Reading is a very important skill.  One must read to study other subjects, like math and literature and science.  How else can one move forward in life?

It is also one of the hardest skills to master.  This is why our Thor reading system was created, and named after the Norse god of lightning, and protector of mankind.  Our mission is to teach millions of people to read better.

"Samara, do you want to play this game?"

"Samara, do you want to play this game?"

Talking and listening is pretty easy.  By the time children are six years old, they start communicating like adults. -- Speaking and understanding comes naturally.  But, learning how to read is much, much harder.  

For example, try reading this simple sentence:  

. -  -- . - - .  . - . . - - .

Unless you know Morse code, you probably found that sentence hard to read.  Decoded, the sentence was:

A Man Ran

The difficulty in reading this sentence of dots and dashes does not come from misunderstanding what is being said.  You know what "A Man Ran" means when you hear it.  The difficulty is in knowing how to decode the dots and dashes from Morse code into meaningful words.  Once you decode the symbols, you can unlock the words -- and then the meaning of the sentence comes easily.

Beginning readers face this same kind of decoding challenge when learning how to read English.  In order to read, they must first learn the 26 letters of the alphabet -- both uppercase and lowercase.  Then they must link each letter combination to over 40 sounds.    This decoding is difficult for many learners.

English poses even more of a challenge, because many common words cannot be "sounded out" - they must be memorized, in order to be decoded.  Because of this, hundreds or thousands of repetitions are needed, to quickly and efficiently read English.

With so many rules, and so many challenges, many of those trying to learn English become disengaged -- many give up!


Our Principle

We believe that engagement is strongest when learning is interactive.  When students are engaged, they progress rapidly.  And nothing inspires engagement more than rapid success.

The students in the following pictures are so focused on studying and learning that it looks like they're playing a video game:

But this is no video game.  They are using the Thor reading system from LEARN!

Repetition, self-pacing, and mastery learning all work together to make the Thor reading system successful.  Each new lesson builds on the knowledge presented in the previous lessons.  The students must complete each lesson correctly, before they are allowed to move onto the next one.  After a small group of lessons is completed, the student's progress is further tested for mastery of that section.

Because our system allows students to work at their own pace, they are able to benefit from as many repetitions as they need, in order to be successful.  With Thor, success is not optional; success is natural.

Thor is cost-effective, too.  In developed countries, effective coaching by teachers costs at least $200 a year per student.  Even in less developed countries, a teacher would cost $100 per year.  The Thor reading system is available for less than $5 per year per student.

Our History

The 1,600 lessons composing the Thor reading system were created by Thorwald Esbensen.

Thorwald's career as a teacher and administrator was long and distinguished.  In 1980, Executive Educator Magazine named him one of the top- 100 educational administrators in North America.  He taught at all grade levels, from kindergarten through university graduate school, before becoming superintendent of schools in Duluth, MN.

He created educational software for the earliest home computer systems.  His life's work became the Thor reading system.

His system was used in Duluth to teach 82 second-grade youngsters better reading skills.  As measured by the Scott, Foresman Reading Placement Tests, their median score was at the 57th percentile at the beginning of a school year.  Their reading improved greatly, with just two hours a week of using Thor.  Their median score was at the 89th percentile at the end of that school year.

Even a 20% gain is considered a satisfactory result.  A 50% gain is highly significant.


The limits of my language are the limits of my world.
— Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher


Get Involved.

We're always looking for partners to help more people in the world become literate, especially in English.

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