Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

such a manner as to bring out all the sense in all its force and beauty

Again, in reading to a large audience, Walker recommends that the eye and the hand be employed occasionally to give effect. But it seems to me that such an attempt to combine reading and speaking, is not founded in good taste. For my part, I would prefer that the reader should keep his hands still, and his eyes on his book. The eye and the hand come in very properly to the aid of the speaker or the orator, but not for rhetorical effect, to the reader.

These elementary sounds are uttered by means of certain muscles lying in the region of the mouth and throat. Now the same law holds in regard to these muscles, as in regard to all others in the human system. In walking, leaping, running, dancing, playing on musical instruments, and indeed in regard to all manual processes, it is exercise that gives strength, ease, exactness. He that does the thing oftenest, does it best. The same is true in the utterance of articulate and elementary sounds as combined into syllables and words, and formed into language. To do it well, we must do it often. And let teachers always see to it, that the organs do their office, thoroughly, correctly, promptly. Let it be the exact sound, and not something resembling it, which is uttered.

One part, and an important part of the elementary training of pupils in reading, is drilling them in the elementary sounds, until the organs can readily strike them with exactness in their various combinations. For this purpose,

I know of no better work than Russell's Enunciation. Tower's Gradual Reader is very good; also Bumstead's Chart, and a more recent work by Mr. Swan of Boston. Drilling on the elements, however, can be

done without either of these works in connexion with the regular reading lessons, but not so well. Again, I repeat, this is an important part of the work. Many of the common defects in reading are owing to the want of thorough drilling in the elements. I should have mentioned before this, that excellent suggestions on reading and on almost every branch of school instruction are found in “ The School and the Schoolmaster' by Messrs. Potter and Ernerson,--a work which should be carefully read by every teacher.

There are in the English language about forty ele‘mentary sounds. Had each sound a distinct character to represent it, they could comparatively be learned with ease. The difficulty is much increased by the fact, that the same letter represents different sounds, and different letters the same sound. By practising, however, in concert on Bumstead's Chart, or with Tower's Gradual, or Swan's Primary Reader, it can be made to children from eight to twelve years of age, a pleasant and exhilarating exercise. Ten or fifteen minutes drilling every morning for six months, would do the business completely for a whole school. Every primary or introductory school should be furnished with a Chart of Elementary Sounds, to be hung up, not to catch the dust and fies, as black-boards and charts often are, but to use. The observations and directions accompanying these works, are generally so plain as to need no comment.

Another point to be attended to in the utterance of words, is the right location of the accent. Custom settles this point; and we consult dictionaries to learn how custom has decided it. Children must learn it from practice and imitation. Of dictionaries for school-use, I think Worcester's is the best.

This is a point too of no little importance. Errors in accent may make a spoken language sound like a foreign tongue. Instance in the words cavalier, àrmor, and ágriculture, in the following sentence, putting the accent, as you read, on the second syllable in armor, the first in cavalier, and the third in agriculture, thus: Laying aside his armór, the cavalier thought seriously of turning bis attention to agriculture.'

We advance to the combination of words into sentences, to be expressed, (so connected,) in audible sounds, with proper time, rate, loudness and pitch. In reading, words should follow in due succession, without running, on the one hand, into each other like a continuous stream; nor, on the other, coming out with staid precision and pedantic exactness, or set off and kept asunder by measured intervals. The rate, pitch, and force must vary with the subject and kind of composition, from the most grave and solenn to the most brisk and lively; and from a degree of loudness which is but just audible, to a shouting and calling at a distance. Examples of all this we have in the Appendix to Russell's Enunciation, a work of which I have already spoken favorably.

There are also certain intonations and inflections of voice, naturally expressive of various emotions and passions. Grief, for instance, and entreaty incline the voice upward; while indignation, authority, and reproof, naturally give it the downward slide. Interrogation and antithetic negation, demand the rising slide; affirmation and all decidedly strong emotion, the falling. On all these varieties of inflection, intonation, pitch and rate, the voice should be exercised and trained almost without linnitation. This is the proper field for the teacher's labor.

The pitch, rate, and force generally required in reading, are the same as we use in animated conversation. But the teacher's attention should by no means be confined to this. It sliould, to a greater or less degree, be extended to the whole compass of the voice, training it to tones and inflections suited to all varieties of emotion; that it may now breathe forth the tender notes of affection, and now of strong indignation and reproof; now pour out the accents of grief, and again of joy and hope; at one time speak in the gentle whisper, and at another explode in the animating shout or the distant call.

All this is the proper work of training. For it, there should be a regular system of exercises, continued, not only until the pupil can utter these tones and inflections, but until their correct utterance and expression become with him a fixed and settled habit.

And here I think the work of training should end. When the subject of articulation, tones, and inflections, has become familiar, it is time to turn the thoughts mainly to something else. When the work of Reading proper, reading to the sentiment, is to be done, then endeavor to get a clear conception of the meaning of what you read. Endeavor to possess yourself of all its finer shades of thought. Be baptized, be utterly filled with its spirit. Then let the well-trained voice breathe it out in tones suited to its nature. Make what preparation you please, even all that is possible by previous training, but when you begin to read, let the mind, the attention, be wholly absorbed in the meaning of what you are reading. Let the soul be filled with tlie sentiment of the author. Never be thinking about how you are reading the piece, while you are reading it, if you mean to read it well. The good reader will not be anxious during the time of performance, whether his articulation is distinct,-his accent, tones, and inflection, all correct. For all this, he will trust to his previous training, his well formed habits. He understands his author, he feels his author, his soul is wrapped up in his author; is warmed, yea burns with its spirit. His voice, his tones and inflections, as the natural exponent of his own thoughts and feelings, as well as of the sentiments of the author with which they are in harmony, will be tremulous, or full and strong, soft or loud, high or low, as a matter of course, varying to the sense expressed. They are the natural effect of his own emotions. They are a sort of embodying forth and outward expression of his own inward spiritualities. As for accent, articulation, intonation, and all that, he feels no anxiety about them. These will all be right, for his habits, in this respect, are all right. At any rate he knows that it is no tiine to think of that matter now.

The master-musician, while he is executing a piece, is not thinking of the principles of his art; or of the motion of his fingers, how he shall place them upon the keys. This has become with him a matter of habit.

Just so it should be with the reader in all the mechanical part of his art.

While performing, his soul should be intent upon one thing, and one thing only, viz.: the thoughts, the sentiments, which the words represent, and to which he is giving utterance. There is no surer way for a reader to do badly, than for him to be thinking about rules and principles in regard to articulation, tone, inflection, &c., while in the very act of reading. He will almost certainly fail. · One reason that little children read so badly is, that their minds are diverted from the sentiments expressed; their whole energies being absorbed in finding out what to call the words.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »