NOTE: In the early years (1980s) only one English-language paper featured a
story about the PWP program–and that story appeared in a community
paper. It dealt with PWP’s early community sponsor, the Uptown Chicago
Commission. UCC donated books for the Truman College classroom development process
and later umbrella-ed the grant request from the Government of Puerto Rico’s
Community Affairs group to Budget Rent A Car. Success!By contrast, foreign-language groups are still interested in the simplification
of phonetics as exemplified by PWP. Although the computer has identified over 1,100 ways by which to
write the 40 basic sounds of English, the educational establishment is sold on
“sound-out” and has not attempted to simplify that rules-and-memory system.
Foreign nationals don’t like the guesswork that’s inherent in “sound-out” (what
is the “proper” sound of o-u-g-h according to rules?). Many of their languages
are absolutely specific in sound/spelling matches. For instance, in Spanish,
only 6 sounds for 6 vowels; in English, 19 sounds for the same six vowels
(A-E-I-O-U-Y plus the artificial schwa).
Underlying this problem is the acknowledgment by the US military language schools that English is alone in a fifth (worst) category of language difficulty. It’s not and needn’t be. English language grammar is simple (because it does not assign genders to gender-less things and so needn’t decline verbs in many arbitrary-standard) ways.
English phonetic rules are the
problem, not the solution, when seeking to use a language that was accreted
over many centuries and under several invaders. English grammar today contains
smatterings of several useless throw-backs from various European languages. . .
inconsistency between spelling and pronunciation is one of the very worst
aspects of those borrowings.
The overall learning problem
with English is not slang alone (which is a contributor to difficulties) but
also the fact that Americans don’t use many grammatical function words that we
teach to all learners (American-born and foreigner). They then can’t recognize
language-function because they can’t see or hear the missing function words.
For instance: “She said (that)
she went home.” Few Americans would use the word “that” in that circumstance;
yet “that” should indicate a subordinate clause. But the ESL students also
learn that one proper sentence does not contain two subjects and two
verbs: she said and she went. So our teaching methods do not
match immigrant-students’ public experience. No wonder students are failing. We
deserve but cannot afford the language problems that are rife in our nation
Cavalier attempted to provide
corrections of our simple language via volunteer tutors– who don’t already know
that simplification is not possible, as certificated teachers already
know. Teachers who have never themselves been language handicapped can
categorize their students’ problems (this person needs verbs; that one needs
adjectives; the other one. . .) but cannot understand those
problems. So they teach as they learned: sound-out.
Now, 25 years after it was
developed, PWP enjoys findings (published by a Milanese university study
re: dyslexia) that support his original ideas and program; see Science Journal for March 16, 2001 (two articles, by E. Paulesu et al; and L. Helmuth). Both articles have been summarized briefly
in the Psychiatry Journal (see button), but it’s wise to see the
original, which is cited by Psychiatry.
Cavalier has also spoken to two
literacy groups (see button) in California, but his ideas were resisted even
though the Science Journal articles support his early 1980's
conclusions: English-learning can be simplified!
The dictionary indicates all the 40 key sounds with only 46 codes in the
paperback books used–and those address the one (or two) accepted pronunciations
very specifically. PWP teaches
those codes. . .and a whole lot more practical knowledge. PWP is
Once the dictionary codes are
mastered, the teen/adult learner can pronounce every word in the dictionary
In daily use, the learner seeks
any needed term (for original use, when not already found in print) in his/her
own language’s bilingual dictionary, finds the English spelling there, and then
can pronounce that word correctly from our book. . .without asking friends or
teachers, “How do you say this word?” Friends aren’t always correct, and
teachers aren’t always available. On completion of the course, learners enjoy
immediate independence and confidence with a skill that lasts a lifetime!
PWP also holds the California Certificate of Compliance; so it’s legal to teach
there. Also, it has been computer-listed by the New York City Dept of Education
as an approved book (see the “CA & NYC Depts of Education” button).
Your community organization or corporation can benefit from this book/program,
both as an aid to individuals and as a boon to the surrounding community
if sponsored. For immediate assistance with specific promotional approaches
for your specific purposes, simply read the “User Helps” materials (see
button). Chose. Then use these models intact or varied, as your needs dictate.
Total book costs, about $100 retail (in 2010) for one PWP and 11 American Heritage
dictionaries (tutor plus 10 learners). Classroom needs: learners, books, and
chalkboard plus a writing table. Any person who speaks/reads/ writes standard
American-English can tutor, because PWP is a self-help tutor’s script
and workbook. If only accented bilinguals tutors are available to work with
students who don’t comprehend basics, then a tutor’s assistant who speaks
standard-American English should assist and handle the chalkboard and
sound-modeling sequences. All needed script, drills, and discussion materials
are provided or stipulated (including newspapers and a few photocopied book
pages for distribution/discussion).
Truman College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, was an early user,
as was St Augustine College (seethe funding requests and certificates on
For CA & NYC Depts. of Education see "Recognition" button
and its base buttons.
You might be able to read only one or two of
the program stories reprinted under “Clips” (see button), but you can be sure
that PWP has been tested and proved in both classroom and community. Use
it with confidence!