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Primer of the phonic method of teaching reading & writing simeltaneously online

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Principal of belgrave College, Pimlico ; antho? oj n Fi'thch : Practice and
Theory" ; "Linear Drawing'' ; $c.

[All rights reserved ]




A GOOD knowledge of Reading and Writing is generally admitted
to be the foundation of all the other branches of knowledge. But
it is not so generally understood that upon the manner in which
these fundamental arts of education are acquired by the young,
their progress in other studies mainly depends. And yet it might
appear reasonable enough to suppose that, as the beginning is, so
will be the progress and the final result.

" The results of our existing system of primary education " are
pronounced by trustworthy authorities to be "a miserable failure."
" Education up to the point of reading and writing to any useful
purpose under present circumstances is not attained by the great
bulk of the population. 1 ' " It takes from six to seven years to
learn the arts of reading and spelling with a fair degree of intel-
ligence." According to the last Report of the Committee of tho



Council of Education, out of a hundred pupils " only nine were
presented in the fourth and higher standards."*

The cause of these failures is attributed mainly to the defective
alphabet and orthography of the English language. The latter is
characterised as " a labyrinth, a chaos, an absurdity, a disgrace to
our age,"t and as " a mass of anomalies, the growth of ignorance
and chance, equally repugnant to good taste and common
sense. "J

What a vicious creature this beautiful English language is repre-
sented to be by its friends !

But what if, after all, it should prove to be only a spirited horse,
a modern Bucephalus that required nothing more than proper
management to be subdued and made willing to obey its leader ?
Without using whip or spur for guiding it, only by means of bit
and bridle, and leading it out of the distorted picture of its own
shadow, the Author has succeeded in subduing it, so as to make it
subservient to all bis wishes.

For years it had been his wish to introduce in this country the
German, or Phonic method of teaching reading and writing simulta-
neoudy, not yet, so far as the Author knows, practised in England.
But it was not until December last that he had an opportunity of
doing go in a lecture which he gave before the College of Pro-

Times, July 1st, 16H.
t Sir C. E. Trevelyatl, ; The Bishop of St. David's.


ceptors.* The favourable reception the method he advocated met
there encouraged him to submit it to a larger circle of teachers
and friends of education in the form of this little book. It con-
tains an adaptation of German principles of teaching reading and
writing to the English language. The only novelties in it are the
" marks " strokes, ties, dots, and brackets, to the adoption of
which the Author was unintentionally driven ; but their utility
proved, on trial, greater than could have been, anticipated. One
example of the capacity of this method may suffice.

A girl not quite six years of age being taught by the Author,
could read the first part of this book (in manuscript) after less than
three months' instruction ; the lessons lasting from 10 to 15 minutes

After six months she could read any easy elementary book ; and
after nine months, any book within the scope of young children ;
and at the same time she could read letters, received from her little
friends, and answer them.

An elder sister of hers, equally intelligent, but having been
taught by the prevailing methods, could not read so fluently after
three years' toil as her younger sister after nine months'

A large class of sixty to eighty children could, by any teacher
acquainted with this method, be taught with ease reading and
writing, intelligently, in less than twelve months.

* See Educational Times, January, 1876.


Should the exposition of the method in the " Introduction " not
prove sufficient, the Author would be happy to explain it further
before any School Board, or assembly of teachers.

At the same time he would feel obliged for any suggestion for
improvements, addressed to him,


Belgrnve College,

148, Buckingham Palace Road, London.
September, 1875.


THE uncertainty of the sound of some letters, and the anomalies of
spelling in English are the chief obstacles to beginners in reading.
And whatever may have been done by compilers of reading books
in the way of arranging the words in an easy and systematic
manner, no feasible method has been produced which, going to the
very root of the evils, has succeeded in overcoming them. The
attempts to remove them through the introduction of an altogether
new or an enlarged alphabet, or through a remodelling of the
spelling of the whole language, must fail on account of the double
toil these methods entail of first learning quite a new, and then the
usual manner of writing and spelling.

Xo practical man would erect a large mansion to pull it down
again as soon as it is finished, and to build of its materials a smaller
house for permanent and ordinary use. But it is a usual thing in
building to erect a scaffold to facilitate the operations. And that
is what the Author has done. In order to reach the difficulties of
the English language he has introduced some external means, called
here "Marks." For the removal of difficulties arising from the
uncertainty of the sound of letters he has affixed strokes, dots
and ties, either above or below the letters ; and for the removal
of those arising from redundancy of letters he has employed
the bracket. He thus obtained an ample Phonic alhpabet,
without adding a single new letter, and a simplified spelling, with-
out altering the orthography of a single word. As we prepare food
for infants, so the English language has been merely 'prepared for


the purpose of facilitating the acquisition of the art of reading, and
prepared by means which, having served their purpose, can be laid
aside as easily as the scaffolding can be taken down when the
building is finished, or the leading strings be left off when a child
can walk. English thus prepared is now in a condition to have
principles applied which in Germany are no longer under discussion,
but are practised everywhere, underlying every sound method of
teaching elementary reading : they consist in teaching reading
phonicalbj and in the closest connection with writing. In this
German method spelling is postponed until a child can read. In
teaching reading, instead of the names of each consonant only its
phoni'- ruble, power or sound is given ; that part, namely, which
sound" ti;ijeffier icith a vcwel in each syllable, and which we obtain
by dropping entirely the v^wel sound of its name.

The phonic value, for instance, of the letter b is obtained by
dropping the ee of its name ; that of k by dropping the ay of its
name, <fec. What is left after the dropping of the vowel sound of
each consonant is hardly a sound ; it becomes one in connection
with the vowel of a word or syllable whence its name con-sonant
a letter town liny >/-;th a vowel. Now, as a means of referring to
them the names of the consonants are all necessary ; but spell! mj
or saying the names of the letters, as a means to teach reading for
beginners is not only not necessary, but a grave mistake. For, as
i rule, the vowel sounds of the names of the consonants do not tally
with those of the words or syllables in which they occur, and must
consequently cause confusion in the mind of the young. A few
example* wfll show this clearly. If we take such easy words as
dog, cat, icy, a child cannot possibly understand that d-o-g, as
usually spelt, could sound dog ; nor c-a-t, cat ; nor i-c-y, icy. He
will learn the sound of these words not from hearing them spelt,
but merely from being told by the teach.T, quite mechanically.
Far in .in )ving pleaaod to disrovor a connoction between tho one


and the other, he must be puzzled about the strangeness of this
kind of learning ; for spelling c-a-t would produce in his mind
rather the idea of see-a-tea, than cat, and spelling i-c-y the idea of
I-see-why than icy. So also o-u-r sounds oh-you-are, r-u-n almost
are-you-in ?, and w-a-x almost double-you-a-axe ; worst of all 1-a-d
might be mistaken for a lady.

It is a serious matter thus to disappoint the young with every
word they have to spell, but it is a more serious error to expect
that children can learn reading easily and intelligently by this
method. According to the method proposed, the child would have
been taught to pronounce the letters of which dog, cat, icy, our,
and run consist phonically and as described in the key, and he
would thus himself produce the proper sounds of the words with-
out further help from the teacher.

Again, words which offer generally great difficulties in con-
sequence of the strangeness of their orthography, yield as readily to
this method as the easier ones, particularly through the use of the
" marks." Words like their, there, which, through, plough, dough,
beauty, we represent the(i)r, ther(e), w(h)ich, thro(ugh), plou(gh),
do(ugh) b(ea)iity. From the picture of each word as represented
here, a child acquainted with the signs can produce the proper
sound of each word with the greatest ease.

On the close connection of Wrifing with Reading a few words
may be necessary.

In the first instance it ought to seem the most natural course
that if children have to learn both reading and writing, they should
not only learn them together, but also the former through the latter,
as every word before it can be read must either have been written
or printed. And if it cannot be denied that when these two sister
arts are separately taught, it frequently happens that children have
great difficulties in effecting their connection, it may, prima facie,
be expected that some advantage will be gained in teaching them


simultaneously, the one through the other. Experience has proved
that this is really the case.

But there is a further advantage in favour of teaching reading
through writing. It has already been shown that the sound
ire* as produced hy spelling the words are distorted representa-
tions ; whereas the picture of each word as written phonicolly or
its graphic picture is always correct. Why should we not utilize
this radical diiference and convey our first instruction through the
eye rather by means of well defined and correct symbols than by
the ear by means of unintelligible and misleading sound pictures.
And here, again, the " marks " render good service.

Difficult words being, so to say, more marked, make a deeper
impression upon the mind of the young than the easier ones, and
are thus brought almost on a level with the latter.

It is, however, not necessary for the children to copy the
" marks " when they copy the words.

Those not at all acquainted with the art of teaching reading,
as well as those teachers who think that the highest wisdom in
teaching consists in going steadily along an old, well-trodden path
of routine, will with difficulty be persuaded that so venerable a
method, and one so generally followed as the spelling or alphabetic
method is radically wrong and injurious. They know so well,
and consider it so natural, that the letters w-h-i-c-h represent the
word which ; but to children this, as at present pronounced, is a
mystery, as great as that a 5 note should represent five sovereigns,
vnUtt they are TOLD. And in that really all the difference lies.
-* We wish children with their own eyes and with their own intellect
to see what they have to learn, and not to make them the passive
instruments of their teachers. Besides, we wish to give them while
young the pure gold, and make them acquainted with our con-
v-ntional contrivances when they are old enough to understand
, mid also old enough not to be intellectually injured by them.


The most natural course in affixing the " marks " to letters
having various sounds, appeared to the Author to examine which
sound, on any page, occurred most frequently ; or which was the
prevailing sound of each of those letters, and he allowed then the
usual letter to stand for that sound, whilst its varieties, occurring
less frequently, received the "marks."

The prevailing sound, for instance, of a is that in man, and far ;
the varieties which we have are the a in fare and that in war, and
are represented by a and a respectively.

The prevailing sound of i is not I, the pronoun, but i as it
sounds in will, inn, which. In the Lord's Prayer, for instance, the
letter % occurs twenty times, and in only one of them it has the /
sound represented 1 ; whereas sixteen sound like i as in which, in,
kingdom, &c.

Similarly, the hard sound of e, as in cat, is the prevailing sound ;
its variety, as in mice, is represented c.

The following additional remarks are given to enable any teacher
previously unacquainted with this method to avail himself of it.
Before this little book is placed in the hands of the pupils, the
following excercises are recommended :

I. Preparatory Exercises for the Eye and Hand.

1. Comparison of dots in various positions on the black board
to secure that the children have accurate notions of what is meant
by "above," "below," "right," "left," &c. Also drawing lines
on the board by the teacher to explain such notions as a " straight
line " (for horizontal), " upright " (for perpendicular), " slanting,"
"slanting to the right," "slanting up," "round," "crooked,"
"half," "quarter," "thick," "thin," &c.

2. Drawing these lines by the pupils on their slates, first with
the help of a ruler, a book, or a slip of paper ; afterwards, freehand.


The- order suggested to be followed is indicated at the commence-
ment of the '' Introductory Exercises." Parallel with the above
must be practised the

II. Preparatory Exercises for the organs of Speech.

1. Exercises in Speaking and Pronunciation, for which object
lessons, such as are briefly sketched in the " Easy Reading Lessons,"
page 56, &c., afford materials.

The object of these exercises is to strengthen the children's
organs of speech, to accustom them to a correct pronunciation, and
to make them think.

2. Analysis of a piece of poetry into words, syllables, and sounds.
The pupils should commit to memory the first stanza of the

subjoined piece of poetry, the teacher saying line after line slowly
and distinctly, and the pupils repeating after him, both in chorus
and singly.

Then the teacher should say it again line after line, stopping
after every word, the children counting how often he stops, thus
learning of how many words each line and stanza consists.

They should then say in turn, " Oh " is a word, " I " is a word,
" Love " is a word, &c. So with each of the three stanzas. To
effect the analysis of the words into syllables, the teacher would
let the children find out that words, for the utterance of which we
have to make only one effort, like " Oh," " I," " love," " the," &c.,
consist of one syllable ; while those for the utterance of which we
have to make two, three, or more efforts, like, " mer-ry," " sun-
" ho li <l;ty," consist of two, three, or more syllables. As
in the analysis of the lines into words, the pupils, one after the
. will say of how many syllables each word consists. Lastly,
the syllables are resolved into sounds. The teacher again, in the


first instance, would pronounce slowly and distinctly a syllable con-
sisting of more than one sound, 1-o-ve, when the pupils will have
no difficulty in discovering that the word " love " consists of three
sounds, 1-o-ve ; the syllable " mer," of the three, " m-e-r ; " ry of
two, r-y; "sun" of three, s-u-n; "shine" of three, sh-i-ne; "it"
of two, i-t; "makes" of four, m-a-ke-s, &c., and so on with every
word. In this manner the whole piece of poetry will be analysed
into ivords, syllables, and sounds. We subjoin the complete
analysis into icords, syllables, and sounds, of the piece of poetry.
Tliat into words being self-evident, the lines marked (1) indicate
the syllables, and the lines (2) show the sounds.

(1) Oh, I love the mer-ry sun-shine !
(2) 0, I l-o-v(e) th-e m-e-r-r-y s-u-n-sh-i-n(e) !

(1) It makes my heart so gay,
(2) I-t m-a-k-(e)s m-y h-ea-r-t s-o g-ay,

(1) To hear the sweet birds sing-ing
(2) T-o h-ea-r th-e s-w-ee-t b-i-r-d-s s-i-ng-i-ng

(1) On their sum-mer ho-li-day.
(2) 0-n th-ei-r s-u-m-m-e-r h-o-l-i-d-ay.

(i) Oh, I love the iner-ry SUn-shine !
(2) 0, I l-o-v(e) th-e m-e-r-r-y s-u-n-sh-i-n(e) I
(1) The dew-y mor-ning hour;
(2) Th-e d-ew^y few>r-n-i-ng (h)ou-rj

(1) "With ro^sy smiles ad-van-cing,

(2) W4-th r-o-s-y 8-m-i-l-(e)g a-d-v-a-n-c-1-ng,
(1) Like a beau-ty from her bow-efc
(2) L-i-k(e) a b-eau-t-y f-r-o-m h-e-r b-ow-e-fc

^v - -*


(1) Oh, it charms the soul from sad-n<

(2) 0, i-t ch-a-r-m-s th-e s-ou-1 f-r-o-m s-a-d-n-e-ss,

(1) It sets the spi-rit free;
(2) I-t s-e-t-s th-e s-p-i-r-i-t f-r-ee;

(1) The sun-shine is all beau-ty,

(2) Th-e s-u-n-sh-i-n(e) i-s a-11 b-eau-t-y,

(1) Oh, the mer-ry sun for me.
(2) 0, th-e m-e-r-r-y s-u-n f-o-r m-e.

Teachers not experienced in analysing words into sounds, and
who may be diffident in performing the operation with other
words, will notice that it really consists in nothing but pronouncing
each word so slowly as to render its constituent sounds discernible
by detaching the one from the other. And this slow pronuncia-
tion is the key, so to say, of the constituent sounds of each word,
and can be applied readily by any teacher after a little practice.

The shorter or longer practice of the " Preparatory Exercises,"
depending entirely upon the degree of mental development of the
children to be taught, must be left to the judgment of the
teacher, who might even dispense with them almost entirely in
teaching a small class of intelligent children. With large classes
thry have the invaluable advantage of preparing all the pupils
so as to secure with most of them rapid progress in the main ob-
ject* :

HI, Heading and Writing,

In introducing these, the teacher will write on the black board
the letter o t the pupils copy it, and call it o. Then the letter n is
written on the board, called n, not enn, and again copied by the
children. Then the combinations of these Id tore on and no are
written on the board, and are read and copied by the children.


After they have thus learned the first lesson in reading and
writing from the board, then only the little book should be placed
in their hands, and they will go over the same lesson again from
the book. In a similar manner every other lesson must be treated,
following closely the course of the book. It is, however, not
necessary for the children to write the whole of the longer lessons
the first time the course is gone through ; the part marked (a) only
of these lessons may prove sufficient. The rest, marked (&), may
be written by them when the course is gone through for the second
or third time.

From the plan of the work it will be clear that the beginner has
only to deal with one kind of letters both for writing and reading.
This has the advantage of avoiding confusion ; and until a child has
perceived that reading is the easiest and most natural process of the
world, nothing ought to be introduced which might prove a stumbling
block to him. But it must be left to each teacher to decide whether to
postpone the reading of the second part, which contains the materials
of the first in letter-press characters, until the first is completed, or
until the child is about half-way through the first. The rest of the
method is sufficiently indicated in the book at the various stages.
Children who have mastered this little book can continue their
studies by reading any good elementary reading book, by copying,
writing from dictation, spelling, &c.

On no account should the pupils be hurried on to the next
lesson before they have completely mastered the preceding one,
It is also of the utmost importance that the teacher should require
his pupils, at an early stage, to connect the sounds of each word
one with another, and not to stop after each. They must pronounce
in one flow of voice, for instance, the word " wall " just as the letters
are connected in writing ; and it must be as little permitted to the
pupils to read w-a-11 as he would be allowed to write it in that


As a matter of course the indication of the sounds of the letters
before the lessons in the text, as well as the key, are not intended
for the pupils, but for the teachers ; the key serving only as a kind
of index to the sounds, the pupils learn them gradually as they
aro introduced in the lessons.

Teaching elementary reading and writing is generally considered
tedious work to teachers and pupils. Experience has proved that
if these most important subjects are treated by the method recom-
mended, and made available by the author, the task of the teachers
will be greatly lessened, and the pupils will find amusement and
pleasure in their first studies, while, at the same time, their intellect
is expanded under the very process of laying the foundation, and
of acquiring the most important key to their future studies.

ft an

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n^y~ " &/ttt&fty


o n a in i 1 u s r.

a &t t t & 4 i

o = o in so.

1 o n on no.

a a in man and = a in far.

2 a an na nan.

3 na om am mo ma man

i = i in pin.

4 i in im ni mi mm min,


a = a in fate.

5( a )_l ol al il lo la li nol mal
nil mil.

(b) lo a man in a mill.

e = e in bed ; e = e in be.

6 (a) e en em el ne me le le men
nel me(a)n me(a)l.

(b) men in an inn.

u = u m nun.

7 u un um ul nu mu lu nun num
luni mil lull.

8 (a) s os as is es so sa si se see
son sain sill sell sum


miss less moss lass nos.

(b) men see sam on a sill,
is moss in a se(a) ? no.

9 (a) r or ar ir er ur ro ra ri re re
ru roll ran rim rum nor mor(e)
mer(e) ar(e) mar(e) sor(e) ros(e).

(b) sell me soin(e) moss or a rqg(e).
tfcbdng I S

^ / c / / /a Q/ Q/

o = o in to.

10 (a) t ot at it et ut to ta ti te tu
not lot lit let mat sat nut



torn tell tin ten te(a) toss tun
tor(e) tar tan tal(e) lat(e)
mat(e) ; mutton.

(b) me (at) is no me(a)n me(a)l.
sit not on a mat.
ten men sat on a tun.
tell torn not to be too lat(e).

i = i in like.

11 o oaaileeunmlsrtf.

(a) f of af if ef uf fo fa ft fe fu
nof mof raf lif neff tuff for fol
far fin fm(e) fell fun fuss fat.

(a) run not too far. a fm(e)
mar(e) fell on moss. ir(a)
is iyi iuaiu-jna ; a nut Ipv


c = c in can ; c = c in ice.

12(a) c oc ac ic ec uc co ca ci ce
cu cot cat car can col cof
cas(e) com(e) lc(e) can(e) lace
face race ce(a)se mic(e) cell ;
collar cof-fee nlc(e).

(b) com(e) to see a nice cas(e).
cof-fee is in a can.
a cat can e(a)t mice.

a = a in ball ;

1 3 4

Online LibraryG. C MastPrimer of the phonic method of teaching reading & writing simeltaneously → online text (page 1 of 4)