Full-stops at the click of a tongue

28th March 1997 at 00:00
As a humble teacher trainee on a one-week observation at a primary school, I was invited to help some of our class with reading. "Particularly capitals and full-stops," I was told, "which they find impossible to grasp."

As requested, I began by reading the 12-line unpunctuated text out loud to my small groups, with neither breath nor pause, at a speedy monotone, to illustrate punctuation-free read-text.

They laughed or were perplexed. I explained the slightly familiar rules governing sentences and proper names, and invited them to identify, first the latter, together, then the more difficult sentences (to be "capitalised" and "full-stopped"), individually, with my help.

When they identified the sentences correctly, I "rewarded" them by not only reading the sentences out with rich expression (I am a trained actor from an earlier career), but also, a la Victor Borge, illustrating each full-stop with a click of the tongue - which they seemed to enjoy.

I mention this in support of the view set forward by Judith Graham of the Roehampton Institute (TES, March 7) in praise of John Sullivan's teacher, Mr Trowers, whose readings aloud both illuminated punctuation and grammar for him and gave him "Dickens fever", she tells us.

One footnote, however. The class teacher, subsequently reading a story out loud to the entire class, finally had to ask them to "stop making that clicking noise".

Hiding my head in embarrassment, I took a little comfort from the fact that, following the teacher's intonations, they were clicking in the right places, so they may even subsequently "click" in the right written places.

F G ROBINSON 5 Arundel Terrace Brighton.

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