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experiences with unreliable bankers, unscrupulous intelligence offices, so-called, or from possible schemes of his sophisticated countrymen who sometimes with great shrewdness and little scruple do not hesitate to prey on the recently arrived victim.
It is undoubtedly true that in all foreign classes a few students are apt to lead in discussion, and that in a sense of temporary triumph we may forget that there are many who remain dumb. We know the way to do a thing is to do it, and this is essentially the way to learn to speak any language.
The selection of teachers of English-to-foreigners classes is made through a system of examinations by the board of examiners. In no other branch of instruction does the personality of the teacher count for so much. It goes without saying that he should know how to teach. He should know the methods by which he can instruct immigrants in the language when a great majority of his pupils know nothing of its literary aspect. As a matter of fact, few of them know the grammar of their own language, and many of them do not know how to write and read it. Far more important than methods of instruction, however, are interest in the pupil and enthusiasm in the work. Immigrants are truly strangers, and they must feel not only that they are learning, but that the instructor has a peculiar interest in each individual. He should know something of each pupil's life, occupation, and home surroundings. The teacher, too, should be able to realize what the background of the immigrant's experience is.
It is a debated question whether the teacher should be familiar with the immigrant's own language. It is obvious that a knowledge of that language is not a handicap, and there are times during the process of instruction when the ability to translate some peculiar idiom may save considerable time. On the other hand, it is a fact that many of our most successful instructors have no knowledge whatever of the language of the pupil. If this statement surprises you, it is because you do not realize how important it is that the pupil himself should be the active person during the process of instruction. Moreover, a teacher who finds refuge in translation is apt to do poor teaching. There are practical reasons which make it impossible to limit the selection of teachers to those who know the language of the student; but aside from the fact it may be stated with certainty that such a knowledge is not essential. I am aware that not everyone holds this view, and in some of the private institutions with which we are glad to cooperate, the selection of a fellow countryman as instructor is the rule. So far as such a method may help in solving a problem of teaching, I think we should welcome it so that we may gain whatever knowledge may come from actual experience.
One of the worst errors that an instructor can make is to adopt toward the student an attitude of patronage. Immigrants are men and women who have the same passions, the same desires, the same fundamental social relations that the teacher himself has; and in many cases they have acquired an experience of life which is itself an important element in education. The teacher can do his best work if he causes the immigrants to feel that he is working with them toward a higher level of ability, but not by lifting them from above. I know of no place where a fine spirit of comaraderie will be more fruitful. The teacher's relation should be a fraternal one.
SELECTION OF EVENING-SCHOOL TEACHERS.
I.—By Jakes C. Bybnes,
The right professional spirit is the most important requirement of a teacher of foreigners; the spirit of earnest sympathy with the work which evening schools are attempting to accomplish among immigrants; the spirit of one who assumes the work, not for the compensation, which is often inadequate, but for the love of the work and for the sake of doing good to the State and to his fellowmen. The mere requirement of a high-school education, with either experience in teaching the special branch or a special course in methods of teaching, does not insure preparation for such work. The young men and young women in the senior classes of the colleges form a very large class of applicants. The largest class, however, consists of day-school teachers, who by reason of the fact that they hold a regular license to teach are eligible to positions as teachers of English to foreigners in the evening schools. There is of course a written examination. From such written examination holders of day-school licenses are exempt. The examination is in English, phonetics, grammar, composition, meaning and use of words, with a question or two in methods of teaching. The day-school teachers are required to pass an oral examination. That oral examination is designed to test the familiarity with the means, agencies, and instruments for imparting a knowledge of our tongue to foreigners, without being able to speak their tongue.
Years ago it was thought necessary for the teacher to have knowledge of the foreigner's tongue, but we found that many of the foreigners who were accepted as teachers because of that requirement were very poor in other respects, and that we did better with our own teachers who know how to go about the work and how to manage a class.
We realize that beyond a knowledge of English it is necessary for the teacher to know modern methods of imparting instruction to these classes. And here for our authority we do what all professional people do: We look up the work of those who are acknowledged in our professional circle to be the leaders in this* work, and we advise teachers to prepare themselves along the lines they follow. None of us feel, however, that the preparation is wholly adequate, nor can we make the test a really severe test and get the supply of teachers that we need.
We must in this work cut our cloak to fit the cloth. If we raise the standard too high, we do not get enough teachers. For $3 a night we can not get the ideal sort of teachers. Those who think themselves ideals will not work for that compensation; and, of course, the truly ideal teachers who will work without any compensation are few in number. In short, we must take the best of them that present themselves. We are aware that these methods of selecting teachers, namely, tests of knowledge of our own tongue, of methods of teaching, and of phonetics of the English language, do not insure the selection of fit teachers only. We get many good teachers, but we should be glad to get better teachers.
Wholly suitable textbooks have not yet been made. The field is very large. The immigrants are of different types, with very different degrees of preparation. Each requires a special treatment, and nobody has yet mapped out in detail the specific treatment for each class. That work is yet to be done, and until it is done, our teachers can not be fully prepared in advance. They can not learn the work except from books, for they can not begin to teach until they get a license. ,
It is difficult for us to get women teachers for evening schools. It is a fact which we regret that the more experienced women in our day schools do not present themselves for the evening school work. We get many of the young and immature teachers who are receiving a salary, I believe, of only $60 a month. We should rather have teachers of 8 or 10 years' experience who have acquired a professional attitude, and are keen enough to analyze the elements of the situation and broad enough to see it in all its bearings.
II.—By Edith L. Jaedine,
My point of view in regard to the education of the immigrant has been gained through very intimate relations with our immigrant neighbors during several years. I have known them in their homes and in the classroom, and I have had daily opportunity to help straighten out or remove difficulties that beset individuals. The perplexities and hardships of the immigrant's first years in America are very real to me.
Teaching the adult immigrant is a very different problem from teaching the immigrant child. It is not only a question of providing courses in English and kindred subjects, but rather of giving the immigrant that kind of instruction which will help him to become adjusted to his surroundings as rapidly as possible, and of giving him the practical knowledge that will help him to find the way for himself.
The teaching of the adult immigrant must be more individualized than that of the child. The adult brings a fund of experience and knowledge to the classroom that should be utilized.
As the pupils are necessarily so unequal in mental equipment, I believe that the selection of teachers is an important matter. In my experience there are two types of teachers who are successful in this field: First, the man or woman who speaks the language of the pupils and has had the ambition and perseverance to master English to the point of being able to teach it—one who has gained what we may call an American point of view, and has at the same time a sympathetic understanding of the students in his class. Second, the American man or woman who has genius as a teacher, wide sympathies, few prejudices, and the gift of recognizing the common human elements in all people; who feels that the only barrier between himself and his pupils is that of language.
In my opinion, as a rule, the first is the better. Between the teacher who speaks the native language and the pupil there is no barrier of language. It is wonderful how even a slight knowledge of the language helps. At only a few words of greeting, perhaps, eyes will light up at the effort to get nearer, and a big hole will be made in the wall of separation. The teacher who knows the language will have a knowledge of home conditions, customs, traditions, and religious observances which will enable him to avoid giving offense or making blunders which sometimes cause the student to leave.
When the Balkan War broke out, the Greek girls in one of our English classes were so excited over the war news that they could think of nothing else during their lesson hour. Every girl, without exception, had a relative or friend at the front. They brought Greek newspapers to the class each evening and could not pay attention to anything else. We realized that it was useless to insist upon their studying under the circumstances, and we felt that something must be done or the class would be broken up. Just at this crisis some of the girls asked us if we could help them to do something for their country. They said that their men were fighting, while they had to sit with their hands folded. As all the girls were skilled needlewomen, we suggested that they make articles for a sale and then hold a bazaar for the benefit of the Greek Red Cross. The plan worked like magic. A short lesson in English was given each evening; then the girls devoted their time to working for the bazaar under the instruction of a skilled needlewoman. At the end of a month the bazaar was held and was a great success. Since that time our Greek classes have developed very rapidly, because the girls have realized how deeply we are in sympathy with them. I tell this story to illustrate how much a sympathetic knowledge of the people and their home conditions may help. Our relation to all the Greek people has been very much strengthened by our attitude during their troubles.
A teacher who speaks the language of the pupils is able to draw from the native literature stories, poems, proverbs, and songs which in translation the student will be overjoyed to recognize as old friends. The teacher should be able to extol the heroes of the student's country, the deeds of valor of his people. While teaching allegiance to the new country, he would not destroy patriotism for the old. It is very important for us to remember that people born in other countries may become good American citizens, and probably will be better ones, if they are not taught to despise the country of their birth or to lose their love for it.
Again, the foreign teacher will know what a sea of bewilderment overwhelms the newcomer at first and how distorted are his views, and this teacher should know best how to treat him. A Russian girl rushed into her classroom one evening with a paper in her hand; she burst out crying and said that a man had forced her to go to the city hall and take out this paper with him and then had told her that she was married to him. She disliked him very much and did not want to marry him, but felt that her doom was sealed. The teacher looked at the paper and saw that it was only a marriage license. She then explained to the girl and to the class the nature of a marriage license, and she destroyed the paper. This action made a profound impression on the class, and the girls were helped to realize that they were breathing a freer air, where the tyranny of man, which is so strong in the Old World, might be safely resisted. If the teacher had not known the Russian language, she could not have helped in this instance.
The classroom for the adult immigrant affords a unique opportunity to learn under what conditions he struggles when he comes to this country; to learn how often he is defrauded, ill-used, and exploited because of his ignorance. The only way that a knowledge of the conditions under which immigrants live and work can be accurately obtained is through the immigrants themselves. Does it not