Monday, February 19, 2007

History, L1 and grammar-translation

By Martin McMorrow, Auckland, New Zealand

I thought those interested in the discussion about L1 and grammar-translation might like the following quotes from Otto Jespersen, writing at the turn of the last century when this really was a hot topic!

It never seems to have occurred to the authors of some (textbooks) that there might be a limit to the amount of rubbish that can be offered children under the pretext of teaching them grammar. (p. 13)... 'the first condition for good instruction in the foreign languages would seem to be to give the pupil as much as possible to do with and in the foreign language; he must be steeped in it, not only get a sprinkling of it now and then; he must be ducked down in it and get to feel as if he was in his own element, so that he may at last disport himself in it as an able swimmer.' (p. 48)
Now that's what I call "full immersion"!

Jespersen, O. (1904). How to teach a foreign language. London: Allen & Unwin (reprinted 1954 - by the way, what happened to the centenary edition?!)

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