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years-in some schools even for 8 years—while German is usually the second modern language and is studied for
The object of modern language study in these secondary schools is not primarily to acquire a command of the spoken language, but to train the intellect and to enrich the mind of the student by introducing him to the literature of France and of Germany.
There is no prevailing method of language teaching in these secondary schools. Most of the teachers are progressive and have an excellent command of the language they teach. They follow a compromise method and endeavor to enliven their instruction by using the foreign tongue as the language of the classroom in giving directions and in connection with the reading. Translation is freely
. practised and special stress is laid, in the higher forms, upon translation into the foreign languages, since it is an important requirement in the college entrance examinations.
The National Board of Education has published Memoranda on the Teaching of Modern Languages in Secondary Schools which are an excellent compendium of points on method and which contain, in an appendix, the schemes of modern language work adopted in some selected schools combined with a brief description of the methods employed.
I visited, in all, eight secondary schools in and about London, and three of them were among these selected schools. All the schools I visited had four excellent features: (1) they laid stress on a good pronunciation and used sound-charts; (2) the work was properly graded; (3) the teachers had a good command of the foreign language; and (4) the classes were small, from 10 to 25 pupils.
The London County Secondary School, Halloway, may serve as an example of a good secondary board school. It offers a six years' course in French and a four years' course in German. For two years the main books used are Rippmann's First and second year French. In the third year the class is given easy connected texts and the elements of French grammar are systematically studied. In the fourth year Bruce's Grammaire Française is used as a textbook and Le Roi des Montagnes provides easy reading matter. In the fifth year the pupils begin to translate from English into French; they practise free composition and read Mademoiselle de La Seiglière. In the sixth year they continue the study of Bruce's Grammaire, they translate difficult English into French, and read L'Avare and Contes Choisis de Balzac. Other texts are used for rapid reading. All thru the course special attention is given to phonetics.
In the four years' German course the progress is very gradual. During the first two years Rippmann's First book in German and First German reader together with Guerber's Maerchen und Erzaehlungen are the books used. In the third year the class begins the systematic study of grammar from a book written in German (Kramer) and they read Germelshausen and Krambambuli. At this time they translate English prose into German. In the fourth year grammar and translation are continued, and much time is given to reproduction and free composition. The choice of texts is determined by the college entrance examination requirements, but nothing more difficult than the Freiherrn von Gemperlein is attempted. Occasionally the advanced pupils read Wilhelm Tell or Don Carlos.
In a fourth-year German class in this school (for boys) I observed the excellent teaching of Miss Goddard, the head teacher of the department. To give the pupils practise in the reproduction of a text read aloud to them, the teacher read a story: Bluechers Leben. The pupils repeated it sentence for sentence. Then the story was reviewed by means of questions and answers. New words and phrases were explained in German or English and were entered in a note book. The story was once more read by the teacher, and the class wrote as much of it as they could remember; some pupils succeeded in reproducing it almost verbatim.
In the same school I saw some excellent work in fourthyear French, in a reading class conducted entirely in French. Mr. Anthony, the teacher, came from the Perse School in Cambridge, which is famous for its work in the direct method of teaching languages. It was my good fortune, while visiting the Perse School, to attend the classes of both Mr. von Glehn and Monsieur Chouville who are among the leading direct methodists. They undoubtedly make a success of the method at the Perse school; but the majority of the teachers whom I had occasion to observe and to interview prefer a compromise, a middle method, and advocate the use of grammars which combine reading, oral practise, grammatical drill and translation exercises, such as Otto Siepman's German and French books. An excellent book on the direct method, the best in existence for beginners in secondary schools, is Ungoed’s: A first book in German, which the author, as I had an opportunity of seeing, uses with great success in the Acton County Grammar School, just outside of London.
I can not omit to mention that, while visiting Stratfordon-Avon, I found in King Edward's Grammar School the Montessori idea, of utilizing the play-instinct of children, applied to the teaching of French. It worked admirably with boys less than 12 years old, but became a caricature when they reached 15 years of age.
While I was in London I had the pleasure of meeting Professor John Adams, of the Teachers' College, Mr. Haywood, divisional inspector to the London County Council, Professor Walter Rippmann, the great advocate of phonetics, Mr. Claudesley Brereton, inspector of modern languages in the London Board Schools, and Dr. Karl Breul of Cambridge. It is largely owing to their kindness in giving me the benefit of their experience, that I gained a fairly accurate knowledge of the present state of modern language instruction in England, and particularly in London.
FRANCE In England the headmasters of the Board Schools have a great deal of liberty in planning the curriculums of their schools, and the teachers of languages are free to choose the methods best suited to their aims, and the inspectors, too, are liberal in their views regarding methods of teaching,
In France, instruction in all the public schools is absolutely and definitely organized by the central educational authority of the state. There can be no doubt of what is to be taught and how it is to be taught, for there are “plans d'études," and "instructions” which describe and prescribe in detail the subject matter and the method. Regarding modern language teaching, in particular, the “plans" and “programmes” and “instructions” are very minute and explicit; in fact twenty-four pages are devoted to the subject.
The direct method, evolved in Germany after Vietor had started the reform movement in 1882, was in 1902 officially adopted in France by decree of the Minister of Public Instruction. For the further enlightenment of teachers, additional instruction was given in 1908, and the general inspectors, J. Firmery and E. Hovelaque, explained the direct method and its application in three lectures, held at the Sorbonne in Paris.
The object of modern language teaching is defined as: “la possession effective de la langue," the acquisition of the language and the power to use it in speaking, reading and writing
On the basis of the official "instructions" a number of books have been written following the direct method, which are in their way most excellent, especially those by Schweitzer and Simonot, the pioneers in this field. The use of French in teaching a foreign language is not recommended in these books and there are many teachers who use only the direct method. The “instructions,” however, allow translation from the foreign tongue into French (version) and vice versa (thème) as a means of practising the acquired language rather than as a means of acquiring it.
When I visited schools in Boulogne, Amiens, Paris and Nancy, I was especially imprest by the fact that, altho the teachers seemed to have an excellent knowledge of the language they were teaching, the pronunciation of the pupils was uniformly poor. The reason apparently was that pronunciation was taught by imitation, and that no sound charts were used.
In the secondary schools for boys (collège; lycée) in which the subjects are grouped together into various courses, a pupil who continues his work for seven years, until he is 17 or 18 years of age, may pursue the study of the first modern foreign language for six years with four one-hour recitations a week—a seventh year with two recitations is optional-and may take up a second language for two years. The reading books are well graded and contain a wealth of well-chosen selections about the country, life, habits, history and literature of the foreign people. They are used even in the highest forms. Complete German texts are seldom read; the teachers prefer extracts, altho in English they use complete texts from the third year on. According to the “instructions” the six years of study are divided into three periods of two years each: in the first period the ear and tongue are to be trained and the pupils are to acquire the ability to speak the language in a simple fashion; the second period is mainly devoted to reading and in the third period writing and the study of “realia" are especially emphasized.
The plan looks very well on paper and is occasionally carried out successfully by gifted and enthusiastic teachers, but I doubt whether the rank and file of the teaching staff is able to give their pupils anything but a very moderate " possession effective de la langue.” The pupils I had occasion to observe did use the language with a certain readiness within rather too narrow limits. The younger pupils showed comparatively greater progress than the advanced ones, who seemed rather unresponsive. Many French teachers fret under the limitations imposed upon their teaching by the "instructions" and look with longing eyes at their colleagues across the Rhine who are much more free to use their own judgment in choosing their methods and devices. Some prominent teachers like A. Pinloche and Paul Rogues have voiced the sentiment of many of their more obscure associates. Pinloche's La Nouville Pédagogie des Langues Vivantés and Paul Rogues' Les langues vivantes dans les lycées allemands (Revue Universitaire,