good
results wherever it is used. This implies that there are other factors, such as the
efficiency of the teacher and the capacity of the learner, that influence progress.
(b) Different methods produce different attitudes and skills. For example, primary
emphasis on the elements of words promotes skill in word recognition;that on whole
Action Required & Attain thc Goal
words develops a concern for the content of what is read. (c) T h e use of different
methods starts pupils on different roads towards ability to read. T o ensure efficient
reading, all aspects of reading must sooner or later be cultivated. (d) Best results are
secured, as a rule, when both a clear grasp of meaning and accuracy in word
recognition are stressed from the beginning.
The chief trends in the teaching of handwriting have been similar to those in
reading. As a result, initial writing activities in the case of both children and adults
start with the writing of whole words, supplemented by training in specificelements
where needed. T h e use of simplified forms 'of writing is preferred during the early
stages. Instruction in handwriting parallels that of reading from the beginning.
Although the materials used in teaching handwriting are based far less than formerly
on the contents of primers, handwriting is used as soon as possible as an aid in
mastering word recognition and spelling.
Proposals made in connexion with promoting world literacy will be considered
under the following headings : t
E SJfl~racy organization; administrative or
directing agencies; language problem ; community needs, awareness and co-operation ; planning suitable literacy programmes ; developing instructional materials;
recruitment and training of teachers; supervi$-on and improvement of teaching;
evaluation of the programme; and necessary research.
In the effort to meet the needs of different situations, literacy work has been
organized in various ways. A recent survey1 indicates the four main ones.
This is the commonest type of all. It develops within a local area when a few adults
w h o are unable to read and write acquire a need or desire to do so. Requests m a y
come from members of a co-operative organization to their director; from members
of a church to their minister or missionary; from certain inhabitants of a village
to their spokesman; from w o m e n to a local nurse. Often the suggestion comes the
other way round. For example, a fundamental education worker m a y suggest to a
group that they could be better farmers if they were able to read. In whatever way
the suggestions may arise, training is provided through the resources available in an
effort to supply a genuine need which is keenly felt by a few. In the absence of a
more broadly organized programme, this plan has distinct advantages.
(b) THE
This plan is commonly characterized by an intensive literacy drive. It is usually
conceived by certain leaders w h o are convinced that both personal and group
welfare would be greatly improved if more people could read and write. Accordingly,
both the human and material resources needed are mobilized for a drive that m a y
be restricted in area or duration, or both. M a n y different techniques are used to
arouse the interest of adults: posters,
-radio, personal and public appeal, parades,
Roberb, D.B. Types of Organuation in Adult and Mas Li&rq Work. Sydney, South Pacific Commission, 1952, IO p. (Technical paper, No. 32.) Published also in French.
of Reading and
demonstrrations. T h e goal sought is ability to read and write on the part of all. All
too frequently there is no follow-up stimulation and guidance to ensure that the
abilities acquired play a continuing part in the life of the individual.
This plan is organized on a long-term basis and is usually designed to attain universal
literacy within a reasonable period of time, such as a generation. In some cases,
however, provision for literacy training is made without setting a time-limit. T h e
aim is then to provide literacy training whenever, and for as long as it is needed. The
organization m a y be country-or territory-wide, or it m a y be restricted to a
specific area or community which recognizes an urgent need to rake its literacy
level. A permanent literacy organization has the advantage of being able to continue
the training until functional literacy is attained and of providing various types of
follow-up stimulation and guidance. Studies made in India' and other countries
show that there is usually a marked decline in ability to read and write after shorttime periods of training without any follow-up.
This is a combination of the plans (b) and (c). Instead of spreading over a whole
area at the same time, as in the case of (c), it sends out teams at different times
and places to carry out an intensive campaign as in (b). Such a plan has the
advantage of providing experienced workers to help organize and launch a campaign. A team rarely remains in a community until its task is completed. O n e of its
specific functions before leaving a community should be to set up a permanent body
of trained personnel to carry on. Only where such steps are taken will the efforts
of a team prove effective.
A detailed analysis of the above plans shows that there are three stages in the
development of a literate community: the arousing of keen interest among members
of the group; training under efficient teachers until functional literacy is attained;
and the provision of follow-up stimulation and guidance. A n y plan which fails to
include all three stages is inadequate.
In developing an adequate literacy programme, an administrative or directing
agency with vision, technical insight and resources is indispensable. All too often
in the past the responsibility for literacy work has been left entirely in the hands of
small self-initiated local groups. Such groups merit genuine commendation for their
high purposes and effort. But results are usually far more effective when literacy
programmes are stimulated and directed through the co-ordinated efforts of two
types of agencies.
Cadgil,D.R.Report of [email protected]
info the Problem of LUPM into Illi&racy in the Saha Dirtrid. Bombay,
Government Printer and Stationer, 1945,126p.
Action Rewired to Attain the Coal
Whenever possible the literacy work of a given community should be an integral
part of a regional, territorial or national programme. If carefully organized, the
directing agency can assume the responsibility for intensive studies of existing
conditions and needs, for preparing detailed plans of action, for securing specialists
to aid in the production of materials, and for providing needed guidance in local
areas. There are many different types of such agehcies of which w e give three
examples here.
A Service Commission
T h e South Pacific Commission was organized to render guidance and service among
numerous groups of islands in the Pacific.As a first step in attacking literacy problems
the Research Council of the Commission made a survey and reached the following
*conclusions: (a) li_teracy work should be related wherever possible to other aspects
of community development; (b) it should not be pushed ahead of the felt need for
‘literacyon the part of the people themserves; and (c) an adequate supply of reading
material is essential if literacy training is to be effective. T h e council then drew up a
I long-term programme of technical assistance to territorial governments with respect
to methods, organization and equipment. The main features of the plan1 were:
‘I. The conduct of a survey of literacy techniques in use throughout the world,
in order to find out which are best suited for use in the area.
‘11. The establishment of the South Pacific Literature Bureau, with the broad
aim of stimulating the production of literature for the islanders, including special
types of reading matter required for literacy teaching, and
‘111. T h e appointment of a literacy adviser who, under the supervision of the
Organizer for Island Literature, will be concerned with the preparation of materials
for literacy teaching--see11-(including so-called “follow-up” literature for newly
literates) and continue the study of methods-see I-by practical experimentation
in the field,trying out various techniques with selected groups.’
T h e foregoing plan is admirably adjusted to the needs of the area served. T h e
stimulation and help provided by the commission is convincing evidence of the value
of well conceived aggressive service agencies.
Association of Tm‘torial Agencies
A second type of over-all leadership is represented by a Conference of Provincial
Representatives2 held in June 1950, under the chairmanship of the Chief Commissioner, to consider plans for extending literacy in Nigeria. As a result of extended
discussions, a so-called Literacy Scheme was proposed which made possible the
development of programmes throughout Nigeria adapted to local needs and aspirations. A ‘literacy scheme’ was designed so as to provide for about xoo,ooo people
representing a part or the whole of a unifiedsocial or racial group, and to be managed
directly by an organizer appointed by the local administrative authorities. H
duties were to organize and direct the programme in harmony with decisions reached
by the Regional Adult Education Officer and the Native Administration.
Each scheme was planned to operate 30 centres at a time. Each centre was to
Roberts, D.B. T M of Organization in Adult and Mau Literaq Work, op. cit., pp. 1-2.
Conference of Provincial Representatives. Zaria, Nigeria, June 1950. &port ... to Discurs tlu
Adult Littracy Campaign, Northern Rcgwn. Zaria, Gaskiya Corporation, 1950, 13 p.
Tht Teaching of Reading and Writing
serve groups of small towns and farming communities, or wards in large towns and
cities. While it was not possible to provide classes in each particular group of
dwellings, the aim was to have them within easy walking distance for everyone. As
many as three classes might go on at the same time in each centre. The teachers were
to be local literates w h o would teach a few hours each week according to a syllabus.
Literacy certificates were to be granted to those w h o passed a standard test. As soon
as a reasonable percentage of the population served by a centre had passed the test,
the centre was to open elsewhere.
A Department or Ministry
of Education
To a rapidly increasing extent Departments or Ministries of Education have
assumed during recent yean responsibility for the extension of literacy throughout
their administrative areas. This is admirably illustrated in the case of the Republic
of Indonesia. In order to direct efficiently the education of its adult population, the
Ministry of Education, Instruction and Culture’ set up a Department of Mass
Education and approved a ten-year programme for the elimination of illiteracy,
beginning in 1951.Its purpose was ‘to provide the mass with a sufficient level of
education, including the ability to read and write, so as to understand the immediate
factors affecting their daily lives and international affairs’. The main decisions were:
T o use the R o m a n alphabet.
T o teach the basic skills of reading and writing (during the first three months of the
anti-illiteracy course).
T o lay the foundation of an elementary education (during the following three
T o hold ‘discussions at duly organized readers’ and listeners’ clubs’ in order to
extend elementary education.
‘To provide reading matter in conformity with area and village needs through the
publication of folks’ magazines (both by the area and Head Office) and through
the maintenance of Folk Libraries.’
T o provide adult courses in which the knowledge so acquired can be applied to the
enhancement of daily living.
According to the regulations which were adopted, anti-illiteracy courses can be
organized by any village community, private organization, factory, commercial
or other institution, ‘provided that the nearest Mass Education Office is notified in
advance’. Teachers are selected from those w h o have completed their elementary
education or pass an Anti-illiteracy Instructor Course. Such courses are organized
and outlines provided by the Department of Mass Education. The local programmes
are under the immediate direction of Sub-districtMass Education Committees which
receive a stipulated amount of government aid for each course given. Final authority
for the extension and improvement of the plan is vested in the Director of Mass
Education and the Officer in Charge of the Anti-Illiteracy Section.
Three types of over-all planning, guidance and administration have just been
described. Scores of equally suggestive plans could be reported. Both service and
administrative agencies make genuine contributions. Leaders in every area of the
world where such agencies do not exist at present should work toward their establiihment. All-important considerations are: the provision for the intensive study of
conditions and needs within the area; the development of a plan to ensure the
elimination of illiteracy throughout the area within a period of time; the setting up of
agencies for the development of literacy programmes and of instructional and
I. Indonesia. Djawatan Pendidikan Masjarakat. Mars E&&
in Zn&nesia. (Jakarta, 1953), 199p.
Action Reguired to Attain the Goal
follow-up materials; the training of teachers; the supervision of instruction; the
carrying on of necessary field studies and experiments; and the continual evaluation
and improvement of the programme.
- outside help and guidance are essential, the ultimate success of any literacy
programme depends upon local effort. Unless a community recognizes the urgent
need for literacy, is eager to acquire the necessary skills and is willing to strive to
improve its status, little real progress can be made. Accordingly, a vigorous local
committee consisting of leaders in all walks of community life is an essential aspect
of any literacy scheme.Not infrequently it is self-created,initiates plans for a literacy
campaign, and assumes full responsibility for its direction. At other times, local
committees are organized by and co-operate with administrative agencies of the
territory or country in planning and carrying on a literacy programme. For example,
the Conference of Provincial Representatives in Nigeria proposed the setting up of
local committees composed of ‘responsibleminded local officials’genuinely interested
in community welfare, and willing to devote ‘time regularly to the management of
literacy schemes’. T h e functions of such committees were defined as follows:
T o study organized reports and discuss with them the contents.
T o place orders for materials.
T o organize the distribution and sale of literature and materials.
T o manage the funds available, and keep the books.
T o arrange for the enrolment of classes according to the convenience of the people.
T o keep a record of all certificates issued, giving a serial number to each, so that the
total is always known.
T o organize examinations and be represented on the examination board, and to
issue certificates.
T o organize internal postal services.
T o appoint and dismiss instructors; to select organizers and replace them, if necessary, after consultation, through the usual channels, with the Regional Adult
Education Officer.
T o keep the Regional Adult Education Officer informed of the state of each scheme,
through the usual channels.
T o encourage the development of anything that can derive from, or follow on, the
literacy schemes ; lectures, discussions, English classes, etc.l
T h e actual duties which local committees assume vary widely with conditions.
Such committees serve especially to arouse genuine community interest, to obtain
the necessary human and material aid, to help adjust the programme to local
needs, and to render administrative assistance.
The activities of regional, territorial, national and local agencies should be governed
by certain basic principles clearly understood by all. T h e following were issued as
guides by the Department of Social Welfare of the Gold Coast2 in its mass literacy
and education programme.
Conference of Provincial Representatives, Zaria, Nigeria,June 1950,Rcport, op. cit., p. I I.
Gold Coast. Department of Social Welfare. Plan for Mars Likracy and Man Education. [Accra] I 95I,
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
Concentration of effort is-.-essential
. _.-- to
”-*. success. T h e best methods are an ‘ahin’
campiugn over a wide area for a short time as regards literacy, or a prolonged effort
concentrated on a village or a group of villages as regards demonstration of community development.
Inspired leadership is essential, starting at the top by the leaders of political and
moral thought and given ungrudgingly at every level by all the people of the country
in positions of authority and respect.
Leadership must call forth voluntary effort and stimulate local self-help for its
l o w n sake, because it is demoralizing to do fyr people what they can do for themselves;
for economy’s sake, because a campaign by paid effort would be intolerablyexpensive,
1 and for efficiency’s sake because experience elsewhere shows that it would be
\ uninspired, ineffective and the negation of progress.
T h e right approach to adults must be at the basis of the whole programme and
be emphasized in the training of voluntary leaders. An adult cannot be made to
learn; an adult learns quickest and most surely when he knows why; he can only be
persuaded to accept or to do what does not conflict with his past experience and
what does relate to his future purposes in life.
Ideas cannot be imposed on a village; the dynamic force of self-development
will only grow where villages are encouraged to do what they recognize to be of
importance, or what they want to do; this is the surest and quickest way of improving
rural conditions ‘at grass root level’.
T h e voluntary effort of local leaders becomes effective when it is organized,
supported and trained by a sympathetic and devoted official staff. Training of all
village leaders and of all official staff must be regular and continuous.
Literacy in the vernacular must form an important feature of the programme
in every area. It must be supplemented by other needed types of training.
Reading material must be directed first towards the needs and interest of villagers,
and later of townsmen; it must be designed for enjoyment as well as instruction, and
it must be readily available in quantity.
A critical analysis of what has been achieved must be attempted at the conclusion
of every campaign, or at other regular intervals, for the purpose of improving mass
education by the lessons of experience.
The above principles are very inspiring. Each area and committee should be
guided by an equally cogent set in keeping with its o w n needs and conditions.
Since literacy is a means to broader ends the training provided in any community
should be planned in the light of all the conditions that affect the status and welfare
of that community. T h e essential facts have been outlined in previous reports.’
W e make the following suggestions:
T h e characteristics of the larger geographic, social, linguistic and cultural area of
which the community is a part.
T h e extent and nature of the contacts with other groups.
The history and traditions of the group.
The social, political, economic and legal structure of the area.
T h e various forces-social, political, economic, religious, educational-that operate
among and within groups.
Fwrdcuncnlal &ation:
Fundarnmlol Educatwn, I.)
I. Unesco.
Desnipwn and Programme. Paris, 1949,pp. 52-8. (Monographsan
Aclwn Remired to Attain the Goal
T h e specific problems faced that retard group progress and are detrimental to
individual welfare, e.g. poor health, insanitary conditions, sub-minimaleconomic
status, ignorance, low moral standards.
T h e nature of the activities, attitudes, roles, values and rewards within the group
and the forces that influence them.
A basic survey of the type suggested should be made by a small team of experts,
headed preferably by a social anthropologist and including specialists in other
subjects such as medicine, nutrition, sanitation, agriculture, soil conservation. T h e
techniques used should include first-hand observations, conferences with key people,
the analysis of accumulated data or recorded information, and interviews with
representative members of the group. The value and technique of conducting
interviews are discussed at length in lh Use ofSocial Research in a Cornmunib Education
Programme.l A detailed outline of an interview questionnaire used in a survey in
Puerto Rico is included, which m a y well serve as a guide in developing plans for
similar inquiries elsewhere. T h e data assembled should be interpreted in terms of
the essential steps for promoting individual and group welfare.
In addition to the basic survey described above, detailed facts should be collected
bearing directly on the need for literacy training, and more particularly, inquiries
concerning the following :
1 The extent of illiteracy.
T h e current role of reading and writing in the community.
1 Other purposes that literacy should serve in promoting individual and group welfare.
,Nature and extent of the reading materials available for meeting current and
probable future needs.
W h a t proportion of the young people and adults actually use the reading materials
T h e extent to which those w h o are illiterate are keenly interested in learning to read
and write.
, T h eforces that favour and those that are opposed to efforts to extend literacy.
\Theactual and potential resources, both human and material, that can be used in
any constructive effort undertaken.
In some cases this part of the survey is made by the staff w h o make the basic regional
survey or by 'group organizers' w h o are assigned, as in Puerto Rico, to specific
areas. In other cases such individuals provide leadership and guidance to a local
group. T w o advantages attach to the latter plan: first, a survey is most revealing
to those w h o participate in making it, therefore community leaders, including those
w h o will give the literacy training, should be primarily responsible for the local
survey; secondly,the effort of leaders in the community to secure needed information
will arouse less suspicion and opposition than if the local study is attempted by
outsiders. This is particularly true in the case of backward communities where
suspicion and resistance often defeat otherwise well conceived efforts.
As illuminating facts come to light, every effort should be made to promote community awareness of desirable improvements and of the advantages to be derived
from literacy training. The importance of this cannot be over-emphasized. Expe1.
Puerto Rico. Division of Community Education. %Use of Social Research in a Communi& Education
Programme; a report prepared by the Analysis Unit of the Division...,and the Survey Research
Centre of the University of Michigan. Paris, Unesco, 1954.50 p. (EducationalStudies and Donrmmls,
No. X.)
l3.e Teaching of Reading and Writing
rience has shown repeatedly that the success of any constructive project depends
primarily on a clear recognition of needs, by most, ifnot all, members ofa community.
There are different ways of promoting such awareness.
As pointed out in Chapter I, many fundamental education workers believe that
initial effort to promote literacy diould be related to-a-qm$ic and urgent need
of a community, such as the raising of better crops. Through group conferences and
demonstrations the fact is established that better crops can be produced. &the
same time
-_ the distinct advantages of ability to read and-wirite in attaining
W h e n the value of literacy has been demonstrated in one area
of activity, other urgent problems are attacked in a similar manner. In course of
time, all members of the community become keenly aware of both the personal and
group advantages that may be secured through literacy training.
Other communities attack the problem by giving publicity to the conditions
revealed by the survey as rapidly as they are identified. They are discussed first
with members of the community w h o hold position of leadership and influencq
among specific groups. As soon as these key people are convinced they are encouraged
to discuss the problems raised and the proposed measures for overcoming them with
their associates. Community leaders also begin to discuss these matters in the market
place, the public square and other community centres, and if there is a newspaper,
short articles on them begin to appear daily or weekly. As interest spreads, meetings
are arranged at which the whole problem of community betterment is discussed
at length. In some cases attention is focused at first upon some specific and very
urgent need. In other cases, the various problems are considered as a whole. Always,
however, the i-portanceof literacy t r G g is emphized.
No perfect method can be suggested for promoting awareness of needs. The
method varies with the nature of the community, its problems, the techniques
normally used in developing public opinion, and the agencies of mass communication available. Local leaders should make a careful study of various possibilities and
adopt a plan which seems most likely w r o m o t e a growing awareness of-nee&.mda genuine d e s i r e - & ~ ~ ~ t ~ ~ h e ~ .
As community awareness develops, efforts should be made to enlist the active
co-operation of as many adults as possible in securing improvements. Results are
more wi&qwad and. pcxmanent when-_t ~ e ~ ~ h o ! ~ - _ ~ o ~ e r a t e s
As a rule, tha members of a comnunity-aLqwi n g g d c a g g
to attack and solve their problems through their o w n effQrt,Qnce they are convinced
of tke need for doing so. E'or this reason the legal provision of 1949,relating to'
&?immunityeducation in Puerto Rico, included the following statement: The object
of qommunity education is to give to the people forming a community 'the wish, the
tendency and the way of making use of their o w n aptitudes for the solution of many
of their o w n problems of health, education, co-operation and social life'.'
As regards the need for literacy, community effort takes many forms. Those
who are literate discuss and demonstrate the advantages of ability to read and write.
Those w h o have recently attained functional literacy describe the practical results
and satisfactions derived. Those w h o are working in industry report on the need
for literacy in getting jobs and the additional opportunities for advancement open
Puerto Rico. Division of Community Education. The Use of Social h e a r c h in a Communi& E M o n
Programme, op. cit. p. 5.
Action Rcouired to Attain the cool
to those w h o are able to read and write effectively. Literate members of the community also serve as teachers after the necessary preliminary training.
Where a building is not available for literacy classes, all members of the community help to build one. There is general agreement among leaders in community
development that all the materials and work required to construct a literacy centre
should be provided by the local group. W h e n the members of a community cooperate in these and other significant ways, the chances of success are greatly
Parallel plans should be developed for all aspects of the literacy programme. This
is a task that requires clear understanding, vision and courage. In the discussion
that follows w e draw attention to three items: the technical assistance needed;
basic problems that must be considered; and the importance of a guide for all w h o
participate in efforts to raise the literacy level of a community.
Because of the very nature of many of the problems, technical assistance is needed
in planning the details of a sound literacy programme. For this reason most local,
regional and national communities secure the help of a literacy specialist when
drawing up a programme for the area to be served. Literacy specialists are given
various titles and function in various ways.
Unfortunately, many local areas do not have access to survey specialists and
technical advisers provided by governmental agencies. In such cases the local
committee secures, if possible, the services of a literacy specialist who, in the light
of all the facts available, outlines the kind of programme which in his judgment
should be followed. As soon as general plans have been reviewed and approved by
the local committee, they are worked out in detail by the literacy specialist w h o
usually serves also as director of the literacy programme. A m o n g the various
responsibilities assigned to a director, the most important are :
T o plan the literacy programme and prepare a bulletin or guide describing its
various features.
T o select or prepare instructional materials.
T o select the teaching staff and provide preliminary training.
T o direct the enrolment of classes and the keeping of records.
T o supervise teaching activities, providing individual help and needed in-service
T o carry on a continuous study of the results obtained, including the preparation
of suitable tests.
T o make changes in various aspects of the programme, as and when desirable.
To decide on the qualification of students for certificates and the appropriate
occasions for granting them.
T o submit a progress report regularly to the local committee, or other directing
T o assume all other responsibilities which the local situation calls for.
In planning a sound programme, the literacy director is confronted by a series of
exacting demands. T h e programme must be adapted to the specific needs of the
lh Teaching of Readiw and Writing
community, it must be adequate in scope, and it must be sound in principle.
Furthermore, the various parts of the programme must be worked out so fully and
explicitly that all w h o are to participate will be fully informed and can play their
respective roles effectively. In meeting these demands such issues as the following
must be studied carefully:
W h a t are the specific goals of literacy training in the community?
H o w is it related to other aspects of community development?
H o w and at what stage in the community development programme should literacy
training be introduced?
H o w many members of the community need literacy training, and at what levels
should training be provided to ensure functional literacy on the part of all?
W h a t kind of literacy centre, h o w many teachers, and what additional material
and human resources are needed to ensure the success of the programme?
H o w can a compelling interest in learning to read and write be developed on the
part of all who need training?
W h a t is the nature, scope, organization and content of the literacy training needed?
W h a t characteristics of the form and structure of the language influence progress
in learning to read and to write, and what specific teaching procedures should
be adopted in each case?
W h a t kinds of instructional materials are essential-basic primers and readers,
workbooks, audio-visualaids, teachers’manuals, supplementary reading materials
and library or follow-up materials?
T o what extent are instructional materials available or must they be prepared?
What principles should guide in selecting or preparing materials?
H o w can the instructional materials be prepared most quickly and effectively?
What are desirable qualifications on the part of teachers and h o w can they be
recruited and trained?
What steps should be adopted to ensure tactful and effective supervision of class
teaching and continued improvement of teachers in service?
H o w can the effectiveness of the literacy programme be determined?
What plan should be adopted to ensure the continuous revision of the programme
in the light of tested experience and research?
The above questions will vary in importance in different communities, depending
on the particular conditions. Other problems will also arise which are peculiar to
certain communities. As rapidly as they are identified they should be discussed
with the local committee. Moreover, plans formulated by the director regarding
any particular aspect of the programme should be reviewed by the committee for
two reasons: in the first place, most members of the committee will be able to give
advice on the appropriateness and practical nature of many of the proposals made,
and secondly it is highly important that committee members should be kept fully
informed and have their ideas challenged at each stage during the planning period.
Only in this way will they understand the plans fully, have confidence in them, and
be prepared to co-operate whole-heartedly in carrying them out.
As plans mature a simple, clear statement should be prepared outlining the major
aspects of the programme and the essential steps in implementing it. This statement
should be a blueprint of the literacy programme, showing the way it will operate,
the kinds of co-operation needed and the responsibilities of all w h o participate.
It should be used as the basis for all public discussions of plans, for newspaper
publicity, and for conferences with individuals.Itly&,&&&-.aaAsuch
statement be mimeographed or printed so that all literate members of the community
concerned may have a copy to study and for use as a guide in any support or
co-operation they may give. Reference will be made later to the need for a teachers’
manual which serves a more specialized purpose.
It will not be possible in this chapter to discuss in detail all of the problems connected
with the development of a literacy programme. A m o n g those that should be
considered, the selection and development of instructional materials is one of the
most important. There are two reasons for this. M a n y of the materials used in the
past have failed to meet current needs adequately and have often been based on
unsound principles. Suitable intructional materials are not at present available for
use in many language areas and communities, and must be developed wholly or in
part before literacy training can be given. Because of the huge amount of work,
expenditure and technical knowledge and skills involved, most of the instructional
materials needed should be prepared by central agencies serving large areas. If
no such agencies exist, the literacy director faces the responsibility of preparing at
least the ini,tialmaterials to be used.
Whoever attempts to prepare instructional materials must have a clear understanding of the literacy programme as a whole, its organization into stages or periods,
and the kinds of instructional materials needed. These matters were discussed in
detail in Chapters VI11 and XI.A bird’s-eyeview of certain main features of a sound
literacy programme is given in tabular form overleaf.
The programme is divided into four stages which proceed progressively from the
time training is begun until functional literacy is attained. Each stage concentrates
on the development of certain understandings, attitudes and skills which are of
paramount importance in acquiring functional literacy. Each of the four stages
includes a programme in reading and in handwriting which are carried out in
conjunction. Although the close correlation between reading and writing is recognized and provided for throughout the literacy programme, the unique character
of each activity is clearly recognized. For example, in teaching adults to read wide
use is made of the motives which lead them to want to read and the kinds ofmaterials
they wish to read. Similarly, instruction in handwriting begins with the motives
which stimulate adults to want to learn to write and makes use from the beginning
of situations in which it serves useful purposes. As soon as enough skill in handwriting has been acquired, it is used as an aid in learning to recognize and master
the new words encountered in reading lessons.
Within the limited space available, it seems advisable to draw attention to the chief
problems met with in preparing primers and similar instructional materials for use
during Stage T w o and basic and supplementary readers for use during Stage Three.
Owing to the varied nature of the problems, the co-operation of the following
Teaching of Reading and Writing
General Scope and Organization of a Co-ordinated Programme
of Reading and Handwriting for Adults
Stage O n e : Preparing to learn to read and write
Aim: T o arouse keen interest in learning to
read and to provide needed experiences
which will enable adults to learn to read
with reasonable ease.
Duration: O n e to several class meetings prior
to Stage T w o .
A i m : to arouse keen interest in learning to
write and to provide needed experiences
which will enable adults to learn to write
with reasonable ease.
Duration: same as for reading.
Stage T w o : Learning to engage in simple reading and writing activities
Aim: T o develop the basic attitudes and
skills involved in reading simple material
easily for meaning.
Goal: Ability to read independently and for
meaning any material limited in vocabulary to the 300 most frequently used words
in daily conversation.
Materials : primers and readers including
I 50 pages of reading material; also related
vocabulary cards, filmstrips, work books,
teachers’ guides, and tests.
Duration :24 to 40 lessons.
Aim: to develop the basic skills involved in
very simple writing activities through the
use of the simplest form of handwriting
the language provides.
Goal: ability to write and spell the most frequently used words in daily conversation
.and to use writing in meeting a few very
simple practical needs.
Materials: a handwriting guide for teachers
outlining the nature of early writing
activities and the methods to use; model
sets of the letters, both small and capitals,
for each student.
Duration: same as for reading.
Stage Three: Making rapid progress in mastering basic skills
Aim: to promote rapid mastery of the basic
Aim: to improve the skills of handwriting
skills involved in good oral reading and
thoughtful silent reading.
Goal: ability to read easily for meaning any
material written for the use of all literate
members of the community and limited to
the 2,000 most frequently used words in
the language.
Materials : basic reading material, work
books, teachers’ guides, filmstrips, and
tests; supplementary readers, and library
and to acquire the understandings needed
to use handwriting as an aid in meeting
daily needs.
Goal: ability to use handwriting effectively
in the various writing activities in which
all literate members of a group engage.
Materials: directions for teaching handwriting at this level; copies of all forms used
in the community which adults fill out
from time ro time; a guide to letterwriting for adult use.
Duration: same as for reading.
Duration: 72 to 150 hours.
Stage Four: Acquiring greater maturity in reading and writing
Aim: to develop the competencies and
interests that characterize a mature reader.
Materials: a representative sampling of the
varied types of reading material that the
culture provides.
Duration: as long as m a y be needed.
A i m : to develop the competencies needed in
meeting a wide range of personal needs
through handwriting and in giving creative expression to one’s ideas.
Materials: a guide to growth in written
Duration: whatever time m a y be needed.
Action Required to Attain the Goal
types of specialists should be enlisted, if possible: a fundamental or adult education
worker familiar with the dominant interests and motives of the group; a linguist or
language specialist familiar with the characteristics of the language which influence
progress in learning to read; a psychologist w h o understands the ways in which
adults learn; a successful teacher w h o knows h o w to organize teaching situations
to promote rapid progress; a good writer of simple adult reading material; an
illustrator w h o knows how to use pictures as an aid in promoting word recognition
and a clear grasp of meaning; and a specialist in typographical matters.
The fact is recognized that where instructional materials are prepared locally,
one or more individuals will have to supply all the requisite knowledge and skills.
For their guidance various suggestions are offered in the sections that follow and
reference1 is made in the footnotes to several relevant discussions.
Th P~eparationof Primers
Primers occupy a strategic place in a literacy programme. Their purpose is to
provide for the orderly development of a thoughtful reading attitude, skill in
recognizing words accurately and independently, and ability to grasp the meaning
of what is read. As already mentioned, 150 pages-more or less-of carefully prepared
materials are needed to introduce and provide for the mastery of about 300 words
of high functional value in the everyday language of adults. Literacy leaders in many
parts of the world recommend that this material be printed in a series of three, four
or five booklets. O n e of the distinct advantages of the use of short primers is that each
can be finished in a relatively short time. As a res& adults are more keenly aware
of the progress they are making, and thus acquire confidence in their ability to learn.
This leads as a rule to greater effort.
Without doubt the most widely debared issue in preparing primers is the best
approach to make in developing basic reading skills. Stated in round terms the
question is: shall emphasis be given at the beginning to meaningful material and
the development of a thoughtful reading attitude, or to the elements of words and
the development of independence in word recognition. As shown in Chapter VI,
both aspects of reading should be emphasized from the beginning. Through the use
of words, phrases and short sentences accompanied by appropriate pictures, interest
can be aroused, a thoughtful reading attitude developed, and progress made in
ability to grasp the meaning of what is read. As soon as words are recognized in a
meaningful context, they can be analysed into their elements and skill developed in
combining them to form other words in oral vocabulary and in recognizing new
words as they appear in reading lessons.
Articles in Fundamcntal and Adult Education; a quartcsly bulletin :(a) Griffin, Ella W.‘WritingGraded
Textbooks for Literacy Training’, Vol. VI, July 1954, pp. 102-8.(b) Notebaart, J. C. ‘Literacy
Primers’, Vol. 111, April 1951,pp. 79-81.(c) Stoke, Peter. ‘Buildinga Bridge to Literacy’,Vol. 111,
April 1951,pp. 56-72. (d) Townsend, Elaine Mielke. ‘The Construction and Use of Readers for
Aymara Indians’,Vol. IV,October 1952,pp. 21-5.(e)Wallis, Ethel E. ‘UsingLinguistic Analyses
in Literacy Methods in Mexico’, Vol. IV, October 1952, pp. 16-21.
Gudschinsky, Sarah. Handbook of Likracy. (Norman, Okla.) Summer Institute of Linguistics,
University of Oklahoma, 1953, 85 + vi p.
Neijs, Dr.K. The Comtruction of Lihq Primers for Adults. Noumea ( N e w Caledonia), South
Pacific Commission, 1954. 72 p., illus.
Rodriguez Bou, Ismael. Suggationrfw th Preparation of Reading Materials. Unesco, Paris, 1949,
p. 29. (Occarional Papers in Education, No. 2.)
Townsend, Elaine Mielke. ‘Accelerating Literacy by Piecemeal Digestion of the Alphabet’,
Lunguage Laming, Vol. I, July 1948, pp. 9-19.
Wallis,Ethel E. and Gates, Janet B. Outline for Primer Comtruction. Glendale, Calif., S u m m e r
Institute of Linguistics, Inc., 1948,47 p.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
It has often been assumed that each word introduced in a reading lesson must
be analysed into its elements immediately. This is by no means true. In fact, many
of the most frr.quently recurring words in some languages are more or less nonphonetic and must be learned as sight words. By determining the order of importance
of the various elements of words, they m a y be emphasized in an orderly manner as
words containing them appear in the reading lessons.
The content. T h e content of most lessons in primers should consist of a combination
of both picture and verbal text. It is highly important that the ideas presented should
relate to c o m m o n and vital experiences of adults. There are ardent advocates of the
use of various specific types of content in primers. Reports from different parts of the
world indicate that there is a wide variety in the kind of content that is most
appreciated. It follows that those w h o prepare primers should make a careful study
of the c o m m o n interests of adults in the particular area concerned. In doing so the
fact should be kept in mind that initial lessons have been successfully organized in
many parts of the world around interesting aspects of the home and family life of
adults. Such material is based on c o m m o n experiences, motives and problems,
makes use of the most frequently used words in daily conversation, and ensures vivid
meaningful associations with them. It should be followed later by units relating to
other vital aspects of personal and community life.
Form and style of writing. T h e content of each lesson should be presented in the form
of simple episodes, true-to-lifestories, and vivid descriptions of activities that are of
immediate concern to adults. This can be done even at the beginning through the
combined use of verbal text and illustration. Experience shows that the use of the
same characters throughout the whole or a large part of the primer has distinct
advantages. It ensures a unifkd, expanding body of ideas, and the content of
successive lessons is built upon a familiar background, thus promoting both word
recognition and a clear grasp of meaning. As a result the student acquires a growing
feeling of familiarity with the situations described and increasing confidence in his
ability to read the next lesson.
T h e text should be simply written, in short sentences, and with no unnecessary
phrases. T h e style should be varied, but always within the familiar adult pattern.
T h e episodes and stories should be clear, interesting and often humorous. As soon
as the vocabulary permits, conversation m a y be included. T h e language used should
be natural to the characters. T h e characters themselves should be true to life,meet
the problems that adults normally do and reflect the traits that are generally admired.
T h e ideas in a lesson should be limited in number and should be so presented as to
arouse vivid images and associations.
Vocabulary. T h e vocabulary at the primer level should include about 250 of the most
frequent words in the daily conversation of adults, plus about 50 additional words
needed in expressing vital content. T o a large extent these words will also be those
of greatest frequency in adult reading materials. They should be introduced at the
rate of about two words per page, on the average with no more than three new
words on any page. Each word should be repeated 15 or more times as soon as
possible after it is introduced and a total of 50 or more times during Stage T w o .
This is the minimum number of repetitions for ensuring instant recognition. T o
provide for repetition primers should include as m u c h simple reading materials as
space permits.
Size of gpe. T h e size of type should be larger than that commonly used in adult
reading material, but not as large as that used in primers for children. As a rule,
Action Required to Attain the Goal
14or 16 point type, with the usual interword and interline spacing for that sized
type, is suitable for adult primers. T h e advantage of the use of a larger type than
usual is that it aids in making visual discriminations between word forms and the
elements of words during the early stages of learning to read.
Pictures. T h e chief use of pictures at the primer level is to add meaning to the words
and to help the reader to recognize words. Consequently, there should be a close
correspondence between the pictures used and the content of the lesson. Carefully
drawn black and white pictures are usually very effective. Reports from different
areas vary concerning the value of coloured pictures. Some leaders state that they
are very attractive to adults and have been used very successfully. Others maintain
that they are distracting.T h e writer knows of no scientific evidence on this issue that
has general application.
Word Cards, Workbooks, [email protected], Games, Tests
Chereas, formerly, the primer was the only basal reading material used in literacy
classes, n o w various supplementary aids are widely used. A set of word cards is one
%the simplest to prepare. Each word in the primer is printed on thin cardboard
in letters about an inch high so that they can be read easily by all members of a class.
If word cards are not available in printed form, they can be prepared locally by
writing the words on cardboard in print script. Phrase cards can also be prepared
which include oft-repeated groups of words. By putting down words that have been
previously introduced the teacher can tell which ones are not as yet properly known
and which students are in need of additional drill in them. W o r d and phrase cards
can be used also in building sentences which are exposed on a shelf in full view of
the class. As the teacher names particular words or phrases in the sentences thus
built the students identify them and take them down from the shelf.
T h e use of workbooks as a supplement to primers has increased rapidly during
recent years. They provide practice in many specific aspects of reading. Examples
of workbook exercises are given in Figure 14,pdge 179.They m a y be printed in
booklets or pads, or m a y be duplicated locally for use in particular classes.As a rule,
practice exercises should be prepared to accompany each reading lesson. Before
doing so a careful study should be made of the new subject matter introduced in the
lesson. Exercises should then be given to promote ability to recognize new words,
to divide words into their elements,to combine these elements into words, to complete
sentences by filling in gaps with known words, to grasp the meaning of sentences or
short passages, or to master unique features of words, such as marks which indicate
variations in sound, stress or tone. After the reading lesson the students should be
directed to do the appropriate exercises for that day. T h e responses of each student
should be carefully checked, the necessary corrections made, and further practice
given if necessary.
If audio-visual aids are available, effective use can be made of filmstrips. Practically all types of exercises appropriate for a workbook can be presented on filmstrips, which are used largely for group work rather than for work by individuals.
W h e n teachers know h o w to prepare the strips, they provide almost unlimited
opportunity for practice exercises. They can also be advantageously used in
presenting simple supplementary reading material based on the reading vocabulary
already introduced. As an additional aid there are games of various types.A description of a word lotto game is given on page 166 of Chapter VIII.
Finally, tests should be prepared which can be given on the completion of each
primer. They should measure progress in each of the important aspects of reading
The Teaching
of Reading and
that have been emphasized. Useful types of tests are described on page 171,
Chapter VIII, and examples are given in Figure 16.Such tests are very useful for
finding out h o w well the various students have mastered the essential skills, what
are the aspects of reading that require most emphasis in the immediate future, and
which students need individual help. W h e n teachers are provided with such tests
they can use them as guides in preparing other tests to be given at frequent intervals.
They are thus able to know at any time what the capacities and needs of their
students are.
The Teachers’ Manual
A teachers’ manual or guide should describe not only the organization of classes
and the materials and methods ofteaching to use, but also the step-by-steptreatment
of the lessons. T h e need for such guides is urgent in all areas where experienced,
competent teachers are not available. This means that the authors of practically
every primer should at the same time furnish a manual or guide for the use of
teachers. If a certain community selects a primer which has no accompanying guide,
the literacy director, with the help of a competent teacher of adult reading, should
prepare one.
Several guides’ are n o w available which m a y be usefully studied before preparing
one adapted to the needs of a particular area or community. The Teachers’ Guide
used in Mysore, India, comprises the following sections among others: a general
survey of the programme for teaching adults to read and write; pre-literacy work or
study of the community before classes begin; the classroom and equipment essential ;
steps in preparing to teach; activities that should be engaged in apart from literacy,
such as songs, dances, games and a wall newspaper; the purpose and nature of
questioning; the use of book illustrations; the kinds of records to keep; detailed
procedures in teaching specific lessons; the use of supplementary books; how to
determine and record student progress in reading and writing.
It is particularly important that a pattern of teaching be adopted which ensures
emphasis on all essential aspects of teaching. In Chapter VI1 it was suggested that
the teaching of each lesson should be divided into three parts:
I. Preparatory steps aiming to awaken interest in the reading of a lesson, develop
the background for understanding what is read, and introduce the new words
of a lesson in meaningful settings.
2. Reading the lesson so as to promote a clear grasp of the meaning of what is read,
interpret the ideas presented in the light of the reader’s experience, and see
their use or application.
3. Supplementary practice designed to clear up difficulties met with in the lesson,
provide practice in specific aspects of reading, and develop the new skills required
for progress in reading.
Unesco. Group Training Scheme for International Training in Fundamental Education, xst,
Mysore (India), Dec. xg53-JuIy 1954.Teachers’ Guide. Mysore, 1954, 43 p.
Gudschinsky,Sarah,Handbook of Literacy,op. cit.
Laubach, Frank C. rggg Supplement to Teachin! the Wmld to Read. A complete set of lessons in the
Shona language. T h e Committee on World Literacy and Christian Literature of the Foreign
Mission Conference of North America, 156Fifth Avenue, N e w York City.
Puerto Rico, Consejo Superior de Enseiiaaza. Educacidn de adultos, orientacioncsy te%nicus. Rio
Piedras, Puerto Rico. Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1952. (Publicacionespedagdgicar, Series 11, 1952,
No. B.)
Whipple, Caroline A., Guyton, Mary L., Morris, Elizabeth C. Manual fw Teeachcrs of Adult
EIemmtasy Students. United States Office of Education,Department of the Interior,Washington, D.C.
(Prepared for the American Association for Adult Education.)
Action Required to Attain the Goal
Activities that m a y usefully be incorporated in each part of a lesson are described
more fully on pages 166-7 of Chapter VIII. T h e fact should be emphasized that
all three types of activities mentioned there do not always take place on a given day;
One, two or three days may be required to complete a given lesson, T h e guide should
suggest h o w and when the various supplementary aids, such as word cards, workbooks, filmstrips, games and tests should be used. In other words, a well prepared
guide gives the teacher all the information needed to ensure a carefully co-ordinated,
well taught lesson.
Formerly, little or no instructional material was used, other than primers, in teaching
adults to read. Experience has shown that much additional training is required to
produce functional literacy. T h e materials needed during Stage Three include basal
and supplementary readers, workbooks, filmstrips, tests, library books for free
reading, and a teachers’ manual or guide. W e propose to deal here, in particular,
with the preparation of basal and supplementary readers.
Basic Readers
T h e purpose of basic readers is to develop the ability to read any material written
in the vocabulary of daily usage or in the words most frequently used in adult
reading material. Reports from different countries indicate that such a vocabulary
varies between about ~ Q and
words. Basal readers, however, m a y be
limited to about=
new words which are introduced in 2 5 0 - 0 ~preferably 350pages of content. These words should be so selected that they provide the foundation
for the larger vocabulary referred to. Because of the size of the task, the varied
problems involved, and the cost of printing, these readers should be made to serve
a wide area. T h e task of preparing them should be assumed by regional, territorial
or national agencies, by literature bureaux, or by publishing houses with help from
literacy experts and teachers.
The content of readers, like that of primers, should relate to things, events and
activities that are of vital interest to all adults. Such items differ to some extent in
different language and cultural areas of the world. A m o n g the interests that seem to
be more or less universal are family and neighbourhood life, the rearing and education of children, the making of a living, community problems, the duties of a good
citizen, the history of one’s country or race, humorous stories, fables, folklore, proverbs, and the wise sayings of sages. A careful study should be made of the dominant
interests of the group to be served and a well-balanced selection made that will
arouse the interest and hold the altention of all. As pointed out at a literacy seminar
in Rio de Janeiro, the content of readers should take into account ‘the life pattern
of the people, where they live, what they do, what they have, what they believe,
what they are. From this the materials can go forth into new thought ways and living
The text should be written simply, clearly and in the everyday language of adults.
While familiar forms of expression should be used, the language of the readers should
be graded slowly but steadily upward, thus providing standards of good usage.
Indeed, readers may help to build up a more widely used c o m m o n language among
different groups in an area. Characters should be selected which are appropriate
Objectives, Methodr and Materials of Literacy Teaching. Unesco, p. 8. SernlRiolglolPEMA 111.
Teaching of Reeding and Writing
to the theme dealt with and should be true to life. T h e material m a y be in the form
of episodes, stories and simple narratives. Both conversation and dialogue m a y be
included. Varied styles of writing and sentence patterns add greatly to the attractiveness of a reader.
T h e 700 new words should preferably be introduced at an average rate of two
words per page, and not more than three per page. T h e 250-350 pages of content
should be printed in the form of two or three readers. Each word should be repeated
15 to 20 times shortly after it is introduced, and at least 50 times in the reader in
which it is first used. This amount of repetition is essential to develop instant
recognition of words and ability to focus attention on meaning while reading.
Pictures should be used frequently throughout the basal readers. As a rule, one
picture or more should be included in each story to stimulate interest and provide
a concrete setting for the content. Since the stories will increase gradually in length,
the amount of space occupied by pictures will gradually decrease. T h e purpose and
characteristicsof good pictures in readers are the same as those in the case of primers.
T h e size of type used m a y be gradually reduced to I I point type.
Supplementaty Reading Material
Paralleling the use of basal readers, adults should have access to supplementary
material which they can read independently. It should be carefully graded in terms
of the vocabulary of the basal readers and should gradually extend that vocabulary
to a total of 1,500-2,500 words. As emphasized at a recent literacy conference1,
Supplementary reading materials serve at least three important purposes : they
Continued development of basic reading skills;
~h-eformation of the habit of reading regularly; and the xrzedLaAul& with an effective
336r;ment for the acquisition of k n o w l e d g x . t s q use-of,JhE,.~me.
A minimum of from 250 to 350 pages of supplementary material is desirable
for use in literacy classes. Since such material can be used to great advantage long
after class instruction ceases, there is scarcely any limit to the amount which should
be made available. In preparing supplementary reading material, the following
rules should be observed.
T h e subject matter should be of vital interest to adults and should include such
items as ~ - 9health,
s u o n , the rearing of children, methods of producing better
w p s , earning-3living, h o w to make certain things, the building of a better commpity, the duties -ofa good Citizen, the lives and deeds of great leaders, simple
historical accounts, folklore, humorous stories, and selections which enhance the
;piritual life of the reader. T h e list of items will vary with different cultural areas and
can be greatly extended. As a rule, the material relating to a particular theme
should be published in a separate booklet varying in size from I 2 to 60 or more pages.
T h e material should be simply, clearly and attractively written, the language
used in keeping with the situation described. Words and illustrations should summon
up vivid mental pictures and recall experiences in the life of the reader: this is
essential if he is to understand and interpret what he reads through his o w n effort.
T h e vocabulary used in supplementary readers should consist largely of words
already introduced in the basal readers. However, from two to three new words that
are essential in presenting a story or description m a y be introduced on each page.
I. SummaTy :Preliminary Report of Conclusions and Recommendations (submitted to the participants for
revision). Round table on Fundamental Education Materials for Adults, held in Washington, D.C.,
24-26June 1953,Division of Education, Department of Cultural Affairs, Pan American Union,
Washington, D.C.
Action Required to Attain the Goal
be made to restrict the-newwords used at any time to those which
can be pronounced independently through the use of the word attack skills previously
developed in class. Some devices should be adopted for gauging the level of progress
in basal instruction needed by adults before attempting to read a given booklet.
Good pictures at frequent intervals are very desirable. Use m a y be made of
I I point type or that normally used at the adult level in the area concerned.
It will not be possible here to discuss the preparation of reading material at
greater length. For additional suggestions, w e refer the reader back to Chapter VIII.
Chapter XI will also prove helpful in preparing a guide for teaching handwriting
and an exercise book for developing of handwriting skills.
O n e of the pas! serious handic
&is the lack of an adequate n
qualified teachers. Formerly, when the teaching
. l
of reading was largely limited to the development of the skills of word recognition,
those w h o were in process of acquiring such skills were often used in teaching
others to read. Since the teaching of reading is far more broadly conceived today
and aims to promote functional literacy, such teachers are no longer felt to be 1
wholly adequate.
T h e literacy requirements adopted by Indonesia1in its anti-illiteracy programme are
the minimum that should be accepted anywhere today. According to the regulations
issued by the Director of Mass Education, any teacher should have completed an
elementary education or passed an anti-illiteracyinstruction course.Both a reasonably
high level of literacy and specific preparation for teaching are assumed. In addition,
many desirable personal qualities have been emphasized in recent discussions.2 For
example :
Physical, mental and emotional maturity to ensure ‘a sense of balance, security and
understanding ’.
‘Creative power that finds expression in imagination, curiosity, enthusiasm and the
spirit of growth ’.
‘A consuming interest in people’, ability to ‘create an atmosphere of friendliness and
under tanding ’,and willingness to act in harmony with the principles underlying
good human relationships.
Capacity to enlist interest and co-operation.
Tact and resourcefulness.
Character and integrity that is highly respected by all w h o know the teacher.
The following aspects of professional ability are also important:
A clear understanding of the aims of literacy teaching.
Wide familiarity with literacy materials and their use in the attainment of literacy
and related aspects of personal and community development.
A clear recognition of the motives and steps involved in the adult process of learning.
Indonesia, Djawatan Pendidikon Musjarakat. Mars Education in Indonesia, op. cit., p. 32.
Griffin, Ella Washington. Lcts H
p thc Ten Million,op. cit., p. 9.
Isidro,Antonio. The U3e of thc Vernacular in and out of School in the Philippines. Quezon City, 1951,
PP. 95-6.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
A broad understanding of different methods of teaching and their relative advantages
and limitations.
Insight into the nature of individual differences and the types of adjustments needed
in meeting them.
Familiarity with the method of testing the efficiency of teaching.
Skill in teaching.
In areas where a fair proportion of the members of a community are already literate,
efforts should be made to enlist their co-operation as teachers of literacy classes.
As soon as a group has been selected, training should be given by the local literacy
director, by the appropriate officer of the region (such as the anti-illiteracy officer
in the Department of Education in Indonesia), or by teacher-training institutions.
In Nigeria, the organizer for the local area gives a course for those w h o a r weach
literacy classes. H e is ‘assisted either by a representative of the Adult Regional
Education Officer or by a Visiting Teacher w h o has had experience of other Schemes
in the Province’.’ Estimates concerning the time required for a training course
vary from one to four months or more, depending on the intensity of the training
given. During the course, those in training should assist a highly competent literacy
teacher and gradually assume full responsibility for class teaching under his direction.
In some communities in which there are very few literate adults the following
procedure has been used successfully. A careful selection is made for the first literacy
class of those members of the community w h o give promise of ability to learn rapidly
and w h o express willingness to become teachers. They are then given intensive
training by the literacy director or a competent teacher until functional literacy is
attained. A second literacy class is then organized. While the first group attend a
literacy instructor’s course they also observe the teaching of the second literacy class.
As fast as they gain familiarity with classroom routine they are assigned specific
responsibilities, such as giving word recognition drill, correcting workbook exercises,
and giving extra help to individuals. As their ability increases, so broader responsibilities are assigned to them, until they are able to plan and teach an entire lesson.
Through the use of such methods many communities are n o w making rapid progress
in providing a staff of trained teachers.
Teacher-training and other higher institutions in some countries are also
co-operating in the preparation of literacy teachers. For example, Allahabad
Agricultural Institute at Allahabad, India, is providing preparatory training for
students w h o spend a part of their time in directing community development
projects and in teaching literacy classes. Dr. Frank Laubach has recently arranged
short training courses for those w h o are to assist in various literacy projects under‘
his direction. H e insists that those w h o are to teach ‘must know all that is to be
taught and must be prepared to say the right thing at the right time in teaching’.
Such agencies as the Kennedy School of Missions of the Hartford Seminary Foundation, Hartford, Connecticut (U.S.A.) are providing training for all w h o plan to do
field work in such extremely diverse areas as Africa, India, the Moslem countries and
Latin America. Problems relating to the following topics among others, are studied :
the relation of literacy to fundamental education; a survey of current needs and
problems; the basic psychology of adult learning; the nature of the reading process ;
reading readiness ; the language experience approach to reading ; available reading
Conference of Provincial Representatives, Zaria, Nigeria, June 1950. Rcporf, op. cit., p. 9.
Action Required to Attain the Goal
materials; the preparation of basal readers; method of teaching; aids to developmental reading; the construction and use of tests.
All such courses should include systematic observation of good literacy teaching,
accompanied by discussions of the reasons for the various methods and procedures
used. They should be followed by opportunity for those in training to participate
under guidance in teaching activities, until they have acquired the capacity to give
a sequence of lessons with reasonable success.
But the task of preparing good teachers is only well under way when those in training
are ready to start their work as literacy teachers.
lor ~VC~G,G~SQW.
the first place, ability to teach well is a matter of continuous improvement over a
long period of time, the same as ability to engage effectively in any other complex
activity. Experience at various levels of education shows clearly that the rate at which
teachers improve can be greatly increased through sympathetic, tactful leadership
and guidance. In the second place, the understanding and skills that can be provided
through a literacy instructor’s course merely provide a point of departure for further
growth and development. T h e need is urgent everywhere for a clearer and broader
definition of the objectives of literacy training, for better organization of literacy
courses, for the preparation and use of improved instructional materials, and for
development of more effective teaching procedures. If rapid progress is to be achieved,
dynamic leadership is needed in dealing with the problems and in stimulating
creative, co-operative effort among teachers for the improvement of teaching.
There is nothing new about this. T h e urgent need for the supervision and
improvement of literacy teaching has been emphasized repeatedly in reports from
many different countries. The responsibility for such duties falls directly or by
implication on literacy directors, organizers or other administrative officers. Hitherto,
the problems involved in recruiting and providing preliminary training for teachers
have required so much time that leaders have had little or no energy for the follow-up
steps needed in supervising and improving teaching. If the current effort to develop
literate communities, regions, territories, and nations is to succeed in the long run,
constructive supervisory leadership must be provided.
A sound supervisory programme includes a series of carefully planned activities
designed to broaden the understanding of teachers, improve the quality of their
teaching, and thus raise the literacy level of the community. It should begin with an
intensive study by the supervisory officer of the successes and failures of the current
programme and the sort of help needed by teachers. Through observations of
teaching, sympathetic constructive conferences with teachers, and the provision of
demonstration lessons, much can be done to help teachers overcome many specific
difficulties and acquire a growing understanding of improved methods of teaching.
Equally important is to arouse interest in the study of given problems, such as h o w
to write readable materials for class use, where supplementary and library materials
can be obtained, and methods of preparing and using informal tests of ability to read
and write. Furthermore, committees can be organized to deal with such problems
as the methods for promoting readiness for reading and handwriting, overcoming
difficulties in word recognition, and stimulating interest in personal reading.
T h e ultimate goal of such efforts is the creation of a staff keenly interested in
teaching problems and working continuously and co-operatively with supervisors
in efforts to solve them.-It is important to remember that good supervision does not
seek to regiment teachers; it seeks rather to stimulate creative effort on their part.
lh Teaching of Reading and Writing
As a literacy programme gets under way, steps should be taken to determine its
efficiency. Evaluation, in the sense in which the term is used here, is the process by
which leaders determine the effectiveness of a programme and plan the requisite
steps to improve it. At one time, decisions were usually made by those responsible
largely on the basis of their o w n judgment. Today, evaluation is a more or less
continuous process involving the co-operation of all members of the staff and of the
community, and making use of various methods for securing information on which
conclusions can be based. A carefully planned evaluation programme has at least
five main aspects.
I. It defines the objectives of a literacy programme in terms, first, of the growth
and behaviour of those being trained and, secondly, of the improved status of
individuals and groups. For example: (a) increased competence of adults to read
independently and thoughtfully and to write clearly and legibly; (b) growth of
interest in reading as shown by the amount of material read independently by
students; (c) the extent of the enthusiasm and effort on the part of students in
literacy classes; (d) increasing use of reading and writing in meeting practical
situations, such as learning how to make things and ordering goods; (e) wider
reading of newspapers and greater use of library material; (f) improved capacity
of individuals to make a living, raise better crops, maintain better health, rear
children more effectively; (g) increased participation of individuals in the study
and solution of community problems making for a purer water supply, better
sanitation, improved roads, etc. ; (h) the maintenance of reading interests,
habits and skills after class instruction ceases.
2. It selects and makes use of techniques for obtaining reliable information concerning the progress towards objectives. For example: (a) observation in the
classroom, in the home and in the community; (b) the giving of reading and
handwriting tests to measure achievement; (c) personal interviews with students
and members of the community; (d) records of newspaper subscriptions,
magazine and book sales, and library circulation; (e) concrete evidence of
improved individual and group status.
3. It interprets the above data and reaches conclusions concerning the nature and
extent of the progress made and the deficiencies which still exist.
4. It makes inferences as to the various factors that cause progress or deficiency.
5. It reaches conclusions concerning desirable changes to be made in the literacy
programme to ensure greater success or effectiveness.
As implied by the foregoing comments, evaluation is a continuous process. It extends
throughout a given literacy course and continues until the after effects of the training
have been ascertained. If effectively carried out, it serves the following purposes :
Provides students with the facts needed to improve their efforts in learning to read
and write well.
Supplies teachers with information essential for improving the programme and
guiding individual and group activities.
Keeps the administrative and supervisory officers informed of the character and
needs of the programme.
Provides the necessary facts for keeping the community informed and enlisting its
further support.
Action Required to Attain the Goal
literacy programmes, local and national agencies face
nd controversial issues. As a result, some uncertainty
ure and progress is often blocked.
for carefully planned studies which seek valid solutions to current problems
and a-cIarificationof debatable issues. Fortunately, much progress has been m a d e
during recent years through the self-initiated efforts of individuals and the work of
public and private research agencies. The field is s o ~ & ~ r a x a c
so great however, that constructive effort must be greatly extended. In the discussion
\thatfollows attention is directed.to some of the outstanding studies which should be
undertaken in the immediate future and to agencies that m a y contributd towards
their successful outcome.
A clearer understanding is necessary of the current state of literacy and the factors
which influence it. Within this broad scope, the following specific problems should
be studied in detail:
Extent of literacy in the world as a whole, in different areas, and in specific countries.
Through an analysis of all available types of data, efforts should be made to trace
progress since rgoo and to identify those areas where the greatest need exists.
4 I 953 report1 concerning progress in literacy provides a background for further
studies in this subject.
Uniform and objective standards for identifying and measuring progress toward
literacy. Problems cannot be studied successfully until such standards are
available. Fortunately, measures are n o w being taken which will yield data for
comparative purposes. Such findings m a y lead to proposals for conducting
Literacy surveys and provide suitable measuring devices.
Factors that influence and retard literacy. Through case studies in different parts
of the world the influence of various factors-linguistic, geographic, social,
political, economic, cultural, educational, religious-should be determined.
Furthermore, the specific ways and conditions under which these factors operate
should be ascertained.
T h e steps taken and the experiences made in different countries in efforts to extend
literacy. Detailed studies should be made, for example, of such countries as
Turkey, which has made notable progress toward literacy during recent decades,
and Belgium, which has attained at least gg per cent literacy.
Case studies in various cultural domains to determine the levels of competence in
reading and handwriting needed for functional literacy, and to set up standards
that m a y be applied to other cultural domains.
The above examples are typical of the m a n y problems that merit careful study.
In order to solve them within a reasonable dme, the co-operation of local, regional,
national and international agencies is essential. T h e issues are so numerous and
complex that a committee of literacy specialists should be appointed to prepare a
detailed analysis of the various problems requiring study, to be followed UP by
concrete suggestions as to effective ways of attacking each in turn.
Unexo. Progrus of Literacy in Various Counmiz.Unesco, Paris, 1953,224 p. + graphs. (Monograph
on Fundamental Education, I.) (A second study to be published by Unesco will bring the data up to
the date of the latest census information and increase the geographical coverage given.)
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
A second group of problems relates to the form and structure of various languages.
T h e need for research in this domain has become so great that national committees
have been established in many countries to make intensive studies of specific issues.
Some of the problems that deserve to be tackled are set out below.
T h e development of appropriate orthographies. This is one of the first problems faced
in areas which have no written language. T o ensure a sound and acceptable
orthography, both the linguistic characteristics of the language1 and pertinent
social, political, cultural and religious factors2 must be studied in detail. T h e
findings of national committees such as the Korean Language Research Society,
and of language specialists such as Pike,3 provide background and guidance for
further efforts in developing orthographies.
T h e development of a c o m m o n language. S o m e countries are made up of tribal
groups that speak different dialects. For many purposes a c o m m o n language
is needed. This is illustrated in the case of the Philippines which has established
an Institute of National Language. It is charged with the responsibility of
developing a national language based on Tagalog, the most widely used of the
T h e simplification or change of the written language. T h e work involved in learning
to read and write some languages is so great that progress toward literacy is
greatly retarded. This is true in the case of Chinese. As a result a Committee for
the Research on the Chinese Written Language has been appointed which is
seeking, first, to simplify the Chinese characters n o w used, and secondly, to
develop a phonetic system for writing the c o m m o n language. A problem of a
somewhat different character is being studied by the Egyptian Academy for the
Arabic Language, namely the modernization of that language.
Linguistic analyses of languages.Before literacy materials can be prepared effectively,
the chief linguistic characteristicsof a language should be identified and described.
M a n y individuals and agencies are n o w engaged in such studies in different
countries. For example, staff members4 of the S u m m e r Institute of Linguistics
of the University of Oklahoma are making linguistic studies of various native
dialects in Latin America, preliminary to the preparation of literacy materials.
T h e development of simplified styles of writing in different languages to facilitate
progress in learning to write. T h e fact was pointed out in Chapter XI that the
usual style of handwriting in many countries is very complex and difficult to
learn. S o m e of them, particularly those that use R o m a n letters, have adopted a
script style of writing in teaching both children and adults to write. T h e most
effective style to use in others merits detailed study.
This list of problems could be greatly augmented. T o a large extent language
problems are too complex and technical in character to be solved by local committees.
They should be attacked rather by national committees which include language
specialists. If no such committee has been established in a given country, local groups
there should do everything possible to secure the appointment of one. If their efforts
Wolf, Hans. Report on a Mission to Nigeria,January 1953 to January 1954.Unpublished report,Unesco,
Paris, 1954.
2. Bums, Donald ‘Social and Political Implications of the Chaice of an Orthography’, Fundnmental
and Adult Education, Vol. VI, April 1953,pp. 80-5.
3. Pike, Kenneth L. Phonemics: A Techniquefor Reducing Language to Writing. University of Michigan
publications; Linguistics, Vol. 111. AM Arbor, Michigan, Univesity of Michigan Press, 1947,
254 P.
4. Gudschinsky, Sarah. Handbook of Lihacy, op. cit.
Action Required to Attain the Goal
are not successful, the advice of a linguist, or other language specialist, should be
Wide use has been made throughout this report of the findings of research concerning
the basic processes in reading and handwriting and the factors that influence their
development. Unfortunately, the studies made thus far have largely used children
as subjects and have been restricted to certain countries. While there is strong
evidence that the conclusions reached apply to adults and to all areas of the world,
additional confirmatory evidence is desirable. Equally important is the need of a
clearer understanding of the physical and psychological processes involved in reading
and writing. For this purpose, the following types of studies should be undertaken:
T h e basic processes in reading as revealed through eye-movement studies. T h e
evidence secured from studies of reading in 14 different languages shows that
mature readers follow essentially the same general procedure in reading. Similar
studies are needed of reading in other languages to determine if these findings
apply to them also.
Nature of the demands made on adult readers. A n analysis was made in Chapter IV
of the steps or processes involved in meeting typical reading demands made
upon adults. Similar studies are needed in a large number of local communities
and cultural areas to ascertain the various occasions or purposes for reading
among functionally literate adults, and the nature of the accompanying attitudes
and skills.
Factors that influence progress in adult reading. T h e results of research made in
a few countries were summarized in Chapters IV and VI. Detailed studies are
needed in other countries to ascertain more fully the various factors and conditions
-personal, social and environmental-that promote and retard progress toward
functional literacy.
Essential requisites for learning to read and write with reasonable ease and rapidity.
T h e fact is well known that some adults are much better prepared than others
to learn to read and write when they enter literacy classes. Studies are needed
of the various factors and of the methods by which individual readiness can be
Relation of ability to recognize words to efficiency in grasping meanings. It is often
assumed that as soon as adults are able to recognize the words of a passage
they can grasp its meaning. Studies are greatly needed to determine to what
extent this is true, and what supplementary ability is necessary for the meaning
to be clear.
Because of the nature of some of these problems, the co-operationof research bureaux
and departments of psychology and education in universities should be enlisted.
T h e need for more and better literacy materials has been emphasized repeatedly
throughout this report. In efforts to supply them, both local and regional agencies
should study such problems as the following:
T h e words which deserve most emphasis in teaching adults to read. Previous studies
have shown the very great frequency with which certain words are used in adult
reading materials. In English, for example, the IOO most often used words
The Teachina of
Reading and Writing
constitute almost 60 per cent of all the words used in a wide sampling of material;
the 1,000most often used words constitute almost go per cent of all the words
used. By mastering early the words of widest usage in a language adults make
rapid progress in ability to read independently. W o r d lists have already been
prepared in several countries. Any individual or agency which plans to make a
vocabulary count should study such references as those listed in the footnotes.’
In making final decisions, the chief emphasis should be given to the words of
greatest frequency in the everyday language of adults, as well as to those used
most frequently in current reading materials for adults.
The relative frequency of word elements and of marks indicating variations in
sounds of letters, in stress and in tone. T h e fact was pointed out in Chapter VI11
that the detailed characteristics of words that should be learned early are those
that occur most frequently in simple reading material. T o identify the items
that should be emphasized during the primer period, an analysis should be made
of the 300-odd words that appear in the primer. Similarly, as and when later
books in a literacy series are prepared, an analysis should be made of the new
words included.
T h e things, activities or topics of greatest interest to the adults of a community or
region. If the materials used in literacy classes are to arouse keen interest and
effort on the part of adults they must relate to items of genuine interest and
concern to them. W h e n primer materials are prepared exclusively for local use,
the study of adult interests may be restricted to the community concerned. If
primers and other materials are to be used over a wide area, studies should be
made in a number of representative communities and items selected which are
of c o m m o n interest throughout the region served.
T h e number of times words should be repeated in literacy materials to ensure
instant recognition. T h e recommendation was made further back that each
word should be repeated a minimum of 50 times in the book in which it is
introduced. Studies made among childrena show that the number of repetitions
needed to ensure mastery varies from 20 to 55, depending on such factors as the
ability of children to learn. Similar studies are needed at the adult level as a
guide in preparing literacy materials.
Chaudry, Probadh Chaudra Deb. Word F r e q q in Bengali and its &l&n
to the Teaching of Reading.
Decca University, Bulletin No. XIV. The University of Decca, Rainna, Decca, India, 1931,
62 p. + vocabulary Lists.
Dottrens, Robert and Massarmti, Dino. Vocabulairefondamcntol du frangais. NeuchAtel et Paris,
Delachaux and Niestlk [19471,68 p. (Cahitrs&psychologic et de pkdagogie expErirnmtde.)
Eaton, Helen S. Semantic Fregumy List for English, French, German and Spanish: A correlation of
the jirst 6,000 m a 5 in four single-language frequency lists. Issued by the Committee on Modern
Foreign Languages of the American Council on Education, University of Chicago Press, 1940,
44’ P.
France. Centre d’Ctudes du frangais Clkmentaire. Le francais IlImcntaire. Paris, Centre National
de Documentation Paagogique [19541. 67 p.
Garcia Hoz. Victor. Vocabulario d,
comin y fundamental :&&rminacih y andisis de sl~sfutores.
Madrid, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas Instituto San Jod D e Calazans, 1953,
520 P
cladsd Word List for the Preparatiun of Reading Materialsfor Adult Education in th Foundation Ficldr.
W P A Technical Series. Works Progress Administration. Division of Professional and Service
Projects. Education and Training Section, Washington, D.C. 1939. (Education Circular No. IO,
supplement No. I.)
Rodriguez Bou, Isrnacl. Recumto &wcabulario mpaiiol. Rio Piedra, Universidad de Puerto Rico,
I 952, 668 p. (
Trabajos &Investipdn Aurpiciadospor el Cons.60Superior &ENciianra, Vol. I .)
Thorndike, Edward L. and Loge, Irving. i’hTmchns’ Word Book of 30,000 Worak N e w York
City, Bureau of Publications, Teachers’ College, Columbia University, 1944,274 p.
2. Gates, Arthur I. Inbesf and Ability in Rcadurg. New York. The Macmillan Company, 1930,p. 35.
Action Required to Attain the Goal
The kinds of pictures which prove most effective in adult literacy materials. This
problem has been studied objectively at the adult level only to a very limited
extent, It has already been suggeske-d tlgii,th"G*,g&-mgsusedshould be of distinct
value in providing a concrete setting for the passages to be read and in promoting
word recognition and a clear grasp of meaning. In this connexion, there is wide
difference of opinion concerning the value of coloured pictures. Comparative
studies are needed of the reaction of groups of adults to coloured and to black
and white pictures and the influence of each type on progress in learning to read.
The five problems listed above are typical of the numerous difficulties in preparing
literacy materials for adults. Unfortunately, only a few individuals and agencies
have devoted themselves to detailed studies of them. I&.rrGrnm-Egd.ed
national agencies be established in various countries to undertake such studies. The
co-operation of authors, publishers and research bureaux should be secured. As a
first attack on the problem, all individuals and agencies concerned should meet for
the purpose of deciding on the various problems that should be studied, outlining
possible methods of studying them, and recommending the individuals or agencies
best qualified to act in the matter.
No less urgent and challenging is the need for research into methods of teaching
adults to read and write.
Comparative emciency of different methods of teaching beginning reading among
adults. The evidence presented in Chapter VI showed that analytical and
synthetic methods of teaching reading cultivate different sets of attitudes and
skills. The results of research indicated that emphasis on both meaning and
independence in word recognition are essential from the beginning. Further
studies, particularly at the adult level, are needed to confirm these findings or
establish the validity of different procedures.
Methods of promoting independence in word recognition in different languages.
The fact was pointed out in Chapter I1 that the skills involved in recognizing
words vary to a considerable extent among languages. As a result, studies are
needed, particularly in countries where literacy programmes are just being
introduced,to identify the various aids to word recognition and the methods by
which the necessary ability can be developed most quickly and effectively.
Methods of helping adults who meet with unusual difficulties in learning to read.
Many adults find difficulty in reading due to such drawbacks as poor vision,
lack of background, immature language habits, limited capacity to learn,
emotional disturbances. There is urgent need for intensive studies of such cases
and the development of therapeutic or special teaching techniques which can
be used by literacy teachers in dealing with them.
Methods of stimulating interest in reading on the part of adults and of establishing
the habit of reading regularly for pleasure and information.Unless such interests
and habits can be established, the final results of efforts to promote literacy
will be very limited. Both local and regional coimmittees should make careful
studies to determine the kinds ofreading material !:hatw
ill prove most interesting
and useful, the procedures and agencies for making such materials available,
and the methods of stimulating and promoting interest in reading among specific
Methods of ensuring the quickest and most effective transition from the models of
handwriting presented by teachers to clear legible writing on the part of adults.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
Very few studies of this problem have thus far been reported. Teachers w h o are
keenly interested in the problems of teaching adults to write should be encouraged
to make detailed studies of the efficiency of the various methods they use and to
devise more effective ones, if possible.
The proposals made on this and preceding pages suggest the extent of the research
needed in the field of adult literacy. Rapid progress in achieving the goal sought
depends in large measure on finding valid answers to these problems.
The attainment of world literacy is a tremendous task.T o achieve it within a reasonable period, and the consequent improvement in human welfare and contribution
to world understanding and peace, will require the use of far more human and
material resources than have been available in the past. This calls for the co-operation of a larger number of competent leaders, more and better trained field workers,
broader and sounder literacy programmes, improved instructional materials, more
effective methods of teaching,a richer supply of simple, readable supplementary and
library books, added financial support.
If current resources are to be thus extended, wide publicity will be needed in
every part of the world concerning the goal in view and the means of attaining it.
The public in general, and government officials in particular, must arrive at a picture
of conditions and needs that is so clear and convincing that they will support wholeheartedly and generously the devoted efforts of leaders and field workers to extend
literacy. If this report aids in developing greater awareness of current conditions, in
securing such co-operation and support, and in providing a starting point for further
constructive effort,it will have served its chief purpose.
Since the publication of the first edition of The Teaching of Reading and Writin,<,over
ten years ago, activities in the area of literacy have greatly expanded and research
into various aspects of the teaching of reading has burgeoned. So that these new
developments will be available to the reader of this new edition,the present chapter
has been appended to the original book.
The style of the new chapter,its organization and bibliographic form are somewhat different from those of the original volume; the numbers given in brackets
refer to the list of references which appears at the end of the chapter.
The first section discusses methodology and approaches to teaching reading
which have developed since I 956.Next,developments in literacy programmes are discussed and,finally,the research evidencewhich has been reported since the first edition
is summarized in fifteen subsections.For the individual who is interested in studying
the literature more comprehensively a list of sources on research in reading is given.
The literature in this area includes many books, articles and research reports
which could not be included in this brief chapter. Indeed, the demands of space
required annotationswhich sufferfrom excessive brevity.Itis hoped that the readerwill
be encouraged to read the complete version of each reference when this is possible.
Publication of the first edition of this book resulted in a continuing discussion of
the relative merits of the global and synthetic methods of teaching word recognition
in the primary grades. Numerous studies were subsequently made which led to a
lessening of rigid attitudes.
The chief impact of Gray’s The Teaching of Reading and Writing in 1956 [5g],
was to encourage eclectic programmes of reading instruction.Instead of the sharp
dichotomy between the ‘global’and ‘synthetic’methods which had been in evidence
before, the use of the best in both methods was encouraged.
In the Handbook of Research on Teaching Russell and Fea declared that: ‘thinking
in the field has moved away from an either-orpoint of view about one method or
set of books to a realization that different children learn in different ways, that the
processes of learning to read and reading are more complex than w e once thought,
and the issues in reading instruction are many sided’ [135, p. 8671.
Prepared by Ralph C. Staiger, of the University of Delaware and the International Reading
Association. The resources of the ERIC Clearing-Houseon Retrieval of Information and Evaluation in Reading, the Unesco Clearing-Housein Education and the International Bureau of Education in Geneva were used in the preparation of this chapter.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
The result of these changes in attitude towards instruction has been-in many
programmes built upon the sequential development of skills and abilities-that
less reliance is placed upon the single reading textbook or series of readers and more
importance is given to supplementary materials and library reading which can
enrich the practice activities and better meet individual differences in children.
A number of general textbooks on reading methodology which were published
in various countries advocated combinations of methods rather than the application
of only one. Some of these textbooks are briefly described below, together with
studies which are directly related to methods of teaching reading. Mention of the
country of origin in no way suggests that it is applicable to teaching reading only
in that country,although this may be the case where particular linguistic or cultural
conditions exist. It is significant that the pupil’s language and social background
are treated in a number of these general discussions.
Tille and Tille [I 641 presented a mixed analytic-syntheticmethod for teaching
Australian children which makes use of pupil activity and directs the attention
of pupils both to the word as a whole and to its component parts from the beginning
of instruction.
Solis, Barroso and Navarro [147]issued a detailed guide on the teaching of
reading in primary schools in the Philippines. They emphasized the importance of
the child’s preparation for the reading task. The functional aspects of reading,for
the pupil, were also treated.
Reinhard [I 301 emphasized the sentence method of teaching reading and
writing in the Federal Republic of Germany. He discussed the language aspects
of this method, the psychological basis of learning to read, and methods of teaching
by the sentence method.
Naeslund [I121 presented the results of a controlled experiment in Sweden
using eighteen pairs of twins to determine the relative efficiency of a synthetic
method and an analytic method.
Daniels and Diack [36] in Britain, compared the progress of two groups of
backward children taught by the ‘phonic-wordmethod’ and the ‘mixed methods’.
Russell [I 341 reviewed this book, and presented seven criticisms of the study. Later,
Daniels and Diack [35] reported on two experiments which compare the phonicword method and six other approaches to reading.
Sparks and Fay [ I ~ o ]described a controlled experiment which, using 824
pupils in grades 1-4,studied the results of a specialized phonic system in teaching
reading in the United States of America.
Mackowiak [96] in Poland,instead of asking ‘What is the best method?’posed
the question, ‘What are the exact rules of the procedures proposed and what are
the different stages of development?’ Advice on teaching reading and writing is
given that is based on detailed observation of a child’s development and of the
difficulties to be overcome.
Kien [83] discussed the psychological aspects of teaching reading in Poland
as well as the technique employed, and emphasized the need for teaching children
to read silently.
Goddard [54] described in detail a technique for teaching British children how
to read,emphasizing the need for interest and an attractive,stimulating environment.
Murillo [II I] stressed the importance of the pupil’s social, emotional and
sensory-motordevelopment as well as his language background, in the use of the
global method of teaching reading in Costa Rica.Also discussed was the need for the
child to be given guidance at the right moment, so that instead of having a general
and confused view ofreading,he will learn first to analyse,and then assemble ideas.
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
Ratlova [127] discussed various methods in light of the role of reading in the
Polish child’s intellectual development. Also treated were the roles of reading at
home, the relationship between reading and other language arts subjects, as well
as the need for a teacher’s preparation for teaching.
The Queensland Education Department [1221 reported a study which compared
twenty-sevenclasses in a like number of schools to determine the merits of the traditional phonic method and a method which made use of meaningful language
units from the beginning. The latter method was recommended.
Hernandez [68] described the GUIA integrated method, in which application
is made of global methods as well as ‘syncretism,phonetism and analysis’.Emphasis
in this Mexican method is on learning to read and write simultaneously.
Zborowski [I 881 discussed the historical background of various methods used
in teaching reading in Poland and described the nature of the different stages
through which a learner passes.
Silveira [
1421 offered a comprehensive teachers’guide for instruction in reading
in the primary school in Brazil. In this book were discussed the cultural values of
reading,the need for reading in school as well as out-of-school,
the activities designed
to foster a love of books, the steps involved in learning to read, the ways in which
progress can be measured, methods of teaching, and reading handicaps which
will be encountered and remedial steps which can be taken to overcome them.
Schmalohr [I 371 reported an inquiry conducted in Krefeld (Federal Republic
of Germany) after a global method had been used for four years, and discussed
the advantages and disadvantages of the global and phonetic methods which were
discovered in the analysis.
Wittwer [I~o],in a controlled study, found to be most useful the method for
the teaching of French in Tunisia that was based from the beginning on reading
comprehension.After preliminary testing for the homogeneity of one experimental
class and seven control classes in the third primary year, a number of factors were
proved to be effective according to ‘readingindications’and ‘comprehensionscores’.
These included a method based on the study ofconnected stories,the creation ofa climate conducive to comprehension,limited frequency of new words during the first
six weeks, and the establishment of an individual ‘analyticand synthetic’procedure.
Braslavsky E221 discussed the psychological principles which have a bearing
on the analytical method of reading in Argentina. Practical suggestions were given
for teaching the child at an early age to analyse the spoken language and for distinguishing each sound in words when beginning oral reading lessons.
Winkler [I 781 was especially interested in the relationship between reading
and the development of the mother tongue and in the early teaching of children
to understand what they read.
The value of silent reading in French was emphasized by Segers [139]in a
report on its role and aim and the mechanisms involved; he also made a critical
appraisal of reading tests.
A detailed analysis of the different stages in teaching pupils to read Afrikaans was
made by Blignaut [I 81,who also discussed means ofevaluating progress and described
simple procedures for making reading lessons more entertaining.
Tensuan and Davis [ISI]reported a comparison of the relative efficiency of
teaching Philippine children to read the phonetically consistent Tagalog language
by the Cartilla method, beginning with grapheme-phoneme correspondence, and
a combination method. The latter was found to be more satisfactory.
With the support of the United States Office of Education,a series of twentyseven studies of first-grade reading instruction was conducted for the purpose of
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
comparing the different methods used. The results of the individual studies were
presented by Stauffer [153] and data from all studies co-ordinated by Bond and
Dykstra [20] at the University of Minnesota. Three basic questions were posed:
(a) T o what extent are various pupil, teacher,class,school,and community characteristics related to pupil achievement in first-gradereading and spelling ? (b) Which
of the many approaches to initial reading and spelling achievement were found to
be most successful at the end of first grade? (c) Is any programme uniquely effective
for pupils with high or low readiness for reading? The following general findings
were based on the analysis of data from the twenty-seven studies carried out over
a seven-month period.
The various pupil, class and teacher characteristics were, in general, not closely
related to first-grade reading achievement. For the class sizes studied, there was
no such relationship; but it was noted that there were no very large or very small
classes involved in the study. Teacher absence from school was not related to pupil
achievement. Moreover, the correlations between teacher experience and reading
achievement were substantially lower than those between reading readiness and
reading achievement. In general, the younger child did somewhat better than his
older counterpart, and the child who attended school regularly did somewhat
better than the child who was absent occasionally.
Six types of instructional methods or materials were used as experimental
treatments in more than one project: Initial Teaching Alphabet,Basal plus Phonics,
Language Experience, Linguistic,Phonic/Linguisticand Basal. These six categories
were used to group all of the methods and materials on the basis of their common
characteristics. Five separate analyses were performed,each analysis using the basal
reader as a control against which to compare progress in other instructional programmes. In general, the Non-basal programmes tended to produce pupils with
better word-recognition skills than did the Basal programme. These differences
were less consistent with respect to paragaph meaning, spelling,rate of reading and
reading accuracy abilities. Furthermore,there was little evidence that any method
increased or decreased the variability of pupil achievement.There were good and
poor readers in all groups. Girls tended to achieve higher readiness test scores at the
beginning of the first grade, and score at a higher level of achievement at the end
of the seven-month period. This supports the general conclusion that girls tend to
be more mature in the first grade. However,no method has a unique effect on the
achievement of boys or girls.
For four of the five comparisons between Basal and Non-basalmethods,children
with high and low readiness for reading were not differentiated. The readiness
characteristics used were intelligence test scores, auditory discrimination scores,
and letter knowledge. Only in the Basal versus Language Experience comparison
was a significant difference found in all three comparisons. The most mature pupils
profited more from the Language-ExperienceApproach,which has as a basic element
the child’s own writing that serves as a medium of instruction.The least mature
pupils were more successful in the Basal programme. The significance of this
finding,warn Bond and Dykstra,might result from other readiness characteristics of
the pupils.
The general conclusion of this first large-scalestudy of various methods includes
the following statements:
I. The entire instructional setting is involved in the effectiveness of reading instruction and differences in method alone do not alter, to any great extent, the
reading growth of the children.There is apparently no methodological panacea
represented among the methods explored.
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
Teachers are an extremely important element in the learning situation. They
should be trained to conduct well-organizedand systematic reading programmes,
to encourage class participation by all the pupils, and to be aware of and adjust
to the individual needs of the pupils within their classes.
The report on reading issued by the Advisory Board to the Minister of Education,
Province of Manitoba, Canada [IOI] after a lengthy controversy about reading
methods recommended :
I. that the Manitoba Reading Programme remain under continuous evaluation
and review in all its aspects to ensure a pattern of development that is sequential,
continuous, flexible and up to date;
2. that in-service training in reading be provided for teachers on a continuous
basis and that courses in developmental reading, diagnostic and remedial
techniques and children’s literature be incorporated into the programme for
teachers in training at the faculties of education.
The Manitoba plan for continuous evaluation of the methods of teaching reading
used in the province and continuous in-service training of teachers appears to be
one which w
ill lead the way to improvement,and which will make the best use
of innovative approaches to reading. Some of these approaches are mentioned in
the next section.
The past decade has not only resulted in a liberalization ofattitudes towards methods
of teaching reading and a broader conception of what is involved in learning to
read, but it has also given rise to a number of innovations which depart sharply
from previous practice. The resulting claims and counter-claimsof these approaches
have resulted in a degree of confusion on the part of teachers and school administrators. Downing [39] has observed that his approach,the Initial Teaching Alphabet
(i.t.a.),has become linked in the minds of too many American educators with ideas
which have no relationship with his experiment, and indicates that he is troubled
by the ‘salvation-through-innovation
complex’ which has become commonplace.
Some of the new approaches appear to be derived from a revolt against an
established method. The ‘individualized reading programme’ is one of these.The
inconsistent relationship between English phonemes and spelling led to the development of modified writing systems which were used to simplify the child’s early
experiences with reading. Another, described as ‘linguistic’,uses the science of
linguistics as its rationale. Interpretations of learning theory are the basis for programmed instruction, and a combination of methods which relate to the new
technologies are dependent upon mechanical or electronic devices.
In general, programmes of reading instruction have been centred around specific
materials,which form the methodological core of the programme.The individualized
reading programme grew from a concern that the reading textbook should not be
the sole source of reading instruction. Hunt and others [74] have emphasized the
important role of the classroom teacher in carrying out an individualized reading
The individualized reading programme is not rigidly defined. Many teachers
acting independently developed a programme according to their own conception
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
of its operation. Although there are many variations of the programme, some
typical common elements are :
I. Literature b d s for children predominate (rather than textbook series) as
basic instructional material.
2. Each child makes personal choices with regard to his reading material.
3. Each child reads at his own rate and sets his own pace of accomplishment.
4. Each child confers with his teacher about what he has read and his progress in
5. Each child carries his reading ,intosome form o_fsummarizing activjty.
6. Some kind of record is kept by teacher or child or both.
7. Children work in groups for an immediate learning purpose and leave the group
when that purpose has been accomplished.
8. Word recognition and related skills are taught and vocabulary is accumulated
in a natural way at the point of the child’sneed.
Modified alphabets for reducing the number of inconsistencies in English spelling
are not new; Fries [50] indicates that the first of a number of special phonetic
alphabets was used in 1570,when John Hart published such an alphabet to be used
for the teaching of reading.Nevertheless, their promise has undergone a renaissance.
In Britain, as well as in other parts of the world,John Downing [38] has been identified as the chief experimenter, with Sir .James Pitman, of a revision of Isaac
Pitman’s nineteenth-century Fonatype system. The origin of the Initial Teaching
Alphabet, also known as the Augmented Roman Alphabet, was described by
Harrison [64], who also treats the spelling reform movement and governmental
action in relation to the Pitman scheme. The success of the programme appears
to be dependent upon the transition that pupils make to traditional orthography
and even Downing [3g] indicates that the evidence is not yet sufficient to make a
final judgement as to the value of i.t.a.as it presently exists.
Other newly published systems which utilize regularized or simplified writing
systems in English are: ‘Englishthe New Way’,Cortright [33]; ‘DiacriticalMarking
System’,Fry [51]; ‘RegularizedEnglish’,Wijk [I 771 ; ‘Unifon’,Zeitz [189];‘Words
in Colour’,Gattegno [52] ; and ‘PhoneticColour’,Jones [7g].
Of the several linguistic readers which have been published, two will be cited.
The first is Bloomfield-Barnhart’sLet’s Read [IS].This volume is based upon the
theories and observations of the late Leonard Bloomfield. In his introduction
Barnhart describes the origins of the materials and states: ‘Bloomfield’ssystem of
teachingreading is a linguisticsystem.Essentially,alinguisticsystem ofteachingreading
separates the problem of the study of word-form from the study of word-meaning’.
Bloomfield’s position is indicated in an introductory essay within the volume.
According to Charles C.Fries [50], his interest in the problems of reading was
aroused in conversations with Leonard Bloomfield. This culminated in a book
which sought to analyse the teaching of reading against the background of the
knowledge concerning human language which linguistic science has accumulated
over the past 140years. Fries and his colleagues also developed materials which
grew from this theoretical framework.The essentials of the Fries system involve:
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
A. The ‘transfer’stage from auditory to visual signals.
Developing a set of recognition responses for the letters of the alphabet.
Developing automatic recognition responses for the major spelling patterns
in English.
B. The ‘productive’stage of practice.
I. Submerging the automatic response of spelling patterns so that the reader
is conscious only of the emerging body of meaning.
2. Developing the ability to produce appropriate patterns of intonation and
stress that are not or only partially represented in graphic materials.
C.The stage of ‘vivid imaginative realization’ of literary value.
I. Developing facility in using the many signals of meanings that the literary
art employs.
2. Responding to the special codes used for representing poetry and other
literary forms.
Although a wide variety of materials has been published and advertised as programmed material, Silberman [141] indicated that some of these were little more
than lessons in sequence, tachistoscopic exercises or booklets which provide the
student with knowledge of results. H e believed that such efforts are more to be
applauded than decried, for they represent at least an effort to adopt some of the
principles of programmed instruction to reading. H e observed that the primary
grades, where the effect of programmed instruction promises to be greatest, seem
to be the last to benefit from the attention of the programmer.
Gotkin and McSweeney [56] take the position that education is entering a
second revolution in the use of teaching machines. They pointed out that the failure
of the first teaching machine revolution had these contributory factors: (a) the first
teaching machines were unreliable; (b) these machines were not necessary for what
was being taught; (c) the machines themselves restricted programmers; and (d)
programmers had little knowledge as to the art of teaching by machine. They
noted that, at present, electronic technology is rapidly providing us with equipment which is reliable, valid and non-restrictive,but the art of programming
itself is the weakest link. They concluded that, if the teaching machines of the
‘second revolution’ prove to be as valid as teachers, it will be because those who
have programmed them have given them interesting personalities and made use
of their unique attributes in a unique way.
The Edison Responsive Environment instrument, also known as the talking
typewriter, which has been used for teaching very young children to read, is an
example of the second generation of teaching machines. This device can be thought
a comhinatian of other meha: the tape recorder, slide projector, electric
typewriter, and classroom chalkboard with pointer. Gotkin and McSweeney discussed the problems of machine learning in the light of the Edison Responsive
Environment device.
Instead ofattemptingto summarize themany descriptionsofadultliteracyprogrammes
which have been published during the past ten years,only referenceswhich appear to
be representativeofa number of similar articles or those which have intrinsic importance as broad documents of the literacy movement will be introduced.
28 I
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
Literacy education has changed character since the period when the main purpose
of a ‘literacy campaign’was considered to be teaching the rudiments of beginning
reading to a group and moving on to another, hoping that the first group would
continue to develop. The provision of materials for the next stage of reading was
often never reached. The Jamia Millia study reported by Balpuri [g] indicated
that the relapse rate into illiteracy was a serious problem.A representative sample
of Indians who had received literacy certificates could not comprehend a few
paragraphs containing 73 different common words one year later.
Similar experiences of literacy workers led to a concern for the further development of literacy beyond the earliest stages. A n example is an article by Ansari [3]
which suggested activities to maintain what had been learned,and to further develop
literacy skills in Indian communities. These included : the writing of sayings and
quotations on public walls ; the distribution of unstamped postcards to encourage
letter writing among neo-literates; the formation of clubs to encourage reading,
writing and discussion; the use of wall news boards and the encouragement of
newspaper reading ; the organization of competition and the awarding of prizes
for literacy activities; the organization of reading centres or reading rooms; the
establishment of stationary and circulating libraries and of book exhibitions ; the
observance of literacy,library or socialeducation ‘days’or ‘weeks’;the publication of
‘block’magazines for which neo-literatesare encouraged to write;the reading of the
Ramayana and other religiousepics in temples and community centres; the encouragement ofoffice holders and members ofcommunity groups to record and read aloud
the proceedings of meetings ; the distribution and discussion of government posters.
Harris [63], in a critique of Iran’s ‘Literacy Corps’-a para-military campaign
for which high-schoolgraduates were conscripted for compulsory teaching in rural
schools-indicated that the programme was designed to eliminate the 60 per cent
illiteracy in remote villages, but questioned its value for adoption by other countries.
Perhaps a comparison between definitions of literacy in 1951 and one adopted
in 1962 will be revealing, and will serve to illustrate the change which has taken
place in thinking about literacy during that short span of years. The Expert C o m mittee on the Standardization of Educational Statistics, convened by Unesco
in 1951,defined the literate person as one who can ‘bothread with understanding
and write a short simple statement on his everyday life’.The committee also indicated
that a knowledge of arithmetic is often included in the attributes of a literate person.
A n international committee of experts on literacy, meeting in Paris in 1962,
adopted this definition: ‘a person is literate when he has acquired the essential
knowledge and skills which enable him to engage in all those activities in which
literacy is required for effective functioning in his group and community,and whose
attainments in reading, writing and arithmetic make it possible for him to continue
to use these skills towards his own and the community’sdevelopments’.The Unesco
document Literacy as a Factor in Development [I~o],prepared for the 1965 World
Congress of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy,held in Teheran,
describes the trend of change from elementary to functional literacy training. It is
careful to indicate,however,that ‘althoughthe concept of literacy work is constantly
broadening,there is still no common definition of it for all countries’.
Developments in Reading and Literay Education, 1956-1967
A n interesting functional approach to literacy education has been described
by Maguerez [97] in T h e Technical Promotion of the Illiterate Worker, drawn from his
experience in the training of workers in developing countries. The methods of
training he devised to meet their needs are based on the following principles: training must be constantly linked to environment in order to consolidate learning and
to maintain high motivation; training must be global, that is include and relate
language study, reading, writing, technical training, arithmetic, manual training,
drawing,etc.; such training must be given by teachers or monitors drawn from the
same environment as the trainees.
In the documents which resulted from a world conference on Literacy and Society
convened in R o m e in 1962 [183],two points which were based on the unanimous
views of the experts were singled out for special attention:
I. ‘Literacy is not an end in itself. It can only be satisfactorily organized within
the broad context of adult education programmes adapted to the framework
of the society concerned.
2. In spite of widely differing national circumstances, there is a very large body
of knowledge of motivations, organizations and techniques in literacy work
which is universally applicable. Only by continuous interchange by experts in
this field can this body of knowledge,which is of common validity, be used to
achieve its maximum possible effect in practical action’ [183,p. g and IO].
Statistics on the literacy situation and the work being done in literacy education
are not easily obtained. The use of a questionnaire to obtain information usually
has built-in weaknesses : the varying meanings of terms in different countries,the
ways in which the purposes of the questionnaires are interpreted by the respondents,
and the picture of his country which the respondent wishes to convey.
One of the best comparative studies of literacy education, which also included
adult education of this kind, was conducted jointly as an early stage of the United
Nations Development Decade programme by the International Bureau of Education
in Geneva and Unesco in I 964 [I 731.
The principal findings on literacy based upon returns from sixty-two countries,
were summarized as follows:
I. Only those countries in which compulsory education is an accomplished fact
can boast of having actually eliminated the source of illiteracy,which later may
affect even 85 or 95 per cent of the population (women particularly).
2. It would seem that plans for literacy education are often included in a general
programme for education or for economic and social development and that
they are determined mainly by the number of adults to be made literate and by
the material means available.
3. In at least half of the countries studied, the ministries of education are responsible for the action to promote literacy, sometimes through the activity of
a special body and often in collaboration with other ministries or regional and
local authorities;the financial burden also may be shared.
4. The active part played by private initiative in the promotion of literacy cannot
be underestimated and more than thirty countries refer to it. In regard also
to the financing,the responsibility of official authorities may be made lighter
by various kinds of public or private action.
__ through
5. The countries consulted were unanimous in stating that--co-operation
public opinion is indispensable in any literacy campaign. It is in fact necessary
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
not only to increase the number of persons engaged in literacy education but
also,in many cases,to convince the illiterates of the advantages of education.
6. Due mainly to the shortage of teachers,the number of ordinary teachers engaged
in literacy education may vary considerably (from 6 to 70 per cent) with a result
that the collaboration of qualified non-professionalteachers is often essential.
At the same time it is becoming increasingly important for special preparation
to be received by those responsible for teaching the adults, whether the latter
be illiterate or not.
7. In 75 per cent of the countries concerned,literacy education includes,in addition to the teaching of basic knowledge, various subjects often dictated by the
local environment.
8. Owing to the paramount importance of motivating the required effort, those
responsible in literacy education seem to be aware of the necessity of not e m ploying with adults the methods which are adopted with children. In 83 per
cent of the countries embraced by the inquiry the textbooks and publications are
compiled for use with adults. Furthermore,70 per cent of the countries mention
that audio-visualaids are employed more or less. As regards radio and television,they are only just beginning to be used and the present stage is rather an
experimental one.
9. !Retention and continuous improvement of the knowledge acquired by the
new literates constitute an integral part of the action to promote literacy and are
considered to a certain extent together with the education which, provided for
adults,is specially treated in the second part of this study.’
Another statistical summary of the replies to a questionnaire on the situation of
illiteracy and the problem of literacy work and of adult education in the world was
made in preparation for the World Conference on Literacy and Society in R o m e in
I 962 and edited by Lorenzetto [I 821.Although the questionnaire through which these
data were gathered was an extension of the previous one circulated by Unesco,there
were differences in grouping and formulating the questions,and data were gathered
on the activities of non-governmentalassociations which were active in literacy work.
In preparation for the Teheran World Congress of Ministers of Education
on the Eradication of Illiteracy convened by Unesco in 1965,a summary document
entitled Statistics of Illiteracy was compiled [172]. This summary included data on
a number of countries,especially the newly independent ones,for which no detailed
data had been available in past studies.A breakdown of the data by sex, age, type
of occupation and type of environment (urban or rural) was made so that the
relationship between literacy and development could be seen. When possible,
comparative figures which indicated changes from data collected a decade previously were included.
1 The Final Report of the Teheran Conference [1691 reiterated,in its general conclu-
; sions, the
orientation of literacy programmes towards development, the fundamental neee part ouin countries to mobilize their forces-t
xteracy, and
to aid these programmes.
OiFexample of international co-operation can be seen in the report of the
East Africa Literacy Training Seminar [I~I],held in Tanzania in December 1966
and organized by the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching
Profession in collaboration with Unesco and its Sub-regional Literacy Centre for
East Africa and the Institute of Adult Education,University College,Dar es Salaam.
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
The interchange and stimulation afforded by meetings of this kind will doubtless
improve literacy activities in the areas served.
Unesco has been extremely actkc-iIiI~~h~a~~aign aaa&indl&w Since the
Teheran Conference, Unesco has undertaken an experimental and intensive literacy programme intended to pave the way for a subsequent world campaign.
Based on a selective and functional approach, this programme has been applied
in a small number of countries,and in sectors where motivations in favour of literacy
are strongest. Moreover, the projects within this programme are closely tied to the
‘plans for economic and social development being implemented in each country.
Functional literacy projects thus oriented are being carried out over a five-year
period (I 966-70) in Algeria, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Iran, Mali, Sudan, Tanzania,
Venezuela and other countries,in close co-operationwith the United Nations, the
Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Labour Organisation.
To this date they have been financed largely by the United Nations Development
Programme and by national resources.
Unesco’s activities in these functional literacy programmes have included the
ining of instructors, the sending of exxect
ateria12 and to organize experimental classes,
Some of these activities will, in the future, he
integrated in a long-term programme for rural development now in preparation.
Vocational training and agricultural extension for illiterates, important elements
of rural development schemes, were the subject of an international workshop held
\in Turin in April 1968.
Several manuals on adult and youth education related to literacy have been
published by Unesco [see 168,I 15, I 71, 41 and 651.
[24] is perhaps the most useful summary of literacy
activities written for the general public during this period. It presents many aspects
of the war on illiteracy in readable style, and is based on documented sources as
well as the results of the author’s interviews with members of the Unesco Secretariat and other specialists.
Since 1956,a number of research studies have helped to shed light on the teacher’s
work in relation to reading. Some have had an immediate relation to classroom
practice, others have had an indirect but nevertheless real influence, and some are
likely to be of importance only in the schools of the future.
Theoretical Considerations and Models
Although some might consider the first efforts to build theoretical models to explain
the process of reading as remote from the classroom, others hold that theoretical
considerations are necessary for a clearer understanding of the task which confronts
both the reader and the teacher,and also for the proper scientific study of the reading
process. Reid [I 291 conducted structured interviews with British 5-year-oldsduring
their first year of school to learn how their notions about reading developed during
the year. His findings are related to the consideration of theoretical models of
reading,stated from the consumer’sviewpoint. H e found that the children exhibited
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
linguistic and conceptual uncertainties about the nature of the material they had
to organize-‘words’, ‘sounds’,‘letters’, and ‘numbers’.H e suggested that the
slow, groping steps which a pupil took in ordering the elements of reading were
learning: that language and pictures are two kinds of symbols; that letters
and numerals are subclasses in the class of written symbols; that ‘names’form a
subclass in the class of words; and that capitals form a subclass in the class of
H e indicated that these steps are learned at varying speeds and with varying
degrees of success by different children, and that the child who could appreciate
exceptions was less confused.Reid suggested that learning might become more logical
and orderly if these kinds of awareness and the terminology used to describe them
were to be developed.
Although first presented in 1953 [70] the best known theoretical model which
related to reading, the Substrata-FactorTheory of Holmes, was reported in 1960
[71], and more completely in 1961 [72]. Holmes summarized his theory in these
words [72, p. I]: ‘In essence, the Substrata-FactorTheory holds that, normally,
reading is an audiovisual verbal-processingskill of symbolic reasoning, sustained
by the interfacilitation of an intricate hierarchy of substrata factors that have been
mobilized as a psychological working-systemand pressed into service in accordance
with the purposes of the reader.’
In a later review of research,Holmes and Singer [73] classified ongoing research
in reading under the following headings: the teaching machine model, synaptic
transmission model, mixed-dominance model, initial teaching alphabet model,
substrata-factor model, structural linguistic model, speed and non-oral vertical
reading hypothesis, and speed and processing time hypothesis. Although it was
admitted that all of these theories did not meet with acceptance, they represent,
according to Holmes and Singer, a move in the direction of close interdependence
of reading theory construction and experimental research, mutually directed. A
series of articles on the general topic of theoretical models and reading appears in
the report edited by Kingston [85].
The model which was evolved over a period of thirty years by Gray [57] and
published in 1960 classified the understandings, attitudes and skills common to
reading behaviour into four separate but interrelated categories: word perception,
comprehension,reaction to what is read,and assimilation of the ideas with previous
Gibson E531 examined the process of learning to read and postulated three
phases: (a) a prereading skill in differentiating graphic symbols; (b) decoding
printed symbols into sounds, which requires the visual or audio-visual association
of letters or words with the vocalized equivalents;and (c) ‘word strings’ or larger
units, which are held togetlix by meaning.
Robinson [132], building upon Gray’s 1960 model, added a fifthmajor aspect,
which develops with the other four and is dependent upon them, namely rates of
The processes which take place in reading comprehension were also studied.
Piekarz [I I 81 compared the interpretative processes in the case of a higher-level
reader with those of a less competent reader,using a detailed experimental technique.
Analysis of the case studies indicated that the higher-levelreader participated more
actively in the reading process, as evidenced by a greater variety and a larger
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
number of responses than the lower-level reader, who directed the majority of
his responses to the literal surface meanings of the selection, giving only passing
attention to the implied meanings and to critical evaluation.
Gray [58] traced the history of research work on interpretation in reading,
paying special attention to introspective techniques. H e suggested that the studies
reviewed provide clear evidence of the value of the use of retrospective and introspective techniques in studying interpretation in reading,for they reveal as clearly
as any technique used thus far, the nature of the thinking involved,and they can
be recorded accurately and be analysed in detail. In addition, the subject can he
re-examined at points in order to verify or extend conclusions.
Nardelli [I I 31 reported the results of a controlled experiment which involved
five experimental and three control groups in the sixth grade to determine ‘the
effect of a short period of instruction’upon the ability ‘to draw inferences and to
recognize propaganda devices’.He concluded that the lessons used can be employed
with sixth-gradegroups to improve the ability to recognize propaganda devices,
although the recognition and identification of propaganda devices does not suggest
ability to resist propaganda in its various forms.
A review of expert opinion and research findings on ‘critical reading’ which
appeared in 97 articles,reports and texts, was made by Sochor [146]in 1959.This
summary was part of a monograph collected by the National Conference on Research
in English [145]. It also included an article by Artley [4] which examined the
nature of critical reading, its ‘relation to literal reading in the content fields’,the
factors which predispose the reader to do critical reading,the basic abilities involved,
and the subject areas in which critical reading should be developed.Critical reading,
he indicated,is not only the process ofjudging with severity the ideas expressed by
the writer, but is also the nature of the reaction a reader has to these ideas and to
the use he makes of them. For the development of critical reading it is essential to
see that it is purposeful for each pupil, for the level of the analysis made will be as
high as that of the reading demands to be met.
Another review in the same collection by Eller and Dykstra [47] treated the
‘reader predisposition factor’ in critical reading along the lines studied by the
communications specialists,and including its personal, social and cultural aspects.
They suggested that every teacher of critical reading should have an awareness of
the predisposition of readers to interpret what they read in terms of the many
differences which occur in the reader: particularity as to intelligence, race, family
socio-economic background, religion, psychological adjustment and sex. These are
convincing evidence of the heterogeneity of the responses of a class to the content of
any given piece of printed matter.
The relationship between critical reading and critical listening was examined
by Lundsteen [g5], who also compared the general reading, general listening and
mental maturity scores of fifth- and sixth-gradepupils and concluded that critical
listening might be an independent but interrelated ability or series of abilities
which are positively related to, but not congruous with,other verbal and thinking
abilities. ’
Lipkina [g I] described certain cognitive activities of pupils during reading
lessons,and discussed the methods used by a teacher which best develop the capacity
for reflection,obljas nitel ’nogo,transpositionof the text studied,analysis and drawing
an outline which will enable the pupil to recall the organization for himself as he
reads the text. ‘0b’ja.rnitel ’nogo’ is ‘readingwith explanation’, and it is utilized to
establish readiness for reading at various school levels. At the highest level it should
result in critical, analytical reading by the student.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
Rate oj Reading
Although interest in the rate at which an individual can read with comprehension
has existed for many years, the great amount of reading which must be done in the
world today has created a high interest in this aspect of reading. This has been
especially true of well-educatedtlite groups who feel the strongest need for increasing
their reading efficiency.But it has also,perhaps mistakenly,been a concern of readers
whose other abilities are not fully developed. Innocenzi [75], while primarily
concerned with rapid writing, concluded with a discussion on procedures for reading
quickly and profitably, and on methods employed for training to read quickly.
Most of the studies concerned with rate of reading have been conducted at the
college and adult levels.Teachers usually realize that practice is essential in developing the rate of reading, and so are more concerned with the amount that pupils
read rather than with the speed with which they read. Their major concern is that
what is read is also understood,for reading withoutcomprehension defeats the majorE p 2 2 e of reading.The purposes for which reading is done, since they help determine t F i a 6 ,“ZiFan important consideration for both the reader and the teacher
to keep in mind.
Letson [go] studied the relationships between speed and comprehension when
materials are read for different purposes.Four tests were administered to 601 college
freshmen: two passages were read for the same purpose, one simple and the other
difficult; the other two passages were of equal difficulty but were read for different
purposes.H e concluded:that the difficulty of the material exerts a greater influence
on rate than does the purpose for which the material is read; that slowing down to
read is important to good comprehension; and that the call to read for mastery
appears to engender an alertness above normal and a capability of reading with
greater comprehension and speed.
Reading was considered ‘idea collecting’ by Stone [154] in another study of
university students’ rate of reading. Four speeds of reading were studied: regular,
‘pressure’,‘ideacollecting’for articles of goo words, and ‘ideacollecting’for regular
text. The experimental group consisted of 6 2 college students, and the control
group was 60 students matched on intelligence and background. It was observed
that changes in speed of reading were related to three variables of idea collecting:
the level of detail required; the degree of originality of response (which might be
strictly chronological by degrees, or be a highly integrated and personal response
to the material) ; and the cue system in the language used.
Interest in the flexibility of reading developed in the early 1960’s.‘Flexibility’
is defined as the ability to read different materials at the rate best suited to the
purpose and type of text.Braam [2 I] constructed an instrument to measure improved
flexibility in reading and reported the results of attempts to develop flexibility
through a six-week summer reading improvement course for college-bound high
school seniors.
McDonald [I 033 devised an Inventory of Reading Versatility which endeavoured to determine how well a student reads three different kinds of material,
each of which requires a different approach.A flexible reader will read each selection
1.8 to 2 times faster than the previous one. In contrast, the inflexible reader will
tend to have a nearly uniform rate throughout.
l [Sg] studied the influence of pre-reading directions on the rate and comprehension of academically gifted students. In addition, he noted the effect of
re-readingupon the accuracy of comprehension.A lack of flexibility in both reading
rate and comprehension was revealed in this study. This may imply, according to
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1957
the author,that thepre-readingdirectionsgivencould not produce effectivereading adjustmentin these advanced readers,it does not necessarilyreflecttrue rigidityinreading
performance.The lowlevelofcomprehension accuracyobtainedonthe first reading was
overcome upon re-reading,under conditions of corrective feedback,suggesting that
greater use of corrective feedback may contribute to the development of reading
R exibility.
Skimming as an ability in reading was examined by Grayum [60]in an investigation concerning its nature, purpose and place in the curriculum by grade level,
namely from fourth-gradechildren to adults no longer in school. She observed that
the techniques used in skimming included: (a) skipping in various degrees;
(b) marked changes in regular rate; (c) pausing; (d) regressing; (e) looking back;
and (f) looking ahead. All of these types were used at all age-grade levels, but the
mastery of certain combinations of the fundamental aspects of reading appeared
to be necessary for efficient skimming, together with skill in evaluation of the ideas
Skimming,it would seem, should be considered a means to an end rather than
an end in itself,and should be taught as a part of flexibility in reading.The literature
since Ig I 4 on the skimming process in silent reading was reviewed by Moore [I 081.
Programmes of extremely rapid reading were considered reading by some
investigators and skimming by others. Representative studies on rapid reading
courses have been carried out by Taylor [15g],who analysed the eye movements
and comprehension scores of superior readers in one popular course,and by Thalberg
and Eller [162], who compared the results of a highly publicized rapid reading
course with those of a control group using more conventional exercises.
Continued research on the various rates at which individuals read for different
purposes is likely. The increasing amount of material found in written form requires
not only a high degree of selection on the part of many sophisticated readers,but
also efficiency in reading what has been chosen.
Directly related to rate of reading is the difficulty of the ideas in the language being
read. Numerous attempts have been made to determine this by examining the
language in which the ideas are couched. Chall [28] reviewed the significant
research in the measurement of readability, in its applications, and considered at
length the reliability and validity of various readability measures. Klare [87] also
presented a comprehensive review ofresearch concerning readability and its measurement, and included a bibliography of 482 items on the topic.
Several studies of readability in languages other than English, about which the
majority of studies appear, have been published. Spaulding [I 5I] suggested a
Spanish readability formula based upon average sentence length and vocabulary
density. Density was determined by a ‘Density Word List’ compiled on the basis
of the Buchanan count of Spanish word usage. Bhagoliwal [15] tested the applicability of four English readability formulae in Hindi. H e found that variables of
sentence length are valuable for Hindi as well as for English,as well as those related
to individual words.
The Cloze Procedure,a technique which utilizes the reader’s ability to supply
the exact word which has been omitted from a selection, has been proposed as a
technique for measuring the difficulty of text.Rankin [ I Z ~ summarized
the evidence
concerningthe empirical validity of the Cloze Procedure as a technique for measuring
readability and examined its usefulness for measuring intelligence,pre-reading
knowledge,and comprehension.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
The term ‘readability’is sometimes also used to mean ‘legibility’,or the quality
of type which affects the ease with which printed matter can be read for a sustained
Zachrisson [
1871reported the results of a series ofstudies of the relative readability
of sans-serifand old-styletypeface of varying sizes,utilizing boys in the first grade
in two schools in Stockholm. H e also reviewed previous studies of the readability
of printed material.
Burt, Cooper and Martin [27] studied the relative legibility as well as adults’
and children’s aesthetic preferences for ten typefaces. They used tests of speed
and accuracy of reading,supplemented by observations of eye-movements,blinking,
symptoms of eye-strainand introspective reactions.
A comprehensive review and summary of the findings of over two hundred
studies of type legibility was presented by Tinker [165], which included a useful
chapter on the methodology used in studies of this type.
A new international periodical, The Journal of Typographic Research, promises to
further legibility studies in the future.The editor’s stated purpose, in the first issue,
is ‘to report and to encourage scientific investigation of our alphabet and related
symbols’[I 84,p. 31. This issue contained articles on a wide variety of topics,including the relationship of typographic factors to rate of reading,printing for the visually
handicapped, computer typesetting and the influence of right-hand margins on
Since reading is an interpretative task, knowledge about the reader is important
for the teacher. For this reason a number of studies concerned with the individual
who is, or is to become a reader are included in this section. H
is vocabulary and
language abilities,his feelings about reading,his aptitude and readiness for learning,
his physical capabilities and his cultural and socio-economic background may
contribute to his achievement in reading.Backwardness in reading and its rernediation, since they may be considered problems of an individual first, and a condition
to be treated second, are also included in this section.
Basic to reading is knowledge of the language being read, preferably in its oral
form. A number of studies have been conducted to study the vocabulary and other
language skills of children before they learn to read, or are in the early stages of
Burroughs [26] studied the spoken vocabulary of 330 British children who
were about to learn to read, equally distributed among boys and girls in three
chronological age groups: 5-554,554-6,and 6-654years.
A comprehensive normative study of the development of various language
skills of 480 children aged 3 to 8 was made by Templin [r60]. Such factors as age,
sex, intelligence, hearing, home linguistic environment and socio-economic status
were controlled, and norms were presented on the development of articulation of
speech sounds, and sound discrimination, sentence structure and vocabulary, as
well as the interrelations of these language skills.
Developments in Reading and Literay Education, 1956-1967
Baranyai [I 01 reported a study which sought to identify Hungarian children’s
understanding of words and phrases chosen from their school readers, and to evaluate the appropriateness of the readers for the children tested.
A linguistic analysis of the structure of a sample of 25 selected phonological
units in the speech of children in grades 1-6was made by Strickland [158]in order
to relate the language patterns at each level to the reading textbooks used in each
grade. In addition, the relationships between the structure of 100sixth-gradechildren’s oral language and their silent reading comprehension, oral reading comprehension, and listening comprehension were reported. Litt!e relationship was
found between the patterns of sentence structure used by the children in the sample
studied and the sentence structure of the language in the readers; nor did there
appear to be the same control over structure as over vocabulary in the readers.
At the sixth-gradelevel, children with high reading skills also made more use of
common structural patterns than did those with lower skills. Strickland [
also compiled a bibliography and summary of linguistic reports which might contribute to the teaching of the language arts.
Lakdawala [89] studied the basic vocabulary of Gujarati children aged I 3-plus
in India, basing his study on the recognition by 455 pupils of words used in textbooks.In addition,reproductionvocabulary was estimated by tabulating the different
words written in an hour’s composition.
A long-range study of children’s oral language was conducted over a ten-year
period by Loban [92]. Starting in 1952 with a stratified sample of 338 kindergarten
children in Oakland, California, he gathered systematically information about
vocabulary, use of oral and written language, and proficiency in reading and
listening.In addition,he took into account teachers’judgements of pupils’language
skills and information about health and home.
The oral language of the children in both the Strickland and Loban studies
above was analysed by segmenting it according to intonation patterns first, and
later into communication units. However, Loban observed that another element,
which he called a ‘maze’,occurred frequently.H e noted,‘Onecannot listen to these
recordings or read the transcripts without noting how frequently the subjects,
when they attempt to express themselves, become confused or tangled in words.
This confusion occurs not only in interview situations but also in the daily talk of
the children, in the classroom when they share experiences, and on the playground
of the school.The language behavior in question is not a matter of words tumbling
over one another but rather a case of many hesitations,false starts,and meaningless
repetitions. In this research these language tangles have been labeled mazes. The
linguistic troubles of the subjects resemble very much the physical behavior of a
person looking for a way out of an actual spatial maze. H e thrashes about in one
direction or another until, finally, he either abandons his goal or locates a path
leading where he wishes to go. Sometimes he stumbles upon a way out; sometimes
he has presence of mind enough to pause and reason a way out’ 192, p. 81.
In a highly condensed summary of the key findings of his study, Loban wrote:
‘During the first seven years of schooling, children speak more words in each
succeeding year, produce more communication units, and increase the average
number of words in those units.
‘Childrenrated as skillful in language reduce both their incidence of mazes
and the number of words per maze.
‘Atthe kindergarten level, vocabulary and proficiency in language appear to
be related.
‘Notpattern, but what is done to achieve flexibility within the pattern, proves
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
to be a measure of effectivenessand control of language at this level of language
‘Children who are rated as most proficient in language are also those who
manifest the most sensitivity to the conventions of language.
‘Those who are high in general language ability are also high in reading
ability.... Writing ability is related to socio-economic position... . The highest
correlation in the study is between vocabulary and intelligence... . A low but
positive relation exists between health and language proficiency.... Competence
in the spoken language appears to be basic for competence in reading and writing’
[92, P.931.
The spontaneous writing of 2 1 2 British children 5 to 7 years old was studied by
Edwards and Gibbon [46]. Groups of 250 words were listed by frequency of use,
children’s age and also in order of popularity by age group.
The influence of teaching oral English in the first grade to Chamorro-speaking
children in G u a m was investigated by Cooper [321. Careful controls and randomized
procedures were used to determine how varied amounts of oral English activities
influenced the reading comprehension of children four years later. N o significant
differenceswere reflected by the results,and the author suggests that the dissimilarity
of the two languages might have caused the negative results.
The oral language of culturally disadvantaged kindergartners was studied by
Thomas [163] who concluded that children living in low socio-economic urban
areas show a deficiency in language development when compared to the upperlevel social status children studied by Tremplin [
I 601.Children in the former group
used approximately 50 per cent of the words in three leading first-gradereaders,
and failed to use 20 to 50 per cent of the words on five word-listsoften recommended
for inclusion in the primary grades.
The functional vocabulary of 21 I Tamil-speaking children aged 3 to 5 was
analysed in an interim report by Arunajatai and Srinivasachari [5]. This study,
conducted under the auspices of the South Indian Teachers’ Union Council of
Educational Research, not only lists and classifies the vocabulary recorded in the
study, but for a sample found low correlations between intelligence test scores and
vocabulary size and significantly higher vocabulary scores by the girls in the group.
McCullough and the Reading Project Staff of the National Institute of Education in New Delhi outlined in their comprehensive handbook on the preparation
of textbooks in the mother tongue IO^], the vocabulary survey made of Hindispeaking children prior to the preparation of reading textbooks for them. Tests
were devised for spoken language, hearing vocabulary and sentence-structure,
and a 25o-item instrument was used to assess the concepts of children. The tests
were administered in classes I to IV in twelve locations in six Hindi-speaking
states, and the readers which were prepared reflected the actual language of the
children reading them.
Personality and Reading Achievement
The attitude of the learner to his task, the influence of his personality upon his
learning,and the interrelationship of psychological factors in the process of learning
to read have been the topic of several studies during the past decade.
A controlled experiment to study the relationship of a child’s reaction during
a reading situation and his reactions in general was conducted by Natchez [I 141,
who found that there was a positive relationship between the two.A pupil’s reactions
to frustrating situations in general were reflected in his characteristic responses to
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
frustation in reading. She concluded that observing a child during oral reading can
yield clues to his personality pattern.
The relationship of broken homes to school achievement and behaviour was
examined by Kelly, North and Zingle [82] in Canadian schools.They found that
family disruption prior to school entrance does not appear to affect subsequent
reading performance,but that family break-up during the first three years of school
does have an adverse effect on reading.
A n interesting examination of the influence of introversion or extroversion on
the reading achievement of college freshmen was made by Rankin [125]. Using
the Guilford-Zimmerman Temperament Survey to differentiate between extreme
extroverts and introverts, he compared their reading test scores on the Reading
Comprehension section of the Co-operativeEnglish Test, and grade point averages.
H e found,for this population, that errors in reading tended to increase at a significant rate as the extroverts progressed through the test,and suggested that extroverts
build up reactive inhibition faster than introverts as they work, causing their reading
test scores to be depressed.Therefore,in so far as a test generates reactive inhibition,
the interpretation of its results should be considered in the light of the personality
characteristics of the examinee.
The complexity of attempting to relate reading and personality patterns was
shown by Raygor and Wark [128] who compared the Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory scale scores for 228 college students who had been referred
for reading improvement with a ‘normal’population of I,I 16.Although the male
students in the ‘poorreader’ sample tended to be socially maladjusted, the females
tended to be better adjusted than the normative group of typical college freshmen.
Readiness and Aptitude for Reading
Maturity which influences learning to read has been studied for many years, and
most of the recent studies emphasize the complex nature of this phenomenon.
Malmquist studied a group of 386 Swedish pupils who were starting school
for general ability on two group intelligence tests, knowledge of capital letters,
small letters, reading writing from dictation,spelling,arithmetic and social environment. The results indicated that the pupils’ qualifications for profiting from school
varied considerably, with previous knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic
having an important relationship with school success. H e concluded : ‘Continuous
investigations, conducted at regular intervals in connexion with starting school,
into the children’s previous knowledge and their qualifications for profiting by
school teaching, must, consequently, be considered highly desirable. W e should
ascertain as much as possible about what the children have experienced and learned
during the period before they start school. Without such knowledge of the child‘s
development, there can be no sure foundation on which school education can
build’ [98, p. 1611.
The importance of competence in visual perception on the part of first-grade
children and the effect of training in certain aspects of visual perception were studied
by Goins [55]. T w o factors of visual perception were revealed by her analysis:
one related to speed of perception which also seemed to involve the ability to hold
in mind a Gestalt during rapid perception, and another which appeared to be the
ability to keep in mind a figure against distraction. The second had a substantial
common variance with reading skill. The type of tachistoscopic training utilized in
the visual training section of the experiment resulted in improvement only by the
initially superior readers in the group.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
Evidence from twenty-twostudies relating to the nature of the perceptual process
and to word perception by readers was summarized by Vernon [I 751 in 1959.A more
recent annotated bibliography of studies in this area was published in I 966 [I 761.
Other factors which have an influenceon reading progress have been studied
by numerous investigators in various countries. Following are some of these studies.
Zingle and Hobal [ I ~ o ]examined the value of the Metropolitan Readiness
tests as a predictor of reading achievement and arithmetic achievement with
545 Canadian children. They also studied the relationship of teacher ratings and
test scores in the case of older students and boys.
A longitudinal study of various physical, social, mental and emotional factors
associated with the school readiness of 235 Swedish children was made by Johannson
[76], who extracted by factor analysis four main factors of school readiness:
I. A general readiness factor, related to the verbal readiness of the pupils.
2. A characterological factor reflecting the pupils’ social and emotional readiness,
as well as their work readiness.
3. A factor manifested in the pupils’ mathematical ability and work readiness.
4. A factor representing fine motor readiness.
H e found that physical measurements were not useful in rating a pupil’s school
readiness,and that there was a consistent tendency for mental and somatic defects
to be most frequent among children at the lowest level of school readiness,and least
frequent among those at the highest level. In general, girls’ readiness was higher
than boys’.Of the environmental factors,parents’ attitude toward school and their
own formal education was more influential than parents’ economic status. Kindergarten attendance was positively correlated, leading Johannson to recommend that
pre-school education become an integral part of the Swedish educational system.
The relationships of auditory blending ability, reading achievement and intelligence test scores were explored by Chall, Roswell and Blumenthal [29]. They
found a lack of significant correlation between auditory blending and intelligence
in grade I, when visual recognition was not required,but a substantial relationship
existed between auditory blending in grade I and silent reading in grade 111.
Further study of auditory blending was suggested.
The social factors in auditory abilities which had been suggested by the Chall,
Roswell and Blumenthal study above were further investigated by Deutsch [37],
who analysed the Wepman Auditory Discrimination Test scores of children from
low socio-economic background. She concluded that poor readers have greater
difficulty in auditory discrimination and in shifting from one modality to another.
Birch and Belmont [I 61 studied kindergarten children’s transfer from one
modality to another. The developmental patterns of audio-visualequivalence from
grades I to 6 and their relationship with intelligence and reading scores showed
interesting patterns which were discussed in terms of primary perceptual and elaborative skills.
The relative contribution to first-gradereading success of seven visual discrimination factors was reported by Barrett [I I], who found that the visual discrimination
of letters and words has a somewhat higher predictive value than does visual discrimination of geometric designs and pictures.
Physiological Inzuences
Various anomalies of a physiological nature have been investigated over the years
for their relationship to reading achievements. This search continues and a wide
variety of influencesare reported here.
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
The effectsof infantile illness requiring hospitalization on school progress and
emotional development in British children was studied by Stott [
1551. Children
known to have been in the hospital in their pre-school years were significantly
more retarded in reading. One category of illness which stood out as closely associated with retardation was pneumonia. Infants known to have had multiple
illnesses were also significantly more likely to be backward than single-illnesschildren.
A significantproportion of backward children were of ‘unforthcoming’personality
as assessed by the Bristol Social Adjustment Guides.
Endocrinedysfunction in readingfailurewas studied by Eames [42],who compared
24 pupils presenting obvious symptoms of such dysfunctions, with I O O reading
failures without such symptoms and I O O controls with the accepted medical norms
for the appropriate age levels. The most frequent complaint among the endocrine
cases was slowness in completing assignments involving reading. Small sight vocabulary, and emotional reactions to reading were also characteristic of the endocrine
cases. Hypothyroidism was indicated as the commonest endocrine disorder likely to
be found among reading failures, for 75 per cent of the diagnoses were for this
underactive thyroid condition,whereas only 6 per cent were hyperthyroid cases,
and 13 per cent suffered from hypopituitarism. Eames suggests that pupils with
endocrine difficulties w
ill tend to score lower than other failures on a standardized
reading test, w
ill complete assignments more slowly,are likely to exhibit more emotional difficulties related to reading than other reading failures,but present the same
frequency of reversals as other reading failures.
Eames [44]summarized the medical literature on neural and glandular influences
on learning and reading disability.
Kawi and Pasamanich [80] compared the prenatal and paranatal records of
male children with reading disorders with the records of a similar number ofmatched
controls to identify possible factors related to the development of reading disorders.
They found that a relationship exists between certain abnormal conditions associated
with childbearing and the subsequent reading disorders of offspring similar to that
observed in still births, neonatal deaths, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and behavioural
Preston and Schneyer [I2 I] studied the neurological findings of nine severely
retarded readers and suggested that neurological involvement might he a cause of
reading difficultyeven for less severely retarded individuals. A number of medical
studies on brain function as it relates to reading have been published. Eames [43]
offered supporting evidence to the incidence of brain damage among reading
failures.Benton and Bird [
141reviewed the research studies in whichelectroencephalographic abnormalities were related to reading disability. Tuller and Eames [I 671
later compared the electroencephalographic training of several children who were
judged unimpaired in mental and physical development but who had scored below
the 25th percentile on a standardized reading test.
The ever-interestingrelationship between lateral dominance, the preferred use
and superior functioning of one side of the body, and reading disability was studied
by Harris [62], who presented evidence that a high proportion of young children
with a reading disability show mixed or confused hand dominance, and that the
development of a fairly consistent preference for one hand takes place later than the
age of g in a far higher proportion of reading disability cases than in a normal population.
The important areas of physical growth and developmental psychology have
been studied by a number of investigators.Olson [IIS]looked at reading from the
point of view of developmental psychology.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
The subject of silent speech continues to be an interesting one for investigators.
Faabord-Andersen and Edfeldt [48] devised a method of testing for movement of
the laryngeal muscles during silent speech, and later Edfelt [45] presented an analysis of tests on first-yearstudents at the University of Stockholm to determine the
relationship between the occurrence of silent speech in reading and reading ability.
Separate investigations on the value of medicine on reading were conducted by
Staiger [152], Shabaglian [I~o],and Charles [30]. The drug used was Deanol,
a psychic energizer. Staiger found that the drug had no influence on the reading
test scores of retarded readers at the elementary,secondary school and college level,
but that it did influence to a statistically significant degree the scores on a test of
clerical speed and accuracy. Shabaglian worked with mentally retarded boys aged
1 2 to 15,and found that the hypothesis that Deanol would improve the learning
of reading was not supported. Charles found a statistically significant difference
only in rate of reading scores on the Gates Reading Survey.Staiger concluded that
‘thecomplex intellectual activity which is reading was not influenced to any extent
by the medicine’.
Retardation in Reading
The retarded,or backward,reader has a problem which is usually very real to him.
It is his problem and affects most of his school day. His plight has been studied from
various points of view. Olson [I 161 pointed out the fallacy of thinking that some
particular method is all-importantin the acquisition of reading. Henderson, Long
and Ziller [66] compared the self-socialconstructs of achieving readers, and nonachieving readers and concluded that retarded readers are characterized by a relatively high degree of dependency. They suggested that this might be disruptive to
reading achievement,since the information search,evaluation,decision-makingand
other cognitive processes involved in reading are clearly individual acts.
Johnson [78] presented a comprehensive summary of the factors related to disability in reading and included 179 references in her summary.
A detailed analysis of tests administered to 399 first-gradechildren in Sweden
was made by Malmquist [gg] in order to show the relationship of various mental,
social and physical traits, and school experience, to reading retardation.
Vernon summarized experimental and clinical evidence of backward readers,
including a discussion of innate factors as causes of disability,the relation of various
acquired defects, and the effect of environmental factors on reading ability and
disability. In summary, Vernon says, ‘Thus almost the only fact which appears
clearly at first sight is the heterogeneity of cases of reading disability-heterogeneous
both in the origin and in the nature of their disability. But there does seem to be
one fairly universal characteristic of the disability, namely, the child’s general
state of doubt and confusion as to the relationship between the printed shapes of
words, their sound and their meanings’ [I 74, p. 86-71,
Vernon also pointed out the differences in type and degree of retardation,
which ‘has commonly been overlooked in studies of reading backwardness’. She
contrasted the real disability of the almost totally illiterate child who does not
understand the fundamentalprocesses ofreading,and cannot be said to have acquired
its mechanics, with the simple backwardness of a child who just reads slowly with
poor comprehension.
A three-yearinvestigation of the difficulties which children in Hamburg experienced in reading and spelling was presented by Kirchoff [86]. In addition to an
analysis of the symptoms and extent of the difficulties,the various theories of back-
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
wardness were examined and methods of diagnosis and treatment used in different
countries discussed.
The resurgence of interest in severe language and reading disabilities in several
countries is evidenced by studies reported by Kucera [88], Herman [67], Money
IO^], and others. Clements [31] attempted to clarify the terms used in connexion
with this phenomenon, sometimes called dyslexia, word-blindness, alexia, strephosymbalia or minimal brain dysfunction,which has been attributed to a defect
of the nervous system.
Dissatisfaction with present procedures is often a first step to future change.Surveys
conducted by school systems and comparative studies of groups comprise the first
part of this section on research related to the teaching of reading. Next are reports
concerned with textbooks used in teaching reading, followed by reviews of the
influence of technology.A section follows on the development of reading tests and
the means of testing the progress made by pupils after remedial teaching. The
final section deals with research conducted on teacher attitudes and understanding
as they relate to teaching reading.
Achieaement Studies
The status of reading abilities among pupils has become a matter of concern to
an increasing number of school systems and investigators.Many studies have been
undertaken to devise means of measuring reading abilities.
A n investigation of the influence of many primary school characteristics upon
reading was made by Morris IO^] for the British National Foundation for Educational Research at the invitation of the Kent School Committee. From data gathered
in 60 primary schools, a study was made of school circumstances most conducive
to good teaching, for example size of school, type of building, size of classes, and
methods of teaching.
O n a smaller scale,and using the size of school enrolments as the major variable
Street, Powell and Hamblin [156]analysed the achievement of sixth- and eighthgrade children in rural eastern Kentucky. They found that there was a strong
likelihood that pupils in larger schools (those with an enrolment of over ~oo),
tended to outperform pupils in smaller schools in the same districts.
Concern for the achievement of children who learned to read without schooling,
or who were given instruction earlier than is normal,has resulted in several reports.
Durkin [40] conducted a number of studies of ‘earlyreaders’ over a period ofyears,
and summarized the findings in a final volume.
The desirability of teaching reading to kindergarten pupils was carefully studied
by Brzeinski [23] using 4,000children. H e found that letter-soundassociations for
commonly used consonants, and the identification of new printed words by using
context and beginning letter-sound associations can be effectively taught to large
numbers of kindergarten children. A n adjusted programme in the following grades
was necessary, however, to maintain the gains made.
Sampson [136],in a longitudinal study of 48 pupils in Britain, first examined
them at 18-30months and later at five years to determine the relation of reading
progress to speech development,language growth, socio-economic level and emotional adjustment. She found a positive correlation between reading skill and
speech development in the language aspect.
The Teaching of Reading and Writing
The Monmouthshire Education Committee [I 071 made an analysis of 4,900
boys and girls aged 7 and 8 and, a similar number aged I O to I I to compare the
achievement of the children tested with that of England as a whole.
The University of Alberta in Canada encouraged research on the status of pupils
as the following studies indicate. A carefully selected sample of 2,000 fourth- and
seventh-grade pupils in the province of Alberta were studied to determine the
comparative achievement in reading of those in urban, town, graded rural and ungraded rural schools, and their achievement,as compared with the United States
normative sample, based on the California Reading Tests. Young and Jenkinson
[186],using both British and American tests, compared groups of students from
Manchester (England), and Edmonton (Alberta), aged g and 14 matched for
non-verbalintelligence in reading,arithmetic and language. Young [I 851 analysed
the strengths and weaknesses of fourth- and seventh-grade children in Edmonton,
as measured by the California Reading Tests. Coull [34] presented a normative
survey of a much larger number of children in the same city and in the same grades.
Later, Foster and Black [4g] compared Edmonton children with a sample of the
same age and years of schooling in Christchurch (NewZealand).
The Queensland (Australia) Department of Public Instruction [122] made a
longitudinal comparison of fifth-gradechildren in 59 schools in I 933, I 946 and I 955,
paying special attention to scores on ‘speed of reading’,‘reading to note details’,
and ‘reading for meaning’.
Much later, Andrews 121 presented findings on the reading attainments of
867 pupils in grades 4, 5 and 6 in three Queensland schools.This time both group
and individual tests were administered, and the overlap between grades was
Miller and Lanton reported a similar study in Evanston (Illinois), in which
scores made in the 1930’sand 1950’sby 1,828pupils in the third, fourth,fifth and
eighth grades were compared. It was found that ‘present-daypupils at the primary,
intermediate and junior high school levels read with more comprehension and
understood the meaning of words better than children who were enrolled in the
same grades and schools more than two decades ago’ IO^, p. 961.
Pidgeon [I 171 summarized the results of the testing of over 10,000 children
in England and Wales in reading, arithmetic and non-verbal ability in an effort
to discover existing standards in three age groups: 7, I O and 14, so that future
comparisons could be made.
Scholl [138]compared the achievement of 150 children in Burton (England)
with the United States population used to determine norms for the Stanford Achievement Test. Only trivial differences were found between the reading and spelling
achievement of the two groups.
The reading achievement of children in the Federal Republic of Germany
and the United States was compared by Preston [I~o].Although there were
slight differences which favoured the American subjects, the superiority of boys
over girls in the Federal Republic of Germany was quite different from the expectations of American educators, whose experience is that girls usually surpass boys
in reading achievement. Preston suggested a cultural origin of sex differences is
the cause.
The children in formal and informal junior schools were compared by Love11
[g3],who used 1,329 fourth-year and 1,205third-year pupils in his comparison,
which in addition to reading achievement included non-verbal intelligence performances and social class comparisons.
Over five hundred high-school students in Ethiopia who spoke English were
Developments in Reading atid Literacy Education, 1956-1967
compared for reading ability with pupils in the same grades-ninth and tenthin the United States by Kingston [84]. A wide range of reading abilities existed
in each of the classes tested, and the Ethiopian students’ low reading speed and
comprehension scores led the author to question the suitability of the Englishlanguage textbooks used in the curriculum.
McKillop and Yoloye [104]conducted a study of Nigerian university students,
using a randomly selected group of 92 students and testing them for non-verbal
intelligence and vocabulary as well as reading.Background data on course of study
being taken, preparation for university entrance, nature of previous employment
and parent’s occupation were collected in addition to a reading test. Since English
was a second language for many of the students,it was not surprising that the reading
skills of most of the Nigerian students was significantly lower than the American
normative populations. The need for improvement in comprehension and speed
of reading was apparent.
Muller [I IO] presented an historical analysis of readers in terms of their educational
value, vocabulary and the picture of the world they present to fourth-yearpupils
in German-speaking Switzerland. H e included an account of the changes introduced since the end of the nineteenth century and suggested that readers reflect
the educational policy and fundamental ideas of the age.
A history of American reading instruction was revised and updated by Smith
[r44] who described the ways in which materials were used in teaching reading
as well as the historical setting in which instructional developments took place.
A comparison of series of readers in use a century apart was made by Mandel
[IOO] who concluded that each of the series mirrors broad trends in methods of
inculcating American social character. In the early group, the child’s social
character is developed by his being brought into the world of adults. In the modern series, the child finds acceptance and meaning from being a member of his
peer group,and his social character seems to have its source there.
A manual for the preparation of textbooks in the mother tongue was prepared
by McCullough and her staff IO^] in the National Institute of Education of India.
Although initially used to develop a series of books in Hindi,the manual is universal
in application. Considerations on the development of a reading series, including
the research basis in language and learning psychology,are treated in this practical,
comprehensive guide for those who write and those who evaluate textbooks in any
Machines used in reading instructional situations have often had attributes
claimed for’themwhich were never intended.These devices are used either primarily
for rate improvement,or as an integral part of the learning situation.
Spache reviewed 54 research studies and reports to set forth a rationale for the
use of mechanical devices in improving rate of reading.H e reported,‘wehave found
little evidence that various mechanical devices produce greater improvement in
rate of reading than other approaches. Training intended to modify eye-movement
characteristics such as regression,duration of fixation,perceptual span, or number
of fixationsis highly questionable.These eye-movementcharacteristics may not be
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
amenable to training since they,like reading success,are significantly determined by
the nature of the reading material and attributes of the reader. Other goals of
mechanical training, such as motivation and reinforcement of attention or concentration are as yet unsubstantiated by research evidence,although they are supported
by clinical evidence and the opinions of skilled observers’[148,p. 1251.
Silberman [1411 summarized research findings relevant to the application of
programming principles to reading instruction. H e organized his paper into the
following topics: sequencing factors, stimulus-response factors, reinforcement
factors, mediation effects, and individual differences, and concluded that greater
effort in the analysis of mediating responses and the provision for individual differences within programmed reading environments is a prerequisite to a viable
technology of reading instruction.
The scientific measurement of reading ability has occupied a number of specialists
in this area. Only a few useful sources on information about tests, comparative
studies, and a new development in comparing an individual’s test scores before
and after instruction are discussed.
Wiomont [17g], in the fourth volume of a series dealing with psychological
measurements in education,describes some of the best known French and English
tests for measuring the reading ability of primary school pupils. A section deals
with the tests in order of the ability tested and the procedure employed:vocabulary,
speed, accuracy of understanding, and level of understanding. In the case of each
test, an example of one or more test items is given, together with the level at which
it is recommended for use,a short description, and the time allowed.
Buros [25] in a continuing series of mental measurement yearbooks, includes
critiques of the tests listed as well as descriptive information.
Adaptations of already existing tests have been made as a step in the development of indigenous tests. Halconruy [SI] adapted the Haggerty Reading Tests
for Bolivian children and also presented an original series of silent reading tests
for use in Bolivian private schools. Keats [81]cited the difficulties of utilizing
existing tests in Australia and rated six vocabulary tests in order of difficulty.
Progress of Remedial Pupils
With the development of programmes for backward children, there have been a
number of reports on the effects of remediation. Johnson and Platts [77] surveyed
284 pupils who had received individual or small-groupinstruction. Although they
had gained two to three times the normal rate while in remedial teaching, on
follow-uptwo years later their rate of improvement had fallen off.
Lovell,Byrne and Richardson [g4] studied 261 pupils who had attended English
remedial centres full time. The children continued to make progress in reading
sixteen months after the remedial instruction had ceased, but at a slower rate than
their normal age group.
Long-range follow-up studies of reading clinic cases have been presented by
several investigators. Robinson and Smith concluded that ‘able students who
are retarded in reading can be rehabilitated educationally so as to fulfil their
occupational ambitions’ [133, p. 31. The uniqueness of the sample of studentsthey had a median age of 14at contact, a median IQ of 120,were enrolled in a
private school, and had only one or several grades retardation below expectancy
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
for their mental age-made Balow [8] question the retarded status of these students.
H e suggested that they were probably slow and inaccurate readers,but not severely
Silver and Hagin [143] reported on a twelve-yearfollow-upof 25 children with
Severe reading disability initially studied at the Bellevue Hospital Mental Hygiene
Clinic. As young adults, these once-disabled readers were found still to have
psychological signs of neurological difficulty, including specificproblems in visual
and tactile perception. Those who were found to be adequate adult readers had
been the least seriously disabled as children.
Balow and Blomquist [8] checked, in 1963,on the progress of 32 males who
had been enrolled in the University of Minnesota Psycho-Educational Clinic
from 1948 to 1953. They found that most had attained average adult reading
proficiency and had graduated from high school. They possessed mild emotional
disorders of a neurotic type. They worked at a wide range of occupational levels,
but held a larger proportion of semi-skilledand unskilled jobs than did a group of
average readers who had made normal progress through school.
Bliesmer [I 71 compared three methods of evaluating progress in remedial
reading programmes: (a) gains measured by before-and-afterreading test scores;
(b) gains made previously, compared with gains made during remedial instruction;
and (c) examining reductions in differences between achievement and potential.
While the effectivenessof instructioncan be shown by all methods,Bliesmer suggested
that comparing gains with previous average yearly gains reveals the effectiveness
of remedial instruction immediately, definitely and impressively. The potential
gap decrease method had the most valid results nationally but is not as definite
and impressive. The difference between pre-test and post-test scores, while most
easily recognizable,is misleading, for differences should be much greater than that
of the average child to be impressive.
Rankin and Tracy [126] discussed the problems of measuring individual students’ improvement as a result of training. The limitations of crude gain measurements obtained by comparing pre-testscores with post-testscores are examined and
these measures rejected. The technique of residual gain, which is the deviation of
the observed test score from the post-test score that is predicted from the pre-test
score,was suggested as a more useful measure. Methods of computing and evaluating
these scores were presented in subsequent articles [I 24, I 661.
Teacher Attitudes and Understanding
Studies of teachers’ attitudes towards reading instruction and their knowledge
about this important topic followed the public criticism which appeared in the
United States during the 1950’s.
Aaron [I] assessed teacher and prospective teacherknowledgeofphonicsgeneralizations and found that of the 293 college-courseenrollees,only 27 per cent scored more
than two-thirdscorrect on the 60-itemtest ofeight generalizations at the beginning of
the course.Experienced teachers tended to know more about the phonics generalizations than inexperienced teachers since they had learned this in their teaching.
Austin [6] conducted a survey of practices in the undergraduate training of
elementary classroom teachers in the teaching of reading in 530 colleges. In addition, field interviews were made in 74 of these institutions. O n the basis of the
information gained, twenty-two recommendations were made by the study team.
Austin and Morrison [7] also surveyed 795 school systems in communities
with a population of over IQ,OQO to determine the conduct and content of American
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
reading instruction. Forty-five recommendations were made on the basis of this
study, organized around the following headings : (a) selected components of the
developmental reading programme; (b) providing for individual differences ; (c)
special services; (d) evaluating, recording and reporting pupil progress; (e) professional growth of teachers of reading; and (f) the role of the administration.
Barton and Wilder [I 21 meanwhile conducted a questionnaire-interviewstudy
of the individuals who are engaged in conducting research in reading, and also
reported [13] on the social organization of research in reading and the channels
by which research findings influence educational practice in the United States.
The investigators in reading research continue to strive towards the most effective ways in which the greatest number of individuals can learn to read well.Since
the subject matter of reading includes many other fields and disciplines, it is not
always easy to keep abreast of new developments.For this purpose, the interested
scholar will find the following section helpful,for it includes some of the most useful
sources of reading research information.
Scientific studies in reading are recorded in a variety of publications. William
S. Gray compiled the first comprehensive bibliography of reported research in the
S u m m a r y of Investigations Relating to Reading, published by the University of Chicago
Press in 1925. During the following thirty-four years he presented an annual summary of reading investigations in the Elementary School Journal (1926-32)and in the
Journal of Educational Research, which in sum represented the most comprehensive
compilationofreading research.H
is work was continued by Helen M.Robinson,and
the annual summary was published in The Reading Teacher up to February I 965.Beginning in 1966,the summary was published annually in the winter issue of the Reading
Research Quarterly, a newjournal published by the International Reading Association.
More than 5,000studies in reading have been reported in these summaries.
For the purpose of this bibliography,the sources are organized under three headings:‘StandardReference Works’,‘Journalsand Periodicals’,and ‘Bibliographiesand
Summaries’.The titles grouped under ‘StandardReferences’are typically viewed as
primary or general sources,and selected ones are usually consulted first in most bibliographic investigations.Journals and periodicals are the chiefsources for regular or
annual summaries ofreading investigations; however,they vary according to the type
and purpose of the summary.Under ‘Bibliographiesand Summaries’are listed occasional or single sourcesthat deal often with special aspects in the field ofreading research.
ERIC/CRIER-a Clearinghouse on Retrieval of Information in Reading located
at Indiana University, Bloomington (Indiana), and sponsored by the International
Reading Association-promises to provide research information in microfilm or hardcopy form utilizing the most efficient informationretrieval system.
Education index, 1929- . A cumulative author and subject index to a selected list
of educational periodicals, books and pamphlets. New York, Wilson, 1932- .
Monthly, except for July and August. Cumulates yearly and biennially.
Adapted slightly from an annotated bibliography published by the InternationalReading Association, Sources of Reading Research, compiled by Gus P. Plessas.
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
Encyclopedia of educational research: a project of the American Educational Research
Association, a department of the National Educational Association, ed. by Chester
W.Harris, with the assistance of Marie R.Liba. 3rd ed.,New York, Macmillan,
The reading section includes a synthesis and interpretation of reported research.
Special attention is devoted to the educational significance of research findings
related to the theory and practice of reading instruction. Selected references are
included.The volume was first published in 1941,
and subsequent revisions appeared
in 1950and 1960.
Nathaniel Lees. Handbook
of research on teaching: a project of the American
Educational Research Association. Chicago, Rand McNally, I 963. I ,2I 8 p. ill.
The chapter, Research on teaching reading, is a comprehensive discourse on
significant research organized under the followingmain titles :Historical background
of reading instruction ; Teaching identification and recognition;Teaching meaning;
Comprehension according to the purpose of the reader; The teacher encourages
interpretation;Classroom organization; Emerging problems in research on teaching
the Association of
Research Libraries. Ann Arbor (Mich.), Univ. Microfilms, 1957- . Annual
(being Dissertation abstracts, vol. 16,no. 13 and cont.).
Annual volume listing authors and titles of doctoral dissertations completed at
American universities and colleges.
Index to American doctoral dissertations, 1955156- . Comp. for
National Reading Conference yearbooks. Milwaukee,National Reading Conference,Inc.
In each yearbook since 1958,research on college and adult reading is reviewed.
The review was started in June 1955.Formerly the Southwest Reading Conference
for Colleges and Adults.
Psychological abstracts, 1927- . Lancaster (Pa.), American Psychological Association, 1927- . Vol. I- .
A n important monthly bibliography, listing new books and articles ; includes a
section on reading.
Research studies in education; a subject and author index of doctoral dissertations,
reports and field studies; and a research methods bibliography, comp. by Mary
Louise Lyda [et al.]. 1953- . Bloomington (Ind.), Phi Delta Kappa, 1955- .
Social sciences and humanities index: formerly International Index. New York, Wilson,
1916-. Vol. I- .
Title varies : vol.
1-2,Readers' guide to periodical literature supplement; vol. 3-52,
International index to periodicals (with various subtitles); vol. 53,no. I, June 1965- ,
Social sciences and humanities index. Is a cumulative index of about I 75 American and
English periodicals in the humanities and social sciences.
Research relating to children. Bulletin [I]. Dec. 1gq8/June1949- . Washington, Govt. Print. Office, 1950- . Annual (irregular).
Reports research in progress or very recently completed. Studies reported are
focused on many phases of child life, including reading. Indexes of organizations,
investigators and subjects.
The Teffihingof Reading and Writing
Elementary English; a magazine of the language arts, 1925- . Champaign (Ill.), National
Council of Teachers of English. Eight times a year (Oct.-May).
February or April issues since 1962 summarize investigations relating to the
English language arts in elementary education. Selected reading research at the
elementary level is also included.
Press, Monthly
Usually in February and March issues, annual comprehensive compilation of
reading investigations and detailed summary of important findings and conclusions.
Successive summaries were published from 1926 to 1932 and included reported
reading research between I July 1924 and 30 June 1931.
Elementary school journal, 1900- . Chicago, University of Chicago
English journal, I g I 2- . Champaign (Ill.), National Council ofTeachersofEnglish.
Nine times a year (Sept.-May).
In each February issue since 1961investigationsrelating to the English language
arts in secondary education are summarized. Selected reading research at the
secondary level is also included.
educational research, I 920- . Madison (Wisc.,), Dembar Educational
Research Services.Ten times a year.
Presents, annually in February issue, a comprehensive compilation of reading
investigations and a detailed summary of important findings and conclusions.
Successive summaries, published since I 933, include reported reading research
beginning I July 1931.
Journal of
(Del.), International Reading Association. Six times a
Formerly: Journal of developmental reading, 1957- . Lafayette (Ind.), Purdue
University. Since I 964, annual reports of research and non-research literature
on high-school reading have been published. First summary appeared, however,
in winter 1960 issue of Journal of developmental reading, and subsequent autumn
issues until 1963.
Journal of reading. Newark
research quarterly. Newark (Del.), International Reading Association.
Provides comprehensive research articles, and devotes the winter issue to a
review of research.
The reading teacher, 1964- . vol. 18- . Newark (Del.), International Reading
Association. Eight times a year.
Presents, annually in January and February issue,a comprehensive compilation
of reading research and a detailed summary of important findings and conclusions.
Successive summaries, published from 1962 to I 965, included reported reading
research beginning I July I 960.
Review of educational research, I 931- . Washington (D.C.),
American Educational
Research Association. Five times a year.
Reviews the literature every three years.Noteworthy studies relating to reading
reviewed triennially since 1931in the April issues.
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
BETTS,Emmett A.;BETTS,Thelma Marshall. A n
reading and related topics.
index to professional literature on
New York, American Book Company, 1945.138p.
Lists 8,278 references published prior to
January 1943 under more than
I 50 headings.
Inventory of projects and activities in reading and
English. Washington, The Center (I 7I 7 Massachusetts Ave.).
Abstracts of programmes and experiments with linguistic science.
Linguistic reading lists for teachers of modern languages. Washington, D.C.,
(I 7 I 7
Massachusetts Ave.).
Edgar; RAZIK,
Taher. Bibliography of vocabulary studies, 2nd rev. ed. Columbus, Ohio State University, Bureau of Educational Research and Service, I 963.
275 P.
A comprehensive bibliography of published and unpublished vocabulary
studies. The 3,125 titles are organized under 26 subject headings and are also
indexed by author. This revision of the 1957 edition contains 542 new items.
A. Frederick. Canadian
bibliography of reading and literature instruction:
r760 to 1959.Toronto, Copp Clark, 1963.241p.
A comprehensive annotated bibliography of Canadian references on reading
and literature instruction. Included also are sections on school readers, libraries,
book reviews, books for children and youth, reading and literature, teaching procedures and reading, and philosophy of education.
Donald D.
Helen A.Boston University research in elementary
school reading: 1933-1963.Journal of education (Boston), CXLVI,December I 963.
P. 3-53.
Summary of master’s and doctoral theses in elementary reading completed at
Boston University. Titles are organized under the following headings : Reading
readiness; Reading in grade I ; Reading in grades 2 and 3; and Reading in intermediate grades.
FAY,Leo C.(et al.) Doctoral studies in reading: 1919through 1960.Bulletin of the
school of education, Indiana University (Bloomington), XL,no. 4,July 1964.80 p.
Lists 701 doctoral dissertations in reading under 34 categories with a summary
statement for each category.
William S. S u m m a r y of investigations relating to reading. Chicago, University
of Chicago, I925.276 p. (Supplementary educational monographs, 28.)
Summary is based on published reports of most of the reading research conducted
in America and England prior to July I 924.Included is an annotated bibliography
of 436 studies on reading.
Bulletin, 1927-
. No. I- . Geneva,IBE.
Quarterly. Published in English and in French.
Annotated listing of books from many countries concerned with education.
SPACHE,George. Resources
1955. 107 P.
in teaching reading. Gainesville, University of Florida,
Indexed according to subject: the contents of 50 textbooks,almost 500 periodical
references,and approximately 80 bulletins or reports. Most of the selections were
published since I 940.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
Ruth G.The contribution of structural linguistics to the teaching of
reading, writing and grammar in the elementary school. Bulletin of the School of
Education, Bloomington, Indiana University, XL,no. I, January 1964.
A summary and bibliography of linguistics reports to ascertain the contributions
of linguistics to the language arts curriculum in the elementary school.
Edward G.An
reading in
annotated bibliography of selected research related to teaching
the secondary school: 1900-1960.Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, I963.
'83 P.
Annotated bibliography of I,I IO reported researches in secondary reading
organized under 34 headings.
-_ .A n annotated bibliography of selected research related to teaching reading in the secondary
1961-1963.Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, 1964.30 p.
Annotated bibliography in 14 categories of reported research in secondary
reading that appeared in The reading teacher research issues for I 962, I963,and I 964.
school: Supplement
Miles A.Legibility ofprint. Ames,Iowa State University Press, 1963.329 p.,
A comprehensive review of research and summary of findings that concern
lebigility of printed material to be read by adults. Contains an annotated bibliography of 238 items.
Arthur E. Summary and selected bibliography of research relating to
the diagnosis and teaching of reading: I 930-37.Educational records supplementary
A. New York, Educational Records Bureau, October 1937.60 p.
Presents annotated bibliography of 283 reports and a brief summary of important
et al. Eight years of research in reading:summary and bibliography. Educational records bulletin (NewYork), no. 64, 1955.284 p.
Presents an annotated bibliography of 760 reports published between I January
I January 1952 and summarizes important findings and conclusions.
1945 and
JUNGEBLUT, Ann. Research in reading during another four years: summary
and bibliography. Educational records bulletin (NewYork), no. 75, 1960.226 p.
Presents an annotated bibliography of 438 reports published between I July 1953
and 3 I December I 957 and summarizes important findings and conclusions.
; SEDER,Margaret A.S u m m a r y a n d selected bibliography of research relating to the
diagnosis and teaching of reading: October 1938 to September '939. New York, Educational
Records Bureau, 1939.
Presents an annotated bib5ography of 114 reports and a brief summary of
important findings.
--; et al. Ten years of research in reading: summary and bibliography.
(NewYork), no. 32, 1941. 196p.
Presents an annotated bibliography of 618reports published between I January
I930 and I January 1940 and summarizes important findings and conclusions.
Educational records bulletin
Agatha. Another five years of research in reading. Educational
(NewYork), no. 46, October 1946. 192p.
Presents an annotated bibliography of 527 reports published between I January 1940and I January 1945and summarizes important findings and conclusions.
records bulletin
Developments in Reading and Literacy Education, 1956-1967
Cooperative research projects. A seven-year summary:
I, rg56-JEme
30, 1963. Washington, Govt. Print. Office, 1964.73 p.
Lists titles of proposals supported
(including reading research proposals) and
includes author and subject indexes.
-.Research in reading at the primary level: a n annotated bibliography, by Doris V.Gundemon. Washington, Govt. Print. Office, 1963.1,144p.
Summarizes findings and conclusions of studies that deal with various areas of
primary reading. Annotates 2 I 2 titles published between I 955 and 1960.
-. Research in reading for
the middle grades: an annotated bibliography, by Warren
G.C u m . Washington,Govt. Print. Office, 1963.80 p.
Summarizes findings of research from 1955 to 1960 and annotates 238 studies
in 29 categories.
Research in reading readiness, by Doris V.Gunderson.Washington, Govt. Print.
Office, 1964.38 p., bibliogr.
Summarizes findings of reading investigations that relate to various aspects of
initial reading readiness and includes a bibliography of 71 items.
AARON, I. E.What teachers and prospective teachers know about phonics generalizations. Journal of educational research (Madison,Wisc.), LIII, M a y 1960,p. 323-30.
2. ANDREWS,R.J. The reading attainments of primary school children in three Queensland schools. Uniuersity of Queensland papers (Brisbane), July 1964,p. 1-20.
Nazir Ahmad. Follow-up of literacy. Indian journal of adult education (New
Delhi), vol. 22, no. 3, March 1961, p. 19-20.
4. ARTLEY, A. Sterl. Critical reading in the content areas. Elementaty English (Champaign,
Ill.), X X X V I , February 1959,p. 122-30.
5. ARUNAJATAI, V.; SRINIVASACHARI,G . Functional uocabulaty of pre-school age children.
Madras, The S I T U Council of Educational Research, 1966.
Coleman. The torch lighters: tomorrow's teachers oJ reading.
Cambridge, Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, 1961.191 p.
et al. The Jrst R: the Harvard report on reading in elemental-y schools. N e w York,
7. -,
Macmillan, 1963. 269 p., bibliogr.
8. BALOW,B.;BLOMQUIST, Marlys. Young adults ten to fifteen years after severe reading
disability. Elemental-y school journal (Chicago), no. 66, 1965, p. 44-8.
9. BALPURI, Surenda. Whither adult education in India ? Fundamental and adult education
(Paris,Unesco), vol. IO, no. 4,1958, p. 171-3.
10. BARANYAI, Elizabeth H.Verbal comprehension in Hungarian children of 8-10
British journal of educational psychology (London), XXVIII, November 1958, p. 262-5.
11. BARRETT, Thomas C.Visual discrimination tasks as predictors of first grade reading
achievement. The reading teacher (Newark, Del.), 18,
January 1965,p. 276-82.
David. The Columbia-Carnegiestudy of reading research
12. BARTON, Allen; WILDER,
and its communication-an interim report. In: .J. Allen Figure1 (ed.). Challenge and
experiment in reading, p. I 70-6.New York, Scholastic Magazines, 1962. (International
Reading Association Conference Proceedings, VIl.)
. Research and jpractice in the teaching of reading. A progress report.In:
Matthew B. Miles (ed.). Innovation in education, p. 361-98. New York, Bureau of
Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, I964.
'4. BENTON, Arthur L.;BIRD,Joseph W . The EEG and reading disability. American.journa1
of orthopsychiatry: ajournal of human behauiour. (New York), 33, April 1963,p. 529-31.
B. S. Readibility formulae: their reliability, validity and applicability
in Hindi.Journal of education and psychology, I 9,April I 96I, p. I 3-26.
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Geneva, International Bureau of Education; Paris, Unesco, 1964. 179 p. (XXVIIth
lnternational Conference on Public Education.) Also published in French.
M . D.Backwardness in reading: a study of its nature and origin. London/NewYork/
174. VERNON,
Cambridge, University Press, 1957.viii + 288 p., tables, diagrs., bibliogr.
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October 1959,p. 2-8.
I 76. .
Visual perception and its relation to readins: an annotated bibliography. Newark (Del.),
International Reading Association, 1966.
‘77. WIJK,Aksel. Regularized English. Stockholm, Almquist and Wiksell, I 958.
I 78. WINKLER, Christian.Lesen als Sprachunterricht. Ratingen,A. Henn Verlag, I 962.
‘79. WIOMONT, Blanche. Les mtnsurations psychopLdagogiques. T o m e I V : La lecture silencieuse ri
l’koleprimaire. Louvain/Paris,Nauwelaerts,1960. 224 p.,ill., tables. (Universitk catholique de Louvain. Laboratoire de ptdagogie exptrimentale. Documents de psychotechnique scolaire.)
180. WITTWER, J. L a lecture et sa compre‘hension en troisihe primaire tunisienne. Tunis, Centre
National d’Etudeset de Formation Ptdagogiques,1961.
the East African literacy trainizg seminar for leaders of non-governmental organizations. Washington, D.C., W C O T P , 1966. 73 p., appendix.
182. WORLD
AND SOCIETY. ROME, 1962.R h u m b of the replies to
the questionnaire on the situation of illiteracy and the problem of literacy work and of adult education.
Roma, Unione Nazionale de la Lotta contro I’Analfabetismo.n.d. 322 p. Also published
in French, Russian and Italian.
. Proceedings of the World Conference. Roma, Ente Nazionale per la Biblioteche
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2 vols.
Merald E. A prefatory note to the first number. The journal of typographic
research, I, January 1967,p. 3-4.
185. YOUNG,
Campbell.A qualitative analysis of reading achievement in Edmonton schools.
Alberta journal of educational research (Edmonton,Canada), September I 956, p. I 35-50.
186. YOUNG, J. A.; JENKINSON,M.D.A n objective comparison of achievement in the basic
subjects for matched groups of children in Manchester, England, and Edmonton,
Alberta. Alberta journal of educational research (Edmonton, Canada), IO,June 1964,
p. 59-66.
187. ZACHRISSON,B. Studies in the readability of printed text with special reference to tyke design and
type size: a survey and some contributions. Stockholm, Graphic Institute, 1957.
188. ZBOROWSKI,Jan. Poczatkowa nauka czytania [Beginning reading theory]. Warszawa,
Panstwowe Zaklady Wydawnictw Szkolnych, 1959.
F. Unifon-the sound alphabet. School and community (Columbia, MO.),
189. ZEITZ,
April 1966,p. 23.
190. ZINGLE,Harvey W.;HOBAL, A. E. Predictive validity of the metropolitan readiness
tests. Alberta journal of educational research (Edmonton,Canada), IO,June 1964,p. 99-104.
ACER Reading Tests, 184.
Baleani,Victor, M.A., 185.
Abad, Gonzalo, 185.
Abadie Soriano,Roberto, 76, 113, 120.
Ballard's One Minute Reading
B a d m e de Vanty, 184.
Achievement Tests in Silent Reading, 184.
Activity methods, 17,105-6.
Africa, 174,266.
African languages,40, 81.
Agazzi, Aldo, 2 I 2.
Adult Reading Test, 187.
Agorrilla, Amado L., 149,151, 154.
Ahrens, 44.
Ai,J. W.,51.
Aldine method, 107.
Alfonso,Ignacio Ma., 186.
Allen, Lois W.,185.
Allen,Richard D., 185.
Alphabetic method, 75, 77-8.
America, Latin, 166,266, 270.
America, South, 160.
American Council on Education, 185.
Analytic method, 75, 76, 82-7,88, 273, 277.
Analytic-synthetic method, 76, 8 I, 88, I I 3,
Anderson,Gladys Lowe, I 86.
Anderson, Irving,H., 78, 79, 85, 86.
Arabic, 41, 53, 56, 59, Plate VII, 135, 168,
Arbuthnot, M a y Hill, see Plate IX.
Argentina, 52.
Artley, A.Sterl, I I, see Plate IX.
Association Phonktique Internationale,101-2.
Atomo, Shigeru,52.
Audio-visualaids in literacy,18,70, 166,261.
films,18,89, I 15.
filmstrips, 89, I 15, 161,166,261.
Auditory method, 75.
Australian Council for Educational Research,
123, 184,185, 223.
Aymara, 166.
Ayres, Leonard, P.,20 I.
Test,I OZ.
Barrera Vhsquez, Alfredo, 41.
Basal readers, 264.
Basurto Garcia,Alfredo, 83, 128,160.
Batchelder,Mildred I., 104.
Beatty,Willard W.,123.
Belgium, 14,92.
Bengali, 150,234.
Benzies, D.,I 19.
Betzner,Jean, 104.
Birmingham University, Institute of Education, 140.
Bivar, H.G. S.,149, 150, 188, 189,230, 234.
Bloomfield, Leonard, 39, 41, 42, 280.
Bodmer, Frederick, 36, 42.
Bond, Horace,23.
Bonnis, L., 203.
Borel-Maisonny,S.,141,203, 225.
Brazil, 14, 72, 88, 118,123,150.
Minister0 de [email protected] e Saude, 150.
Burmese, 53, 56, 58.
Burns, Donald, 270.
Buros, Oscar Krisen, 25, 26, 27, 184-6.
Burt, Sir Cyril, 175, 184.
Buswell, G u y Thomas, 46, 47, 107, 108,I IO,
149, 176.
California Reading Tests, 184,298.
California Tests of Mental Maturity, 125.
California Test Bureau, I 84.
Campanha de EducaGIo de Adultos,
Brazil, 97.
Carbo,Edmundo, 185.
Carpenter, A.J., 230, 239.
Carr, H.A., 50,51.
Cass,Angelica, W.,17, 239.
Chai-hshan,Chuang, 35.
Chang, Chung-Yuan,5 I.
Th Teaching
of Reading and Writing
Chart Making, Committee of the
Madison Public Schools, 131.
Chassagny,Claude, 141.
Chatterji, U . N., 150.
Chen, L. K.,50, 51.
Chaudry, Probadh Chaudra Deb, 272.
Chenault, Price, 154,176.
Cherokee Indian,31, 36.
Chicago Reading Tests, 146.
Chile, 213.
Direccih General de Educacihn Primaria,
Ministerio de Educacihn, 167,180.
China,34-6,I I 3, 189,2 I 6, 2 I 7.
Chinese, 3, 32-6, 37, 38, 43, 50-1, 53, 57,
65, 66, 83, 168, 270.
Chou, Siegen K.,
Christian Education Council, London, 14.
Chu Ching-nung,33.
Chueh,Wie, 35, 189, 217.
Clark,Ann Nolan, 19.
Clemente, Tito 214.
Columbia University, Teachers' College,
184, 186, 187.
Comenius,Jan Amos, 84.
Committee for the Research on the Reform
of the Chinese Written Language,35.
Committee of the Division of Instructional
Research, N e w York City, 131-2.
Conference of Provincial Representatives,
Zaria,Nigeria (1g50),21, 228, 237, 249,
251, 266.
Dolch,Edward Willlam, 140.
Donnay,Jacques, I I 9.
Dottrens, Robert, 76, 83, 92,
120, 132, 188,
190, 192, '939 194, 1979 198, 223, 2359
Douet, Kathleen, 2 I 9.
Duguid, Olive, C., 108.
Dumville,Benjamin, I OI.
Duncan,John, 25, 140,175, 187.
Dunville,Benjamin, 79.
Durrell-Sullivan Reading Capacity and Achievement Tests, 184.
Dutch, 92.
East Asia People's Publishing Society,
Eaton, Helen S., 272.
Eclectic method, 87-8.
Educational Records Bureau,N e w York, 105.
Egorov, T.G., 128.
Eigenmann,Karl, 223.
Elementary Reading: Every Pupil
Elliot,A.V. P.,11,
120, 215.
Engelbret-Pedersen,P., 223.
England, 14, 224.
English, 40, 41, 45-50, 53, 56, 48, 59, see
Plate IX, 271.
Erdmann, Benno, 44.
Ernest, Newland T., 223.
Eskimo,4 I.
Essert, Paul L.,17.
Evers, F., 92.
Conference on Reading, University of ChiExamen de Lectura de Haggerty, 184.
cago, 140.
Co-operative research programme in first Experience charts, 106, 130, 131,134,161-3.
Eye-movements,43-60,85, 223.
grade reading instruction,277-9.
Cowan, George W., 8I.
Cruz GonzPlez, AdriPn, I 19,128, 210, 212. Fernald, Grace M., 83, I 14.
Fernindez Huerta,JosC, 188, 191,199,201,
Cuba, 14.
Currier, Lillian Beatrice, 108.
Ferrt,AndrC, 184,186.
Flores,Gerardo, 26.
Dal Piaz, Riccardo, 189, 222.
Footer,B. F., 190.
Dale, Edgar, 18.
Fountain pens, zoo.
Dale Phonic Method, 102, 103.
France, 14, 43-5,190,203.
Davis, Lourse Farwell, I 16.
Centre d'fitudes du FranCais fikmentaire,
D e Francis,John Francis, 32, 33, 35.
Dearborn,Walter Fenno, 45, 78, 79, 85, 86.
Freeman,Frank N., 188, 190,191,195, 196,
Decroly, O.,65, 83, 84, 190.
198,201, 202, 207, 210,223, 224.
Deny, E. C., 185.
Department of Mass Education, Indonesia, Freinet, C., 11, 92, 114,128, 188, 190, 193,
Detroit First-grade Intelligence
Test,I 03.
Diack, Hunter, 84.
French, 40, 41, 46, 47, 53, 56, 58, see Plate
VIII, 107.
Diagnostic Reading Tests, I 84.
Dickson,Julia E., 105.
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 39.
Diringer, David, 31, 32, 37, 39, 42.
Gabrielli, Giorgio,2 I 2.
Gadgil, D.R., 248.
G a m ,J. C.,84.
script, 190, 194-6,215-16,222-3, 233.
slanted, I 99.
styles of, 188-90, 191,197-9,215-17,233-4,
teaching of, 188-208;to adults, 228-44;
Gates Primary Reading Tests,184.
to children, 209-25; to left-handed
Gates Reading Tests, I 84.
children, 200-I.
Gelb, IgnaceJ., 31, 37, 41,42.
vertical, 199.
German, 46, 47, 59.
Harris, Albert J., 141.
Germany, 43-5, 190,212.
Hawaii, 39.
Gestalt theory, 85, 109.
Ghioldi,Alfred0 M., 185.
Hebrew, 53, 56, 59.
Heese,J. de V.,194,195.
Gill, Edmund J., 103.
Hendrix, Charles, I 20.
Gilliland, A., R.,49.
Global method, 75, 82, 85, 92, 107, 109-10, Hernindez Ruiz, Santiago,40.
Hildreth, Gertrude, 73, 114, 128, 136, 185.
1 11, 113, 194, 235, 275, 277.
Goforth, Lillian, I 16.
Hindi, 53, 56.
Gold Coast, 27.
Holding, Mary, 160.
Gold Coast. Department of Social Welfare, Holmes,Eleanor, M.,67.
Horn, Ernest, 73, 185.
Goldberg, Samuel, 26, 154,166,176.
Hu,I., 5'953.
Huey, Edmund Burke, 45, 48, 65, 68, 78, 79.
Goms,Jean Turner,65.
Hylla, Erich, 185.
Gonzhlez Arias, Mercedes, 186.
Graded W o r d List, i84.
Ideo-visualmethod, 75, I 13.
Gray, Clarence Truman, 46, 202, 208.
Ideographs, 3 I.
Gray, William S., 6, 14, 27, 49, 61, 64, 66, Illiteracy, extent of, 27-30.
67, 79, see Plate IX,107,122, 139, 168, India, 22, 79, 150, 160, 189,213, 217,248,
237, 286.
262, 286.
Great Britain.Ministry of Education,25, 29, Individual Reading Test, I 85.
Individualized reading programme,279-80.
Griffin, Ella. Washington, 22, 149,153, 154, Indonesia,39, 174,250, 265, 266.
Djawatan Pendidikan Masjarakat, 250,
165, 259, 265.
Griffiths,Nellie L.,185.
Groufi Test of Reading Readiness: Dominion
Initial teaching alphabet, 278, 279-80.
Tests, 184.
Inserhamp,Karlheniz, 185.
Gudschinsky, Sarah, 81,113, 120, 128,132, Institut International de CoopCration Intellectuelle, 39,
135, 149, 151, 153, 158, 159, 165, 166,
Instituto de Alfabetizacibn en lenguas indi214, 217, 218,237, 259, 262, 270.
Gurrey,P.,1 1 , 120, 215.
genas, Mexico, 95.
GutiCrrez,JosC M., 185, 186.
Instituto Pedag6gico Nacional,Caracas, 186.
Guyton, Mary L., 149,230, 262.
The Inter-America Tests, 185.
Inter-American Seminar on Literacy and
Haefner, Ralph, I I 5.
Adult Education, Petropolis, Rio de
Haiti, 17.
Janeiro (1949),30, 263.
Halconruy, R e d , 184,185,300.
International Bureau of Education, 14, 87,
Hallgren,Bertil, 141.
Hamaide, AmClie,120, 132, 189.
International Conference on Public EduHamilton,Francis Marion, 64.
Handwriting, as an aid in teaching, I 14-15. XIth, 189, 191-2,197,200, 213, 217, 221.
XIIth,76, 88, 120.
cursive, 190,221-3,233.
Iowa Silent Reading Test, I I I.
manuscript, see Handwriting,script.
Isidro,Antonio, 12, 228, 265.
materials, 2 I 7-18, 236-7; ball-pointed
Israel, 164.
pens. 200; blackboards,237.
preliminary training, 192-3,230-2.
print-script,see Handwriting,script.
programmes, 210-15,218-19,
scales. 201-8.224.
Garcia, Victor, 272.
Gates, Arthur I., 104, 184,272.
Gates,Janet B.,82, 83.
The Teaching
of Reading and Writing
Jaggar,J. Hubert,85.
Jamaica, 229.
Jamaica Social Welfare Commission, 229.
JanuSeviC, M.J., 120.
Japan,29, 36, 113, 189,217.
Japanese, 31, 37-8,43, 51-2,53, 57, 65, 81,
83, 168.
Jardine, Alexandre, I I 5.
Jauffret,Edouard, see Plate VIII.
Javal, Emile, 44.
JimCnez,Hernindez,Adolfo, I 20, 128.
Jowitt,Harold, 213.
Judd, Charles Hubbard, 46, 77.
Kana, 37, 65.
materials, see Reading materials.
need for, 18-19.
programmes, I I, 145-56; evaluation of,
purposes of, 19. 120-1, 151-2, 282-3.
standards of, 20-21.
training,3 I -42.
Little, Kenneth L., 21.
Logographs,3 I.
Look-and-say method, see See-and-say
Lorge, Irving, 186.
Lourenqo-Filho,M.B., 17, 72, 123, 186.
Luke, Edith, 85.
Keller, Helen, 83.
Kelley,Truman L., 185.
Kennedy School of Missions, Hartford,
Connecticut (U.S.A.), 266.
Kenya, 160.
Key-word method, 79, 80.
Khartoum Publications Bureau, see Plate
VII, 239.
Kinaesthetic method, 75, 83. 84, 114-15.
King, Ida Lee, 236.
Korean, 40, 53, 57, 58.
Korean Language Research Society, 270.
Kotinsky, Ruth, 21, 149.
Kottmeyer, William, 141.
Kuitert, R.,92.
Kunze, Dietrich, 185.
Kurasawa, Eikichi, 37.
McCracken, Glenn, I I 5.
McDowell,Rev. John B., I I I.
McLaren, Violet, 107.
McLean, Mary E., 105.
Madison Public Schools. Handwriting
Committee, 219.
Malagasy, 80.
Malay Penin