280 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
adults are due to functional errors in the development of the language during the period of infancy. If, for the attention which we pay to the correction of linguistic defects in children in the upper grades, we would substitute a direction of the development of the language while the child is still young, our results would be much more practical and valuable. In fact, many of the defects in pronunciation arise from the use of a dialect, and these it is almost impossible to correct after the period of childhood. They may, however, be most easily removed through the use of educational methods especially adapted to the perfecting of the language in little children.
We do not speak here of actual linguistic defects related to anatomical or physiological weaknesses, or to pathological facts which alter the function of the nervous system. I speak at present only of those irregularities which are due to a repetition of incorrect sounds, or to the imitation of imperfect pronunciation. Such defects may show themselves in the pronunciation of any one of the consonant sounds, and I can conceive of no more practical means for a methodical correction of speech defects than this exercise in pronunciation, which is a necessary part in learning the graphic language through my method. But such important questions deserve a chapter to themselves.
Turning directly to the method used in teaching writing, I may call attention to the fact that it is contained in the two periods already described. Such exercises have made it possible for the child to learn, and to fix, the muscular mechanism necessary to the proper holding of the pen, and to the making of the graphic signs. If he has exercised himself for a sufficiently long time in these exercises, he will be potentially ready to write all the