Learning to read (English) with Phonics
A few years ago we were homeschooling our "kids". We bought Hooked on Phonics to help us teach them how to read. That was an excellent beginning, but we believed they needed more.
We began to look at school books from the early 1800's to the present, and soon found that the books from the 1840's to the 1850's were the best. They included phonics rules for all of the letter combinations including the silent letters.
Adults in the Victorian era were some of the best readers and writers of any time period in America. They went to school in the 1830s to 1850s or so.
What you see here is the beginning of the sharing of this vital information with you.
This phonics program can be a great help to you if you're learning to read english as a second (or third or whatever) language.
Joke: What do you call someone who understands 2 languages? Bilingual.
What do you call someone who understands 3 languages? Trilingual.
What do you call someone who understands just one language? An American. (I am a 12th generation American, so I think I can get away with telling this.)
I have omitted accent and pronounciation marks that were included in the initial texts for three reasons:
1. Some of the marks used in the 1800's are not the same as used in dictionaries today, and would confuse the student.
2. Students anywhere can look in whatever dictionary they have in the front or the back to find the marks used in their particular dictionary.
3. HTML can't easily reproduce the required marks.
There are other good phonics programs on tape and with flash cards, and I highly recommend them. Prices range from $20 to over a hundred dollars US. What you are getting here is free to use, print out, etc. I just ask that you aske permission if you are going to publish it.
I could have included sound files and made this work with your sound card, but chose not to. This way readers and non readers can team up and use this together. You won't be tortured by my northern Vermont accent, and will probably understand the voice of the person with an accent you're used to better.
Once readers-to-be have mastered the basics, they won't need much help anyway. Using this and a good dictionary they will be able to figure out most of the rest on their own.
You might notice some words in this you've never heard of before. So did I. I have a collection of dictionaries dating from the present back to the mid 1800's. I had to consult the older ones to ascertain the meaning of some of the words used. You might like to start watching flea markets and yard sales for old dictionaries. The things you learn will be fascinating.
Introduction to an 1884 book on teaching language.
The following is the preface from Watson's Graphic Speller.
QUICKSANDS are too generally the sites, and perishable props the supports, upon which educational edifices are erected. Educators fail to recognize the fact that Language is the granite upon which to build, and that the spelling-book is the substructure of schooling. The simple apprehension of facts or relations which constitutes knowledge should be augmented by formulating and using these facts or relations.
Probably the educational period of greatest interest, promise, and peril, is the first seven years of schooling. At its beginning, the intelligent youth of proper age, curious, inquisitive, observant, imitative, and enthusiastic, has no mean vocabulary, no inconsiderable knowledge of surrounding objects. Then it is as needful to provide the right facts for his normal mental growth as to supply fit food for his bodily growth. These facts must be few, simple, interesting, grateful, suggestive, and practical. They should mainly involve the simultaneous use of both mind and body, that they may be wrought into the life. It goes well-nigh without saying that "Things that have to be done should be learned by doing them."
In teaching spelling rightly, the sounds of the letters and their names must be used, the exercises must be both oral and written, and the lessons and methods strictly educational. AS FORM is most exercised, and as spelling is essentially a part of writing, the learner must devote himself to whatever is most effective in training the eye and the hand to the formation of words in written characters.
THE GRAPHIC SPELLER is calculated for the educational period designated, and it is an exponent of the above views. The Introduction gives the necessary instruction and exercises in the elements of spelling and pronunciation, the kinds of words, parts of speech, and lines and figures. The importance of Slate Work in connection with Drawing, Writing, Sounds, and Spelling, here receives a practical recognition not heretofore accorded it. Complete courses of exercises in the elements of drawing and writing, on a uniform scale, are first given, followed by numerous vignettes, copies for writing and printing, and pages of written exercises, which constitute a progressive, practical, and comprehensive system.
THE VOCABUlARY contains more than 6000 of the most useful and desirable words, so graded and classified with regard to topic, use, sound, form, and length, as to add to the beauty of the page and save one third of the space. The Lessons are short and strictly consecutive. They relate to man's body, food, dress, home, life, mind, training, business, physical state, schooling, religion, etc. Dictation Reviews are invariably given. They contain essential definitions and discriminations, aptly illustrate the best use of the words, and test the spelling. Pronounciation receives unexampled provision. The powers of the letters are taught in the Introduction, ten pages of Slate Work are devoted to special drill, all lists of words are classed with reference to their rounds, and marked letters and accents are used everywhere.
LANGUAGE LESSONs are introduced at fit intervals, suited to the progress of the pupil, and consonant with his natural desires and spontaneous efforts. Without needless technicalities, they give a practical knowledge of the parts of speech, phrases, clauses, and sentences, and many of their uses in English composition. They supply observations, facts, and applications which naturally precede the formal study of grammar.
The Appendix contains the Rules for Spelling, Capital Letters, Punctuation Marks, Abbreviations, and illustrative Dictation Exercises.
That this little book may give a new impulse to the study of our native tongue, and exert salutary disciplinary effects by its congenial exercises, is the wish of the author.
NEW YORK, September, 1884.
Silent letters are those which do not represent any element; and they must not be sounded in the pronounciation of the words in which they occur.
1. E final is usually silent; as in brave, crime, drone, abide, become, improve; able, marble, Bible. 2. E is often silent before d; as in bribed, changed, hedged; cradled, handled, struggled. 3. E is often silent before l; as in drivel, grovel, hazel, shovel, swivel, weasel.
4. E is often silent before n; as in garden, hidden, kitten, lighten, spoken, taken. 5. I is sometimes silent before l; as in evil, weevil. 6. I is sometimes silent before n, as in basin, cousin, reisin.
7. O is sometimes silent before n, as in bacon, deacon, mason, pardon, reason, weapon. 8. B is silent after m and before t; as in comb, climb, dumb, jamb, lamb, tomb; debt, doubt; subtle. 9. C is silent in czar, and muscle, and before k and t and s; as in back, crack, lock; indict, victuals, scene, scythe, scepter.
10. D id silent in Wednesday, standtholder, and before g in the same syllable; as in badge, fadge, dodge. 11. G is silent before m and n, and sometimes before l; as in phlegm, diaphragm; gnat, feign, consign; intaglio, seraglio. 12. H is silent in heir, herb, honest; and after g or r; at the end of a word and preceded by a vocal; and sometimes after t; as in ghastly, gherkin, ghostly; rheum, rhyme, myrrh; ah, oh, halleluiah; isthmus.
13. K is always silent before n; as in knave, knee, knife, knob, known, knew.
Substitute Letter Rules:
What is a substitute? What demented person invented substitutes to drive us crazy?
It appears the table of substitutes for many spelling combinations doesn't so much give rules as it just informs the student of the possible combinations. Once they are aware there may be a different spelling for a word such as, ph = f as in phrase, the student should at least realize there may be a different spelling other than "f", and then look up the word in the dictionary to see which is correct. Eventually they will begin to remember the correct spellings. Below is a list of letters frequently used as substitutes to represent several of the elements as given in the first table. The learner should first name the substitute, next the element it represents, and then the example in which it is combined. Thus, ei is a substitute for a (long a) as in the word vein, and so forth. ei = a as in vein
ey = a as in they
e = a as in sergeant
ou = a as in bought
i = e as in marine
a = e as in any ai = e as in said
u = e as in bury
y = i as in spy
y = i as in hymn
e = i as in english
ee = i as in been o = i as in women
u = i as in busy
ew = o as in sew
eau = o as in beau
au = o as in hautboy
a = o as in what ew = u as in new
iew = u as in view
io = u as in nation
eo = u as in surgeon
y = u as in Myrtle
e = u as in her i = u as in sir
o = u as in son
oo = u as in blood
o = u as in wolf
oo = u as in wool
ow = ou as in now
u = w as in persuasion
o = wu as in one
i = y as in onion
u = yu as inuse
ph = f as in phrase
gh = f as in laugh
d = j as in soldier
g = j as in gem
c = k as in cat
ch = k as in chord
gh = k as in hough
q = k as in quart
c = s as in cent
f = v as in of
ph = v as in Stephen
c = z as in suffice
s = z as in his
x = x as in xanthus x = ks as in wax
cho = kw as in choir
n = ng as in anger
c = sh as in ocean
s = sh as in sure
ch = sh as in chaise
t = sh as in notion g = zh as in rouge
s = zh as in osier
x = gz as in exact
Table of Combinations of the Substitutes:
In this table the substitutes are combined in words which you may pronounce, point out the substitutes, and give the elements for which they stand. 1. Vein, feint, deign; they, prey, survey, obey; oft, for, nor, cord; cough, trough, bought, ought; marine, police, fatugue; any, many; said, again. 2. Bury, buried, burial; spy, fly, type, tyrant; hymn, hysteric, hypocrite; English, Englishman, England; been; women; busy, busily, business; sew, shew, shewn. 3. Beau, bateau; hautboy, hauteur, hautgout; what, wad, squad, squander; mew, pew, dew; view, purview, interview; nation, passion, religion.
4. Luncheon, pigeon, surgeon; myrtle, myrmidon, myrrh; her, herd, perch; sir, stir, fir, bird; son, won, love; blood, flood; wolf, wolfish, wolverine. 5. Wool, wood, stood, how, owl, bower; suasion, suavity, suaviter; one, once; onion, valiant, collier; union, figure, stature; phrase, cipher, graphic. 6. Laugh, tough, enough; soldier, soldier-like; gem, ginger, gypsum; cat, scope, arc; chord, scholar, monarch; hough, lough, shough; quart, quibble.
7. Cent, dice, facile; of; Stephen; suffice, sacrifice, sice, discern; his, prism, usurper; Xanthus, xiphoid, xanthid; wax, axis, expanse. 8. Choir, choir-service; anger, languidly; ocean, social, specious; sure, sugar, pension; chaise, chamois, machine; notion, partial, patient; bastion, question, christian; osier, crosier, usual; exact, example, exist. 9. Ed is often used as a substitute for t; as in placed, mixed, vexed, looked, stopped, rebuked.
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