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the special exercises for overcoming the wrong use of the speech organs can be begun.
Defective hearing (whether in the ear or in the brain) is responsible for much poor pronunciation. We do not pay sufficient attention to the sounds of letters or words when they are properly uttered. The pupil's attention must be called to the right sounds. Hence he must be told to listen attentively to correct pronunciation. The method of shaping the mouth for correct sound production should be shown as far as this is possible. This may need to be exaggerated to some extent in order to secure imitation by the pupil.
Although the knowledge of how to hold the hands and how to work the fingers will not make a good pianist, they are of some help. So also explanations as to the proper manipulations of lips and tongue may be of some use in teaching the production of good speech. The speech-correction teacher will need to use every device to secure right sound production, and even manipulation of the pupil's tongue or lips by means of a tongue depressor or special instrument has been resorted to in some cases. Patience and persistence will bring desired results. It must be remembered that an ounce of good example is worth a pound of talk.
Methods of Producing Sounds
Lip Sounds P: P is prepared for by pursing the lips lightly together, forcing the breath against them and then suddenly opening them with a "puff." A vowel sound is usually attached to the puff.
B: B is pronounced with similar preparation; the lips are not pursed as much but the breath is emitted through a broader opening. A vowel sound is attached in speech.
Lip-Teeth Sounds F: The breath is forced through the opening just as the lower lip is raised gently against the edges of the upper teeth and then withdrawn. When followed by a vowel the closure of the lips with the teeth is made first, the sound coming out as the lip is suddenly drawn down.
V: The letter is closely related to the preceding except that the sound is made only as the lower lip and upper teeth are separated. The lip is drawn slightly inward over the teeth.
Tongue Sounds T: T is a tongue-roof of the mouth burst of air introducing (in words) a vowel. The end of the tongue is placed broadly against the gums of the upper teeth (lips apart). The air is compressed in the mouth and let loose by suddenly removing the tongue from contact with the gums.
D: D is formed in much the same way, a slight change in the shape of the tongue as the air is expelled giving a heavier sound.
Th as in This. In pronouncing these letters F is usually substituted as "fink" for “think,” but sometimes S is used instead of th, as “sink.” The tongue is not
properly managed. This is a tongue-teeth sound. When correctly produced the tip of the tongue is placed between the teeth and the breath is forced through.
S: This hissing sound is produced without first compressing the air, this being forced through the nearly closed teeth with the lips somewhat apart. The hollowed tongue is lifted near the gums of the upper teeth.
Z: This is formed as is the S, but the teeth are brought slightly closer together and the tip of the tongue is held lower.
Sh: This sound is produced much after the manner of S but with a broader opening (flatter tongue) between the tongue and gums. The lips are slightly protruded.
Ch: The tongue is placed flatly across the hard palate just above the upper gums and the air pressure is raised in the mouth. The tongue is then suddenly lowered and the air discharged. A similar sound accompanies a sneeze.
J: This sound is produced in a manner similar to the Ch, but with a slightly different manipulation of the tongue.
L: This is very much of a tongue sound. The tip of the tongue is lifted to the roof of the mouth and the upper gums, while the air is forced through the mouth on either side of the tongue.
R: The tip of the tongue is raised toward the hard palate, its base being depressed. The air is forced through the mouth above and about the tongue.
Y: The lips are slightly protruded, the tongue is rounded, its tip being held loosely behind the lower teeth, and the air is forced through the lips, which are spread as they are retracted.
K and (hard C): The back of the tongue is raised against the soft palate and the air is suddenly forced through as the tongue is lowered.
G (hard): The sound is made similarly to K, the back being held somewhat lower.
Nasal Sounds M: A column of air is forced through the nose. The lips are kept closed.
N: The air is forced through the nose as above but the tip of the tongue is placed against the upper gums and the lips are kept open.
Ng: This sound is made in much the same manner as N except that the back of the tongue is raised against the soft palate. H: The mouth is opened, the tongue lies loosely in its floor, and the air is
, forced through
Vowel Sounds A as in Ale: The lips are well apart; the teeth are well separated; the sides of the tongue touch lightly the back upper teeth.
A as in Air: The lips and teeth are further separated and the tongue is held a trifle lower.
A in Mat: The mouth is opened wider than for the preceding sound as the letter is uttered.
A in Mar: The mouth is opened still wider for this sound than for A in mat. A in Awe: The lips are pointed to make a rounded opening, the tip of the tongue is lowered into the floor of the mouth and its base is raised somewhat.
E in Eel: The lips and teeth are held about as far apart as for A in ale. The tip of the tongue is against the lower gums but the body of the tongue is raised near the roof of the mouth.
E as in Net: This sound is made very much like long E but the mouth is opened wider.
I as in Mile: This made like long E above with the mouth still more open. I as in Bird (also e, o, and u in some words).
The jaws are brought closer together than for long I, the tongue being kept in about the same position. The lips are slightly protruded.
O as in Old: The lips are pointed with the tongue held low.
As regards vowel sounds the mouth is usually not opened wide enough. For consonants the tongue and lips are not sufficiently used.
Exercises with combinations of sounds.—The consonant sounds which are in need of correction should be practiced with each of the long vowel sounds as:
Th: Tha, the, thy, tho, thu, ath, eth, ith, oth, uth.
The same combinations can be made for the other consonants, and with the other sounds of the vowels.
Words for practice.-Words containing the difficult sounds should be practiced daily until readily uttered. Emphasis should be placed on the special letters:
Th as in think: Thane, theme, thin, thule, faith, fifth, breath, booth.
H: Hame, heap, high, hold, hung, hogshead, hard-headed, hedgehog.
U and 00: Boot, hoot, root, tool, rule, truth, cruel, duel, full, bull, pull, hood, wood, stood, would.
U: Bud, mud, hush, ruddy, drub, publish, blushing, sluggard.
Pupils can make up their own lists of words containing the sounds which they have difficulty in producing. The dictionary will be a help.
Readings and recitations.--For very young children Mother Goose furnishes good material for speech exercises of a nature which will not seem too much like work. The following classics are suggested: Little Bo-Peep; Little Boy Blue; Simple Simon; See-Saw Marjory Daw; Little Miss Muffet; Sing-a-Song of Sixpence; Jack and Jill; Hickory, Dickory, Dock.
School readers for the grades are a source from which to select.
On page 20 will be found examples of poems useful for older school children. They are worthy of being learned and recited for speech improvement (and for other reasons) by all of us. It is needless to say that the teacher should show the pupils how these are to be spoken and always with deliberation.
The exercises and games included under the next section are also valuable for use with classes of such speech-defective pupils as have just been considered. (See page 14.)
Helping the Stammerer and Stutterer
For the Teacher
Stammering and stuttering have been called "mental" or "nervous” faults. Both terms are correct if rightly interpreted. There is nothing purely mental about speech, for there is nothing purely mental about the processes which throw the machinery of speech into action. Speech does not go on apart from the nervous mechanisms through which it is produced. Fortunately for the stammerer, there is this physical basis for defective action, for it allows of a threefold assistance.
First.-The aid which comes through the medium of ideas (suggestion) which helps to reduce the useless turmoil in the brain (due to self-consciousness) with its resulting inappropriate or conflicting outflow of messages to the speech organs and elsewhere.
Second.--By the practice of appropriate daily speech drills, the working of those organs becomes more automatic and more likely to fulfil their tasks under circumstances in which they formerly did not work.
Third. --The speech of all of us is affected by health and the practice of any laws of hygiene which have been neglected will have its effect in helping the stammerer out of his Hades. Mere physical hygiene will not help much, but better food and more hours in bed plus a more hopeful mental outlook will pro duce better nutrition, sounder sleep, and a more stable nervous system, which last is what we are driving at. (We have already noted that in young children stammering has been checked by improved hygiene alone.) All of these means of aiding the pupil should be put forward at the same time.
Mental aid.—The child old enough to be fully aware of his defect should (a) be made conscious that poor speech is not uncommon and that hesitation and stammering, allied to his own difficulty, is of frequent occurrence in children when reciting in school and in older people who speak in public. It occurs especially with those who are “unprepared," who do not know just what they would say. The stammerer has, from an early time, had special difficulty in preparing his sentences. His difficulty has become worse by habit and fear of his own speech. It occurs especially with those who tend to hurry, as all but seasoned public speakers do. He learns from observation not only that "there are others" with a somewhat similar defect of utterance (though not so bad) and that the cause lies to a large extent in too much haste on the part of the speaker as well as in outer distractions. (b) The pupil should be made fully conscious that he does not always stammer or stutter, but that he, like the public speaker, is fluent enough under ordinary circumstances when there is nothing to cause him to put his ideas into words too hurriedly and without distraction; lest the pupil become easily discouraged he should (c) be led to expect that the overcoming of his difficulty will be a gradual process and that he will have his bad as well as better days.
The teacher must be a constant source of encouragement but make the pupil realize that, with all her helpfulness, he alone can bring about improvement. She should never mention such a thing as nervousness. Her first business is to get the pupil to relax his abnormal muscular tension; in other words, to be at ease.
Physical exercise. --The very thought of speech before others who are not wholly sympathetic causes in the stammerer a general discharge of nervous energy with a consequent tightening of muscles everywhere. Teachers of speech correction generally believe that a series of slow gymnastic exercises, introduced before the lesson in speech control, helps to relieve muscular tension and doubtless they have this effect to some extent. At least they distract the pupil's attention for the time from his speech and are an aid to the accompanying suggestion of relax ation. What the exercises are does not matter so much as that they are done slowly and evenly. The following movements will answer the purpose:
(a) Raise the arms (the elbow, wrist, and fingers held loosely) sideward slowly. Lower them slowly.
(b) Raise the arms forward. Lower the arms.