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he must be, or become, master of the subject, and secondly, he must teach German and French as living languages. My first admonition is to you teachers, the second is in behalf of our pupils. The direct system can serve the two purposes effectively: it brings forth a highly gratifying reaction both upon the teachers and upon the students. For that we have experimental data—as the psychologist would say. The scholarly conscience of the teachers is appealed to, as is also the psychology of those taught. Do not think that I am holding up before you a cheap panacea as a violent partisan in the reform of modern language teaching. I am not an efficiency expert, tho an advocate of expertness in education. But it is true that a direct-method procedure demands more of a teacher than the traditional grammar-translation mode. It will cause him to seek and to make improvement in conformity with the greater demands made upon him. This is no revolutionary change, but rather an evolutionary one, and absolutely imperative. The pupils, on the other hand, will then be truly taught, directed by real, live teachers instead of having to submit to detectives who hear lessons to catch culprits. The most important factor in the classroom will be the gain in inspiration, attention, interest, effort, and results. The multiple sense appeal draws into operation all the faculties needed for a real acquisition of a language. Hearing, speaking, reading, and writing all will have their place and all will contribute to the ultimate goal of learning the language. Literary reading, so frequently a farce, will then become a living reality, and a new world will be opened to eager students. My purpose here today is not unduly to extol or to magnify one particular device or system, but rather to stress the Direct Principle as Professor Hermann Almstedt has aptly chosen to call it, in Monatshefte für deutsche Sprache und Pädagogik, March, 1915
Thru long experience and close comradeship with Dr. Max Walter, I have become a firm believer in the direct principle which, while intangible, permits of improvement
and enrichment in its application. I, therefore, respectfully maintain that there are some fundamentals that ought to be followed everywhere. That is my conception of method, that it shows us the way, according to its etymology. For reaching the goal most effectively, we need devices which, however, are our personal property, arising primarily from own idiosyncrasies. Devices,
Devices, therefore, are wholly subjective but a method, as principle, is above the individual in its impersonality. When, then, Professor Charles H. Judd, in his most recent book Psychology of high school subjects, Ginn, 1915, asserts that “there is no single best method of teaching foreign (modern) languages” (for high schools), I protest it as an unproved assumption. I do this all the more cheerfully as the same psychologist in the preceding section speaks as follows: “Those who would teach students to master a language and have much time for instruction, tend toward the direct method. Those who are interested in the scientific(?) study of language emphasize analytical discussions and are skeptical of the direct method." The whole discussion of Professor Judd hinges upon these points: (1) The age of the pupils; (2) the length of the course; (3) the aim in view; (4) the preparation of the teacher. Judd would, I feel certain, recommend a direct method if a satisfactory uniformity in these four matters could be assured.
But do these conditions not already prevail homogeneously? Our high school beginners in a foreign language are usually from 13 to 14 years of age, hence comparatively young. They usually receive three or four years of training in the subject, which is a comparatively long period. The aim as stated before, is universally acknowledged to be a real reading knowledge, and the teachers, at least in the larger cities, are fairly well and uniformly prepared. Why should we anyway attempt to teach a modern language if we did not hope to have our pupils obtain a certain mastery in it? In fact, if teaching by the direct method did not accomplish anything else than infuse life in its various phases into a classroom as opposed to the dead formalism of
the old school, even on that ground alone I should urge its adoption or, at least, an honest, gradually extended trial. A plea for laissez-faire with its indifference, for superficiality with its slip-shodness, for vacillation will never bring about a reform. We can not solve a problem by waiting but by attacking it. The old Report of the Committee of Twelve has been revised by a new N. E. A. Committee of Twelve. In this, a direct method is held up as the one to follow in high schools. The reform in modern languages, started thirty-three years ago, has come to stay because it is sound, truly scientific. To make it a complete success everywhere in this country, we teachers must be the first ones to adapt ourselves to the new order. The adjustment to our new environment must come essentially from within and not from without. We should gladly avail ourselves of the many unusual opportunities here at hand, in order to perfect ourselves more and more. Need I mention the various summer schools, the numerous professional journals, the new practical publications? I forbear.
In the State of New York, the Department of Education is continually working on the problem of how to raise the efficiency of teachers. In fact, the State Commissioner of Education, Dr. John H. Finley, has taken a personal initiative in this important field of modern languages. We have, as you undoubtedly know, a highly centralized educational system.? To Dr. William R. Price are due in a large measure the immense improvements that have taken place of late in the instruction and in the examinations of modern languages. The most recent plan of the University of the State of New York is for the accrediting of teachers for the approval of oral work in modern languages. No doubt, you are familiar with the fact that the instructors of German, French and Spanish have the privilege of granting certificates for oral work to their pupils as a part of the written Regents' tests, at the end of the second, of
2 Cf. Carl A. Krause, Über die Reformmethode in Amerika, Marburg, 1914. Stechert or Scribner, N. Y., 40 c.
the third, and of the fourth years. This, of course, implies that the teachers themselves are properly certified. Both temporary and permanent approvals for oral work are issued by the State Department.
For 1916-1917 all holders of such approval must qualify under the new plan. All candidates for new approval or for approval in more advanced courses will be subject to the following regulations:
APPROVAL WITHOUT EXAMINATION (1) To any candidate who possesses the degree of M.A. (or a higher degree) with the modern language in question as the major subject and with a certificate from the college or university of proficiency in the oral use of the language; or who
(2) is a graduate of a college or university recognized by the Regents of the University of the State of New York, who, in addition to special work in school and college in the modern language, presents evidence that he has had from three to six months of resident study with specia attention to the oral use of the language in the country whose language is offered for approval, or other unusua opportunities of an equivalent nature to speak the foreign language and hear it spoken.
B. APPROVAL ON EXAMINATION A written and an oral examination will be offered for candidates who can not qualify under “A.” Only one written examination will be given in each language; this examination will be designed to test the candidate's practical knowledge of the language in question. All questions will be in the foreign language and all answers must be written in that language. A knowledge of phonetics, especially in French, is desirable (system of International Phonetic Association).
) Only those who pass the written examination will be admitted to the oral examination.
This whole plan worked out in detail by Dr. Price, is in accordance with the vigorous efforts made by Dr. Charles
F. Wheelock, Assistant Commissioner for Secondary Education, to have teachers licensed by subject. The great State of Michigan would make no mistake in following a similar scheme modified, of course, to suit the conditions and needs there.
In various states, as in Michigan, strong modern language organizations have been formed. They are doing noble work especially when they endeavor to raise the general level of teachers' training. Also sectional associations flourish, notably the New England Modern Language Association and the Association of Modern Language Teachers of the Middle States and Maryland, founded 1913. The latter is now carrying on one of the greatest modern language campaigns under the indefatigable leadership of Professor William A. Hervey, of Columbia University. 3 Two fields in particular are being minutely searched:
(1) College entrance requirements in German, French and Spanish, in the matter of including an Aural and Oral Test.
(2) The training of teachers capable of giving competent instruction.
Professor Hervey proposed his plan at Albany, N. Y., in 1913. His paper was published in the EDUCATIONAL REVIEW, September, 1914, under the title, How to test a practical command of French and German. That article is of the utmost importance. In it Hervey argues rightly that oral work is absolutely essential, and that it is equally necessary that this work be tested for entrance to college. He champions, therefore, the establishment of a supplementary elementary and of an intermediate oral test, which should consist (a) of a dictation exercise, (b) of written reproduction, and (c) of a fifteen-minute individual test.
All my previous remarks must of necessity have shown you two things: (1) That there is real need for the reform in
3 A committee of seven under the able guidance of Prof. A. R. Hohlfeld, Univ. of Wisconsin, has also been appointed by the M. L. A. A. to work on the second problem.