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past. Abounding life in the present is the indispen- 
sable prerequisite to a decent apprehension of the 
life of the classic past, to that constant, inevitable, 
instantaneous and correct association of the life of 
the past with the life of the present that, more than 
anything else, can vivify the teaching of the Classics 
and make that teaching worth while. The main- 
tenance of Latin in its rightful place depends, there- 
fore, let it be said again in closing, upon us, teachers 
of the Classics. We can discharge that high mission 
by being men and women worth while, unshakably 
convinced of the value of our task, of the importance 
of our work to our pupils and to the world, and by 
preparing ourselves in every possible way, through 
our lives and our studies both, as we "press toward 
the mark for the prize of our high calling". 

C. K. 



When the modern languages first became a regu- 
lar subject for serious study in secondary schools 
it was natural that teachers, having no other model 
to imitate, should adopt the time-honored plan fol- 
lowed in the department of Greek and Latin. Ac- 
cording to this method the pupil is first put through 
a volume of paradigms, rules, exceptions, and ex- 
amples which he learns by heart. Only when he has 
thoroughly mastered this book is he allowed to 
read ; and even then his reading is usually regarded 
as a means of illustrating and emphasizing gram- 
matical principles, rather than as a source of in- 
spiration or of literary education. The amount of 
foreign literature studied by the class is, moreover, 
extremely small ; but it is all carefully analyzed 

1 Following the plan outlined in 6.33,42,50, we present a 
part of the Report of the Committee of Twelve of the 
Modern Language Association of America (printed as Chap- 
ter XXVI of the Report of the United States Commissioner 
of Education for 1897-1898: published separately by D. C. 
Heath and Co.: price 16 cents). The Report was submitted 
in December, 1898, and was adopted a year later. In The 
Classical Weekly 6.53 Professor C. H. Grandgent, of Har- 
vard University, in a letter written in October last, said of 
this Report, "I wrote the part descriptive of methods and 
have seen no reason to change my opinions since then". 
Reference may be made here to a paper by Professor Grand- 
gent, Is Modern Language Teaching a Failure? (The School 
Review for 1907, 15.513-534), in which he characterized the 
current teaching of Modern Languages as distinctly inferior 
to the current teaching of the Classics: see The Classical 
Weekly 4.74-77,82-85. It seems desirable to reproduce here, 
as fully as possible, the Sections of the Report (III-IV) 
which deal with methods: our readers will make for them- 
selves application of those Sections to the teaching of Latin 
and Greek. I have diligently listened to those who advocate 
the use of the Direct Method in the teaching of Latin and 
have read their writings, but nowhere have I heard or seen 
as clear a presentation of the Natural Method or the Oral 
Method or the Conversational Method or the Direct Method 
(all these names are in indiscriminate use: see e. g. The 
Classical Weekly 6.33,34) as applied to Latin as Professor 
Grandgent set forth fourteen years ago, in dealing with the 
Modern Languages. Teachers of the Classics must, as soon 
as possible, sound the depths of the Direct Method, to de- 
termine whether they will use it at all; it is of the first 
importance, then, to have a right understanding of the 
method, not only of its merits, but also of its weaknesses; 
one can hardly expect the ardent devotees of the Direct 
Method to indicate its defects and dangers, 

and translated, every lesson being, in general, re- 
peated several times. Composition is used as an 
instrument for increasing still more the student's 
familiarity with inflections and rules. The foreign 
language is never spoken, and pronunciation is con- 
sidered unimportant. 

This method has fallen into discredit; and while 
it is not yet entirely banished from classical in- 
struction, it can scarcely be found, in its original 
purity, among the modern language courses of any 
civilized region. It has, however, certain undeniable 
advantages. In the first place it trains the mnemonic 
faculty ; in the reaction against the hard, unattractive 
schooling of our fathers, modern pedagogical fashion 
has gone so far that the power of conscious acquisition 
and retention is hardly exercised at all; children go 
to college or out into life with an embryonic 
memory, and the teacher's task rivals the labor of 
the Danaides. Secondly, the careful study of gram- 
matical rules and their nice application in transla- 
tion and composition form one of the best possible 
exercises in close reasoning. It may be urged that 
logical processes are not natural to the child ; neither 
are they natural to the uninstructed adult; but to 
be a successful student or an intelligent citizen, a 
boy or man must be able to arrive at rational con- 
clusions. Hence it is one of the chief duties of 
education to afford practice in clear and orderly 
thinking. . . . Now, grammatical analysis and syn- 
thesis, while less mechanical and more varied in 
their operation than elementary mathematics, are 
nearly or quite equal to it as a means of inculcating 
the habit of accurate ratiocination. 

On the other hand, the grammar method is open 
to criticism on the ground that it neglects two of 
the most important objects of foreign-language 
study : the broadening of the mind through contact 
with the life, the ideas, and the forms of thought 
and expression of different times and countries; and 
the cultivation of the artistic sense by the apprecia- 
tive study of literary masterpieces. A still more 
potent objection is the contention that pure gram- 
mar is not calculated to inspire interest in pupils of 
the high-school age 


At the opposite pedagogical pole from the pro- 
cess just described, we find the conversational or 
'natural' method. This educational 'naturalism' is a 
reaction against the inflexible systematism of earlier 
teachers ; wc should, therefore, expect it to be some- 
what aggressive and somewhat formless, more given 
to pulling down than to building up. It is a prin- 
ciple, an impulse, rather than a plan; and its 
products depend, to a greater extent than those of 
any other school, on the personality of the instruc- 
tor. Too often the results of a protracted and sup- 
posedly successful course of unalloyed conversation 
are a rapid, but unintelligible pronunciation, the 



fluent use of incorrect forms, and, worst of all, a 
most discouraging self-complacency. Some pecul- 
iarly gifted teachers have succeeded in combining 
alertness with a reasonable degree of accuracy, but 
it will probably be found, in all such cases, that the 
instructor has resorted to devices not strictly 

What is the genuine 'natural method'? In its ex- 
treme form, it consists of a series of monologues by 
the teacher, interspersed with exchanges of question 
and answer between instructor and pupil — all in the 
foreign language; almost the only evidence of sys- 
tem is the arrangement, in a general way, of the 
easier discourses and dialogues at the beginning, and 
the more difficult at the end. A great deal of panto- 
mime accompanies the talk. With the aid of this 
gesticulation, by attentive listening, " and by dint of 
much repetition the beginner comes to associate cer- 
tain acts and objects with certain combinations of 
sound, and finally reaches the point of reproduc- 
ing the foreign words or phrases. When he has 
arrived at this stage, the expressions already famil- 
iar are connected with new ones in such a way that 
the former give the clue to the latter, and the vo- 
cabulary is rapidly extended, even general and ab- 
stract ideas being ultimately brought within the? 
student's comprehension. The mother tongue is 
strictly banished, not only from the pupil's lips, but, 
as far as possible, from his mind. Not until a con- 
siderable familiarity with the spoken idiom has been 
attained is the scholar permitted to see the foreign 
language in print; the study of grammar is re- 
served for a still later period. Composition consists 
of the written reproduction of the phrases orally 

This method— if 'method' is the proper term— is 
based on two general ideas; one true, the other 
false. The first is the belief that the interest so 
necessary to the successful prosecution of any study 
(and especially of language work) can most easily 
be aroused by the actual spoken use of the foreign 
tongue. The second is the theory that a boy or man 
can best learn a new language in the manner in 
which an infant first acquires its native speech. 
Hence comes the epithet 'natural'. The advocates of 
this view overlook, first, the fact that the child re- 
quires eight or ten years of incessant practice to 
gain even a tolerable command of its own tongue, 
and, secondly, the vast difference between the mind 
of the baby and that of the youth. The really 
natural methods of acquisition at these two stages 
of development are almost diametrically opposed. 
Let us consider, for instance, the learning of pro- 
nunciation. The newborn child, after various un- 
successful experiments, reproduces sounds correctly 
because it has no previous habits of speech to con- 
tend with. The boy or man, unless he is phonetically 
trained or exceptionally acute of hearing, does not 
imitate at all. He merely substitutes for the several 

strange vowels and consonants the English sounds 
which the foreign ones happen to suggest to him. 
That is why the pronunciation of conversational 
classes is generally not a whit better than that of 
scholars taught after the most antiquated fashion. 
In the attempt to inculcate the other elements of 
speech — inflections, syntax, and phraseology — the 
purely imitative process shows itself to be almost 
equally inadequate. We may justly urge, further- 
more, against this style of teaching, that it pro- 
vides little discipline for the intelligence ; that it 
affords only the poorest kind of mnemonic training ; 
that it favors vagueness of thought and imprecision 
of expression, and, finally, that it sacrifices the artis- 
tic interest of language study to a so-called 'practical' 
one. On the other hand, it certainly does awaken 
enthusiasm among its disciples, and it stimulates and 
holds the attention. 

The natural method has been vehemently attacked 
and just as vigorously defended. At present the 
violence of the conflict has abated, and we are able 
to judge dispassionately the results of its introduc- 
tion into our educational life. Those results have 
been mainly good. In summer schools and other 
institutions that have used the imitative process ex- 
clusively most of the pupils are persons who have 
had or will soon get some practice in grammar and 
reading. For them the conversation lessons are 
supplementary and form a useful addition to their 
training. In schools and colleges that have not ac- 
cepted the 'naturalistic' theory the fame of the new 
method has obliged teachers to adopt some of its 
practical features, thus bringing much-needed life 
and variety into their instruction. It seems prob- 
able that the next generation will regard 'naturalism' 
rather as a vivifying influence than as an independ- 
ent method. 


Out of the conviction that modern-language study 
should be made attractive, and out of the desire to 
adapt instruction to the known workings of the 
human mind, has come a system that seems more 
deserving of serious attention than the grammar 
method or the 'natural' style of teaching. This is 
the system invented by Gouin and brought into 
general notice by Betis. 

The psychological method rests on the principle 
of the association of ideas and the habit of 'mental 
visualization'. The whole current vocabulary of a 
language, in the form of short, idiomatic sentences, 
is divided up into groups, every group consisting 
of phrases that are intimately connected in subject. 
One group forms a lesson. These brief divisions 
are gathered together in chapters, each of which 
treats of one general topic, and several chapters 
make a 'series'. When a pupil has gone through all 
the series, with numerous reviews, he will have 
mastered (so we are told) the whole spoken lan- 
guage. Every lesson is first worked out orally and 



then studied by the pupil from his book. On pre- 
senting each new word to the beginner the instruc- 
tor exhorts him to close his eyes and form a distinct 
mental picture of the thing or act represented. This 
image (it is affirmed) will remain indissolubly con- 
nected with the word, and the evocation of the one 
will always recall the other. Sometimes real ob- 
jects or drawings are used, and pantomime is fre- 
quently resorted to; but in most cases reliance is 
placed on the child's active imagination. It is never 
considered a sin to put in a word or two of English, 
and at the outset that language is very freely em- 
ployed. Although most of the talking is done by 
the teacher, the pupils are constantly called upon to 
repeat his sentences and to answer questions. After 
the first lessons written compositions may be pre- 
pared, made up of phrases already acquired. Gram- 
matical instruction is begun early, concurrently with 
the other exercises, but the reading of consecutive 
texts is postponed until the bulk of the ordinary 
vocabulary has been learned. Many innovations 
have been introduced into the presentation of gram- 
mar, but most of them are more radical in appear- 
ance than in reality. Some, however, are extremely 
ingenious, and will doubtless be copied by instruc- 
tors who do not see fit to adopt the whole system. 
The Betis method has the following obvious ad- 
vantages: It trains the memory; it fascinates the 
student and holds his attention more closely than 
any other mode of teaching now in vogue; it gives 
the pupil, in a reasonably short time, a ready com- 
mand over a large, well-arranged, and well-digested 
vocabulary; it affords, through some of its conver- 
sational groups, an insight into the life of a foreign 
country. As for the other side, the system seems, 
as far as we can ascertain the facts, to lay itself 
open to these criticisms: It affords but little oppor- 
tunity for the exercise of judgment; it entirely neg- 
lects, in the first years, the cultivation of the 
aesthetic sense, and assigns literary study to a stage 
which high-school pupils will scarcely ever reach. 
Moreover, its treatment of pronunciation is de- 
cidedly unsatisfactory; but this defect can probably 
be remedied without disturbing the rest of the 


Pronunciation, neglected in the three modes of 
instruction just mentioned, is the very foundation 
of a system that has of late years attracted atten- 
tion in all northern Europe, and has gained a con- 
siderable footing in Germany and Scandinavia. Its 
advocates, while not entirely free from the intol- 
erance and the self-confidence so characteristic of 
enthusiastic reformers, are men of sound scholar- 
ship, successful experience, and good standing in 
the educational world. .As far as can be ascertained, 
they have arrived at results which go far toward 
justifying their seemingly extravagant claims. . . . 

The phonetic method resembles the 'natural' and 

the 'psychological' schools in that it takes the mod- 
ern spoken language as a basis and at first relies 
mainly on oral instruction, using as far as possible 
the foreign language itself as a medium of com- 
munication. Unlike most 'conversation' courses, 
however, it is very systematically constructed and 
its beginning is strictly scientific. It begins with a 
training of the ear and the vocal organs, the pupils 
being thoroughly drilled in the vowels and conso- 
nants of the strange tongue... These sounds are 
considered both as isolated phenomena and as ele- 
ments of idiomatic phrases. The phrases, in turn, 
are combined into dialogues, descriptions, and 
stories. At this stage printed texts are used, but 
only in phonetic notation. The ordinary spelling is 
carefully kept from the students during the ele- 
mentary period. It is said that the transition from 
sound symbols to standard orthography presents no 
serious difficulty. Objects, pictures, and maps are 
constantly displayed, and every effort is made to 
familiarize the class with the surroundings, the in- 
stitutions, the habits, the character, and the mode of 
thought of the people whose language they are learn- 
ing. The phonetic texts gradually increase in length 
and difficulty," and some of the latest are representa- 
tive of literature. Inflections and syntax are studied 
inductively. Composition consists first of the oral 
and written reproduction of matter already heard 
or read, then of combinations of familiar phrases. 
Systematic grammar is reserved for a late stage, and 
translation comes last of all. 

It is evident that this sort of instruction requires 
a special preparation and a special apparatus. Al- 
though the pupils are not taught phonetics, it is 
essential that the teacher be something of a 
phonetician. . . . 

This method, while it lacks the logical discipline 
of the old grammatical instruction, is more success- 
ful than any other in forming a good pronunciation 
and in giving pupils a ready and accurate control of 
the spoken language. . . . From the standpoint of 
mnemonic education, too, it ranks high. In stimu- 
lating interest it is nearly equal to the 'natural' and 
'psychological' courses, and it is second only to the 
latter in holding the attention. . . . The attempt to 
give scholars, by ear and eye, by description and 
by the use of objects and pictures, a correct and 
vivid idea of foreign life has been carried further 
by the phoneticians than by any other school; but 
there is no reason, save the lack of rightly prepared 
instructors, why this feature should not be intro- 
duced into every method; the neglect of it defeats 
one of the principal objects of modern-language 
study. . . . 

What are the disadvantages of the 'phonetic' plan, 
when we consider it from the point of view of our 
American high schools? In the first place, it seems, 
like other 'oral' methods, to overlook the importance 
of literary education, for it postpones the reading of 



real books to a stage that is beyond our secondary 
period. In Europe, where intercourse between for- 
eign countries is easy and frequent, and a command 
of several languages has a recognized commercial 
value, it is natural that a practical mastery of the 
strange tongue should seem highly desirable. With 
us, isolated as we are, a speaking knowledge of 
French and German has, except for teachers, but 
little pecuniary worth; and even in the case of a 
student who has acquired it for pleasure alone, the 
opportunities for practice are so few that his hardly 
won accomplishment will soon slip from him. 
Familiarity with pronunciation and a certain ability 
to handle foreign constructions are, indeed, essential 
to a proper appreciation of the literature; but if 
literary study is not reached, of what avail is the 
preparatory training? For we must bear in mind 
that the vast majority of our pupils — those for whom 
the course should be planned — will not continue their 
education beyond the high school. It has been 
pointed out that oral work, besides exercising the 
organs of speech, arouses interest and fosters a 
certain alertness of mind, and is therefore valuable 
for its own sake. We may question, however, 
whether these benefits make up for the sacrifice of 
all the aesthetic culture and the intellectual broad- 
ening that come only from the reading of good 

To this criticism the European advocates of the 
method would surely reply that they believe in 
abundant reading, after the student has mastered the 
spoken idiom. It appears, then, that the real fault 
of their programme, as applied to our conditions, 
is not so much that its underlying principle is en- 
tirely incompatible with our creed as that it calls 
for much more time than we allot to foreign lan- 
guage. In fact, we may well doubt whether with 
our three or four hours a week for three or four 
years our scholars would ever reach the end even 
of the elementary stage; they certainly would not 
go beyond it; their acquisition would be only a 
fragment. If we should wish to introduce this or 
any other thorough-going method, we should be 
obliged to increase the importance of French and 
German in the school curriculum ; and such increase 
is desirable from every point of view. ... As long, 
however, as our present conditions last it is clear 
that we must give up something. Until we are all 
willing greatly to lengthen the time given to the 
linguistic part of our children's education, we shall 
have to renounce the idea of a full, well-rounded 
knowledge of French and German, and, selecting 
the portion of the subject that appears most im- 
portant for the greatest number, devote ourselves 
to the cultivation of that restricted field. Consider- 
ations of this nature have led many thoughtful 
teachers to adopt a mode of instruction that we may 
call the 'reading method'. 


The title explains itself. The study of texts from 
the very beginning of the course, abundant practice 
in translation at sight, leading ultimately to the 
ability to read the foreign language with ease and 
without the interposition of English, are the prin- 
cipal features of this programme. Grammar and 
composition are regarded merely as a help to read- 
ing, and are reduced to the essentials; sometimes 
accidence and syntax are first learned inductively, 
but oftener a small text-book is used concurrently 
with translation. Great importance is attached to 
the use of good English in the renderings. Pro- 
nunciation receives scant attention; there is little or 
no oral exercise. 

This method has been much used of late in our 
schools and colleges, especially in those that have 
large classes, a short course, and an American 
teacher. The great advantage of the process is that 
it quickly enables the student to read French and 
German literature — not with the complete apprecia- 
tion that only an all-around command of the lan- 
guage can give, but with the same kind of intelligence 
and enjoyment with which good classical scholars 
read Latin. Indirectly, it helps the pupil to form a 
good style, and to increase the volume and precision 
of his English vocabulary; it cultivates the taste by 
dwelling upon delicacies of expression; it exercises 
the memory through the enforced retention of 
words and idioms ; it trains the linguistic sense by 
calling attention to the points of resemblance and 
difference in various tongues; and the exact fitting 
of phrase to thought forms an excellent discipline 
for the judgment. 

On the other hand, in addition to the fact that 
it deals with only one aspect of language, the read- 
ing method is lacking in vivacity and in stimulus to 
the attention ; it interests only the more serious 
pupils. Moreover, the continued use, year after 
year, of an easy way of teaching — for it is compara- 
tively easy, and requires but little special training — 
may prove demoralizing to the instructor, dull his 
appetite for self-improvement, and make him indo- 
lent and easily satisfied with his qualifications. 


If all our classes were in the hands of born 
teachers, ideally prepared for their work, advice with 
respect to method would be quite superfluous. 
Every teacher would create for himself the method 
best suited to his class and to his own peculiar 
gifts. His personality would infuse life and efficacy 
into any process he would be likely to adopt. But 
in a profession so widely pursued we can not ex- 
pect the majority of its followers to show genuine 
vocation. The most of our teachers are made, and 
we must see to it that they be as well made as possi- 
ble. . . . 

But while it is easy to insist, broadly, upon the 



importance of adequate preparation for teachers, it 
is not so easy to define, in exact terms, the mini- 
mum of attainment which can be regarded as suffi- 
cient. Much will always depend upon personality, 
upon general alertness of mind and aptitude for 
teaching. The best of teachers learn with their 
pupils, and it will sometimes happen that one who 
knows too little of his subject will teach it better 
than another who knows more. Nevertheless, it 
remains broadly true, and should never be forgotten 
for a moment, that what the teacher most needs 
is to be a master of his subject. With the sense 
of all-around mastery come independence of judg- 
ment and the right kind of self-assurance. With- 
out this sense the attempt to follow someone else's 
method, however good the method may be in the 
hands of its inventor, can never produce the best 

To be ideally prepared for giving instruction in a 
modern language, even in a secondary school, one 
should have, aside from the ability to teach and the 
general personal culture necessary to secure the re- 
spect and attachment of pupils, a thorough practical 
command of the language to be taught, a solid 
knowledge of its literature, and a first-hand ac- 
quaintance with the foreign life of which the liter- 
ature is the reflection. To be decently prepared, he 
should, at least, have read so much in the recent 
literature of the language that he can read about 
as easily as he would read matter of the same kind 
in English. He should have studied the principal 
works of the great writers, and should have taken 
a course in the general history of the literature. 
He should know thoroughly the grammar of the 
language in its present form. If he has some 
knowledge of the historical development of forms, 
such knowledge will help him in his teaching, es- 
pecially in the teaching of French to pupils who have 
studied Latin. He should be able to pronounce the 
language intelligently and with reasonable accuracy, 
though he may not have the perfect 'accent' of one 
who is to the manner born. He should be able to 
write a letter or a short essay in the language with- 
out making gross mistakes in grammar or idiom, and 
to carry on an ordinary conversation in the language 
without a sense of painful embarrassment. . . . 

With respect, now, to the main subject of this 
section, it is hardly necessary to observe that the 
teacher who can not himself speak his modern 
language should not attempt seriously to teach his 
pupils to speak it. He should not try to work the 
'natural method', or any private variation thereof; 
if he does, he will be almost certain to do more 
harm than good. He may and should provide mem- 
ory exercises that exhibit natural colloquial forms, 
but in so doing he should be guided by some good 
manual, and make that the basis of the class-room 
work. . . . 

But if the availability and the goodness of the 

several methods described in the preceding section 
depend mainly upon the fitness of the teacher, they 
also depend upon the age of pupils, the probable 
length of the course, and the size of classes. If the 
study begins in childhood and the beginner is look- 
ing forward to a long and thorough course of the 
best possible kind, it is obviously the right thing that 
he devote a large amount of time at first to the 
acquisition of a faultless pronunciation and an easy 
command of the colloquial language. He will then 
have the best possible foundation for literary study. 
But if he begins later in life and the problem is to 
realize the maximum of benefit from a limited 
course, he should devote less time to the colloquial 
language and proceed more quickly to the study of 
literature. It is also evident that in classes of con- 
siderable size the most efficient colloquial practice 
can not be given ; the pupils may learn to understand 
the language (and this is of course well worth while) 
but they will not learn to speak with much facility. 
If this report were intended to meet ideal conditions, 
that is, if it were addressed to teachers whose train- 
ing would permit them to choose freely from the 
methods that have been described and to combine 
them with wise discretion, the committee might be 
disposed (although in that case, as we have already 
remarked, advice with regard to method would 
hardly be needed) to make some such recommenda- 
tions as the following: For very young children, 
say up to the age of 10, the 'natural' or imitative 
method of the nurse or the governess, with some 
help perhaps from the 'psychological' method. For 
a course of six years, beginning, say, at the age of 
12, a combination during the first three years of the 
'psychological' and 'phonetic' methods, accompanied 
by some study of grammar; after that a more thor- 
ough study of grammar, together with the reading 
and translation of good literature, supplemented by 
oral practice in the language and written composi- 
tion. For a four years' course, beginning in the 
high school, we should recommend a similar pro- 
cedure, the division between the 'psychological- 
phonetic' and the 'reading' method coming, how- 
ever, somewhat earlier, say, after the first year. In 
combining the 'psychological' and 'phonetic' methods 
the general plan of the former would be followed, 
while the latter would be imitated in its treatment 
of pronunciation and, so far at least as French is 
concerned, in its use of phonetically transcribed 
texts. For any shorter course we should advise the 
'reading' method, accompanied, however, by scien- 
tific training in pronunciation, drill in the rudiments 
of grammar, and a moderate amount of oral practice. 1 

, The Report contains valuable footnotes giving a good 
bibliography of the various methods discussed; though these 
notes were written fourteen years ago, the books and articles 
mentioned in them remain in large part available, and 
through them those interested can gain access to the later 
literature of the subject. As suggested above, page 57, the 
application of Professor Grandgent's discussions to the 
teaching of the Classics will be at once easy and profitable. 

C. K.