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Practically since the origins of writing and reading, speech has been considered the only form of verbal human communication to be naturally acquired. Instead, we act as if reading and writing need to be taught and learned. The author argues that this distinction is not supported by data, and that reading and writing could be acquired by the right exposure at an early age using methods similar to those by which children learn to speak and understand speech. One toll of postponing the acquisition of these crucial skills in the United States is a population afflicted by about 20 percent functional illiteracy.
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