Leonas Academy of Foreign Languages

  • Foreign languages teaching,
  • tutoring, and
  • translation.

Challenge the provincial examinations in German and Spanish. Save $$$, headaches, and time by learning now, rather than when you get to university.

Note: Matthew McInnes who took over the presidency of the Crimson at Harvard University in 2001 is a graduate of LEONAS ACADEMY OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES.

Skilling in foreign languages has special rewards. You are opening another window to the outside. Whereas you formerly saw your surroundings in black and white, life will now appear as a kaleidoscope. Furthermore, versatility in communication is facilitated, because language learning is a left brain activity.


You may study other languages at the LEONAS ACADEMY OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES. Courses are taught by an experienced polyglot.

Wer fremde Sprache nicht kennt, weiß nichts von seiner eignen. Goethe

Waypoint Navigation Center

  • Prep for Canadian Coast Guard Examinations.

  • Skilling in Navigation, GPS, Nautical Subjects, etc.

  • Surveys and Deliveries.

  • Professional, erudite, and certified Consultation and Tutoring.

The WAYPOINT NAVIGATION CENTER is for your convenience located an hour from Halifax in the Annapolis Valley. Its central location makes it a convenient place to begin your nautical studies.

To get to the WAYPOINT NAVIGATION CENTER just key this location into your GPS receiver:

N 45° 04.261, W 064° 27.151. Or UTM: 20 385661E 4991854N. Your GPS will then guide you to the WAYPOINT NAVIGATION CENTER, by way of bearings, ranges, headings, speed, and ETA. This is your first lesson in navigation!

Otherwise just call 902-681-2364 or mail us at leo.nasager[at]utoronto.ca or, drop in at 1154 Aalders Ave, New Minas, NS.

Navigare necesse est, vivere non necesse

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Didaskalogenic Illiteracy

There are three fundamental types of illiterates.

Various individuals and much literature maintain that North America has many millions of illiterates. Nova Scotia’s Department of Education suggests as many as 40% of the population are illiterate. The illiterates, like the poor, we will always have with us, but before anything can be done about the problem, it has to be analyzed, because it is very important to distinguish between the three groups.


The first group comprises those individuals who were never introduced to reading and writing. In the past that was common, since there was not need or reason to be literate. There were few books in existence, since they were all handwritten. Gutenberg began printing about 1450. From that point on it became both fashionable and often necessary to be able to read. The opportunity to do so enriched the lives of those fortunate people, however that group who never learned to read may be know as bona fide analphabets.


The second group takes in those who, for various reasons cannot read, or have very great difficulty in acquiring the skills needed for reading. It takes in about two to three percent of the population. The inability to learn to read involves some kind of dysfunction. Probably no two individuals would be totally alike in this respect. In other words bona fide dyslexia takes many and varied forms. Recent studies have identified many forms of malfunction in perception which in one way or another makes life miserable for youngsters, but it is also true that many if not most could and can learn to read with the proper kind of instruction, after their disability has been properly identified. The sooner the nature of the disability is identified the better remediation works. It is thought that this group is very much larger the three percent, but there is no proof of that. Dyslexia is bona fide, but it is relatively uncommon. It has become a fashion statement, and modern north American educators use it to hide their lack of success in teaching youngsters to read. We constantly hear stories of youngsters who are dyslexic but seem very bright. Not so. They were just never taught to read properly.


The third group is the one that includes the illiterates, those who WERE CREATED BY THE NORTH AMERICAN EDUCATION SYSTEM. The technical term for this malaise is didaskalogenic illiteracy, or illiteracy caused by the teacher or the teaching profession. We will look at this in some detail, remembering that there is a large amount of literature out there which consistently misidentifies this condition, all the while the perpetrators, who pretend to be experts, make money on it. We have all read about how various sources that suggest the illiteracy rate in North America is anywhere from 25% to 70%. That tells us that at least one in four is illiterate, whatever that means. That percentage will never be determined, because it is difficult to define the general term illiteracy. So there is illiteracy out there, and the number of its victims, which is large, is a tragedy, however the cause is hardly understood by anybody, and that includes those with M Ed and Ed D degrees.

The system sometimes identifies somebody as being able to read at a grade 5 level. This concept does not exist in phonetic languages. Because there you can either read or you cannot.

Didaskalogenic illiteracy is a North American phenomenon found only among people who speak English. It is caused by a particular methodology, perpetuated by the educating profession, lauded by publishing houses, and funded by governments. It has become a billion dollar business.

Script of one kind or another has been around for a very long time. Six thousand years ago the Egyptians carved their hieroglyphs (Have you noted how some tourist brochures are back to using them. A town or facility will be explained in terms of a set of a dozen pictures: man/woman for washroom, car for parking, tent for camping facilities, bear stands for zoo, etc. ,etc. They are anticipating the non-reading public, and there is no stigma attached anymore.) The old Testament was written with Hebrew consonants. Chinese script, though very likely cumbersome, was developed in a beautifully logical fashion. Three thousand years ago the Phoenecians introduced the Greeks to the alphabet, and that is the point in time where humanity was introduced to the concept of the phonetic alphabet. It was done over and modified many times, and when Rome came on the scene it was modified again, and it became the alphabet that was adopted by the Latin and Germanic languages.

To return to English, we note that Celtic and Gaelic was spoken in the British Isles, but about 450 AD the Jutes, the Angels, and Saxons settled there and their language became the new tongue. Three hundred years later the Vikings introduced themselves to the Islands and the Danes ruled there for three decades.

William the Conqueror, a displaced Norwegian who spoke French, also landed there in 1066. All the while the church operated in Latin. These factors and a few more produced what today is known as English. Chaucer was the first one to use English for writing, but the language has lost many of its Germanic sounds since that time, and English has come into its own. So many languages, and sounds came together, were changed, mixed, mutilated, and the written language which always has a lot of inertia was reluctant to change to accommodate the changes that took place, and still take place, in the spoken language. The result of this was that we wound up with an alphabet, a sound-system, and a written language where these three components were ill fitted to each other.

We all know that GBS identified 42 vowel sounds, but we only have six vowels to do duty. Leo Rosten has identified 16 different sounds for the letter e alone. On top of that we have the letters c, q, w, x, z which are totally useless. These have been eliminated in the Scandinavian languages, and they have instead adopted three modified vowels. The result is that the Germanic languages, excluding English, have remained more or less phonetic: The sounds you find in the spelled word are the actual sounds used in pronunciation.

If the phrase – the glory that was Greece – means anything it should refer to the fact that Greece gave us, and the world, the phonetic alphabet. It is true that no language is 100% phonetic some come very close, such as check and Finnish. Spanish is close. Most are reasonably phonetic. Since the English language is not phonetic it is understandable attempts have been made to work around that problem. The best-known attempt at a method has been given the name the Word Method, and it is part of that modern concept called whole language.

The Americans, ever innovative, developed the Word method, although it had been tried briefly in Germany earlier. The names whole language and whole word sounded seductive, comforting reasonable, even logical. Educate the whole child using whole language, while you bypass the problem of an illogical alphabet. Flash the whole in front of the learner, and then have him repeat the word after the teacher. And presto you can read. Just remember the shape of the word and associate the shape of it with the sound. But who can remember constitution, construction, consolidation, constipation, conscription, contamination, conflagration, etc., from their looks. If you are intelligent you may remember quite a few, but after a while you have to give up. There are half a million words in the English language. An interesting footnote: It was found during the American election (2000) that many people voted Libertarian, in fact 3.3 million voted Libertarian. They thought it said Lieberman, Gore’s running mate. You can’t have a democracy unless people can read.

The net effect is that when a whole word person runs into a word he has never seen before, he is stuck. All of a sudden he can’t read. The whole word method has been used in North America for three or four decades, and it has ruined a nation or two. North American educationists have adopted and are defending a method that does not work. It is so bad that billion dollar industries have been built on this fatal mistake. Nobody in the system can see the problem, because they themselves have been trained in the method. So the phonics method, like the metric system (it was rejected because it was used by the socialists and the communists, and was therefore godless) has been rejected, although some are finally beginning to see the light.

Rudolf Flesch drew attention to the problem and the solution with Why Johnny Can’t Read. Very few saw the light, but programs such as Hooked on Phonics have been somewhat successful. But the battle is far from over, even though we are in the 21st century.

The point is of course that a word consists of letters, which must be decoded before you can what the word says. Using phonics, spelling the word, and or sounding out the individuals syllables is the only way to become a reader. It is pathetic to hear a teacher or a preacher say he does not know how to pronounce this or that word. He is in essence illiterate, because he cannot read the words he has learned.

We must outlaw the word method and use phonics. Education departments march on using the

Whole word method even though tens of millions of Americans are illiterate or only semi literate.

Ivan Illich popularized the concept of iatrogenic illnesses. Iatros means healer in Greek, so an iatrogenic illness is an illness that has been caused by the doctor or the medical profession. It is well documented that when doctors go on strike the mortality rate will drop. Even though it eventually becomes 100%.

Since the use of a faulty method, the word method, is used for teaching reading causes illiteracy, and it is done by a teacher (didaskalos), we now have the concept of didaskalogenic illiteracy, or illiteracy caused by the teacher. It seems quite proper to have a scientific term for a malaise that affects millions of North Americans.

Much has been said about didaskalogenic illiteracy, but the educators who promote it are themselves poorly educated, as they are a product of the word method. Their lack of ability in foreign languages is both a cause and effect in this same sad scenario. Nobody should be allowed to teach English unless he commands another language, otherwise he teaches in a vacuum. (The more foreign languages you speak the better your English becomes). We will unfortunately be stuck with this group of destructive educators for at least another generation, or until somebody makes phonics fashionable again.

As with everything here in life, you have to be honest. Being fashionable won’t do. Several generations of youngsters have been shortchanged by the system. To learn more about this subject Google will give you any number of references.

Leo Næsager

Do you know that Japan and Denmark have 15 times as many designers as has North America?

Diese Netzseite ist immer unter Bau.

Educated men are as much superior to uneducated men, as the living are to the dead. Aristotle

Education brings awareness of the need for change and provides the means whereby change and development can be accomplished. ISO 9000