First Steps in Reading ENGLISH
A Book for Beginning Readers of All Ages
I.A. Richards * Christine Gibson
A Washington Square Press Book, 1957 - 1969 + ?
Copyright 1957 by Language Research; ISBN: 671-46879-0
Introduction page vii
First Steps in Reading English page 1
Letter Intake in Book page 153
Index page 155
This is a book to help beginners to read.
The sentences with their pictures
let the learner sea how writhen language works. He is led to concentrate his
hole attention upon the all-important task: learning how to look both at
and through the words on the page.
The early sentences are written with no more than
seven letters of the alphabet. Being so few, they come back again and
again in new groupings as the vocabulary slowly grows. It is as though
you were being introduced to seven people only, instead of twenty-six.
Further letters are deliberately added one by one and in an order which
minimizes confusion. for example, p b q d are the same form
in different positions:
[sketch with rotating letters]
Yet the beginner must learn to see these letters s different. What
could be more confusing, since bubble holders and pipes, for example,
remain bubble holders, and pipes whichever way up or around they may be.
[sketch with rotating bubble holders and pipes.]
In this book after d has been introduced, b and
p and q are kept back until d has become familiar
enough to be unshakable. So too with n and u and other
confusables. (See page 153) for an over-all view of the letter intake.)
As new letters come in they take their places at the foot of the page.
This fixes letter order firmly for use with the telephone book and the
Anyone who can speak English can start reading it with
the help of this book. Those who cannot should learn to say simple
sentences of English before trying to read it. The easiest way is to
work through the pictures of the first 50 pages of English Through
Pictures with a native speaker saying the sentences as models for
the learner to imitate. Records spaced for repetition are available.
For groups, lesson-loops and other aids may be readily obtained.1 The design will be found to have no quarrel with the
major approaches. It may be used with any of them. The sentences are
verifiable throughout because they are about familiar demonstrable things.
The words as well as the letters used in them are controlled and
ordered so that the learner learns by comparing. In teaching himself
to read, he discovers how to study. Guessing is cut down: the
discriminations needed are prepared for and the careful and penetrating
look is encouraged and rewarded. The book treats the student (of whatever
age) as a reasonable being interested in succeeding.
It applies sound learning theory -- which may be summarized by:
"Nothing succeeds like the immediate reinforcement of success."
C.M.G. I. A. R.
This book introduces three hundred and eighteen words. Although
nowhere is it stated that the book is about Basic English,
all but two words are Basic English, although four are from Ogden's
"next 350 words" list. In addition, eight are compound words
made from words taught in this book, though are not on Ogden's
examples list. Basic English teaches derivative forms ending with
-ed, -er, and -ing; this book also introduces -est:
with short, shorter, shortest, which Ogden acknowledges,
but does not include in Basic .
The two non-Basic words? Autumn (Ogden uses Fall)
and oak (an acorn is easy to identify).
The eight compound words? Bathroom,
buttonhole, eggshell, grandfather, hairbrush, milkman, moonlight,
and roadside. These are clear enough.