Note: Click on any word on this page (and click it again) to experience the Online Learning Support Net (OLSN).

Adult Literacy Tech: Overcoming Self-Sabotaging Habits

According to NAAL data, reading proficiency remains a significant bottleneck to social and economic progress for tens of millions of U.S. adults.

Adults struggling with literacy (in their native language) are not only struggling with the inherent difficulties involved in literacy learning, they are struggling with what they learned in the past that is sabotaging their progress: Shame and Guessing.

SHAME:  Though in NO WAY their fault, most adults who struggle with reading blame themselves and feel ashamed of themselves, and avoid reading to avoid that bad feeling.  The downward spiral of reading-shame profoundly maligns their trajectories throughout life. The mind-shaming effects of feeling ‘not good enough’ at learning have great life-distorting implications (Mind-Shame).

Unable to sufficiently improve, unable to avoid the challenge (day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year), adults who struggle with reading develop automatically unconscious ‘guessing strategies’ that sabotage their learning.  Rather than working the code to recognize words, they jump to guessing what the word is from its context, whole word appearance, or an accompanying picture. This learned, unconsciously automatic, ‘maladaptive cognitive habit’ misorients their learning and makes learning to read far more difficult.

In our work with adults struggling to learn to read, we have found these two habitual responses (shame and guessing) to be much greater impediments to their progress than the underlying code processing challenges involved in learning to read. If you have worked with struggling adults, you know what I am talking about. In many cases, the guessing happens so fast, that they don’t even see the letters in the word (other than the first and sometimes last letter).

THE DEMO: Every word on this page is its own help button. Click on any word to experience an entirely different approach to helping adults learn to read. It’s private (shame-free) and it interacts with them so differently that it breaks the guessing pattern. Try it. Click on any word on this page to experience it yourself (and keep clicking in the box until it turns green).

Touch WORD for help recognizing, for help understanding, touch ICON.  


With this tool, adults can learn on their own  without requiring them to feel embarrassed and ashamed like they do in public settings.  And, rather than being abstract and offline from reading (, the tool instantly supports them word-by-word while they are in the flow of reading. ANYTIME they encounter a word they don’t recognize or understand, it guides them through working out the word in a way that not only helps them with the word at issue, but generalizes into a new strategy that replaces the need for guessing.

This FREE (to non-profits) app turns virtually every page on the web into a page that is easier to read (and a page that helps adults learn to read better).  By using this tool to help ‘sound out’, letter by letter, each word they have difficulty recognizing, learners learn to ‘work out’ words they don’t know.  The more they use it, the less they need it. Based on decades of research, this is the most neurologically efficient way to learn to read in existence. The underlying tool can also be embedded in the CMS of any website.

Conceptual Background   About the Magic Ladder
The Magic Ladder Library: 200+ Stories that Use the Tech

Because nothing is more important to our futures
than how well we can learn when we get there.

© 2018   Learning Stewards   Patents Pending

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