About the Author and the Programs
The author and developer of the programs, Phyllis Reinhardt, is a former missionary who has spent years helping people learn to speak and read the English language.
The programs’ emphasis on pronunciation and articulation stem from her experience as a missionary and from her training in linguistics prior to going to Japan. The teaching order was also influenced to a degree by what the author had observed in the Japanese educational system.
Before Japanese children enter first grade, they are given colorful story books written in the Japanese phonetic alphabet. (This is comprised of about 71 phonetic symbols called, ‘hiragana’.) As these books are read and reread, the children become fluent at the foundational level of phonetic reading. This prepares them for first grade when they will begin to memorize hundreds of complex Chinese characters, called, ‘kanji’. These are ‘picture words’, which are sprinkled into the basic hiragana text. The following is an example of a sentence in hiragana and is typical of what children at kindergarten level and earlier are able to read:
Translation: The dog saw the meat. When children enter first grade, they memorize the kanji for certain nouns and verbs, such as, ‘dog’, ‘meat’ and ‘saw’. These are then used in place of the phonetic symbols. The phonetic symbols are retained for verb endings and words comparable to our prepositions. The above sentence with kanji would appear as follows:
This example readily demonstrates the natural, clear distinction between the symbols that must be read phonetically and those that must be memorized. Our writing system is similar to that of the Japanese in that it contains words that must be sounded out phonetically and also those that must be memorized.
Unfortunately in our written system, there is no clear distinction between these two types of words – and for many young readers, that creates confusion. It is possible that this inherent difficulty in our language is at least partially responsible for the many people who never become fluent readers.
By using a controlled vocabulary and providing ample opportunity for practice of the most basic phonetic patterns, consonant-vowel-consonant and long vowel words with final e, the ABC Discovery Kindergarten Curriculum assures that children will become fluent at the foundational level before proceeding to the next level, which will involve much memorization.
In Discovering the Foundations of English, the various phonetic patterns, digraphs and diphthongs are presented one per lesson, with each lesson providing aids that assist in memorization of the featured words. These aids include fill-in-the-blank exercises, and association by means of stories, rhymes and pictures.
Finally, the author’s biblical worldview can be seen throughout both programs. Her ultimate purpose is that positive character traits and faith be developed in children as they learn to read. Our Founding Fathers would have whole-heartedly agreed. In the same year the Constitution was written, Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance which stated, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
It is the author’s hope and prayer that these ends will be achieved in the lives of the children who use this program.