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names of trees, flowers, vessels, vehicles, men,
women, &c., &c.

In giving out a spelling lesson or dictation exer-
cise, the teacher should always pronounce the words
correctly, and in a clear, audible voice.

The teacher should never mispronounce a word in
order to aid the pupil in spelling it.

A word or sentence should be repeated but once,
and in oral spelling but one trial should be allowed
the pupil. In written spelling, since the pupil
cannot know immediately whether his work is cor-
rect or not, he will not often desire to change what
he first writes.

It is well for pupils to pronounce the words in
oral spelling after the teacher has done so, and
before spelling them ; and also to give the pronun-
ciation of each syllable as spelled by itself, and in
combination with the preceding syllable or syllables,
if there are such.

What has been said on the subject of methods of
teaching Orthography has reference only to ac-
quiring skill in spelling words as authorized by
good authorities. There are Etymological and other
reasons why words are spelled as we. see them.
Orthographical peculiarities have not been produced
by mere chance or caprice. They are often the
result of linguistic laws, which can be investigated.
"When pupils have made that degree of advancement
necessary to prosecute these philosophical inquiries,


teachers will find any effort they may make to
encourage them amply repaid. In no department
of science can there be opened a richer field than
that which embraces the origin, nature, and changes
of written language. While we are careful to inves-
tigate the Orthographic laws relating to foreign lan-
guages, let us not forget what is due from us to our


Reading, as a branch of instruction, is the art of
giving proper oral expression to written or printed
composition. Taken in this sense, the words Read-
ing and Elocution are synonymous, although the
latter term is generally applied to the higher depart-
ments of Reading. Skill in Reading may be desired
for the purpose of understanding written or printed
language, and Avithout any intention of reading for
the benefit of others ; but it is evident that a teacher
can only judge of such skill by an oral exhibition
of it. What is said of Reading in the following dis-
cussion will apply almost equally well to Declama-
tion and the different forms of Public Speaking.

Methods of teaching Reading are readily divis-
ible into three classes : first, those which relate to
Reading as a Vocal Art; second, those which relate
to Reading as a Mental Operation; third, those which
relate to Delivery.

1. Method of teaching Reading as a Yocal Art.
— In readino: we use the vocal oro;ans as instru-
ments ; and, if these instruments are defective, it
will be impossible to acquire the ability to read


well. As well might it be expected that a musician
could make good music upon an instrument broken
or out of tune, as to expect a person to read well
with an uncultivated voice. Good reading depends
as much upon the voice as good singing ; and yet
the systematic culture of the voice for purposes of
reading is little attended to in educational institu-
tions, and that is one great cause why there are so
few good readers. The human voice is a wonderful
instrument, and greatly susceptible of culture. I^o
one can doubt who has heard a great vocalist sing,
or seen a great actor play, that much of our singing,
speaking, and reading might be better done. The
Creator evidently intended that the voice should
express all kinds of truth and all forms of sentiment
that can oris^inate in the soul.

Yocal culture in reading may either relate to the
simple utterance of linguistic sounds, as they occur
in words ; or to the utterance of such sounds with
respect to their Elocutionary qualities. The first
division has already been called Pronunciation ; the
second may* be called Modulation.

As methods of teaching Pronunciation were
treated of in a preceding Article, it seems only
necessary to say here that no one can read well who
is unable to pronounce correctly and fluently. Ex-
ercises upon the Enunciation of sounds and the
Pronunciation of w^ords may, therefore, appropri-
ately introduce a lesson in Eeading. These exer-
cises should be based upon the reading-lesson, and
adapted in kind and extent to the acquirements of
the class. Pupils just beginning to read should be
taught to pronounce the vrords of the lesson before


reading it, either as arranged in sentences (in which
case they should he named in a reversed order from
that in which they are read), or as arranged in
columns. Some of the worst hahits of had reading
arise from permitting children to attempt to read a
lesson before they can pronounce the words con-
tained in it. Even those counted good readers
sometimes spoil the delivery of a sentence by a
failure to articulate correctly a sound or a combina-
tion of sounds, or by the inability to pronounce
readily a word or a succession of words.

Modulation, in the sense here used, includes the
Quantity^ Compass^ Movement, and Quality of the

Quantity. — By Quantity, in an Elocutionary sense,
is meant the volume of voice that can be used — the
power with which sounds can be uttered. Force,
Emphasis, Slur, Stress, and Accent all relate to
Quantity of voice. Force is the volume of voice
applied in reading. Emphasis is the manner of
applying more Force to certain wo^^ls in a sen-
tence, or sentences in a paragraph, than to others
with which they are connected. Less Force, thus
applied, produces the Slur. Stress is the manner
of applying Force in uttering single sounds, sylla-
bles, or monosyllabic words. Accent is the greater
Force with which certain syllables in pollysyllabic
words are uttered than others in the same words.

Quantity of voice depends upon the power of the
lungs, and a good reader must be able to control
this power so as to utter loud or soft sounds at plea-
sure. A feeble voice may arise from general ill-


healtli, or from weak lungs, or from a want of
exercise of the pulmonary organs. It is the teacher's
special duty to supply the want of exercise to these
organs ; but as the general culture of the voice can
onl}^ he attained by particular applications of vocal
power, the methods of doing so will be detailed in
speaking of Force.

Some sentiments require to be given with a low,
soft voice ; and others with a voice loud and strong.
Hence the necessity for vocal training in respect to
Force. A reader should always make himself dis-
tinctly heard by those who listen to him ; but weak
voices, bad habits, timidity, and affectation stand in
the way of securing this end in our schools. I^ot
unfrequently, classes composed of girls read in a
tone so soft as scarcely to be audible. It is not un-
common at Young Ladies' Seminaries for the pupils
to undertake to entertain an audience by reading
compositions of which scarcely a word can be heard ;
and the listeners are compelled to be content, if
they can notice a slight motion of the reader's lips,
and, now and then, a change of position. Strength
can be given to the voice by judicious breathing
exercises, and by oft-repeated lessons in uttering
letters, letter-sounds, syllables, words, and sentences,
with different degrees of loudness. The teacher
should illustrate these lessons, by first making the
sounds himself, and afterwards aid his pupils by
accompanying them with his voice in their efforts
to imitate him. I have succeeded best in this kind
of training by using sentences selected in reference
to the degree of Force in utterance required by the
sentiment. It is an easy matter for a teacher to


collect a great variety of sucli sentences. It is an
advantage to place reading classes at some distance
from the teacher, and to classify the voices of those
who read in the same class and hear them in sec-
tions. Special care must he taken with those whose
voices are naturally weak, and kind encouragement
must inspire the timid with confidence. It is an easy
matter to train children to read with sufficient Force.
Nothing will please them better than exercises in
"loud reading." It is not so easy to succeed with
older pupils, but the methods proposed will be found
the most effectual. Loud reading, must not be
suffered to become a habit or the voice will be
rendered incapable of uttering sounds with that
variety of Force wdiich the expression of different
kinds of sentiment requires.

The masters of English speaking and English
reading make very great use of Emphasis. In no
other language, probably, is its use so common or
so effective. Without it, not only would the sense
of discourse be frequently ambiguous, but reading
would be extremely monotonous. No better test
of good reading can be found than a skilful use of
Emphasis. Teachers should, therefore, train the
vocal organs of their pupils so that they could apply
Emphasis whenever and in whatever degree the
sense requires it. Drill exercises in Emphasis might
consist in uttering the sound of some letter or word
a number of times with the same degree of Force ;
and, at certain intervals, or at a given signal, in-
creasing the Force. In pronouncing a series of let-
ters, figures, or words, some of them might be desig-
nated to receive Emphasis. Practice may be had


with sentences in which the emphatic words are
indicated to the eye. These may be either selected
from a book, or written on the blackboard. It is
in favor of such training that, while pupils are
receiving this kind of vocal culture, they can, at the
same time, learn the use of Emphasis, and the dif-
ferent methods of giving it. The Slur, in an Elo-
cutionary sense, is directly opposed to Emphasis.
If some sentences and parts of sentences are uttered
with much Force, it necessitates the utterance of
others with little Force. "When a sentence or a
part of a sentence is read more rapidly and less for-
cibly than others, it is said to be slurred. Examples
of the Slur may be shown by reading parenthetical
clauses, or side remarks in dialogues. The drill exer-
cises are necessarily similar to those for Emphasis.

Emphasis and Slur have reference to the com-
parative Force with which sentences and parts of
sentences are uttered ; but if close observation be
made, it will be found that the Force used in the
utterance of single sounds is not equally distributed
throughout the vocal movement. This modifica-
tion of Force is called Stress. All the difierent
kinds of Stress may be applied in the utterance of
any simple sound or single syllable; but I have
succeeded best in training the voices of pupils to
utter sounds, with regard to Stress, by requiring
them to imitate the pronunciation of words in
which these different kinds of Stress are exempli-
fied. Such words as ring and ears^ might serve for
Radical Stress ; hell and low^ for Vanishing Stress ;
strike and sad for Median Stress; and so of the
other kinds.

214 i:n"struction in- language.

Of Accent something was said in another con-
nection, and it need only be added here that the
best training exercises are those in which pupils
imitate the teacher as he changes the Accent in
pronouncing words, or follow him when he desig-
nates where the Accent should be placed. It
increases interest when words are selected in respect
to which a change of Accent brings about a change
of meaning.

Compass. — In speaking or singing, the human
voice moves between certain limits, above or below
which it cannot utter sounds. The space included
between these limits is called the Compass of the
voice. The Compass of the voice is a limitation in
extent of height or lowness, while the Quantity of
the voice is a limitation in degree of power. The
Compass of the voice may be marked by a regular
series of gradations of sounds. Such a series is
called a Scale, and the general name for its difterent
degrees is Pitch. In other words, Pitch in reading
denotes the point of elevation or depression of the
voice. These points are called notes in Music.
They are placed at considerable intervals, and the
voice generally passes between them by leaps ;
while in Reading the intervals are mostly crossed
by sliding the voice from one note to another.
This sliding the voice from one degree of Pitch to
another is Inflection, and it seems proper to consider
it in connection with Pitch.

There may obviously be as many degrees of
Pitch in Eeading as there are notes in Music, but
Elocutionists have not deemed it necessary to dis-


tinguish all of tliem. For all practical purposes five
degrees of Pitcli are sufficient, viz. : Very Low,
Low, Middle, High, and Yery High. The teacher
will not find it a very difficult thing to train chil-
dren to pitch their voices upon any key within their
Compass. For this purpose he may select vowel
sounds as a, o ; syllables as do^ ra; words as on^ one,
book; or suitable sentences. Li exercises like these
the teacher must first utter the sounds, that the
pupils may imitate him as he passes from one
degree of Pitch to another ; but in the end tlie
pupils must be able to give sounds or read sentences
with any degree of Pitch required without such aid.
It is an easy matter to arrange a list of sentences
which would be good examples for the kind of prac-
tice here insisted upon. The list should not only
contain sentences the sense of which would require
them to be read with different degrees of Pitch ;
but some in which a change of Pitch is required in
reading the same sentence.

Skill in reading depends greatly upon ability to
manage the Liflections of the voice, and nothing
but careful training c^n impart it. As in Pitch, the
teacher may use for his training exercises the ele-
mentary vocal sounds, letters, figures, words, the
syllables of the Diatonic Scale, or sentences adapted
to the purpose. An interesting mode of recitation
consists in arranging a series of sounds, letters,
figures, or words, in the form of questions and an-
swers, and allowing one portion of the class to put
the questions, and the other to give the answers.
The different kinds of Inflection are best illustrated
by means of sentences ; and these, too, furnish the


most effective drill. Some Elocutionists have ar-
ranged bars, like those used in Music, and placed
upon them certain marks indicating to the eye the
upward and downward slides of the voice. By
taking a simple sound or syllable, practice can be
had in inflecting the voice as readily as in running
up and down the Diatonic Scale.

Movement. — By the Movement of the voice is
meant the degree of rapidity with which sounds can
be uttered. It is a limitation in time. The degree
of rapidity with which sounds are uttered in read-
ing is called Eate. Closely connected with the
Movement of the voice is Pause. Pauses in reading
are suspensions of the voice for the purpose of
giving rest to the reader, or effect to the reading.

Words or syllables should not be uttered in that
stated measure which is heard in Music ; but it is
very evident that solemn discourse requires a Slow
Rate ; simple narrative, a Moderate Eate ; gay, glad
description, a Brisk Eate; and wild passion, a Eapid
Eate ; and it would be very much amiss to overlook
these facts in reading. The voice, then, should be
so trained as to be able to utter sounds rapidlj^ or
slowly at pleasure. Like a good musician, it should
be able to keep time whether it be quick or slow.
For the purpose of training his pupils to keep time
in reading, the teacher will find the drill exercises
used in Vocal Music to effect the same end, to be
very valuable. Pupils can be made to give the
Elementary Vocal Sounds, to count, to name the.
letters of the Alphabet, or repeat series of words in
quick or slow time, as the teacher may direct.


Numerous sentences can be selected wliicli require
to be read with the different degrees of Rate, and
should be made the subjects of frequent lessons.
With a class in which some pupils read too f^ist or
too slow, it is well occasionally to practice reading
in concert. If the teacher observe the proper rate
in leading the concert, the pupils will soon accustom
themselves to follow.

Two kinds of Pauses are to be noted in readino^.
The first are those indicated by the marks of Punc-
tuation ; the second are those required by the sense
but not indicated by the marks of Punctuation.
The latter are called Rhetorical Pauses. Both
require the same kind of vocal training. Pauses
enable the reader to supply himself with breath, to
rest his organs of speech, to make his delivery more
effective. The Pauses which are indicated by the
common marks of Punctuation must not be disre-
garded ; but all rules which direct pupils to pause
long enough at a Comma to count a certain number,
a certain additional number at a Semicolon, and
twice as many, perhaps, at a Period, are wholly arbi-
trary and serve only to confuse the pupil. Counting
may be done rapidly or slowly ; and, besides, since
the place and length of the Pauses depend altogether
upon the sense, a longer pause may be required at a
Comma in one place, than at a Period in another.
About the only successful mode in which a teacher
can train his pupils to make proper Pauses in read-
ing, is to present them correct models for imitation.
He may either select sentences or take the ordinary
reading-lessons, and then read each sentence slowly
and with due regard to all the Pauses, requiring the



pupils to follow, both singly and in concert, until
his end is gained. The melody of verse requires
certain Pauses in reading not used in prose. To
train his pupils to properly regard these in blank
verse as well as in that which is rhymed, and at the
same time to have them avoid all appearance of
sing-song tone, will demand great care on the part
of the teacher.

Quality. — The Quality of the voice is its capability
of uttering varied sounds. It is a limitation in kind,
and includes the manner of uttering all varieties of
vocal sounds. The particular Qualities of the voice
applied in reading, are called Tones. The Tones
are the language of the heart, and no department
of Modulation requires more delicate management.
It is by means of Tones in great part that Reading
and Speaking are made lively and interesting. The
sense of discourse can be conveyed by words, but
the feelings of an author can only be expressed in
the natural language of Tones. A reader or speaker
who would interest an audience must not utter
words coldly like a talking machine, but his manner
of utterance must indicate his personal sentiments.
His individuality must appear in what he says, and
this is impossible without the use of Tones. There
is a very great number of different Tones used in
reading, many of which can only be appreciated by
the ear, and cannot be expressed in words. Elocu-
tionists, however, have formed the following general
classes, viz.: Pure, Orotund, Aspirated, Guttural,
and Tremulous. Pure Tone is clear and smooth;
Orotund, deep, energetic, dignified ; Aspirated,
whispered; Guttural, harsh, growling, throat-


formed; Tremulous, irregular, plaintive. Ability
to use any one of these Tones at pleasure, or to
change readily from one to another is to some a gift
of nature ; but there are few, whatever faults of
Tone they, may have either -natural or acquired,
whose voices do not admit of great improvement by
judicious culture. Since the vocal organs are more
flexible in youth, than when older, teachers who
commence a course of training with their pupils, at
an early age, will find their efforts productive of
most fruit. Indeed, almost all that is then required
is to preserve their natui^al purity and sweetness of
Tone. N'o teacher who cannot himself utter sounds
in the different Tones must expect his pupils to
learn to do so. Children are generally apt imitators
of sounds ; but they cannot imitate what they do not
hear. If a teacher be able to use correctly the dif-
ferent Tones in reading, he can readily find means
of imparting the same power to his pupils. Any
sound, syllable, or word can be uttered in various
Tones. • It is said that certain Elocutionists could
make an audience laugh or weep, awaken their pity
or their indignation, by the mere recitation of the
letters of the Alphabet. In addition to this, every
teacher of Reading should collect numerous prose
sentences and stanzas of poetry, requiring a variety
of Tones in the reading, and adapted to the capaci-
ties of the pupils, and use them for purposes of drill.
Both teacher and pupils should have them com-
mitted to memory. The teacher should first utter
the sentence in the required Tone ; and then pa-
tiently aid the pupils in doing so. Much effort will
be required to remove faults of Tone which have


become habitual. Examples of Pure Tone should
first be practiced upon ; and, afterward, examples
of the other Tones. The exercises must be con-
tinued, until the pupils shall have acquired the
power of uttering sounds in any Tone when so

2. Method of Teaching Eeading as a Mental
Operation. — Skill in reading does not depend
wholly, or, perhaps, mainly, upon vocal culture. It
matters not how well the voice is trained, unless
there are intellects to think and hearts to feel, there
can be no good reading. The best instrument will
make poor music, if the performer be unskilful. If
ability to make and vary sounds constitute all the
requirements of good reading, a machine might
possibly be made to read.

As a mental operation, Eeading may either relate
to the intellectual part of the mind or to the emo-
tive part of it. Our discussion must, therefore,
embrace : 1st, Reading as related to the Intellect; and,
2d, Heading as related to the Amotions.

1st. Heading as related to the Intellect. — ITo one can
read well what he does not understand. Great
powers of imitation and a well-cultivated voice
would be quite as likely to make worse his reading
who attempted to read what he did not understand,
as to make it better. A parrot could never be
taught to read. School boys make sad work read-
ing Latin, until they come to appreciate the mean-
ing of the words they use and the sentiments they
utter. A person can read that which he has written


himself better tlian that which others have written,
because he more fully comprehends it. No one can
read a passage well who is not able to place him-
self in the position of its author, enter into his
spirit, see as he saw, and understand as he under-

In view of the fact above stated, a teacher should
never assign a reading-lesson to his pupils that they
are not able to comprehend. Sufficient attention is
not paid to this principle with any class of pupils ;
but no where is it so palpably violated as in the case
of children just learning to read. Reading-books
are frequently placed in their hands which contain
matter entirely beyond their comprehension. In
the great majority of our schools, the pupils are
using reading-books which are too difficult for them.
Many teachers, from a desire to gratify patrons, a
misdirected ambition, or a false standard of excel-
lence, advance their pupils into the higher numbers
of their series of reading-books at much too early an
age. The consequence is not only that they learn
little in reading that is of value, but they acquire
bad habits which it is scarcely possible to correct.
Reading-books for beginners should contain little
else than simple narrations and lively conversations
concerning objects in which they feel an interest.
Starting here, such books might so increase their
range of subjects and so add to the variety of their
style, as to adapt themselves to the pupils of any
age or degree of acquirement in learning. At pre-
sent, however, it must be confessed that reading-
books are not so much in fault as reading-teachers.

Teachers should make careful inquiry concerning



their pupils' knowledge of the subject-matter of the
reading-lesson. Pupils should be accustomed to
study the lesson with this prospect, and- the inqui-
ries should, in general, be made before tb,ey are per-
mitted to read. Teachers must be careful in the
reading, as in other lessons, to adapt their questions

Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 14 of 31)