Educator creates Caymanianized reading scheme

| 03/04/2014

(CNS): As educators struggle to improve the standards of literacy among local students a Caymanian speech and language pathologist has created a localised phonetics based reading programme that she says is achieving significant results. Vinnette Mae Glidden, the creator of 'I Read For Life', said that while her programme is intended for use anywhere in the world to teach reading in English, this is the first of its kind that references things Caymanian. The programme includes Caymanian and Caribbean places, animals and culture interwoven into the material. Alongside its local credentials Glidden said it can improve reading in a matter of weeks.

The programme has its own workbooks and materials, which can be used with students of varying abilities, from those who have a learning disability such as dyslexia to the average student who just needs to read better and faster. It is also designed for all ages, including adults. Phonetics based, the emphasis is on the relationship between the spoken sound and the letter-symbol  – a single letter or group of letters.

Glidden explains her approach and why it works. “If young children see a picture of a cat they will readily associate the picture of the cat with the sound meow; they will actually say ‘meow’. If they can do that, then they are capable of seeing a picture of a letter-symbol, learn to associate the corresponding speech sound and say the sound. Once you learn how to decode the symbols into sounds, you can read the most unfamiliar words,” she said. 

The programme has five levels, beginning with the pre-reader level, where letters are presented as pictures, and progressing through to level four which teached the speech sound/letter-symbol relationships, reading and writing skills, comprehension, grammar and punctuation.

“'The I Read For Life' approach takes the anxiety and fear out of learning and puts fun into learning to read,” Glidden added. The programme materials include fun exercises in workbooks, flashcards, a storybook with pictures to color and a concentration card game that children play with the enthusiasm of dominoes players. 

The programme was conceived in 1995 and has now emerged into a concrete methodology and Glidden says it can be taught to a number of children with various performance levels and ages together at the same time. Glidden said she has used the 'I Read For Life' method to help many children over the years in her tutoring service, which she now offers at the 'I Read For Life' Center in the Barnett Building in George Town..

Carolyn Bodden who enrolled her nephew in the 'I Read For Life' tutoring service said, “Since attending 'I Read For Life', (he) has come from incorrectly sounding his letters – resulting in very poor reading  and spelling skills – to learning the correct sounds for letters. His reading and spelling is a work in progress but I smile every time he writes or texts me messages that are correct sentences,” she said.

Many of Glidden’s former students are now college students and successful young people in the community.

One of those former students is Ted Green. He said of the 'I Read For Life' programme, “As one of the first students, I can attest to its ability to transform lives." He added, “The 'I Read For Life' program took me from a shy six-year-old who could hardly read, to the confident young accountant and entrepreneur I am today. I have a special gratitude to Mrs. Vinnette Glidden for giving me the tools to succeed.”

More information about 'I Read For Life' can be found at  

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