Sunday, January 2, 2022

Nora Chahbliz and the 'Truth about Reading'


On 29.12.2021 I saw a comment by Nora Chahbliz on Nancy Bailey’s blog post. Nora Chahbliz aids the producers and director of the documentary: “The Truth About Reading”.


Based on the trailer she had viewed, Nancy mentioned that the documentary is missing truths.


Nora Chahbliz commented on Nancy’s post asking if Nancy would consider an interview.


I wrote to Nora and said I was willing to be interviewed. She asked me to answer 2 questions to consider if I was fit for an interview. I provided answers to the 2 questions she had asked and received her response.


Luqman Michel <> Dec 29, 2021, 1:06 AM to Nora

Hello Nora,

Thank you for your response.



What are the top 2 areas in literacy that you think are most important to include in a literacy documentary?


1. To teach the correct sounds represented by letters.

2. To inform all kids from the onset that almost all the letters represent more than 1 sound.



If you were to be interviewed for this documentary, what information or insights would you share? (please paraphrase in a few paragraphs)


I would ask the producers why the % of kids leaving school as functional illiterates have not reduced in the last few decades.


Why are the producers blaming whole word teaching method when many schools teaching phonics still have kids unable to read? (Not that I am a whole word proponent)


Why is teaching kids to memorise Dolch words (most frequently used words) not encouraged? I get dyslexic kids who are unable to read even a single sentence to be able to read more than 10 sentences by asking them to memorise 5 Dolch words and one word family.


Listen to my first lesson at


If there are kids leaving school during both periods as functional illiterates - whole word and phonics - there must be some other common matter that is the cause of kids being unable to read. 


The reason why many kids are unable to read is confusion as a result of wrong teaching. Children are blamed for not being able to blend.


How does a child blend kuhahtuh for cat?


How does a child blend luhahmuhbuh to form lamb?


For more than 40 years, phonological awareness deficit was blamed as the cause of kids being unable to read. In 2010, I wrote several articles disagreeing with this theory as I had by then taught so-called dyslexic kids for 6 years. All of them could read in Malay and Han Yu Pin Yin but not in English. If my students could read in 2 languages but not in English how could it possibly be because of phonological awareness deficit. This theory was debunked around 2017.


The excuse given by the Anglosphere is that English is an opaque language when in fact the actual reason is that the kids are confused as they are taught wrongly.


Currently, children being unable to read is being blamed on the lack of phonemic awareness. I use the same arguments as above to dispute this theory.


We can't teach kids Korean (for example) and then question them in Japanese and when they cannot respond say that they have phonemic awareness deficit.


For how many more decades are we going to continue talking about kids being unable to read and blame it on poverty, comprehension, vocabulary, etc? First, teach kids to decode, and then comes vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency.


Listen to my following videos that explain the cause of kids being unable to read.












Thank you.

I look forward to your response.

Luqman Michel


Nora Chahbazi Dec 29, 2021, 2:25 AM

Hi Luqman,


I have forwarded your email to Nick and Katie, the story producer.


The documentary team has not decided what they think is keeping the literacy rate so abysmal in the US and other English-speaking countries. That is what they are looking to discover through their work on this documentary. There are still about 30 people on our list to yet be interviewed and we're not sure if funding and time will allow getting to them all. That is why the story producer has been very mindful when choosing people to interview. It looks as if what you say -teach children to decode and also vocab, fluency, and comprehension is along the lines of what many who have been interviewed are saying too.


I'll let you know what I hear back.

Thanks again for your email and the resources you shared.

With appreciation,



Could it be that the virus has affected the brains of most people.


Stupidity has no limits.

1 comment:

Luqman Michel said...

Here is the reply I received today. This is the response I anticipated from Nora.

Nora Chahbazi Jan 3, 2022, 9:57 pm.

Hi Luqman,

The story producer is looking for more insight from Balanced Literacy people. They are not going to be able to interview all those currently on the list, which is very heavy with phonics-focused experts. We greatly appreciate your willingness to participate and hope you will spread the word about the documentary. Here is a link to the website if you're interested in more information.
Thanks for all you do to promote literacy!