in Pedagogy

Hooked on Phonics

I was wondering what Quintilian meant when he said that children should begin with syllables (which sometimes just means ‘the alphabet’) but if this third century papyrus fragment from an educational manual is any indication, they really did study every possible syllable. (Source:

Syllables from a pedagogical papyrus.

Then I wondered: What about the possibility of using the rhythm of the hexameter to practice the quantities of vowels?

– ⏔ | – ⏔ | – ⏔ | – ⏔ | – ⏖ | – &#x00D7 ||

bā da da | bē de de | bī di di | bō do do | bū du du | bȳ dy
cā da da | cē de de | cī di di | cō do do | cū du du | cȳ dy
dā da da | dē de de | dī di di | dō do do | dū du du | dȳ dy
fā da da | fē de de | fī di di | fō do do | fū du du | fȳ dy

And so on. It could be a mouthful, but it could also really help to solidify proper pronunciation of individual sounds by divorcing them from the familiar contexts of students’ parent languages.