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Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno


vol. II no. 5

May 1973

First published in 1973. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1973-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-270-1 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555

The former Commissioner of Education, James Allen, declared the 70’s as the decade to eradicate illiteracy in the United States. Almost four years later no apparent dent has been made in this sizeable challenge. The reason is simple: instead of studying the problem of reading, educators continue the hit and miss operation of yielding to current fads. From the start, however, Educational Solutions has offered a true answer to the problem of reading — a solution that has never been challenged, only quietly ignored. A scientific approach to reading is possible so long as one knows what one is working on and is careful not to accept beliefs as facts.

Table Of Contents

The Problem Of Reading....................................................... 1 Giving Beginners A Good Start ............................................. 5 Giving Bad Starters Their Chances ...................................... 11 Leo Color .............................................................................15 Teaching “Reading All Languages” ..................................... 19 And How Would Others Know? .......................................... 23 Absolute Visual Reading ..................................................... 27 Our Materials ..................................................................... 29 The Films..........................................................................................29 The Classroom Materials .................................................................30 Words In Color In The Classroom ...................................................30 The New Word Cards ....................................................................... 31 The Reading Lab .............................................................................. 32

The Problem Of Reading

Before they were written, all languages were spoken. To speak a language is essentially to associate in specific ways a set of sounds to a set of meanings. This labeling is arbitrary; no object has a name per se. But an object does have a meaning of its own; and through perception, action, feeling, etc., each of us manages a certain grasp of the world. Only when we have access to these meanings can a system of sounds be accepted as a valid substitute for that experience. We learn to speak when we know how to pass from meanings to sounds. We can be said to comprehend the speech of others when we can manage the reciprocal process — passing from sounds to meanings. This dual operation of the speaker can be represented as follows:

If the system of signs is associated to the system of sounds in such a way that the view of a definite sequence of signs always triggers the same sequence of sounds, that language can be transcribed phonetically. Today there are no such languages since a small number 1


of signs cannot exactly display what the modulation of so many voices produce. But some languages are almost phonetic, the sound-sign relationship being in one-to-one correspondence except for a few ambiguities. In an ideal language a system of signs is created to correspond to the system of sounds so that to each combination or permutation of the sounds corresponds exactly one combination or permutation of the chosen signs, and conversely. This we shall represent as follows:

While writing precedes reading historically, these two activities are almost simultaneous for every learner who is offered the system of signs. If we put these two diagrams into a single sequence, it becomes clear that reading carries comprehension only if the sounds triggered by the signs call up meanings from the reader’s experience.


The Problem Of Reading

Most of us in fact can only read as “decoders” in the vast fields of science, art, technology etc. where we are not knowledgeable. We usually restrict ourselves to those areas where we can comprehend what we read. But if we are teachers, we do not always extend to the learners what is true for ourselves. Instead, we confuse what we comprehend with what our students should comprehend. We do not see that reading is closely related to speaking — that a large part of comprehension results from properties of the spoken language carried by the voice, rather than from the words alone. Since silent reading is reading with the uttered sounds suppressed, if we start by considering comprehension in reading aloud we shall be able to extend it to silent reading. The converse is an illusion. Oral reading involves one’s voice, a unique instrument for each of us. Its participation brings the nonverbal elements to the fore. We can say, “Stop, Pat, stop,” with, perhaps, nine different intonations conveying nine different meanings. This discrepancy between the written and spoken languages tells us how much we can add to comprehension in reading by insisting from the start on attention to the attributes of the spoken language when we ask people to read. Teachers know, perhaps mainly through their subconscious, that there are four components in the spoken language which respect the traditional as well as the individual utterances of words: 1

each word has a profile in sound; “pat” is not “pot”;

2 each word with more than one sounded vowel requires a stress; “pérmit” is not “permít”; 3 some words cluster together, linking sounds in a definite pattern and structuring a sentence specifically. This is known as phrasing: e.g. “ten men/sat/on ten steps” has a 2/1/3 pattern of phrasing; 4 when the sounds and stresses are correct, the addition of phrasing and intonation, separately or together, will display the melody of the language.



Comprehension at the level of the spoken language requires all this (leaving out for the moment the meanings associated with every one of these components). Therefore we cannot say that anyone can read who can only make the correct sound of a word, as so many decoding systems suggest and as the whole-word primers promote. A context is often needed to decide the stress and intonation. Hence no solution to the problem of reading is valid which does not begin with the equipment already available in the spoken language. Criteria for judging the value of a scheme offered by publishers must include this test: to what extent do the foundations of the spoken language determine the techniques and materials used in the approach to the set of signs which gives visible form to the much more elusive components of speech? Educational Solutions’ proposal seems to be the only one which deliberately and systematically uses what all readers bring with them to the task of reading. And therefore spectacular inroads are made in the task of mastering the printed word by almost all students, young children or mature students, in a duration inconceivable with approaches based on memory and drill. Caleb Gattegno


Giving Beginners A Good Start

After five years of continuous working with hundreds of children in four public schools, I know it is possible to give all beginners anywhere a flying start into reading. Some of them can be launched like a rocket, while others have the more gradual takeoff of a jet but are soaring high by the middle or end of their first year in reading — whether it be kindergarten or first grade. This is true because all of these five and six year olds come to school speaking the language heard around them. None of them were able to do this at birth. This means they have learned on their own not only to make sense of their world, but also to link the speech used by their environment to this system of meanings. There are apparently considerable demands upon their mental powers to meet these two challenges but all children achieve it relatively easily. The requirements of the task of becoming a reader — of linking the signs of the written language to the sounds of the spoken language — are fewer and considered more demanding generally, although in fact much easier. As teachers we can assist with this simpler job — far more easily than parents can help with the two earlier more complex tasks — provided we work with our students in a way that does not confuse them. After these fire years I am also clear that the main variable in making a flying start possible is ourselves as teachers. If we can free ourselves of our cultural prejudices about children: •

that children because they are small have limited mental powers;



that linguistic power is quantitatively affected by environment (positively if middle-class, negatively if poor);

and about reading: •

that naming or sounding the letters of the alphabet helps (phonics);

that associating pictures with words (look-say) or with letters helps;

that comprehension is synonymous with reading, and must only be worked on at the same time •

When in actuality if we insure by our techniques that reading out loud sounds like speech and uses words the students know in speech, comprehension is a spontaneous by product, and

comprehension as a separate activity may be sharpened and extended through new experience, discussion, and story telling since it is equally triggered by spoken speech or the teacher’s reading out loud;

then children soar rapidly. As one kindergarten teacher in her fourth year with the approach — with almost all her children flying high for the first time commented: “The charts and the pointer and all the techniques that go with them have been used by me from the beginning. The difference between this year and the first is the understanding of children’s powers which you have awakened in me through the seminars. This was what I did not know.” We as teachers of beginners begin to respect these powers •

when we take only a few days to introduce through one sign four essential conventions of written speech different from those of spoken speech because -


Giving Beginners A Good Start

sounds form a time-sequence, while signs form a space-sequence. (pop-up 1) 1

one sound is replaced by one sign,

2 the sequence of sounds coming to the ear is replaced by a sequence of signs on a line —(linearity), 3 English chooses that the sequence of signs starts on the left of the line, or on the top line of the series, 4 spaces are the printer’s convention to separate words; •

when we take only a few more days (or hours) to introduce four more vowel signs and another convention-

5 the awareness that the algebra of sounds of spoken speech can be ex pressed with the signs of written speech a can become au by ADDITION and ua by REVERSAL and ui by SUBSTITUTION and uei by insertion, etc. (Chart 1, Book 1, pop-ups 2 and 3), •

when we take only a few more days to introduce four consonant signs which allows the creation of several English words and sentences. Another convention is brought in reading these -

6 the awareness that the phrasing of English can be honored through not giving pauses to the Spaces between some words -

and other components of spoken speech not represented by the signs — stress, pitch, intonation, and melody — can be added by the reader to his voice so that each sentence sounds English (Chart 2, Book 1, pop-ups 4-9), •

when we now display the total “banquet” of words on the 21 charts and the “banquet” of signs on the 8 Fidel charts



so that children can “eat” whenever they are ready — allowing some of them to soar ahead and finish in a few weeks time; •

we may on the whole with most introduce one chart after another in the sequence they are numbered so that a certain mastery is achieved with each new coding of a sound that is introduced — using the Word Building Book and Worksheets to consolidate this mastery — occasionally including “interesting” words on more advanced charts that have the same colors (sounds) as have been introduced (e.g. night, elephant, listen, money, mother, friend),

but meantime children, because the charts are up, are free in their own time to use their perception to find colors (sounds) that match all over the charts and on the fidel and not wait for the teacher before figuring out a word. They can list their discoveries and share them with the others from time to time;

in all this the last essential convention of English is found easily 7 for each sound there are many signs — and for each sign there are many sounds. •

when we as teachers fill the environment with a “banquet” of materials printed in black and white out of which they can read to each other or to themselves so that the colored words are only a temporary reference from the beginning; •

words, sentences and stories which we write on the chalkboard and perhaps later reproduce and clip together in a booklet,

their sentences and stories bound into little books, or otherwise collected,

Books 1, 2, 3 and Book of Stories which belong to the approach whose sequence assures mastery of each awareness in reading,

simple paperbacks and other books which delight them and which some of them can soon read quickly, 8

Giving Beginners A Good Start

newspapers and magazines in which they try to see how many words they know as they scan a page.

In the schools where we have worked these last years have provided so many stories of the delight of young children and the amazement of their teachers once the full set of charts is displayed. Here are a few: •

in one kindergarten the children initiated at lunch time a game of “treasure hunt” for the same color or pair of colors all over the charts which then became their selfimposed game during the morning reading also;

in another kindergarten the teacher overheard three children in an argument over whether all the lime-green signs in one column on the Fidel could possibly all sound “I,” and then watched one child prove it by finding among the words on the charts examples for all the spellings;

a French-speaking visitor to one kindergarten was uncertain about how to pronounce the English word righteous on Chart 21, and her young friend showed her that the t in that word has the same color as the beginning of the word chin.

It is a similar situation to that in which a baby finds himself when learning to speak. He is surrounded by a “banquet” of spoken words — and after not even noticing them for some time, he begins gradually to connect himself with a few, and then more, as he is ready to work on this task of becoming a speaker. It seems that this way of working has been a major factor in convincing teachers of the powers of beginners. Dorothea E. Hinman


Giving Bad Starters Their Chances

In spite of the enormous challenge that learning to speak represents, most children manage it very early in their lives. This functioning presupposes, that the speaker has access to a system of meanings as well as a system of arbitrary sounds which are substitutes for those meanings. When he listens or utters, he knows how to shift from one system to the other. Reading requires one additional system - an arbitrary system of signs which are a substitute for the sounds of a language. Why, then, does this far easier task of learning to read present obstacles for some children? In the last two years I have worked primarily with about 100 children considered “reading problems” by their schools. Although they come with varied difficulties, what strikes me in every case is that they have all of the equipment needed to be a reader . . . . . What they don’t have is the proper use of themselves. Like running, swimming, and speaking, reading is a functioning. But the children who come to me think that reading is remembering what their teacher told them. Because of who they are or how they have been taught, the children I’ve met hold tenaciously to the alphabet (which will not help them learn to read). Many have managed to retain sight words, but they are lost when presented with a word they haven’t seen before. Most do not know that reading is related to speaking. The challenge of giving these bad starters their chances is straightforward: Can I use these bits of knowledge they have (which are useless in themselves) as springboards to replacing the inefficient use of memory with sure, effective word attack skills? Can I replace useless habits like guessing with dependable strategies like looking and using what they already know to solve new 11


questions? A more subtle demand of making remedial readers into independent readers is finding the entry into the unique person that each learner is. Which activity will mobilize him to work in areas where he has not been successful? Educational Solutions has addressed itself to the demands of reading English as well as to the requirements of meeting the uniqueness of each learner in an approach called Words in Color. Perhaps its greatest asset is that it is not a program; rather, it is a set of materials or tools which are compatible with bridging the gap between spoken speech and written speech. Moreover, it is a way of working that allows the teacher to be out of the way of the learner. Children are made responsible for their learning — independent from the start. I meet the children who come to me in rooms where the twenty-one word charts and fidel are displayed on the walls; the other materials (pop-ups, primers, chalkboard) are also within my reach. This environment offers as many possibilities for entry as there are children. My first assignment when I meet the children who are referred to me is to engage them in an activity which will let me know them better. I might ask them to read a passage from a book, and I note how they relate to unfamiliar words or whether they read with the melody of speech. Some children who come to our clinic need only to become aware that in spite of the equal spacing between words in print, these words are linked in certain patterns of phrasing as in speech. This awareness and a few hours of practice is enough to change them into “comprehenders” and not only decoders. I might ask a child to use the word charts to find all of the words he already knows. Knowing something of what he brings with him, I then test to see whether he has the tools to use it in decoding unfamiliar words. For example, if he reads “pam,” would he be able to read the same signs in reverse order? I touch “map.” While getting to know which competences he already has in learning to read and where his obstacles are, I have another important responsibility. I watch to see how he uses himself to solve the various questions I put to him. If I point to “ate” and he says “eat,” I might reply: “This is what you say if you guess instead of look. Now this time


Giving Bad Starters Their Chances

look.” If I point to “examination” and he says “explanation,” I might ask him to look again. If my words are not adequate, I may assist him with a certain gesture, i.e. covering parts of the word so that he focuses on smaller words within the bigger word. As I work to help the children make sense of reading, I take care of motivating them by some powerful techniques. Because the words on the charts are linked algebraically, we can make it possible for children who know a little to generate a lot. This practice of making many words and lots of sentences from a restricted set of known signs is a clear indication to the learner that he is putting his time to good use. What seems to matter most to these children, however, is that they are finally in control. Because I never ask them to remember, they don’t forget. Because I work first in restricted areas — doing with a few signs all that is required for reading—it is possible for the children to know very early that, in a given area, they are as competent as their teacher. Finally, because I replace telling children whether they are wrong or right with their having criteria to judge for themselves, their uncertainty soon leaves them. Since motivation is not a problem, my work with poor readers can be more intense than most people imagine — one to three hours in a session. Once they know what to do with themselves (and this is a matter of hours, not years) they return to their classrooms to work as actively and knowingly as anyone else. Katherine Mitchell


Leo Color

A child who has learned to speak brings many powers and awarenesses to the task of learning to read. His speech is proof that he has made the speech of his environment his own through the power of transformation. He has heard sounds and attached meaning to them. By uttering words in varying orders and observing the response, he has made sense of the grammar of his language. Just as he has transformed what he heard into a physical act, to read he must connect what he hears and says to the signs of print. When he can say what he sees, he is reading. Looking at the Leo Color and Words in Color printed materials, the first thing that strikes the eye is the difference in the number of charts. The English phonic code has 8; the Spanish, one. Closer examination of the phonic codes shows the reason. English has 21 distinct vowel sounds with many spellings while Spanish has only 5 vowel sounds with few spellings. An example is the sign “a� which, by itself, in English can be said 10 different ways. In Spanish, it always requires the same sound, with one variant spelling (ha). A glance at the consonants shows the same difference: thirty sounds in English, twenty in Spanish. Again we see the tremendous variety of English spellings compared to few in Spanish. It is quite clear that the Spanish speaker can become a reader more quickly than the English speaker. The basic conventions of reading are: sound-sign correspondence, time in speech correlated to space in print, and scanning horizontally and left to right. These can be taught in the



first two minutes of the Leo Color films while the students also learn all the vowels. There remain twenty-five minutes of reading and six of spelling to encompass the entire universe of Spanish reading in thirtyfour minutes of film. Each child brings the power to transform a little into a lot. In practice, this means that given a few sounds and their corresponding signs the learner can generate many different words and from these, a multitude of sentences. The transformation game (used in both Words in Color and Leo Color) turns this power into a conscious skill. This plays an important role in the creation of a reader. Any given word may be transformed by the addition, substitution, insertion of one sign at a time or by the reversal of the entire word. (For example: tap pat pet pest pest; al ala sala alas.) In English, this is primarily done one sign at a time. However, as Spanish words are neatly composed of syllables, they can also be transformed by syllables as well as one sign at a time, ( i.e. mama malo palo paloma). This adds an extra avenue of exploration for the Spanish speaker. Up to this point, we have seen briefly some of the ways in which the Spanish speaker can move more quickly to becoming a fluent decoder of all the sound combinations of his language than the English speaker. Yet decoding is only part of the job. Really understanding that the printed signs carry the same meanings as uttered sounds necessitates putting the rhythm and melody of speech into the groups of words, seen on the charts or in books. The pop-ups provide excellent exercises for this. In Spanish, the stress in individual words is more easily apprehended than in English. For example, if the stress does not fall on the penultimate syllable of a word ending in a vowel or n or s it is indicated by the accent mark. The presence of the accent can change the meaning of a word or the exact grammar of a sentence. (Examples are: mama=suckles; mam谩=mommy; tomo=I take; tom贸=he took.) The accent mark signals to the reader what he must do with his voice to give the proper beat in a word. Knowledge of the stresses aids greatly in putting the proper melody back into sentences, thus reinforcing the connection between speech and print. Comprehension of written texts is helped when this silent voicing of the print he sees becomes as secure a functioning of the learner as his speech.


Leo Color

Looking at the eighth and final Leo Color word chart we see what appear to be fragments of words. These are verb endings which combine with some forms of verbs on the charts to create access to the tenses in Spanish. Many Spanish regular verbs can be presented even to the youngest Spanish readers and thus start them on a study of grammar as soon as they are able to decode. Reading is a skill which once learned can be transferred to another language immediately upon the spoken acquisition of the new language. Since the colors and techniques used in Leo Color and Words in Color are the same, the Spanish reader trained in Leo Color switches easily to working with Words in Color. This double saving of time has enormous implications for the teaching of reading in bilingual programs. Watching a group of fluent Spanish readers become proficient readers of English in less than 14 hours is a delightful experience for an observer who has seen the struggles of the bilingual child to acquire a new language and the skill of reading at the same time. There is no longer any reason for our schools to produce children who are illiterate in two languages. Mary Seager


Teaching “Reading All Languages�

A question that could never before be asked can now be solved with a device as simple as it is unobtrusive. Color used intelligently can serve the purpose of making words shout their sounds. The International Phonetic Alphabet and dictionaries can be used to identify all the sounds occuring in a language. A phonic code of the sounds can be arranged, with a specific color assigned to each sound. Phonic codes for another language can be developed using colors for sounds as was done for the first phonic code. If the phonic codes both have the same sounds, one who has learned the sounds the colors represented on one of the phonic codes can decode using the other. If the new phonic code has more sounds, then other colors will have to be assigned to the new sounds. When the new sounds and colors are known, one can decode in one language as well as the other. Phonic codes can be made for other languages and compared with the ones already known. Sounds which have not appeared in the other languages can be assigned colors not previously used. In this way, the ability to decode through color can be transferred to any language for which there is a phonic code. One who does speak the language can be a decoder. One who does not speak the language can still be a decoder. Word charts can be developed to accompany the phonic codes. On the charts, words in the language can appear with the individual sounds represented by color, consistent with the phonic code.



Using these materials, a teacher can arrive at the end of a school year with all the students reading not only in English, but in all the languages spoken in the classroom. Even if a teacher speaks only one language, all the students can be engaged at the same time, in working on building reading skills across languages. The comparative phonic codes and word charts offer, for example, ni in Spanish, knee in English and ? in Chinese, which all share the same two sounds, but not the same signs. In Spanish, ni is color-coded lilac for the first sign and red for the second sign. In English, knee has lilac for kn and red for ee. In Chinese the sign has lilac for the top half and red for the bottom half. In a classroom where these three languages are spoken, students can be decoders in their own language as well as the other two. Phonic codes for Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish and some word charts exist so that the needs of many students can be met. The conventions of reading can be established for the languages in the classroom in a short time using the approach to reading which goes along with the phonic codes and charts. As few as two sounds, which are commonly shared by Chinese, English and Spanish, for example, 채 and , can be used to present a majority of the conventions. Once these conventions are established and dominated by the students, they can be used to create sound-sign combinations which when said aloud will trigger the meanings carried within them for those students who speak that language. Those who can read the signs but do not understand them can benefit from those who do, in the following manner: The Chinese-speaking student who has can demonstrate what is meant to the rest of the class who are able to read it, by pointing to another person in the class and saying the sounds, or otherwise gesturing until someone shows understanding. If the Chinese student speaks some English or Spanish, he or she can give the English or Spanish word for . In arriving at the meanings of words, much new language can be generated. As a result, both teacher and students


Teaching “Reading All Languages�

can reach the end of the year speaking and reading a language or languages they did not know at all in the beginning. If there are many students in the classroom who speak many different languages, the way of working in the class room can change very much. There can be new opportunities for interchange, where the person who teaches today can be the learner tomorrow. Students would no longer be in a position of only receiving help, so that prior problems of motivation would be replaced by increased participation. Students who previously would have nothing to do with one another could find themselves in need of the other’s help and vice versa. The responsibility for teaching can be shared by all, so that the concern over teaching is subordinated to learning. There can be less teaching done by any one person and more learning done by all. The teacher, instead of feeling the pressure to know all, can be freed to act as a guide in the learning situation, clearly learning along with the students. For both teacher and students the classroom can become a place where one can learn more about how he or she learns and relates to others, and what it means to live speaking and reading many languages. Rosalyn Bennett


And How Would Others Know?

Efficient teachers of Words in Color make use of each response of the student as valuable feedback which will help to determine the course of the lesson. And they work with each student to build his own critical sense of the feedback so that he decides correctly for himself when his latest response is an improvement over previous responses. At times there is a need for a simplified but systematic collection of data to help the teacher and student make a general statement about progress in learning, and to help them discover some areas of weakness that may not have been spotted through the more finely tuned feedback. Traditionally, classroom data has been collected by using tests. In the past 20 years, teachers and administrators, seeking to compare their students on national scales, have gradually turned away from useful teacher-made tests, and have come to rely on published normreferenced omnibus tests such as the popular Achievement Tests. Because of their design, norm-referenced tests only compare students in order of their scores on the tests; they do not yield helpful information about weak areas. And because the teacher did not see the vocabulary of content area covered by the test before it was administered, the scores will be biased to the extent that the student has learned that content. In the January issue of the Newsletter, we announced our own comprehensive Mini-test program in reading. This test series is



designed to provide feedback to the student, teacher, and administrator, and through the use of time as a constant, it also yields frequencies that may be used to establish norms. We are now analyzing the results of extensive field tests, and after further modification, we will publish a test kit which will contain packs of word and sentence cards for some of the oral tests, and printed ditto stencils for the teachers’ use in making any quantity of each written test. In their present format, Mini-tests are timed (one or more minutes) samples of the student’s reading responses, taken daily or weekly from a well-defined domain. The most popular Mini-test (which requires no extra materials) is one in which the student takes the pointer and goes to the word chart that he picked to be tested on for the week. For the duration of one minute (timed by another student) he points to words on that chart in any order and says them aloud. The tester counts the number of words said correctly, and the number incorrect, in one minute. The student records or charts his score as shown, and because the time is used as a constant, he is able to build a picture of his own progress.


And How Would Others Know?

Prior to their use of the one-minute oral tests, some teachers in the field group expressed the worry that they would spend all of their time testing each student individually. They found that a better solution was to test three or four students each day, and rotate so that every student was tested by the teacher at regular intervals. Then they discovered that the one-minute daily review with four students at the outset of the reading class actually increased the class’ working time because it was a signal for everyone to “get down to business.” Our field experience has also shown that the tests challenge students to work on their facility on the earlier charts in their own time, even though the reading period is spent making use of new discoveries on the later charts. And the oral review has given the observant teacher a list of the students errors or learning opportunities out of which she may choose to launch the day’s lesson. Another series of oral Mini-tests, the card packs of sentences paired to each chart level, were designed to test the student's facility in reading words in the context of a sentence, with the melody of speech that



makes comprehension an easier task. It now appears that these tests may yield an additional bonus. In one school, the field teams, working with 88 students, discovered that there is a tight correlation between the student frequencies of words read on this test, and the G.E. scores of the students on the MAT. While our sample is too small to yield conclusive data, it suggests that the oral sentence test may be a reliable source of normative data. The most popular Mini-tests in the field are two written series, which had as their domain the test-taking skills, vocabulary, and story background of the most commonly used Achievement Test. In three schools where the Mini-tests were the sole preparation used, student reading gains on the Achievement Test were double that of the previous year. These results further focused the teachers’ concern about what factor “general knowledge” is to play in determining the score on a norm-referenced test, and demonstrated that the “comprehension” skills examined on such tests are easily imparted using a teaching — Mini-test combination. Ian Spence


Absolute Visual Reading

In the above articles on the problem of reading, spoken speech seemed an indispensable preliminary to learning to read. Deaf people, then, who are handicapped in this respect would appear doomed as readers. In fact, few deaf people learn to read in spite of their enormous efforts and the efforts of their teachers. At the same time, there is a poor yield in meeting the difficulties of learning to speak without hearing, in spite of so many bright ideas in this field. When working with people who can hear it becomes clear that the dynamics of vision are not excluded from their reading, and that if one can solve the technical challenge of by-passing the system of sounds, it will be possible to transcribe meaning directly into a set of signs corresponding to an existing language without the intermediary of speech. We have devoted ourselves to the solution of this problem through an approach called Absolute Visual Reading. The monograph written on this project is only available privately at present. In this solution (first through film and subsequently through film and classroom work) we use a number of insights published in Towards A Visual Culture (1969) and implicit in the techniques for teaching reading transposed into a form suitable for television in pop-ups and Leo Color. Here we can only hint at the solution1. A word machine has been designed which can be manipulated by the deaf to yield words with up to six letters. The colored signs on the machine are taken from Words in Color charts and link this machine to the word transformer in use with Words in Color. Students play a



visual-active game with the machine making words as designs that can be recognized, analyzed and synthesized. No meaning beyond this is required at this stage. 2. Some animation techniques allow us to take a second step. Drawings are associated with the designs, which for hearers are the English words describing what is seen, but for the deaf are a visible code for the meanings perceived. For instance, it is possible in this way to show how plurals appear, or how the distance of objects affects statements which include demonstratives. 3. Vocabulary is only one component of speech. It is also necessary to use films and videotapes to convey, through the sensitivities which are basic and owned by the deaf as well as the non-deaf, what the functions of words are. Using puppets or other figures, contrived stories are put on film. The visual impact from these stories is transferred to accompanying texts, thus giving as flexible an access to the written word as the awareness of oneself and the dynamics of the self permit. 4. When the written language has become a tool for expression within a certain field of experience, attempts will be made to pass from the system of signs seen and comprehended to a system of uttered sounds. Only when utterances are possible can lip reading be offered as an alternative. Absolute Visual Reading will be tested this summer. If it is accepted by the authorities in the field of education of the deaf, we may be engaged to produce the complete scheme outlined in the text mentioned earlier. Caleb Gattegno


Our Materials

The Films Pop-ups - Available on 16 mm. reels and super-8 cassettes, the total of 18 minutes of films can serve to take any native English speaker from illiteracy to a stage where reading makes complete sense. The single advantage of these films over the classroom materials is that a learner can be left alone with them and manage to learn to read. The teacher is hidden in the scenario, in the kind of awareness offered and the quality of the practice provided. Because many varied techniques of animation and of presentation are part of this approach for television, the viewers do not get bored or feel they are being drilled. Every 54 seconds of time they are engaged in a new way of working, the similarity of the material providing the continuity. Leo Color - like pop-ups, Leo Color is available in super-8 cassettes and 16 mm. reels; but unlike pop-ups it forms a complete program, including a six-minute segment dealing with grammatical points in a unique fashion. It is the first television film ever produced to convey total awareness of spelling in Spanish, as well as the rules for accentuation, without ever giving verbal explanations. While each popup has a duration of one minute, the Leo Color segments last for two minutes and provide a much welcomed opportunity to use the medium more deliberately and more forcefully. Although fewer animation techniques appear in Leo Color than in pop-ups, the pace of the films maintains the viewer's interest In mastering what matters to him in solving his reading problems.



The Classroom Materials When Words in Color was first introduced, the materials required were a box of colored chalks and a pointer to start beginning readers on Visual Dictation 1. Then 21 Word Charts were produced to be used, at the teacher's discretion, for Visual Dictation 2. Accompanying the charts were the student materials — Book 1, Worksheet 1, and the Word Building Book (in black and white). Later the students were given Book 2 and Worksheets 2-7; and finally Book 3, the Book of Stories and Worksheets 8-14. When teaching beginners, the 8 Fidel Charts can be introduced after Table 16 of the Word Building Book has been reached. In the last few years a Word Transformer has been added which covers the contents of Tables 4 and 5 in the Word Building Book. For more advanced students we now have four minicharts reproducing the 8 Fidel Charts and 24 Word Charts — 3 more than teachers can at present purchase for their classes. These additional charts will be available with the next edition of Words in Color in 1974 or 75. They contain many of the words that uniquely display certain spellings found on the fidel and in Book 3. Similar materials exist for Leo Color and are being added to in order to make equally extensive sets for Spanish and English. Moreover, in both languages, two or three books can be added for further reading. In English we have Short Passages and Eight Tales. (One tale, The White Canary, is available in a lavishly illustrated edition.)In Spanish, Mil Frases, Narraciones Breves, and Ocho Cuentos can be recommended to those who use our approach to reading.

Words In Color In The Classroom This series of monographs written by people who developed new uses for the materials already in their hands, show what can be done to encourage students to move further. Of particular help are the three books concerned with writing: Creative Writing and To Perceive and to Write, by Sister Leonore Murphy, and A Way With Words by Edna


Our Materials

Gilbert. These three books have served as resources for teachers — they have been reprinted because they proved so popular. Barnaby and Douglas Can’t Read are two monographs telling how Sister Leonore managed to remedy severe cases of illiteracy through the techniques and materials of Words in Color. (Sister Leonore now directs a clinic in Sydney, Australia, and has a waiting list of nonreaders in spite of the speed with which she sends them back to their age groups in school.) Other books in the series are reports that tell the stories of teachers embarking with trepidation or with enthusiasm on the adventure of subordinating teaching to learning in the field of reading.

The New Word Cards In 1963, some reviewers of Words in Color were particularly struck by the simplicity of the idea of printing words belonging to different grammatical categories on cardboard of different colors. The Word Cards, as they were called, have undergone several reprintings without alteration. We are now printing them as a new set with far fewer nouns, verbs and adjectives than in the past. The reason for these revisions is that we shall have two editions: a restricted set of words for launching native speakers into the games of grammar, and another set for nonEnglish speakers who may need to work on more sentences to master grammatical structures. The games for the second set remain the same, but they will be easier to play as teachers and students can get to know the cards better, and will be able to make longer statements because some repetitions are now included.



The Reading Lab As we produced the Word Transformer and the Mini-Charts, and The White Canary, it became obvious that we were now in a position to offer a kit for the home which would not require a large space to hang the charts. This kit is called the Reading Lab and sells for $18.95. (We also have a kit for mathematics called Mathware.) All the student materials used at school by every student enrolled in a Words in Color class are part of this kit. In addition there are Notes for Parents specially written for the Reading Lab as well as a copy of the White Canary.


About Caleb Gattegno Caleb Gattegno is the teacher every student dreams of; he doesn’t require his students to memorize anything, he doesn’t shout or at times even say a word, and his students learn at an accelerated rate because they are truly interested. In a world where memorization, recitation, and standardized tests are still the norm, Gattegno was truly ahead of his time. Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1911, Gattegno was a scholar of many fields. He held a doctorate of mathematics, a doctorate of arts in psychology, a master of arts in education, and a bachelor of science in physics and chemistry. He held a scientific view of education, and believed illiteracy was a problem that could be solved. He questioned the role of time and algebra in the process of learning to read, and, most importantly, questioned the role of the teacher. The focus in all subjects, he insisted, should always be placed on learning, not on teaching. He called this principle the Subordination of Teaching to Learning. Gattegno travelled around the world 10 times conducting seminars on his teaching methods, and had himself learned about 40 languages. He wrote more than 120 books during his career, and from 1971 until his death in 1988 he published the Educational Solutions newsletter five times a year. He was survived by his second wife Shakti Gattegno and his four children.


Newsletter, Vol. II No. 5, May 1973


Newsletter, Vol. II No. 5, May 1973