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The importance of good training in oral English receives more ready recognition by educators to-day than ever it did before. With the revolt against mechanical and stilted elocution has come the realization that without skilful instruction and well directed practice, pupils cannot develop that "correctness and precision in the use of the mother tongue" which is one of the most apparent marks of an educated man.
The effectiveness of instruction in oral English, as in most other subjects, is greatly increased by the use of a practical text-book. It is the purpose of this volume to emphasize the value of training in oral English, that pupils may know from the outset for what they are working; to outline graded lessons in enunciation and pronunciation with illustrations enough for definite assignments without resorting to other sources; to indicate how the speaking voice may be improved by appropriate exercises and proper use; to explain and illustrate the most important principles of expression in a manner likely to impress High School pupils; to point out the relation of oral reading to conversation and public speaking; and to furnish appropriate selections which are unhackneyed, interesting and of literary merit.
The arrangement and scope of the lessons in enunciation and pronunciation will be of great assistance to teachers in helping pupils to overcome foreign accents, for the diagrams indicate the position of the vocal organs in producing each consonant sound, the sentences for drill give every consonant sound with all (or approximately all) its possible combinations with other consonants, the vowel sounds are described, copiously illustrated, and reviewed by lists of words to test the pupils' ability to recognize them, and words commonly mispronounced are classified according to the errors usually made in speaking them.
A special effort has been made to include good selections from the works of modern authors, and to secure variety by culling extracts from history, biography, science, essays, fiction, verse and the drama. The purpose has not been to compile a collection of "pieces to speak,” but, as many of the selections are well adapted to that purpose, the book will be useful to those desiring something new for public recitation. As short stories have a prominent place, the book will prove of service in literature classes when the short story and its treatment are discussed.
In preparing this volume I have been conscious of the great debt of gratitude I owe to my former instructors, and to specialists whose works have been helpful. It is impossible to give credit to whom credit is due in all cases, but I wish to acknowledge my especial indebtedness to Dr. Charles W. Emerson and Professor Charles W. Kidder of the Emerson College of Oratory, Boston, Mass., to Professor S. H. Clark of Chicago University, to Dr. Guy Carleton Lee of Johns Hopkins University, to Dr. Naomi Norsworthy and Professor Herbert Vaughn Abbott of Columbia University, to Emily M. Bishop, Arthur Edward Phillips and Samuel Arthur King.
Having chosen selections for this book from many sources, I desire to express my deep sense of obligation to the authors (or their representatives) and publishers for their generous and courteous permission to reprint selections protected by their copyrights. Acknowledgement of permission is made in connection with every such selection.
My sincere thanks are extended to Frederick H. Law, chairman of the department of English at Stuyvesant High School, for his kindness in criticising the manuscript.
WILLIAM PALMER SMITH. NEW YORK CITY, N. Y.