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Latin in an Elementary School.
good primary school, than that he should have been exceptionally trained for the exhibition, and he will learn Latin all the better and faster in the higher school for having received such discipline. Moreover the Primary school has no right to sacrifice the interests of the mass of its scholars to those of the exhibitioner; and in the interests of the mass, it is impossible to defend the teaching of a few fragments of Latin grammar which have no relation to anything else they are learning, or are likely to learn.
So I do not think it wise in Elementary Schools to attempt the formal study of Latin. But there is a sense in which the language has claims which should not be disregarded even here. Some lessons should be given showing that there is a Latin language, explaining who used to speak it, and how and why so many of our words are derived from it. Even in the humblest school-course the fact that other languages exist, and that there are many ways of expressing the same notion, ought to be understood. Then it is well to teach a few of the simpler tests by which words of Latin origin may be identified by terminations or otherwise; and to explain the more common of the phonetic changes which words undergo in becoming English. These should not be presented in the form of a list or table, but be brought out by induction from examples, of which some may be suggested by the teacher, but the most supplied by the scholars.
The Etymology of many Latinized words might Derivabe advantageously explained. But here a good deal tions of
English of caution is needed. Tell a scholar who is not words. learning Latin that commit comes from con with, and mitto I send, or perceive from per and capio, or obedience from ob and audio, and you have simply given him a showy and unmeaning piece of knowledge, and rather
hindered than helped his conception of the real signifi-
Afterwards it is well to call attention to the double signification of the Latin prefixes, to show, e.g. that they have a physical or prepositional meaning in some words, as in transport, invade, expel, emit, intercollegiate, regain, extra-mural, perforate; and an adverbial or derived meaning as transfigure, incomplete, experience, eloquence, interjection, respect, extravagant, perish. In teaching these
Prefixes and affixes.
prefixes it is needful to show how inadequate a notion of their meaning is obtained by looking into a dictionary and simply taking their primitive signification as prepositions, without also taking into account their secondary meaning when they come to be used adverbially, in the composition of verbs.
If in these ways, Latin—not its formal grammar, but a part of its vocabulary, and such facts about the language as serve to explain the structure and meaning of English words—be recognized as a subject of study in the primary school, it will be found very stimulating and helpful to those who may afterwards have opportunities of learning more of the language ; and at the same time, it will be of substantial value even to those who will enjoy no such opportunities, and is in no sense out of harmony with all else that is taught in the ordinary elementary
In teaching a modern foreign language the objects Modern we are to have in view are not wholly identical with foreign
languages. those we have already described. It is true French may in one sense serve the same purpose as Latin; if its grammar is taught side by side with that of English, and made the subject of constant comparison and contrast. But the structure of French grammar does not furnish either comparison or contrast quite so instructive as that of Latin for purposes of philological discipline, or for throwing light on the principles of grammar per se. The main reason for teaching French or German is that the learner may read books and converse in that language, and use it as an instrument of thought and communication. That therefore which is the first and main object of their teaching Latin-the investigation of the logic of lan- special
purpose. guage, and the reflex action of its grammar on the structure
of other languages and particularly of our own-is only the secondary and subordinate object to be kept in view in the teaching of French. And that which is the principal reason for learning French, viz. that we may be able to think, to speak, and to write in it, is not, for purposes of ordinary education, contemplated in the study of Latin at all. And it is only by keeping this fundamental difference in view that we can arrive at right methods
of teaching either. How far
Obviously, some of the principles and methods althey re
ready discussed apply equally to Latin and French. Both semble Latin. are foreign languages. In both we have to begin at the
beginning, to learn vocabulary as well as grammar. In both it is essential to begin with a few nouns, to attach them first to verbs, afterwards to adjectives, afterwards to other nouins in the various case-relationships. In both it is equally important that new rules should be learned only if and when they are wanted, and should be seen in their applications and applied directly. In both there is the same necessity for kindling the interest of your scholar, by connecting the words he learns with living realities, with things and events within his comprehension. In both it is equally desirable to make constant reference to analogous usages and constructions in
English. How they
But besides this, it is from the first necessary to differ from treat French conversationally, to cause it to be talked as it.
well as learned. It is not certain that lessons ever so careful on elementary sounds in French are the best helps to this. At first little familiar sentences are better. I have seen in one of the best schools in England what was called a 'parrot class, in which little girls were learning to utter French phrases and nursery rhymes, with the right pronunciation and inflection as a whole,
The speaking of modern languages.
and were told roughly what was the meaning of them. This is what is often called the Mastery System. By it children are not at first allowed to see French written, but are made to acquire a thoroughly French pronunciation and intonation parrot-like, before they begin to have their attention directed to the sounds of separate syllables, to the meaning of separate words and idioms, or to translation and re-translation.
Such exercises are particularly useful. In talking we Thry want to be trained to catch the meaning of a whole should
from the sentence without thinking of its particular parts, and the first be laborious synthesis of the various elements of a sentence spoken
rather is, as we all know, a rather slow process.
Some there than fore of the early work of teaching a young class French written. ought to correspond to the way in which a little child learns English from its mother or its nurse, i.e. in little sentences which at first carry the whole meaning with them, and are not thought of as capable of analysis. For the special purpose contemplated in teaching French, the sooner the child learns something which he feels a pleasure in committing to memory the better.
It is evident that talking in the language and learning by heart are much more important here than in Latin. No lesson in French which is confined to translation and reading is worth much, if it is not followed up by actual conversation. Even the simplest affirmative sentence admits of being turned into an interrogative, or furnishes the material for a question and answer of some kind, which however slightly varied, obliges the child to make the words his own. And unless the learner makes the words his own, and learns actually to use them, his progress is very unsatisfactory. Then we must remember that in seeking to get a store of vocables and words for use, it is not a large number of nouns and adjectives