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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

294               THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

For the non-phonetic languages, something similar must con-
stitute the first step. Search was made first of all (for teaching
the English language) for a group of phonetic words, it being well
known that words of this kind always exist even in non-phonetic
languages. From among these were chosen all those which
could be built up on the basis of about twenty different sounds,
for it had been ascertained by experiment that this is about the
number of isolated sounds which can be distinguished clearly by
children between four and five years of age.

In trying to fix upon this definite number of words, we have
not had to trouble ourselves about any difficulties other than those
mentioned above, for the length of the word and the complications
of sounds which enter into it present no difficulty to the child. In
such early and fundamental research one needs only to interest
the child; and for that it is enough that the word should be phonetic
and that it should represent objects which are well known and
under the-eye. When this is done and interest in the written word
is awakened it will be possible to go on to succeeding difficulties,,
preparing groups of words according to the spelling used in the
language. In a word, one must proceed in the first instance with
the aim of rousing keen interest in reading, and afterwards the
way will be prepared for the long journey necessary to overcome
the various difficulties of spelling. Then arises the necessity for
research in grouping materially objects and words corresponding
to objects, making up a series of successive exercises. Until there
has been aroused in the child interest in difficulties themselves and
in the grouping of words which illustrate them the only tiling
necessary is a proper classification of words. This leads the
children to pure interest in reading words, as it is met with in
phonetic languages.

In England, in adopting this procedure for the English
language, it was found necessary to make small chests which, in
different drawers, contain groups of words chosen according to
some spelling difficulties, and groups of objects referring to them
(as in the divisions for classification).