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and again upon this occasion, and to my colleague Mr W. G. Guillemard, to whom I owe in particular the piece of German Prose given as a model in the Second Lecture and who generously placed his note-books at my disposal.
HARROW, May, 1887.
ON THE TEACHING OF MODERN
MUST begin by stating that Modern Languages in
these lectures mean the languages and literatures of France and Germany. Not that I am so rash or so wholly ignorant as to think that no other modern language has a claim to rank beside these, or that I wish to be so rigidly practical that I would exclude all considerations of what, not is, but ought to be the actual state of the case; but because whatever I may have to say from my own experience and knowledge necessarily applies to these two alone, for I know no others—and have taught no others. Nor do I include English, for the teaching of the mother tongue, though the reasons for it are in many cases the same, is in practice so different from the teaching of a foreign language that the two cannot profitably be considered together.
Nor again, except incidentally, do I intend to put forward any opinions upon the kind of teaching which will be proper for your Professors of Modern Languages when you possess them, nor upon your happily inaugurated Modern Languages
Tripos, though this latter bears most materially upon the school teaching of the future and cannot therefore be wholly excluded.
If I begin then, as I shall, by asking "Why do we teach French and German at all ? ” it is because upon our answer will depend the method upon which we proceed in teaching them. Or rather the method should depend upon this; but alas ! method is apt to be merely traditional; and Societies and Syndicates for the training of Teachers have done no service more real in the cause of education than by impressing even upon the unwilling minds of those who believe that there is no science of education at all, but only at most an art, and that an art without a theory, the necessity of considering what portion of their daily practice really serves the end which they are seeking.
Why then do we teach Modern Languages ?
Essentially because they are so supremely useful. Let us not be ashamed to say this. The advance in the teaching of them has kept pace and will continue to keep pace with the advance of utilitarianism in education; nay the very doctrine on which their claims are based was formulated just about the time when French first obtained a place in the regular course of instruction in our English public schools. Sixty years ago, I do not believe that any public school taught French except as an extra, like drawing and dancing, and I do not believe that any taught German at all. A liberal education was an education for a class born into a world of already secured positions, a world of sinecurists and courtiers, of place-holders and pluralists, of broad acres and fat livings, a world therefore for which the traditionary classics were all-sufficient, and whose ideal, no ignoble one withal,- for I do not mean, or think or allege