Unspell offers a phased approach to learning to read English. During the first phase, the student learns a basic, largely phonetic rendition of spoken English—sufficiently simple to be absorbed by even the youngest learners, and designed to work around dyslexia and other learning impediments. It makes learning to read English almost as automatic and effortless as learning to speak it.
Unspell provides the base level of literacy that should be the birthright of every English-speaking person, regardless of ability, motivation, or education.
Very little formal instruction is needed to learn Unspell, and unlike English, there's little concern for so-called "reading level," since the student is immediately able to pronounce most anything put in front of them. Learning to read is de-emphasized in favor of actually reading (and learning things), which makes achieving literacy a largely self-directed and self-motivated activity.
Once students have a range of reading (much of it self-selected) under their belts, they can be introduced to conventional English orthography. This should begin only when each student is developmentally ready, typically between the ages of eight and ten, to handle the flood of idiosyncratic, ambiguous and obsolete spellings.
About the project's authorDmitry Orlov was born in Leningrad in the 60s and moved to U.S. as an elementary school student in the 70s, eventually graduating from high school and then college in the Boston area. He traveled back to Russia on many extended visits before, during and after the Soviet collapse, observing much of it firsthand. This led to a popular blog and eventually several books about collapse and sustainability, which you can find on his Web site at ClubOrlov.blogspot.com.
Earlier in his career, Dmitry used his degree in computer engineering in fields including high-energy physics, software engineering and internet security; he also has a degree in applied linguistics, which came in handy in various roles in advertising, publishing, and translation. Along the way, he become interested in sustainable living arrangements, which led him to eliminate the permanent job, the house and the car as the three least sustainable elements; he, his wife, and their son now live on a sailboat, dividing their time between Boston Harbor and points south.
The idea for what became Unspell grew out of Dmitry's boyhood astonishment at the absurdities of English spelling (Having already learned to read and write Russian before coming to the U.S., he wondered why English was made to be so unnecessarily complicated). A few years back, the impending arrival of his son inspired him to take the idea off the shelf and use both his linguistics and software skills to make Unspell a reality.
In addition to his work with Unspell, Dmitry continues to write about sustainability and technology, and is designing a cheap and sustainable sailboat/houseboat for travel and on-board living, a project which is documented at quidnon.blogspot.com.