« PreviousContinue »
The second part of it requires an observation.—To read as we speak--that is, naturally and with expression is an excellent rule; but if our natural manner or accent be faulty, we should endeavour to correct, rather than to imitate it. • When I had begun to teach READING,' says Pestalozzi, 'I found out after a while that my pupils wanted first to be taught SPEAKING; and this led him to commence with PRONUNCIATION. Before his pupils were taught reading, or even the alphabet, he exercised them in pronouncing not only the elementary sounds of the letters, but also their most difficult combinations, till they could do so with propriety and ease. Several teachers have adopted this plan, and it is an excellent one; for PRONUNCIATION cannot be taught too early.
“ Most children fall into a MONOTONOUS habit of reading, which cannot be too speedily remedied. The best way to break a child off this is, to make him read easy or familiar DIALOGUES. If the dialogue alternates briskly, the pupil, by personating both speakers, will, particularly if he feels an interest in the subject of it, soon learn to change his tone and vary
manner.” The following excellent observations are from Sheridan's Introduction to his “Art of Speaking:"
“ As soon as a child can read without spelling the words, he ought to be taught the use of the stops, and accustomed, from the beginning, to pay the same regard to them as to the words. in them: it appears to say, 'this deserves your admiration;" this is sublime;' this is pathetic,' &c. But Speaking, that is, natural speaking, when the speaker is uttering his own sentiments, and is thinking exclusively of them, has something in distinct from all this : it conveys, by the sounds which reach the ear, the idea that what is said is the effusion of the speaker's own mind, which he is desirous of imparting to others. A decisive proof of which is, that if any one overhears the voice of another, to whom he is an utter stranger---suppose in the next room, without being able to catch the sense of what is said, he will hardly ever be for a moment at a loss to decide whether he is reading or speaking; and this, though the hearer may not be one who has ever paid any critical attention to the various modulations of the human voice. So wide is the difference of the tone employed on these two occasions, be the subject what it may."
“Young people must be taught to let their voice fall at the ends of sentences; and to read without any particular whine, cant, or drawl, and with the natural inflections of voice which they use in speaking. For READING is nothing but speaking what one sees in a book, as if he were expressing his own sentiments, as they rise in his mind. And no person reads well till he comes to speak what he sees in the book before him in the same natural manner as he speaks the thoughts that arise in his own mind. And hence it that no one can read properly what he does not understand. When children are taught to read sentences which they do not understand, they get a habit either of reading in a monotone, or if they attempt to distinguish one word from the rest, as the emphasis falls at random, the sense is usually perverted or changed into nonsense. The way to prevent this is, to put no book into their hands which is not suited to their slender capacities; and to take care that they never read any thing whose meaning they do not fully comprehend. The best way, indeed, of furnishing them with lessons for a long time would be, to take down their common prattle, and make them read it just as they speak it; only correcting any bad habits they may have acquired in their utterance. Thus they will early be initiated into the practice of considering reading to be nothing more than speaking at sight, by the assistance of letters, as singing at sight is performed in music by the help of notes. And as Nature, if left to herself, directs every one in the right use of emphasis, when they utter their own immediate sentiments, they will have the same unerring rule to guide them after they have been written down; and in process of time, by constant practice in this way, they will be able to deliver the senti. ments of others, from books, in the same manner.
“ They must be taught that, in questions, the voice is often to rise toward the end of the sentence, contrary to the manner of pronouncing most other sorts of matter; because the emphatical word, or that upon which the stress of the question Lies, is often the last in the sentence. Example: Can any good come out of Nazareth?' Here the emphatical word is Nazareth; therefore the word Nazareth is to be pronounced in a higher note than any other part of the sentence. But in pronouncing the following, By what authority dost thou these things; and who gave thee this authority?' the emphatical words are autha rity and who: because what the Jews asked our Saviour was, by what power or authority he did his wonderful works; and how he came by that power. And in all questions the emphasis must, according to the intention of the speaker, be put upon that word which signifies the point about which he inquires. Example: • Is it true that you have seen a noble lord
from court to-day, who has told you bad news? If the inquirer wants only to know whether myself or some other person has seen the supposed great man, he will put the emphasis upon you. If he knows that I have seen somebody from court, and only wants to know whether I have seen a great man who may be supposed to know what inferior persons about the court do not, he will put the emphasis upon noble lord. If he wants to know only whether the great man came directly from court, so that this intelligence may be depended upon, he will put the emphasis on court. If he wants only to know whether I have seen him to-day or yesterday, he will put the emphasis upon to-day. If he knows that I have seen a great man from court to-day, and only wants to know whether he has told me any news, he will put the emphasis upon news. If he knows all the rest, and wants only to know whether the news I heard was bad, he will put the emphasis upon the word bad.
“The matter contained in a parenthesis, or between commas used instead of a parenthesis, is to be pronounced with a lower voice, and quicker than the rest, and with a short stop at the beginning and end, that the hearer may perceive where the strain of the discourse breaks off, and where it is resumed ; as, • When, therefore, the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus himself did not baptize, but his disciples) he departed from Judea, and returned to Galilee.'
* In every sentence there is some word, perhaps several, which are to be pronounced with a stronger accent or emphasis than the others. Time was when the emphatical word or words in every sentence were printed in italics. And a great advantage it was toward understanding the sense of the author, especially where there was a thread of reasoning carried on. But we are now grown so nice, that we have found the intermixture of two characters deforms the page, and gives it a speckled appearance; as if it were not of infinitely more consequence to make sure of edifying the reader than of pleasing
The following excellent directions for teaching Read ing are from the celebrated Dr. Franklin's "Sketch of an English School :” –
“ The First Class-Let the pieces read by the scholars in this class be short - such as Croxal's fables, and little stories. In giving the lesson, let it be read to them; let the meaning of the difficult words in it be explained to them. A vocabulary of the most usual difficult words might be formed for
their use, with explanations. This would help to fix the meaning of the words in their minds.
“ The Second Class_To be taught reading with attention, and with proper modulations of the voice, according to the sentiment and the subject.
“Some short pieces, not exceeding the length of a Spectator, to be given this class for lessons; and some of the easier Spectators would be very suitable for the purpose. These lessons might be given every night as tasks—the scholars to study them against the morning. Let it then be required of them to give an account, first, of the parts of speech, and construction of one or two sentences. This will oblige them to recur frequently to their grammar, and fix its principal rules in their memory. Next, of the intention of the writer, or the scope of the piece, the meaning of each sentence, and of every uncommon word. This would early acquaint them with the meaning and force of words, and give them that most necessary habit of reading with attention.
“The master then to read the piece with the proper modulations of voice, due emphasis, and suitable action, where action is required, and put the youth on imitating his manner.
“Where the author has used an expression not the best, let it be pointed out, and let his beauties be particularly remarked to the youth.
“Let the lessons for reading be varied, that the youth may be made acquainted with good styles of all kinds in prose and verse, and the proper manner of reading each kind—sometimes a well-told story, a piece of a sermon, a general's speech to his soldiers, a speech in a tragedy, some part of a comedy, an ode, a satire, a letter, blank verse, Hudibrastic, heroic, &c. But let such lessons be chosen for reading as contain some useful instruction, whereby the understanding or morals of the youth may at the same time be improved.
“It is required that they should first study and understand the lessons, before they are put upon reading them properly; to which end each boy should have an English dictionary, to help him over difficulties. When our boys read English to us, we are apt to imagine they understand what they read, because we do, and because it is their mother tongue; but they often read as parrots speak, knowing little or nothing of the meaning. And it is impossible a reader should give the due modulation to his voice, and pronounce properly, unless his understanding goes before his tongue, and makes him master of the sentiment. Accustoming boys to read aloud what they do not first understand, is the cause of those even set tones so common among readers, which, when they have once got a habit of using, they find so difficult to correct; by which meads, among fifty readers, we scarcely find a good one. For want of good reading, pieces published with a view to influence the minds of men, for their own or the public benefit, lose half their force. Were there but one good reader in a neighbourhood, a public orator might be heard throughout a nation with the same advantages, and have the same effect upon his audience, as if they stood within the reach of his voice.”
The following observations on the subject of READING are from “ The School and the Schoolmaster," and other excellent American works on Popular Education :
“If a child be never allowed to read what he cannot under. stand, he will never form those bad habits of reading, called SCHOOL READING, now so universal. I have known several children taught to read by their mothers on the principle of never reading what they did not understand, who always from the beginning read naturally and beautifully; for good reading seems to be the natural habit, and bad the acquired.”
EXTRACTS FROM "THE TEACHER'S MANUAL." “If there be any school in which reading is taught intellectually rather than mechanically; where the child has learned to read in an easy unaffected manner; his tones all natural, and his delivery exactly as if he were talking on the same subject with his brothers and sisters; if from first to last he has un. derstood every word he has uttered, before his lesson was finished; if he has never read any thing, without being able to close his book, and give a clear intelligible statement of it; then the remarks on reading in this treatise have no reference whatever to that school. But let them not be condemned as inapplicable. There are schools where the pupils are not so favoured; where they have been taught to read in a stiff, unnatural manner, without any attention to the sense; to utter like parrots, mere sounds, without bestowing a thought on the ideas they are intended to convey. It is only to such schools that all the remarks on reading are meant to apply."
EXTRACTS FROM "THE TEACHER TAUGHT." “READING MECHANICAL, INTELLECTUAL, AND RHETORICAL. “In teaching children to read well, there are three distinct and very different objects of attention. Reading may be taught as a mechanical, as an intellectual, or as a rhetorical exercise.
MECHANICAL READING, " The mechanical part of reading consists in the modulation of the voice as to loudness, distinctness of articulation, and slowness, and in