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Logophilia at Its Finest - Illiteracy Is Inborn

Reading and Writing are criteria which shows that an individual has mastered some level of education. We read and write every day, but do we know how these skills are acquired? Is it a part of who we are as humans? One of the happiest and proudest moments in life is when a baby is born. Midwifes and Nurses are greeted with a loud outburst as the baby alerts the world that the nine month package is finally delivered. Mothers receive their baby and hold it with such care, snuggled comfortably under their bosom. The baby’s small oval shaped eyes rekindles the father’s best self as he wraps his hand around his wife and smiles. The baby’s first year will be a tedious task of changes, parents always look forward to the first smiles, gurgles and coos, to learning to say “mama” or “dada.” Have you ever noticed that babies talk on their own? I think babies love to hear parents speak, so they try to vocalize what they hear. The ability to speak is inborn in humans; however, reading and writing are skills obtained from formal education. Scholars have tested this theory and have proven that the human brain is naturally wired to speak, reading and writing are not acquired skills, they are taught and the basic way of communicating is through speech.

Humans are born with a brain that is prewired by God for speaking, hence the reason why speech comes naturally. The human brain is naturally wired to speak because every child, unless hearing impaired learns to speak his mother tongue before he can read and write. Evidence has shown that humans do no need any special type of training to speak besides hearing. Motas and Tolman from “Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling” explains in their published work that by a child is 10 months, he or she is able to recognize speech sounds. They went on by adding further detail that children who are a year old have the ability to understand what is said by others. In a table format the specialists show the progression of a typical oral language development. At 3 months, babies coo, cry and smile. At 4-6 months, Babbles are more speech like, this includes sounds such as: /p/, /b/ and /m/. Children at 7 months – 1 year imitates speech sounds such as: “bye-bye” “mama” and “dada.” When a child is 2 years old, he or she uses more words each month and puts words in phrases and questions, for example: “Where Kitty?” By the child reaches 3-4 years, sentences with four or more words are spoken a little more clearly. This is understood by persons who are especially around the child. Humans do not need a special type of training to speak besides hearing. Birner starts her article with this question: “Do parents teach their children to talk?” The response that followed was: “No. Children acquire language quickly, easily, and without effort or formal teaching. It happens automatically, whether their parents try to teach them or not”. Children are active listeners. They listen to conversations and formulate words based on what they hear.

It has been noticed that societies have disparaged people who cannot read, and have classified them as stupid. Being illiterate does not mean a person isn’t smart. Reading and writing are not acquired skills, they are taught. This was identified because the process of decoding is not natural for the human brain, it was proven many years ago, humans spoke without any language education and writing requires an education which is learnt in school. Reid, a member of the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) in The United States and for over 35 years, he and his team have been researching and analyzing this issue: “Why Reading is not a Natural Process.” The article seeks to explain that decoding doesn’t come naturally. In his article he mentions that in order for a student to develop the reading skill, he/she should learn “Phoneme Awareness.” Phoneme Awareness is the understanding that written spellings, systematically represent spoken sound. He sheds further light by adding that a teacher should be able to say the word “cat” to a student and the student should automatically recognize that if the ‘k’ sound disappears, another word is present without showing the word (this is a phoneme awareness exercise). If a child can’t differentiate the sounds, most likely the student will not read. Phoneme Awareness is a skill that has to be taught so the brain can be trained to decode when reading. This then highlights that reading and writing requires an education which is learnt in school. To solidify his point that reading and writing are not acquired skills, but taught Reid says, “If learning to read is natural, there would not exist the substantial number of cultures that have yet to develop a written language, despite having a rich oral language. And, if learning to read unfolds naturally, why does our literate society have so many youngsters and adults who are illiterate?”

Years ago, men and women spoke without any language education. Esssberger’s article gives more insight, it states, “In the past, only a small number of people could read and write, but almost everybody could speak. Because their words were not widely recorded. They were many variations in the way they spoke, with different vocabulary and dialects in different regions.” This paragraph clearly highlights that language is accumulated naturally. Men and women were not taught to construct sentence, yet they did it, only a few persons knew how to read because words were not recorded. Even if the words weren’t recorded when different influencers came to overthrown them they would have read the papers and know but they couldn’t. Again, we see that reading and writing are skills that need to be taught.

The basic way of communicating is through speech. Speech is important because it helps us to resolve conflicts, to inform, to interact and to structure our ways of communicating. It has been noticed that, to speak is easier, faster and informal because writing has too many rules and is complex, also writing is just a representation of what we speak Writing appears to have been evolved from an extension of picture signs. Signs that directly and ironically represented something or action. This may be confusing to persons which cause them to write wrong information. Many persons today do the basic communication by communicating through speech because it’s more of the norm when compared to writing. This is more of a norm because speech is naturally weird in the brain. To speak was embedded in us from birth. It’s almost like a natural talent.

In summary, without a doubt, humans have the ability to speak naturally, but not read or write. Babies are one the prime examples. Nobody teaches a baby to speak, yet it formulates words and make sounds similar to spoken language. To substantiate this claim, researchers have observed and presented that: the Human brain is naturally wired to speak, reading and writing are not acquired skills, they are taught and the basic way of communicating is through speech. Many individuals believe that being illiterate means you’re stupid, but based on the research conducted it’s evident that the brain was not created to read or write. Language is the principal method of human communication, consisting of words used in a structured and conventional way and should be respected.

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