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WQR 19 FEB 36
THE author of these lessons always gives a hearty welcome to any text-book that bids fair to introduce the pupil to a knowledge of his mother-tongue in a pleasing way, that may perhaps beguile the child into a love of good literature and a respect for pure English. Books of this character are constantly increasing in number and attractiveness, and must necessarily do much toward the development of a sound national literary taste. A feast is being spread for the American youth of to-day that was undreamed of a half century ago. But there comes a time in the school life of each child when the drinking of nectar must be interrupted by a certain amount of real work in technical grammar, work so laborious that it is useless to attempt to deceive the pupil into the notion that he is still banqueting. Let us rather give him a keen relish for the work.
The exercises of the following pages have been prepared with the view of avoiding some of the things that have in the past contributed to make grammar unattractive. Their leading characteristic will be found in the fact that they are based upon the connected text of a classic. After reading this text and discussing with the teacher all difficult
points, the pupil will find in the succeeding exercises that every sentence is within his comprehension,
every sentence appeals to him because of its interesting associations. Two other very important provisions are made in this connection: first, the acquiring of vocabulary, without which fluent English is impossible; and second, the practice of speaking. Train the pupil to speak well, and you have laid the best possible foundation for satisfactory written composition. And just here more than at any other point the teacher must supplement the work of the text-book with the spirit of loving helpfulness. The child must be inspired with a desire to speak good English, to express himself with the greatest possible felicity. In the composition work, correcting papers and explaining mistakes is drudgery; but it must be done, and done thoroughly.
The author has endeavored to keep in mind two fundamental theses: first, that the exercises should afford a constant review of preceding principles, making special review lessons unnecessary; and second, that every sentence in an exercise should be thought-stimulating. An exercise is a failure unless it makes the pupil think, exercise his judgment.
requires him to
The following suggestions may be helpful to the teacher:
1. THE TEXT. Spare no pains in helping the pupil, first, to understand the text, and second, to enjoy it as literature. The reading of the text may take the regular place of
reading in the day's programme until the entire poem has been read.
2. ORAL LANGUAGE. The Exercise immediately following each portion of text is designed, first, to help the pupil to an appreciation of the literature, and second, to afford a drill in oral language. The skilful teacher, while not allowing careless habits of speech, will guard against frightening the pupil into an unnatural style by being too exacting.
Some of the questions are designed to assist the pupil in gaining a clear, definite picture of what is described in the text, as well as to afford the teacher an opportunity of testing the correctness of his conceptions. The pupil must be so trained that when he reads, for example, the description of a landscape, every detail shall stand out vivid and clearcut in his mental horizon. Nothing can be more fatal to the child's appreciation of literature than for him to be allowed to content himself with vague pictures which seem to be something, but are in reality nothing.
3. GRAMMAR EXERCISES. The author has made these quite numerous, believing that to master a principle the learner must meet it many times, and that his interest will be sustained if each time the principle is in a new dress. One element in each Exercise, therefore, is that of review. The sentences based upon new text illustrate both new principles and old; and not only does this serve the purpose of keeping the child "up" in his work all the time,