It is intended and suggested that this study should be pursued in connection with, and as a supplement to, a good standard dictionary. Fifteen minutes a day devoted to this subject, in the manner outlined, will do more to improve and enlarge the vocabulary than an hour spent in desultory reading.
There is no better way in which to develop the mental qualities of clearness, accuracy, and precision, and to improve and enlarge the intellectual powers generally, than by regular and painstaking study of judiciously selected phrases and literary expressions.
First examine the book in a general way to grasp its character, scope, and purpose. Carefully note the following plan of classification of the various kinds of phrases, and choose for initial study a section which you think will be of the most immediate value to you.
I. Useful phrases
II. Significant phrases
iii. Felicitous phrases
IV. Impressive phrases
V. Prepositional phrases
VI. Business phrases
VII. Literary expressions
VIII. Striking similes
IX. Conversational phrases
X. Public speaking phrases
XI. Miscellaneous phrases
There are many advantages in keeping before you a definite purpose in your study of this book. A well-defined plan will act as an incentive to regular and systematic effort, and incidentally develop your power of concentration.
It is desirable that you set apart a certain convenient time each day for this study. Regularity tends to produce maximum results. As you progress with this work your interest will be quickened and you will realize the desirability of giving more and more time to this important subject.
When you have chosen a section of the book which particularly appeals to you, begin your actual study by reading the phrases aloud. Read them slowly and understandingly. This tends to impress them more deeply upon your mind, and is in itself one of the best and most practical ways of acquiring a large and varied vocabulary. Moreover, the practise of fitting words to the mouth rapidly develops fluency and facility of speech.
Few persons realize the great value of reading aloud. Many of the foremost English stylists devoted a certain period regularly to this practise. Cardinal Newman read aloud each day a chapter from Cicero as a means of developing his ear for sentence-rhythm. Rufus Choate, in order to increase his command of language, and to avoid sinking into mere empty fluency, read aloud daily, during a large part of his life, a page or more from some great English author. As a writer has said, “The practise of storing the mind with choice passages from the best prose writers and poets, and thus flavoring it with the essence of good literatures, is one which is commended both by the best teachers and by the example of some of the most celebrated orators, who have adopted it with signal success.”