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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/557

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THE SERIES METHOD.

It is not necessary that it should be anything astonishing or unusual. Let us consider with the pupils how one opens the classroom door. Let us ask the pupil in his mother tongue how he does it, carefully drawing his attention to the number of actions necessary to the accomplishment of our aim, such as walking, standing still, extending the arm, grasping the knob, etc., together with the resulting actions on the part of the door, opening, swinging, etc. We will then draw his attention to the words of activity, the verbs, and tell him he is going to learn those words in the new language—say German. We will now take the first verb necessary to the accomplishment of our aim, that of walking. We will say, while we walk, such sentences as "This is gehe," "See how I gehe," "My feet move when I gehe," etc. We do the same with each verb, always with its accompanying action. We will take the first four verbs of our subject, repeat them the first time with many explanatory phrases, the second time with fewer, the third and last time we shall simply repeat the verbs "gehe," "stehe still," "strecke aus," "fasse an," always with the actions. By this time the pupils will know these, they having heard each one at least seven times. We can now allow them to recite, we still giving the clew by the production of the appropriate action. Having taught these first four verbs, we are now ready for the full sentence "I walk toward the door," "I stand still by the door," "I reach out my arm," "I take hold of the knob." We can teach the subject "ich" without difficulty, as it remains the same in all the sentences. Let us take the nouns and teach in this manner: "Ich gehe"—pointing—"Thür," then a repetition of "Thür" contained in sentences describing it, with at least three repetitions of the word. Then come the words showing direction and relation. If you say "Ich gehe"—pointing—"Thür," the pupil will know that there is a word lacking, and he will be unsatisfied till he knows it. We now have a sentence, "Ich gehe nach der Thür." We will teach the other sentences in the same way; we will repeat each sentence at least three times in its entirety, and we will allow the pupils to recite. Here it is of interest to show the pupil that the sentence has sprung from the verb, that the verb is the germ of the sentence. Whether we do this with the words "verb," "sentence," "germ," must depend on the capacity of the class. It is not a question of words, but of ideas. Let us present our subject as a living thing. To supply the pupil with an old-fashioned grammar exercise is like inviting him to make a dinner off papier-maché joints and steaks.

All this time we have been considering the part of language which deals with the outside world. It is now time to consider how we shall present the part of language which deals with the inner life. We must make the pupil capable of expressing his states of