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much harder than the grammar that the situation found in the modern languages is reversed.
It is easier to point out defects than to propose effective remedies. The writer does not deceive himself by thinking that the suggestions he is about to make are original or altogether untested by actual experience. If they merely point in the right direction or, failing in that, set others to thinking and working on the problem, the purpose of this paper will be realized.
The writer is of the opinion that the reading of easy Latin should be begun immediately or after a very few introductory lessons. These introductory lessons should aim to supply the minimum of knowledge necessary to an understanding of the very simplest Latin with which the reading begins. From the outset an accurate knowledge of the inflectional forms used should be insisted upon. But these forms should not be learned in parrot fashion, quite apart from their uses. (Right here the direct method might be tried.) The formal paradigms should follow, not precede, the actual use of the forms in translation. A large number of easy oral and, later, written exercises bearing upon and illuminating the story or fable which is read should fix these forms and the necessary syntax firmly in mind. Only so much syntax of moods and cases should be attempted as is absolutely necessary for proper understanding of the easy text read. Relatively few topics of syntax would be studied, emphasis being placed upon the mastery of the forms, the vocabulary, and the art of reading. Correct method of reading, as well as translating, should be insisted upon from the beginning. Words, forms, and principles of syntax should be learned, because needed and when needed in the reading of the text.
It is a pedagogical blunder-fatal to the interest of success of all except the relatively few who have the type of mind that takes pleasure in handling, naming, and putting together the dry bones of the skeleton of a language-to attempt to teach grammatical forms and principles weeks and months before there will be any real occasion to use them. This method has been abandoned by progressive and successful teachers of modern languages, but the teachers of the classical languages, as a rule, still cling to the old, formal method which was unquestionably well adapted to the disciplinary theory of education which prevailed a quarter of a century ago.
The text read, beginning with the simplest and easiest Latin, should, so far as possible, have an interesting and rich content. The fables and myths in the early period of study should be so selected that they would not only provide excellent training in reading Latin, but furnish as well a fund of legendary and mythological lore which would be of great value in the understanding and appreciation of English literature. If properly taught, the interest in the reading matter would be so great and the relation of the grammatical work to that reading matter would be so direct and clear that an adequate motive for mastering the necessary technicalities of grammar would be supplied.
Now, we may give in the first year that training in accuracy and clearness of expression with which we credit our subject. The translation of the fables, myths, and the like furnishes unequalled opportunities for such training. The teacher may use all his skill in encouraging his pupils to turn the easy, fascinating stories into good English. These same miniature Latin classics may well suggest fruitful topics for oral class discussion. Under wise and enthusiastic direction the boys and girls will be encouraged to write paragraphs on themes suggested by the reading or to read in English additional myths and stories and to talk and write about them.
Without taking issue for or against the so-called direct method of teaching Latin, the writer does not hesitate to affirm from his own experience that a five-minute class exercise in oral Latin in question and answer between teacher and pupils will put life and interest into the dullest recitation. A few minutes' conversation in Latin in easy sentences about some phase of the story which is being read will be invigorating to both pupils and teacher, and not beyond the abilities of anyone who has any right to teach the subject. There is no quicker way of impressing words and constructions upon pupils' minds. Such oral work, if done intelligently with a definite end in view, not merely stimulates interest, but gives to the pupils the feeling that they are gaining a real mastery over the language.
The pupil should be encouraged to write short original paragraphs in Latin upon some topic about which he is reading. From time to time the teacher should prepare a short anecdote, repeat it in Latin to his class, discuss it both in Latin and in English until the content and vocabulary are familiar, and then request the class to write out and bring in their Latin versions of it for the next day. Some especially appropriate anecdotes or fables should be memorized by the pupils and then used as a basis for oral and written exercises. Pen-and-ink or pencil sketches to illustrate a striking character or incident in the story would give variety and interest to the work.
English grammar should have some part in every lesson. Comparisons and contrasts should constantly be made. The wise teacher will appeal to the pupils' knowledge of English to make clear some point in Latin, and will take advantage of every opportunity the Latin offers to emphasize or clarify the structure or idiom of the English. Whether these similarities and contrasts between the structure of the two languages are consciously in the thoughts of pupil and teacher or not, every well-taught lesson in Latin is a lesson in
English grammar, a lesson also in the universal principles of grammatical relations which underlie most of the modern European langriages.
The writer of this paper would be the last person to advocate the policy of attempting to make Latin easy. He is well aware that if, in our desire to popularize the subject, we should devise a course that could be mastered without vigorous effort and continued application, the value of the subject as an effective instrument of education would be greatly reduced. But, on the other hand, there is also the danger that we shall make the subject so difficult, as compared with other subjects in our secondary schools, that our prospective pupils, when they learn of the great “mortality” among those who take Latin, will hesitate to elect a subject in which the percentage of failure is so high. The writer does not hesitate to affirm his belief, which is based upon long experience, that in view of the extended range of secondary-school subjects we Latinists are demanding more than our fair share of the pupils' time and effort. The result of the heavy demands is that fewer pupils are electing Latin, because they feel that such a choice will mean the sacrifice of other subjects of study which appear to them and their parents more essential than a “dead language.”
If Latin is to maintain the high place which it has occupied in our scheme of education for so many generations, the teaching of it must be more vital. In content, scope, and method our courses must be adapted to the ability and to the interests of the children. We have been too busy trying to fit the children to the subject, rather than the subject to the children. Speaking broadly, in shaping our courses in Latin in secondary schools, we have approached our problems with college-entrance requirements and the interests of Latin chiefly in mind. Some of the tenderest-hearted of our guild have padded and smoothed the Procrustean bed a little here and there, but it is the same old bed upon which we force our victims to lie. If the subjects of our ministrations writhe and groan, we take their sufferings as evidence that our methods are effective, fortifying ourselves with the assurance that Latin is a “ disciplinary” subject, and that “all chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous, yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby.” We have set an arbitrary standard of attainment and have selected our subject matter with an almost incredible indifference to the psychology of adolescent girlhood and boyhood.
It is the chairman's dearest hope that his committee, during the coming year, while considering the aims, course of study, and methods, may have an eye single to the highest interests of the child. In planning the work of the first two years, at least, one should but
vaguely remember, if not entirely forget, that there are colleges and college-entrance requirements. All of us Latin teachers should constantly remind ourselves that, like the Sabbath, Latin was made for man, not man for Latin.
In closing, the chairman wishes to accept full responsibility for the contents of this paper. While he is confident thạt a majority of his committee agree with him in general and in particular, it is only fair to state that there are some members who are not in full sympathy with some of the views herein expressed.
WALTER EUGENE FOSTER, Chairman. STUYVESTANT HIGH SCHOOL,
New York City. The other members of the committee on ancient languages are as follows:
Charles E. Bennett, Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.
STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE ON
A preliminary draft has been submitted to the members of the committee, and in general it has met with their approval. This statement has been made by the chairman with the help of suggestions made by mail by various members of the committee. There are undoubtedly many details in which different members of the committee would suggest changes.
Service to the pupil determines the aims of instruction. Work must at all times be of value both to those who are to leave the class and to those who will continue in it. The aims of the first year are phonetic training, knowledge of the fundamental principles of language, and interest in the foreign nation whose language is studied. Pupils with neither taste nor capacity for studying a foreign language should drop it after the first year. Oral work and accurate pronunciation should from the beginning receive the most careful attention. The method used depends somewhat on the equipment of the teacher, but it should train ear, eye, tongue, and hand.
The first texts should be of the simplest kind and should arouse an interest in the life of the foreign people. The work may include copying text, with minor variations of person, number, tense, etc.; writing from dictation; reading aloud; translation, oral and written, both from and into the foreign language; reproduction; paraphrasing; imitative and free composition. Texts should be modern in style, not too long, distinctively national in character, adapted to the age, sex, and thought of the pupil, and they should give something worth remembering. Grammar should be the handmaid of the text, which should be the center of all instruction. In translation, thought should intervene between the two languages, being derived from the first and expressed by the second.
In proportion to the time allowed, modern-language instruction in our best schools is as good as that abroad, but we need more good teachers and an opportunity for selected pupils to begin the study of a foreign language under competent instruction in the grades. The colleges should give especial attention to preparing teachers of modern languages, and the cities should grant Sabbatical years with half pay to teachers who will go to the expense of study abroad.
Service to the pupil is the great object of the work of this committee. In accordance therewith, valid aims are defined as those which seek to meet the needs of real pupils as we actually find them, and a satisfactory method must give such pupils, in proper sequence and quantity, what they need to receive. We must so arrange the work that at every point it may be profitable for those taking it, giving to all a general appreciation of the subject, attaining for all who continue the language beyond the introductory stage satisfactory power in certain particulars, and securing a useful degree of skill for those by whom such skill may be needed. The first work should be so chosen that those who drop the subject early shall retain something of value for themselves while impeding as little as possible the progress of others who are laying the foundation for future study, and a determining factor in deciding the order of procedure should be the principle that the work that makes for skill not generally needed and difficult of attainment should be reserved for later study and for especially gifted-pupils.
Certain features of modern language work may be eliminated at once from the list of reasonable aims for the pupil who expects to drop his language study early, either because he must leave school