A few years ago we discoverd that our older daughter, a third grader at the time, was illiterate. We bought Hooked on Phonics to help us teach her how to read. That was an excellent beginning, but we believed she 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.
This time period began to make sense as the best time to learn to read as the people from that era as they became adults in the Victorian era became some of the best readers and writers of any time period in America.
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:
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. You probably got this for free, or at the most for $5 US. You can't beat that anywhere!
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.
I am scanning in many books from the 1800's. You'll be able to purchase them as they become available. They will be in electronic form with all details preserved.
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.