Good Reading : December January 2015
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING DECEMBER 2014 / JANUARY 2015 24 Ask any kindergartener – English sucks. The fact that English is an eclectic mashup of Greek, Latin and French and was invaded by a host of other influences before being butchered and reconstituted numerous times in the last thousand years makes it an extremely difficult language to get your head around. Various rules feebly attempt to simplify aspects of the language – monotonous chantings of ‘i before e except after c’ can be heard at most primary schools. But even the most established of these language laws is plagued by so many exceptions that it’s questionable whether they’re worth being called ‘rules’ at all. Ah, English. Such an unqiuely wierd means of kommyunikayshun. Then there are the quiet-but-deadly silent letters. Letters that lurk, such as the ‘l’ in ‘salmon’, the ‘b’ in ‘doubt’ or the ‘k’ in ‘knife’, lying in wait to frustrate and perplex the most diligent student of English. And can anyone explain why ‘epitome’ rhymes with ‘litany’, or why ‘tomb’, ‘bomb’, and ‘comb’ don’t rhyme at all, despite the fact that they all share the same last three letters? Reading specialist Ann Fitts battled against these inconsistencies while working as an English tutor for struggling students in the US. Helping students overcome their fear of reading quickly became a passion as Ann saw firsthand how difficult learning English was for so many people. ‘Three of my four brothers struggled with reading, and one had difficulties his whole life because of his learning disorders,’ she says. ‘There is nothing as satisfying as helping a child develop a necessary life skill – becoming a reader. There is that moment when you see them get it, and their life is changed forever. I only wish my brothers had received the help they needed.’ After finding her calling with a summer tutoring job, Ann began to take on her own students, and she eventually co-founded her own company, The Reading Clinic. She worked with two friends to tailor specific learning plans and programs to each student. ‘We worked one-to-one with the students and I fell in love with the process. I felt I had found my niche in life.’ While working closely with struggling readers, Ann noticed that longer words caused her students’ anxiety to heighten, so she would draw syllable breaks in the words to help being called ‘rules’ at all. Ah, English. Such an life because of his learning disorders,’ she says. ‘There is nothing as satisfying as helping a child develop a necessary life skill – becoming a reader. There is that moment when you see them get it, and their life is changed forever. I only wish my brothers had received the help they needed.’ calling with a summer tutoring job, Ann began Does the text above look strange to you? It may look odd at first glance, but for a student struggling with reading, it can help them to navigate the complexities and contradictions that plague English spelling. Readable English is a new way of helping learners of English – regardless of age – overcome reading difficulties and it's giving confidence to those who struggle with words. ANGUS DALTON reports. RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG READING LIFE hap py o cean .