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insisted upon, as might be expected, by Pestalozzi himself, this must be attributed to the circumstance, that in the language to which his remarks apply, a much closer analogy is preserved between the sounds and letters, so that they may with less inconvenience be combined in teaching. Requesting our readers to bear this in mind, we now proceed with the extracts.
“The child is supposed to be acquainted with all the sounds of my spellingbook, from having had them repeated to him; the next step to be taken, is to make him pronounce those sounds, as distinct exercises, to be gone through several times each day, but with the same ease and playfulness with which children are generally made to imitate sounds: the only difference being, that the mother follows the regular course traced out for her in the spelling-book, instead of taking the sounds at random as they occur.
“The distinctive feature of my spelling-book is, that every exercise, throughout, is founded upon the vowels, to which the consonants are joined on, successively, before and after, and thus the different syllables produced by a systematic progress, which is calculated to give the child a clearer idea of their combination, and greater facility in pronouncing them, than by the plan usually adopted, it is possible for them to attain.
“ The manner in which this spelling-book was composed, is as follows: I took the first vowel, and joined to it one consonant after the other, from b to 2; thus I formed, at first, the simple and easy syllables, ab, ad, af, and so on; then I put before each of them such consonants as actually occur before them in our language; in the same manner I proceeded with other vowels; and, having gone through the different combinations arising out of the addition of one consonant, before or after the vowel, I formed more difficult syllables by the addition of more than one consonant at each end. In the course of these exercises, the simple combinations recurred again and again, in regular successions, which had the effect of impressing them more deeply on the mind, and, consequently, formed an excellent preparation for the instruction in reading.
“ The advantages of this book are explained in the introduction to it, as follows:
“ 1. It dwells on the spelling of single syllables sufficiently long for the child to acquire practical facility in their pronunciation.
“2. It repeats the same combinations of sounds, so as to impress them lastingly on the mind, without rendering them tedious to the child; the addition of new sounds to those exercised before, giving to each repetition the charm of novelty.
“ 3. It enables children very rapidly to pronounce every new word, formed by the addition of a further consonant to syllables with which they are
already acquainted, without the toil of spelling it over; and it gives them 90 distinct a notion of the elements, of which each syllable is composed, that orthography is, afterwards, made extremely easy.
“Mothers are therefore invited to repeat those successions of sounds to their children several times a day, even before they are able to speak, and to vary the order in which they repeat them, so as to stimulate the attention, and, by the contrast of the different sounds with each other, to produce a distinct knowledge of the peculiar character of each. This repetition is to be renewed with double zeal when the children begin to speak, that by imitating those sounds they may the more readily develop their organs.
6 “In order to facilitate the knowledge of the written characters, which ought to precede the exercise of spelling, I have appended to the spellingbook an alphabet, in which the letters are of considerable size, so as to present their differences to the eye in a more striking manner.
“ These letters are to be pasted, each separately, on stiff paper, to the child one after the other. The vowels are in red ink, to distinguish them from the consonants, and the latter are not to be taken in hand until the child be perfectly familiar with the pronunciation of the former.
“As soon as the children shall have acquired a sufficient knowledge of the letters, partly by having them presented singly, and partly by combining them in the spelling exercises which I am about to describe, it will be time to substitute for the above letters those of the second table appended to my spelling-book, on which the printed German letter (given on a smaller scale) is accompanied by the written German, and the printed Roman characters. A syllable having been spelt for the first time, by means of that character with which the child is already acquainted, he is made to repeat it in the two other characters, by which means he will soon be familiarized with them likewise.
“The principle on which all these exercises have been conducted, viz. that the basis of every syllable is the vowel, to which consonants are joined on, before and after,' is to be attended to, likewise, in the use of the pasteboard letters. The vowel is to be laid down first; and, according to the succession of syllables in the book, consonants are to be added at the beginning and at the end, as, for instance: a, ap, pap, lap, &c. The same exercise may be performed by means of a spelling-tablet, hung up against the wall, with a groove at the top and at the bottom, in which the letters slide easily backwards and forwards.
“ Each syllable spelt in this manner is to be pronounced by the teachers and repeated by the children, until it is indelibly impressed upon their minds. After this, the teacher asks for each letter separately, and independently of the order in which they stand, (the first ? the third ? &c.;) and lastly, he covers one syllable after the other with his hand, and makes the children spell it from recollection.
“ It is very essential, that the teacher should proceed slowly with these
exercises, and especially with those at the beginning, and that he should never proceed to any thing new before the children have attained a degree of perfection in the preceding lessons; for all the subsequent instruction in reading is to be entirely founded upon this course of spelling, by small and gradual additions.
“When the children begin to spell pretty easily upon this plan, the order of proceeding may, occasionally, be reversed. Thus, for instance, a word may be spelt by beginning at the first letter, and adding the others in the order in which they follow, the child having to pronounce the whole again after the addition of each single letter: f, fe, fen, fend, fende, fender. This being done, one letter after the other may be taken away, the child again pronouncing together those that remain each time; and the same exercises may be repeated until the children are able to spell the word, without the aid of visible letters, mentally. In the same manner the word may be began at the end, thus : r, er, der, nder, ender, fender.
“Another exercise is to divide the word into syllables, which the children are to count, to spell, and to pronounce, first in the order in which they stand, and then promiscuously as the teacher points them out.
“A great advantage is to be gained for the instruction of a large number of children in public schools, by accustoming the children, from the very beginning, to pronounce simultaneously whatever sound may have been repeated or pointed out to them by the teacher, so that all their voices together shall produce but one sound. By doing this in a stated measure, a large class is carried on with the same ease as a single pupil, and the effect produced upon the senses of the children is far more powerful.
“The exercises before mentioned being gone through on the spelling-tablet, or otherwise, with the pasteboard letters, the book itself is to be put into the child's hands as his first reading-book, and he is to continue in it till he has attained perfect facility in reading all the exercises."
The idea of such a reading-book is, notwithstanding Pestalozzi's recommendation, most unpestalozzian. Nothing can be more deadening to the mind than to read over and over again long columns of unconnected words, and partly even unmeaning syllables. As a specimen of the manner in which spelling-lessons may be turned to account as intellectual exercises, at that period of instruction, at which the knowledge of the sound is to be combined with that of the written character, we subjoin the following sentences, produced by a little boy five years old, under the disadvantage of solitary instruction, on such words of the series “one consonant before at," as he could think of at the time. They are an exact copy from his writing-book, without any alteration:
ENGLISH SPELLING EXERCISES.
A bat is a thing to hit balls up in the air.
A gnat is an insect that stings one. All these sentences are, strictly speaking, original composition, without the aid of any leading-strings, as indeed the infantine character of some of them clearly evinces.
Considering the difficulties in which the instruction in spelling is involved, it will probably not be ungrateful to our readers to learn that we contemplate, at no very distant period, the publication of a manual of spelling, the object of which will be to afford to the teacher an easy survey of the materials of the English language, when viewed with reference to sound, by enumerating the leading sounds and articulations (vowels and consonants), with their different modes of expression by written characters, and exhibiting their different combinations in sets of progressive exercises. Of these, however, the general conditions only should be given to the children, and they left to find out, for themselves, the different combinations of each series which appear as words in the English language. To illustrate this by an example, suppose the intended exercise to consist in putting one consonant after the vowel-sound E, as it is in egg. The spelling-book would furnish the teacher with a list of the different modes in which that sound is represented in the English language, with an example to each ; thus:
A as for example in
ENGLISH SPELLING EXERCISES.
} My teeth ache, or uke, sometimes.
Ai as for example in fail.
slaie. Independently of this general survey of the different representations of the sound E, the spelling-book would contain, among others, a complete list of the combinations of this sound with one subsequent consonant, marking the different acceptations of each term. AIM. Shooters aim at birds.
Bad shooters miss their aim.
The ear-ache is more painful than the tooth-ache. AID. Aid one another.
A good book is an aid to the learner.
is a curious animal. Boys like to
ape ERE. Ere shall the heavens pass away, than the
righteous perish. AIR. Fresh air is essential to health.
The servant was told to air the sheets.
What a strange air he puts on.
eyre. AYR. The Ayr is a river in Scotland.
Ayr is the name of a town on the river Ayr.