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come universal. Children begin to talk with words, and why should they not begin to read with words? It is nature's method. And moreover, it enables the teacher, from the beginning, to make reading an intellectual exercise; it furnishes something to talk about; and this alone is a sufficient recommendation of it. But what is there in the arbitrary sounds of letters; or the unmeaning combinations, bla, ble, bli, blo, blu, to which, on the old plan, children are soon introduced, that you can talk about? Why should not children soon grow tired of such unmeaning jargon, and even cry at the thought of going through it.
It has been objected to this method of beginning with words, that it depends on memory; that children in this way will be able to read no more words than they remember. If they have learned twenty-six words, they may, it is true, read any sentences that may be composed of these twenty-six words, but no more. The moment they come to a sentence which has a new word in it, (the twenty-seventh) they must stop. They can go no farther, as they have no means by which they can possibly ascertain what to call the new word.—Well, and what then? Will they never be able to learn to read, does it follow? I think not. How is it in learning to talk? Children learn to talk by means of words, yet they can utter no more words than they have learned, than they can remember. When they wish to express something for which they have no word, not having yet learned it, they must keep silent; they can say nothing. They can only give expressions to their thoughts and desires by signs. Yet children do learn to talk; learn every day, by adding new words to their vocabulary,
which they remember, and which they call into use as they have need. Thus they gradually increase their stock until their language is sufficiently copious to express their thoughts on all subjects. And why may it not be so in reading? A child today can read only the sentences which
of the various combinations of twenty-six words. Tomorrow, he learns a half-dozen more words, and by their aid can read a half dozen more sentences; the next day, as many more words and twice as many sentences; and so on. It will not be long before he will have at his command a few hundred words,-quite enough to enable him to read all the pieces in one of our ordinary school books, or juvenile compilations. This would scarcely require a thousand words. A steady continuation of this process, would, before a very long period, -half the lapse of an ordinary school-life,-put the child in possession of a vocabulary quite as copious as that of most adults;—even those who have had average advantages for education. And children, who learn in this way, would understand the meaning of the language they read;—words, with them, whether read or spoken, would be the exponents of thought. Reading would become what it ought to be, an intellectual, intelligent, intelligible business. And what if in their early reading, those, who are taught in this way, should occasionally meet with a word which they cannot call, and are obliged to pass over. So far as it concerns themselves, how would it be a greater disadvantage, than to be able to call the word, and yet not understand its meaning; which, I suppose, is often the fact in regard to a great many children who are taught in the old way. In an intellectual point of view, might
there not be a great gain in children's not being able to call words, the meaning of which they do not understand? So am I strongly inclined to believe.-I suspect, those who make the objection, that children cannot learn to read by means of words, because such a process would be a matter of mere memory, have never tried it. It seems to me neither founded in reason or sustained by experience. Children learn to talk from memory; they may learn to read from memory. Let them make the experiment; let them try it fairly and faithfully. Even were it a work of mere memory, I believe they will succeed. But it is not a work of mere memory. Memory will be aided by analogy. An ingenious child, I will say a child of average curiosity and quickness of apprehension, will discern analogies in words, and take advantage of them. For instance, when he is familiar with the words “fan,'pat,—from these he can and would make out what to call the word 'pan,' the first part of which is like the first part of 'pat,' and the last part like the last part of "fan.' So from man' and “ hat he could make out what to call mat;' from depart,' 'impress,' by comparison, he could learn to pameimpart.' Suppose him to be familiar with the words 'fly' and trap' and mouse;' he would have little difficulty in making out the combination 'fly-trap;' and when he had learnt this combination, none at all in determining what to call the combination, mouse-trap.' All this might be done with very little aid from the teacher, by calling the attention of the learner to the general form or resemblance of the words, without a knowledge of either the names or the powers of the letters. Thus, to some extent, analogy might be brought in to the aid of memory. Again, it is objected that children who are taught to read in this way do not learn to spell well. In this objection, I am satisfied, there is no validity. The difficulty lies here. Children, taught on the old plan, begin to spell early, attend much to spelling, and generally of consequence spell better than they read. Therefore, when a child, taught on the new plan, is found to read better than he can spell,—to read well and spell poorly, we are surprised, and say he is a poor speller, and lay the blame to the faulty manner in which he has been taught. The charge is altogether gratuitous. The truth is, the child has not yet been taught to spell. His attention has not been turned at all to this subject. It is not a part of the plan to teach spelling and reading together; but first one and then the other. It is idle, therefore, and impertinent, to complain, that the plan has not made the child a good speller. The object is to teach him to read and then to spell. When the child has made some progress in reading, so that he can manage with facility easy sentences, then he should be taught the names and powers of letters, especially the latter. Let this be done in a right manner, in a regular, systematic course of exercises, and there is nothing in the nature of the case to prevent a child's becoming a good speller, though for a considerable time his spelling may be relatively inferior to his reading. If he does not learn to spell in this way, it must be owing to the loose and faulty manner in which he is taught. A child, who has learned to read, will be tempted to neglect his spelling, in the perusal of an interesting story; and the spelling lesson will be pushed aside and forgotten, unless his attention is recalled by the watchsul eye of his teacher. Here, if anywhere, lies
the danger of his not becoming a good speller. It does not necessarily grow out of the manner in which he has been taught to read. Such is nature's method. Let it be faithfully tried. It will prove successful. Some think it better to begin with the sounds or powers
letters. A series of school books is now in the course of publication, based on this principle. This method is better than the old way of beginning with the names of the letters, though not so good, in my opinion, as beginning with words. It is not nature's method.
To a child, the continual utterance of the sounds, or powers of the letters, must be a dry and uninteresting exercise. It gives no scope to the intellect. It furnishes nothing to talk about. It forgets the
It forgets that children have minds. When
have got your pupils along so far as to read easy, simple sentences well, i. e. according to the sense, with distinctness and promptitude, and without stammering, drawling or nasal twang, you have accomplished a great and good work. Children acquire the habit of stammering, and drawling, and all disregard to proper intonation, in the early stages of this art, by being put to read either what they do not understand, or what has no sense in it, or lastly, what they are not familiar with. But if they have been taught to take their first steps right, all that is to follow will be comparatively easy. The pupil has now acquired so much in the art, that if supplied with suitable books, he may begin to entertain and improve himself. From this time forth, you may look for rapid progress.
teaching reading, whether to older or younger classes, unless the scholars are quite far advanced, let your exercises be short. A few lines well read, will be