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Gift of the Publishers
That the child should focus his attention on a very few words at one time; that these words should have a definite meaning and utility to him; and that they should reappear in his writing and in his spelling lessons so that he cannot forget them—these are the main principles on which THE MERRILL SPELLER is built.
In the Third Year two words are selected for special study in each lesson, supplemented by four easier words. The number of words in a lesson is increased in the succeeding grades, but the same distinction is kept between the words presenting spelling difficulties and the secondary list of review words or relatively easy words.
It is primarily the teacher who must see that the children know the meaning of the word they study and that they use it correctly. In the text-book we can show the meaning of a word by its context in sentences, by grouping it with synonyms or words related in sense, and by directing the pupil to the dictionary.
Reviewing, not only throughout the grade but in the spelling lessons of later years, is essential to permanent mastery of difficult words. In this Speller the fifth lesson of each week is devoted to a review of the week's work, and a general review is provided four times a year. For further review, the more difficult words are carried from grade to grade for study in the secondary lists.
This Speller is a revision of the WORD AND SENTENCE Book by Mr. J. Ormond Wilson, long Superintendent of Public Schools in Washington, D. C. The book was a pioneer in many characteristics which are given prominence in the newest spellers. In revising the book, we have sought to make such additions and modifications as would bring it into harmony with the best modern courses of instruction. Shorter lessons, a closer grading of words, the elimination of words not now appropriate, and the use of a current vocabulary have given the book a completely new cast.
In selecting the vocabulary we have drawn chiefly from lists of words frequently misspelled and words that teachers in many different localities have selected for special drill. Webster's New International Dictionary, revision of 1910, has been used as the spelling authority.
The spelling lesson can and should be made interesting to the child. The words which he studies should take on an individuality, and the lessons here are aimed to contribute in various ways to this end. Busy work in the Third Year and similar activities in the later grades are suggested, and should form the basis of further development by the teacher. Class conversation and oral composition should grow out of the quotations in the lessons and out of the ideas suggested by the correlated words grouped in a lesson. The child's vocabulary, both spoken and written, can be steadily enriched through the spelling lessons.
Correct pronunciation is another by-product of the spelling lesson. This text-book gradually familiarizes the pupil with the chief diacritical marks used in the dictionaries, and provides exercises that illustrate typical errors in pronunciation. Careful enunciation is so important an aid to correct spelling that it should invariably have its place in the daily spelling lesson.
The use of the dictionary should be made a part of the regular work, so that the pupil will learn how to use it intelligently and will acquire the habit of turning to the dictionary whenever he is in doubt as to spelling, pronunciation, or meaning.
Critical suggestions from many educators have contributed largely to the merits of the Speller and their generous interest in it is gratefully acknowledged.
WHY SOME WORDS ARE DIFFICULT
The difficulty in spelling and pronouncing English words arises from the use of
(1) Silent letters.
Pupils should be drilled thoroughly on a few representative words, with a view to training the faculty and forming the habit of observing these peculiarities closely wherever found. Exercises in analyzing the spelling of a word, similar to the following, are valuable.
Cough (kof), c-o-u-g-h, is a difficult word because it has five letters and only three sounds; u is silent, and the sound of f is represented by the equivalent gh.
Ver' y, v-e-r-y; the spelling of this word is difficult to remember because most words similar in sound (ferry, berry, merry) have two r's; one r in very.
Cro quette' (kro kět'), c-r-o-q-u-e-t-t-e, is a difficult word because it has nine letters and only six sounds; the final t and e are silent; c in the first syllable and qu in the last syllable are each pronounced like k.
Sep' a rate, s-e-p-a-r-a-t-e, has eight letters and only seven sounds; e final is generally silent; the spelling of this word is difficult to remember because the sound of a in the second syllable is obscure; two a's in separate.
In applying the diacritical marks to combinations of letters representing a single elementary sound, it is customary to give the proper mark to the letter that is sounded, and regard the other letters of the combination as silent; thus: betspū' tỷ.