« AnteriorContinuar »
"In just articulation, the words are not to be hurrie over, nor precipitated syllable over syllable, nor, as it were melted together into a mass of confusion; they should be neither abridged, nor prolonged, nor swallowed, nor forced, nor, if I may so express myself, shot from the mouth; they should not be trailed nor drawled, nor let to slip out carelessly, so as to drop unfinished. They are to be delivered from the lips, as beautiful coins newly issued from the mint, deeply and accurately impressed, perfectly finished, neatly struck by the proper organs, distinct, sharp, in due succession, and of due weight." AUSTIN.
THE right pronunciation of the VOWELS depends entirely on imitation; and this can be taught, therefore, only by the living voice of the teacher, and not by books.
All the vowels are introduced in the first stanza of Gray's Elegy; and the teacher has therefore a test ready for the examination of every pupil in the purity of his vowels.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day;
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea;
Clear articulation, also, is a habit which can only be produced by great care on the part of the learner himself, or by incessant watchfulness on the part of the teacher. Articulation may, then, be taught in two ways: either, by a set of carefully graduated exercises, or by the teacher's insisting on every word, whether read or spoken, being clearly and distinctly and even elaborately uttered. In fact, the teacher has—before teaching reading to teach speaking; and this is peculiarly and remarkably the case in England. It is of the very highest importance that the teacher's watchfulness over articu
lation and pronunciation be kept up throughout the school-day, and not merely during the reading-lesson. A very large percentage of the teacher's labour is lost, if slovenly habits of pronunciation are tolerated during the other hours of school-work, in answering questions, etc., etc. A corresponding loss of habit and power is seen also in the teaching of writing-especially in Scotland. The pupil has his writing-lesson for one hour, during which he produces an elaborately perfect copy of the line given him; but, in his exercises, and notes and other papers, he is allowed to scribble in the most irregular and careless manner. "A good articulation," says Sheridan, “is to the ear in speaking, what a fair and regular hand is to the eye in writing."
Certain pupils, however, possess defects of articulation peculiar to themselves; and these pupils should be provided with exercises drawn up for the cure of these defects. If, however, a course of Gymnastics in Articulation be demanded, the sketch in Chapter XVI. may perhaps be found sufficient.
OF THE MEANING.
"Children, before their utterance is denaturalized by school discipline in 'reading,' speak with the most beautifully expressive intonation; and all persons of sprightly temperament deliver themselves, in animated conversation, with little short of the expressive perfection of infantile oratory." BELL.
BEFORE any one can read a sentence—that is, deliver it to a listener properly, he must understand its meaning. Intelligence the fullest intelligence of what is read—is the necessary pre-condition of all good reading. This is the reason why the "elocution" of children and of the uneducated classes is always correct and appropriate; they do not talk of what they know nothing about. They have the fullest comprehension of their own wishes and feelings; and nature supplies the tones and the inflections and the emphases.
It is the task, and the difficult task, of the teacher to give his pupil as full a possession of the meaning of a printed sentence as the pupil has of the sentences he uses in play out-of-doors. This is to be done chiefly by judicious questioning; for judicious questioning is the best half of thinking.
This questioning will necessarily have two objects in view-one to put the sense into the pupil's head, and the other to make him fully acquainted with the construction of the sentence. In the case of the first, the matter of the sentences should be questioned on; in the case of the second, its form and grammar. In questioning on the matter of the lesson to be afterwards read, it is best to question the pupils with their books open, and to allow them to answer from the book. This will probably give rise to an interesting and lively discussion, which will have a wonderful effect in rousing the intelligence
of each pupil, and also in increasing the corporate intelligence and power of the whole class. The second step to be taken by the teacher, is to question on the matter of the lesson with the books shut. In doing this, it is a good thing to invite or to induce the pupils to use the language of the book wherever they can; but it is a still better thing to get them to "give it in their own words."
OF THE MEANING.
In questioning as to the form or construction of a sentence, there are two things that are chiefly to be done: first, to ascertain the meaning of all the more important words; and, secondly, to ascertain the relation of each clause to the principal clause in the sentence. And, these two things having been fully ascertained, the most important point of all remains, and that is, to ascertain what word or words are the most emphatic in the sentence-what word or words carry the greatest weight of meaning.
If the lesson to be read is a poem, it would be well if the teacher gave, before the class begins the reading, such an amount of information as would enable the class to take up the proper standpoint with reference to the poem, and to feel in proper sympathy with it.
Let us suppose that the poem to be read by the class is the story called LUCY GRAY, by Wordsworth. The best plan of procedure will probably be the following:
1. INTRODUCTION. (To be given by the master, the books being shut.)—This is a story about a little girl, who lived in a hilly and moorland country, in the northwest of England. Her mother had gone, one winter's day, to the nearest town, to buy provisions; and her father, fearing that a storm was coming on, bade the little girl take a lantern and go to meet her mother. But the snowstorm came on before the father had expected it, and the little girl lost her way in it. The parents sought for her all night; but she had fallen into a brook swollen with snow-water.
2. QUESTIONS ON THE STORY. (The books here should be open; and the questions should be put-as far as possible-on the statements made in each case.)-1. Where did Lucy Gray live? 2. Why did her father send her to the