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tation : afterwards, in order to accustom them to the right expressions of which the form will have been pointed out, it will be advisable to multiply examples, and make them repeat and analyze them. And what measure are we to observe with regard to the rules of language? Rules are always dry, abstract, and ill calculated to allure children, even if within their comprehension. We ought then to be very chary of them, to suppress all those which are either useless or unintelligible to them, as well as those which only refer to minutiæ that may be incidentally touched upon without any pedantic phraseology in a course of instruction in which the pupils are continually called upon to speak. Let us remember that a multitude of examples, repeated and analyzed, will form the best code of language, because it embodies in practice the rules which another method would only drily lay down.
4. Continuation. Nevertheless, in spite of these continual exercises, teaching still is not practical enough. It will become so when the teacher, from beginning to end, will require of his scholars, in their turn, to invent something analogous to the lesson they receive: at first, only an adjective, a noun, or a verb; next a simple, a compound, and a complex proposition; then phrases of all kinds, in measure as they are developed in the graduated syntax. In the other parts of instruction in language, the pupils will also be called upon to originate after the example set them by the book or the teacher. These compositions will be not only spoken but written ; and the latter will be carefully corrected both as to diction and orthography.
But hitherto we shall have had only fragments of composition, for by these we must begin. Afterwards we shall advance to compositions properly so called, and the teacher will give the theme. Thus, everything will be measured by the growing capacity of the pupils, and by the wants that will await them in after-life; and in this manner we shall give the finishing touch to our practical course of instruction in the mother-tongue.
Harmony between the different Parts of Instruction.
Regular instruction in language, if complete, will be composed of four separate parts; syntax, conjugation, vocabulary, and composition. Each has its particular province, and its special object.
Syntax begins by the simplest combination, that of the
noun, the article, and the adjective; thence it gradually rises to the most comprehensive complicated phrase. Its intention is, first, to make children understand the meaning of these progressive combinations, and then to enable them to imitate these combinations advisedly, whether in speaking or writing. Syntax is the foundation of regular instruction in language.
Exercises in conjugation join on to it immediately, as an integral part. Syntax, having to attend to construction, cannot, without breaking the thread of its lessons, enter into all the details required by the irregular conjugation of our verbs, and yet it cannot advance a step without their aid.
On the other hand, propositions and phrases are not always of such a nature as to allow of being declined through all the different persons and tenses of the verb. Therefore, an attempt to amalgamate syntax and conjugation is injurious to both ; in my first school I taught them separately, whilst I made them advance side by side ; and though in my Grammaire des Campagnes, published in 1821, for the use of the rural schools of my country, I departed from this principle for the sake of brevity and simplicity, I did so with reluctance, for I continually felt the imperfection of my work.
Though syntax and exercises in conjunction should be separated, yet they must advance in unison. Syntax must have the pre-eminence, and conjugation be subordinate to it.
Its uses are various : sometimes it will prepare the verbs which syntax requires for its graduated sentences; sometimes it will avail itself of these sentences for the purpose of conjugating the verb through the persons and tenses, and will thus give children the habit of expressing themselves readily and accurately.
Our pupils always conjugate by propositions or phrases,
and never the verb alone. Syntax requires this, and conjugation also gains by it; for the different forms of the verb thus acquire their full meaning, which they never can have when standing alone.
distasteful than those dry and endless PARADYGMS, with which the memories of children are overloaded, as if for the very purpose of tormenting them? Assuredly these wretched skeletons must be cast aside. Only make young pupils conjugate such and such tenses of the verb, first by propositions, then by phrases, and you will see them take pleasure in the lesson, because they will have a thought to work upon, and will see an object in what they are doing.
Vocabulary is called upon to supply syntax and conjugation with new materials, and amongst others with the synonymes which are placed at the end of its series. Derivation must occupy the first part of it, in order to give an air of clanship to the words, and to afford access to many by means of one. Consequently, this vocabulary is not alphabetical, but it classes words according to their derivation. Homonymes and homographs will also have a place in it; the former, in order to obviate mistakes in writing, the latter, in order to point out the various meanings of a word which may to the eye and ear be unchanged. Vocabulary is, then, an integral part of instruction, inasmuch as it furnishes syntax and conjugation with the materials they require. Nevertheless, as we must draw from each separate means of instruction, all the advantages it can afford, we ask, in the name of Didactics, that pupils should be called upon to contribute their mite towards vocabulary, and to use their utmost endeavours to enlarge it. Moreover, they should be invited to introduce each new word into a proposition, or a phrase of their own. Thus the teacher will discover whether they rightly understand its meaning, and may rectify any misapprehension. Besides, he, as their guide, must compose in his turn, in order to give as it were the tone which his pupils should adopt. This will be a great assistance to them, nor will they fail to avail themselves of it, for children are mimics, and analogy is their rule. It is needless to add that this
vocabulary will be entirely practical, and that, while it gives a helping hand to syntax and conjugation, by furnishing them with materials, it receives in return their assistance in its exercises, and thus becomes something better than a mere dictionary.
Compositions, properly so called, will come later in our course of language; for our pupils must previously have acquired ideas, a certain degree of intellectual developement, and of correctness in expression and writing. If we forestall we shall only cause embarrassment and disappointment. Now syntax may be divided into three principal sections; syntax of the proposition, of the phrase of two propositions, and of the phrase of many propositions. As a connected text may be formed merely of propositions, the first section will end with compositions in this style ; and direct instruction will furnish some. They will serve, at the same time, as an abstract of this syntax, and as models for the essays of the pupils. Afterwards, composition in phrases will be combined with the second section, and will expand with it.
We do not assign a separate department to orthography and punctuation, for this obvious reason, that they must be taught throughout our whole course, which undertakes to teach our pupils to write correctly all that they speak, and exercises them continually in this practice. Rules of orthography belong decidedly to syntax and conjugation, and vocabulary, which treats of derivation and homonymes, must supply its practice; but as this is so irregular, so capricious and difficult to acquire, it must be attended to in the two other branches also. Now this is easily done by frequent exercises in spelling by heart, which will also prove an advantage to vocabulary. At first, spelling will extend to a great many words, but its compass dually circumscribed in measure, as the master will see its good result in the written exercises of his pupils.
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A Sketch of my Course of Instruction in the Mother-Tongue,
and some Explanatory Observations upon it.
The instruction which I finally established in my school has already been cursorily alluded to in the last chapter; but I shall now add some further developements of it, in order to have an opportunity of assigning my reasons for the plan I adopted. I shall at present consider instruction in language solely in a grammatical point of view; but every thinking reader will perceive that such a system of teaching, from its vast and progressive form, as well as from the exercises connected with it, must prove a course of mental gymnatics adapted at once to the wants and to the capacity of childhood.
It would here be both tedious and useless to enter into all its details, but what I mention will imply what I omit; so I shall only give partial sketches, together with a synoptical table of the whole plan.
Syntax forms the principal part of regular instruction in language, for its province is to combine words for the expression of thoughts. Vocabulary and Conjugation are enlisted in its service : the former supplies the words of which it composes its propositions and phrases*; the latter gives the different forms of the most important word, the verb; and its modifications to express persons, times, and moods, or the particular variations which
convey certainty, doubt, desire, &c. On the other hand, Syntax prepares the elements for every kind and variety of composition, since all are formed out of propositions and phrases. Consequently Syntax is the object of Vocabulary and Conjugation, as well as the source from whence composition derives materials for its work; and on syntax, therefore, must be bestowed the greatest attention in any
* The word phrase is used by the author to denote a passage made up of a series of propositions.