For the last two weeks, I've been teaching a perfectly intelligent young man who had reached the age of 17 without being able to read at all. All the way through school, he had been told to guess rather than taught how to use the information contained in letters. He had then, of course, been assessed as dyslexic, an assessment that indicates a failure in the schools he attended - the last of them consistently rated outstanding by Ofsted - rather than any disability on his part.
I say that because, as usual, a clear explanation of how English spelling operates had him beginning to read complex and simple words by the end of our first session. Working on the materials for his FE course brought predictable problems from residual guessing - eg reading assignment as assessment - but that had gone by the end of the second session. This particular error in education has North American origins - Frank Smith and Kenneth Goodman - and I thought we'd got rid of it. Apparently, there is still work to do.
I'll post more fully on this case, which was referred to me by my MP, as the work progresses. For the moment, I'm particularly interested in any comments from colleagues in North America and other parts of the English-speaking world in which guessing game and multicue theories of reading persist. They are a cardinal error, but are not to be replaced by the other error of pretending to children that phonics is the only game in town. Phonics are the basis of learning to read, but without explanation of how and why they vary, they cause problems with individual children that are nearly as bad - try to sound out the word "the" one letter at a time, and you'll see what I mean.
PS. For friends who have not seen the explanation of "th", it was introduced by William the Conqueror's scribes as a Latin alphabetic alternative to the Anglo-Saxon þ, that denoted this sound.