THE METHOD AND THE MATERIAL 285
of the time which would have been necessary with the old methods. We shall soon see that the child, on hearing the word, or on thinking of a word which he already knows, will see, with his mind's eye, all the letters, necessary to compose the word, arrange themselves. He will reproduce this vision with a facility most surprising to us. One day a little boy four years old, running alone about the terrace, was heard to repeat many times, " To make Zaira, I must have z-a-i-r-a." Another time, Professor Di Donato, in a visit to the " Children's House," pronounced his own name for a four-year-old child. The child was composing the name, using small letters and making it all one word, and had begun thus — diton. The professor at once pronounced the word more distinctly ; di do nato, whereupon the child, without scattering the letters, picked up the syllable to and placed it to one side, putting do in the empty space. He then placed an a after the n, and, taking up the to which he had put aside, completed the word with it. This made it evident that the child, when the word was pronounced more clearly, understood that the syllable to did not belong at that place in the word, realised that it belonged at the end of the word, and therefore placed it aside until he should need it. This was most surprising in a child of four years, and amazed all of those present. It can be explained by the clear and, at the same time, complex vision of the signs which the child must have, if he is to form a word which he hears spoken. This extraordinary act was largely due to the orderly mentality which the child had acquired through repeated spontaneous exercises tending to develop his intelligence.
These three periods contain the entire method for the acquisition of written language. The significance of such