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THE editors of this volume have tried to choose from both English and American prose writers and poets such entire selections or complete units as will interest pupils. Modern experience shows increasingly the difficulty of developing a love for literature through what is disliked. If the experience of the editors with their own classes is any basis for prediction, these selections will make pupils wish to read more from the same authors and from others that resemble them.
Enjoyment of literature is a progressive art, gradually developed like other arts, hence these selections are not arranged in chronological order. They begin with a simple, humorous prose story and end with Milton's poetry.
The taste for poetry is often an acquired one, but experience has taught the editors that by starting with the right selections a lasting love of poetry can be developed. Teachers should encourage pupils to memorize at least parts of the poems in this volume and to read all of them aloud. Former pupils have often taken the trouble to say to the editors that memorizing and reading aloud certain poems resulted in an increased liking for poetry. Matthew Arnold has truly said that we ought “to have always in mind lines and expressions from the great masters and apply them as a touchstone to other poetry.” Such touchstones from the masters will be found in this volume.
An endeavor is made to stress the social side of English, the side that appeals to everyday human needs and interests. Social discussion ought to be as natural as breathing, after
the class have read Kipling's The Law of the Jungle, O. Henry's The Chaparral Prince, Thomas Hardy's The Three Strangers, Lincoln's Letter to General Joseph Hooker, Huxley's The Game of Life, or any of the other selections, whether prose or poetry. The “Study Hints” of the several groups of lyrics, for instance, are given so as to make them a social exercise. It is hoped that both teacher and pupil will take pleasure in entertaining the entire class with oral reproduction or expressive reading of some of the books indicated in the "Suggested Readings” which follow each selection or group. Oral English is commonly social English, and this entire book calls for a social interchange of opinion on every author read. (See pages 6, 7.)
These Readings are also planned to supplement the work in composition and rhetoric, since they present the four principles of discourse and suggest definite practice in those forms of expression necessary in actual life. The "Oral and Written English " is based on the accompanying prose selections. The literature and composition courses may, however, be separated if so desired.
While the great classic English authors are well represented in these selections, the new tendency not to neglect modern writers is recognized. Permission has accordingly been secured to use copyright material from such writers as Rudyard Kipling, O. Henry, Alfred Noyes, John Masefield, William Butler Yeats, James Whitcomb Riley, Joel Chandler Harris, Helen Keller, and from many others to whom acknowledgment is made in a footnote on the first page of their selections.
R. P. H.
PRACTICE IN ORAL AND WRITTEN
PUPILS should be required to practice the use of oral English every day. They should relate definitely something that they have seen, heard, or read. The walk to or from school, each ride in a street car, every conversation with a friend, all recitations in school, the news of the day, every page read in a book or a magazine, every subject that needs brief argument or longer debate, all experience with work or play, will furnish enough material for a number of connected oral sentences. The business of life, as a rule, requires not lengthy oral or written compositions but readiness and definiteness in dealing briefly with the matter in hand.
Oral English requires a readier vocabulary than written English. A vocabulary never drops down like manna from heaven. Words and their meanings must be learned. Careful reading of the selections in this book and rigorous use of the dictionary for every word not intimately known will add materially to the vocabulary of the pupil.
Words entirely unused have little value. The pupil must have daily practice in employing the words that he has learned. Their oral use affords the readiest practice. Every pupil should keep a notebook in which he may write words with which he is not well acquainted. He should frequently consult this list to see if he remembers having actually used them. The teacher should have the pupil use intelligently the words in the vocabulary under “Study Hints.”
All persons have an active and a semi-passive vocabulary. Words actually used in speaking and writing constitute the