As promised, here's the last instalment of wisdom culled from my reading of old methodology guides.

As promised, here's the last instalment of wisdom culled from my reading of old methodology guides. This time the advice strikes me as being not quite so insightful. Do you agree?

“Every language has its peculiarities, its idiomatic expressions and terms, which cannot possibly be rendered by translation… This undeniable fact of itself suffices to show clearly that all translation-methods are deficient, and proves that every language must be learned out of itself.” (Berlitz, M. 1911. Method for Teaching Modern Languages: English Part. p. 4.)

“Nothing should be spoken before it has been heard.Nothing should be read before it has been spoken. Nothing should be written before it has been read.” (Alexander, L. 1967. First Things First: Teacher’s Book. p. xii)

“The teacher should not be concerned that his knowledge of the learners’ language may be inadequate to conduct English classes. If the teacher concentrates on the basic patterns of English and gives his students systematic drill utilizing these patterns he is sure to obtain good results.” (Educational Services. (1952) Beginner’s Book of English as a Second Language, p. ii.)

“It is a sad thing to think that all over the world teachers are busily teaching incorrect pronunciations to thousands of children daily!” (Gurrey, P. 1955. Teaching English as a Foreign Language. p. 14)

“The student should never be called upon to say anything that he has not already learned through imitation of his teacher” (English Language Services, 1964. English This Way: Teacher’s Manual and Key. p. 9.)

“There is one danger against which we must guard. Some foreigners have tenacious memories and they may learn each and all of the lessons in a perfunctory manner. They can readily rehearse them if once you give them the cue, but they are not able to use the sentences and words in other relations”. (Roberts, P. 1918. English for Coming Americans: Teachers Manual. p. 30.)

“Don’t be discouraged if the men are not up to your expectation in cleanliness, responsiveness and capacity… The wise teacher who expects to convert the raw material of backward Europe into Coming Americans must not be impatient… The men who are to transform the aliens of Europe into useful citizens are the men who are patient, trained and sympathetic—men who are yoked to the Christian ideal of service.” (Roberts, P. 1918. English for Coming Americans: Teachers Manual. p. 104.)

“A large school or a training college without electricity might even consider whether it would not pay in the long run to buy a small petrol-driven generator for running gramophones and tape-recorders, a radio and a film projector.” (Strevens, P. Spoken Language. 1956, p. 17)

“There are … mistakes that should never be committed, even by those who have never looked at a grammar. Sentences such as: “We acted like you did,” “He is taller than me,” “She remained oblivious to my presence,” are, in some respects, like bad manners in social life: they never pass unnoticed and uncondemned.” Hugo’s How to Avoid Incorrect English, (n.d.) p. 3.

 

Comments

[quote=Scott Thornbury]“Don’t be discouraged if the men are not up to your expectation in cleanliness, responsiveness and capacity… The wise teacher who expects to convert the raw material of backward Europe into Coming Americans must not be impatient… The men who are to transform the aliens of Europe into useful citizens are the men who are patient, trained and sympathetic—men who are yoked to the Christian ideal of service.”(Roberts, P. 1918.  English for Coming Americans: Teachers Manual. p. 104.)[/quote]This is the funniest one I think because it is so much a product of its time. One can only assume that the women of 'backward Europe' were clean and responsive! Or else only the men were emigrating and the result was a severe imbalance - no wonder the Americans needed guns!However, I think this can also be a warning that the potential for cultural insensitivity is everywhere. When I was invited to be a guest teacher on this site, I was sent a set of questions to answer to introduce my context. One of them was 'Is English spoken in your country?' Since the country I was writing about was the UK this seemed an odd question - until you realise that the UK is taken as the 'default' that no-one questions and every other country is compared to this default. At least this is how I perceived it - but perhaps because I come from a former colony, I'm being over sensitive here?

Thanks for the comment, Olwyn. It reminds me of another kind of blinkered vision  - "hemispherical jingoism", if you like, of the form that the TESOL Quarterly used to take (but now doesn't) in referring to its Spring (or Summer etc) issue - which no made no sense to us in the southern hemisphere!The references to men only in the 1918 book have to be taken in context, admittedly, since it was publisihed by the YMCA. It would be interesting to know if there was a similar book for women teachers (of women), and whether the women students were also "otherised" to this extent.