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19 April 2018

Learning Languages: Moving Beyond the Textbook {part 2}

This post is part of a series.
Part One: Listen, Listen, Listen
Part Two: What To Read {this post}
Part Three (coming soon)

Not only to satisfy the necessities of travelers in far countries has the study of language ever been desirable, but to penetrate the spirit and genius of Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Goethe, Hugo, Dante, it has become, to the cultured of every country, a necessity for the full gift of a liberal education. Since language became literature, the necessity for mastery over other tongues than his own has forced the attention of student and of professor to the problem of the study of languages…
-Howard Swan, Preface to The Art of Teaching and Studying Languages by M. Francois Gouin

In part one of this series, we looked at considerations for the beginning language learner: in particular, the need for vast quantities of exposure to spoken language as an indispensable aspect of successful language learning. As the student begins to progress, in addition to the aural input and lessons, books begin to take on a much greater importance. Just like learning to read in your native tongue, start with simple books. Miss Mason recognized that parents wishing to teach a language they do not know at a native level face particular challenges, but she reminds us that even in this case we should not lose sight of the importance of Gouin’s concept of imitating the natural acquisition of the first child’s first language:

The method of teaching may be varied, partly because that recommended by M. Gouin requires a perfect command of the French tongue, and teachers who are diffident find a conversational method founded on book and picture easier to work and perhaps as effectual––more so, some people think; but, be this as it may, it is to M. Gouin we owe the fundamental idea.
-Charlotte Mason, 1:306

As we begin to branch out and explore beyond the textbooks and lessons we have chosen, there are a number of places to look for what to read.


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