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McGuffey readers are a famous series of textbooks widely used [about 120 million copies sold!] in the USA between the 1840's and 1960's to teach reading. They are still used today in homeschooling and a few private schools.
"Welcome to the schoolroom of 1900. The moral tone is plain. 'She is kind to the old blind man.'
"The exercises are still suitable, and perhaps more helpful than some contemporary alternatives. Much is left to the teacher. Explanations given in the text are enough to get started teaching a child to read and write. Counting in Roman numerals is included as a bonus in the form of lesson numbers." Don Kostuch
McGuffey readers are tools in learning to read English. They can be used with a variety of reading methods, including phonetics. If you have read much on this site you will know that we believe that phonics is the best way to learn to read. It works naturally with the brain's language system and allows the student to pronounce words they have never seen before.
The weakness of the McGuffey phonetic system is that it teaches words and sounds together. The student could easily be memorizing the words instead of using their phonetics. And because they only introduce a few words at a time, it would still take a long time to become efficient at reading. The McGuffey system is missing some of the sounds. For example, it only lists six sounds for "a;" but our students know there are nine sounds. The Academic Associates program teaches the main letter sounds first and then applies them to a variety of words. After the very first lesson is complete the student will have phonetically read 300 words! The average student [of any age] completes the program in 30 to 60 hours of instruction and is then equipped to read the majority of the nearly one million words in the English language. I have not seen any other reading program that can do that! Check out an Academic Associate center near you. Nevertheless, McGuffey readers are good tools if you are unable to attend an Academic Associates center or do not want to take our course over the Internet. They are also good for additional information, research, and to get a feel for what school was like in the 1900's. They are totally free - enjoy!
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