Help a billion children, and students and adults, learn to read English better, with our Thor interactive mobile app.

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 picture 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 to make the Thor system successful.  Each keystroke must be made correctly.  Also, students must complete each lesson correctly, before they 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.

Our system allows students to work at their own speed.  So they are able to benefit from as many repetitions as they need, in order to be successful.  They can also move ahead as fast as their skill allows.

With Thor, success is not optional; success is natural.

The barrier to reading is that letters are a code.  One must decode them instantly, one after another, quickly enough to read.  This needs a huge amount of practice.

Thor is a mastery-based reading system which allows everyone to learn at his or her own speed.  The Thor lessons start with learning the alphabet, and end with students reading at a sixth grade level.

Each lesson has almost ten words, and these average around five letters.

Each letter must be tapped, to show the learner has understood, in several different contexts.  This creates a video game feel.

This explains the focus and enjoyment by the student users.  Everyone can relate to the interactive nature of this learning.

Thor is cost-effective, too.  In developed countries, effective coaching by a teacher would cost hundreds of dollars per year per student.  Even in less developed countries, a teacher would cost $100 per year.  We offer the Thor reading lessons to anyone, for $9 per year or less.

Our History

The lessons composing the Thor reading system were created by Thorwald Esbensen.  His 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.

Tested Results

His system was used in Duluth, MN to teach over 100 first and second grade youngsters better reading skills.  As measured by the Scott, Foresman Reading Placement Tests, the average of their median scores was at the 56th percentile at the beginning of the school year. 

Their reading improved greatly, with under two hours per week of using Thor.  The average of their median scores was at the 89th percentile at the end of that school year.

Even a 20% gain is considered a satisfactory result.  A 60% gain is highly significant.  Two other classes were tested, with very similar results.

The significant societal impact

  • Students become more engaged.  They are then able to learn English better, and to develop 21st century skills.
  • Teachers can have a more positive attitude toward work, and provide more personalized learning.  Our Thor lessons will be a great help in a classroom.  Teachers can supervise, while children learn at their own pace.
  • Family interaction and parental involvement may increase.  Parents can help students to learn from our mobile system.
  • Society benefits from bridging the digital divide.  Economically disadvantaged students and children with disabilities benefit particularly.
  • Economic progress and a better educated workforce offer a higher return on investment than anything else. (Forbes, 2015)
  • A number of studies suggest that a wide array of social benefits are associated with improved education.  These include reduced criminal activity, reduced reliance on welfare and other programs, increased charitable giving and volunteer activity.  Attainment of desired family size and improved health have been documented. (Riddell, Global)

In summary

Reading is the most important of all skills.  Writing is improved by reading.  Studying math involves reading as well.  Even self-esteem is affected.  And persistence is required for learning almost everything!

Yet reading is the most difficult of the basic skills.  There are 26 symbols in the English alphabet.  Worse, they can have over 40 different sounds.  And still worse, the sounds depend on which letters come before or after each letter.

So reading is both the most important skill to learn - and the most difficult to teach!

The interactive Thor reading steps, on smartphones and tablets and computers, will help people everywhere to read English.  We are working to help a billion people read much better, at a fraction of the expense required for normal classroom teaching.


Click here to see the studies that showed how effective Thor is.

Click here to see the story of the Thor lessons and LEARN!

Click here to see Dan Esbensen showing children how to ‘play’ on mobile in San Jose.

Click here to see children in a Hyderabad orphanage, using Thor for the first time.


Registration and User Guide:

To register and use the Thor reading lessons (currently for Android devices only), please click on the first link below.  Use this code - website1 - for your free trial.  For the User Guide, please click on the second link below.