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Title: The Aural System

Author: Charles Hardy

Release date: June 19, 2009 [eBook #29163]

Language: English


Transcribed from the 1895 Thomas Brown pamphlet by David Price,

[Entered at Stationer’s Hall.]



the most direct,


for the


of a


teaching simultaneously to



A Linguist of nearly 40 years standing, and nearly 20 years resident abroad.


Thos. Brown, Printer, 311, Manchester Road.

p. 2Respecting the time required to learn a language, the writer ventures to recommend the way he himself took when a boy to solve this questionHaving made choice of a known grammar, the exercises of which promise a satisfactory degree of proficiency, let the student affix to each and all of the lessons at the outset, the dates when they are to be done and observe themSome weeks a little perseverance and determination may be necessary, but let him be inflexible with himself, curtail his indulgences if required and his task will be done with ease.

Subsequent studies are pleasant and easy.


p. 3Some time ago, a Mr. Wm. Rodger came down from Glasgow for the purpose of showing how foreign languages should be taught.  He brought on a gentleman, a clergyman from Leeds, who had gone through Otto’s German Grammar without being able either to speak or understand German; this gentleman was able to bear testimony to the merit of Mr. Rodger’s system because by it he had learnt to do both.  Of course his testimony rested on one assumption.  It assumed that having gone through Otto’s Grammar all learnt from it had been forgotten, and that the whole merit of his success was due to Mr. Rodger’s method.

Mr. Rodger was of opinion, that foreign languages should be learnt as a child learns its mother tongue.  It seemed to me a strange use to make of the reason and intelligence of the adult, to cast it aside as useless and to ask the youth and man to become a child again.  It appeared to me the most wasteful of methods.  Is language a science, and if so, what would be thought of a similar proposal for acquiring any other science?  But are the cases parallel?  Is there any similarity of circumstance?  Can the youth and man again place themselves in the circumstances of the child?

The child is constantly hearing the language spoken, everyone around it is teaching it to speak, everything around it stimulates it to do so.  Nearly everything it learns, comes to it through its mother tongue; at play it hears, it speaks.  At five years of age it begins to go to school, and from that time until its fourteenth or sixteenth year, whatever else it studies, it must study its mother tongue.  All other knowledge reaches it through this medium.  Every other study compels the study and practice of its mother tongue and allowing ten hours per day for sleep, by the time it is fourteen years of age seventy-one thousand six hundred hours have been spent in such study and practice.

Let us take the case of the youth or man who commences the study of a foreign language.  He has found that a foreign language will be of use to him or has become necessary to him in his work.  He begins to study it and takes the usual one lesson per week of one hour’s duration.  In a year he has spent fifty hours with the teacher; if he devoted two or three hours weekly to the preparation of each lesson, he will have spent 150 to 200 hours per annum upon it, or, less absences and omissions, perhaps p. 4140 or 180 hours upon its study.  This makes fourteen days of ten hours or perhaps three weeks as against fourteen years spent by the child upon its mother tongue.  Multiply this amount of fourteen days by two or three, and grammar is still seen by comparison to have accomplished a stupendous miracle.  But even this disparity is not complete, for whilst the child, whether at work or play, never ceases to study and practice its native language, and this is by far its principal occupation, the youth and man, on the other hand, devote to the study of a foreign language, the remnants, the odds and ends of their time, after having exhausted their energies in their work.

These were the considerations that occurred to me on thinking over Mr. Rodger’s prospectus.  Nevertheless, it was impossible to regard as satisfactory a method of tuition or study, which left the pupil unable to understand or speak a language after having gone through a grammar like that of Otto.  The Grammatical Method being one which does not seek to render easy and simple at the cost of efficiency, by eluding and evading the difficulties and peculiarities of a language, but being the one which fairly meets and masters them: there can be no question of dispensing with its valuable assistance.  The wise course is to adopt that method of using it, which will enable us to derive most benefit from its teachings, and ensure success.  It is for this purpose the following has been written.  It follows from this, that if the pupil’s time admit, the most complete Grammar is the best.

We have been amongst the most backward in this branch of study, but our grammars since then have been largely borrowed from our more successful competitors; from those who excelled as much in modern languages as we ourselves in industry.  They are in many instances the work of foreign specialists and experts, they are the very instruments of success used by our most successful rivals, how then can they be inadequate?  Translation has put us into possession of the best works used by our foreign rivals, and if we are less successful than they, it is due, as a Swiss correspondent of the “Manchester Guardian” recently stated, not to the superior aptitude, but to the superior application of the foreigner.

The writer first commenced studying foreign languages nearly forty years ago, and has resided for nearly twenty years in various foreign countries.  His experience with regard to those who learn foreign languages has been that those who commence the practice of a foreign language with a previous knowledge of p. 5its Grammar, learn to speak it with an ease, confidence and correctness never attained by those who try to dispense with such preparation and study.  On the other hand those who have learnt to speak without such study, contract vicious and faulty locutions, and rarely if ever make good the deficiency.  They are compelled of course to form a rough Grammar of their own, upon incomplete information, and have to do so hastily and imperfectly.  For writing, where precision and accuracy are required a knowledge not based upon Grammar is next to worthless.

Most pupils have a fourfold object in studying a language; they wish to be able to read and write, to speak and to understand it.  By what method could this be most easily achieved?  If this work could be performed simultaneously, it would effect a saving of time and labour, as well as impress what was being studied more deeply upon the memory.  The memory for sound, form, music, figures, spelling, etc., appears to be distinct and to vary in each one.  If the memory for sound could be brought more into play, it must help to retain more tenaciously what was learnt.

Of course, the pupil can only expect to be master of the language so far as he has studied and learnt.  He cannot expect to reap where he has not sown.  Within this limit he learns to read, in preparing the lesson, and to write, in writing out the exercises.

But Mr. Charles Sauer says in the preface to his Italian Grammar 5th Ed., page iv., “Everyone who has occupied himself with study of modern languages knows, that by far the more difficult task is to understand the foreign language,” (i.e., when spoken.)

That cannot be called a success which leaves the most difficult part of the task unaccomplished, nor can it be wise to allow difficulties to amass and accumulate, if they can be mastered in detail as they present themselves.  The task is the education of the ear and tongue and this can only be done by practice.

To learn to understand the language when spoken, one must hear it spoken; to learn to speak it, one must speak it.  It may even have its advantages if such conversation keep within the range of the pupil’s knowledge.  He thus feels that he ought, must, and can understand, if he try.

If the pupil speak to himself both these results are attained.  This he can do by studying aloud.  His tongue will educate his ear and familiarise it with the new sounds, whilst the ear will correct the tongue.  I assume, of course, that he is under the p. 6guidance of a teacher; in this case with attention to the teacher’s pronunciation and care, and a little effort on his own part, he should soon pronounce correctly, easily, and well.  By translating the exercises aloud, from five to twenty times, they should become as familiar to him as English.  But whether translating into or from English, the foreign sentences should always be uttered aloud clearly and distinctly.  It is, of course, a drawback, that in this translation aloud and alone of the exercises, the eye should anticipate the ear in conveying the words to the brain, but, when full allowance has been made for this, the gain for the pupil is still immense as compared with the silent method of study.

The learner should not be satisfied with being able to translate the exercises, he should aim at being able to use his new tongue with the same ease, readiness and fluency, as his native language.  At each successive translation, he gains in this respect whilst engraving his newly acquired knowledge more deeply on his memory.  The exercise which the first time required fifteen minutes to translate, the fifth time will probably take but three.

A chief difficulty being the education of the ear, and the time spent with the teacher being the pupil’s best opportunity for this, the lesson for the pupil so far as possible should be aural, the exercises being spoken by the teacher to the pupil for translation and the pupil’s translations likewise being spoken.  The pupil’s book should be kept closed during the translation.

Supposing the pupil to be studying French.  The teacher should first speak the French exercise in French, the pupil translating each sentence as spoken, into English.

2.  Then taking the English exercise, the teacher should translate it aloud into French, the pupil retranslating each sentence, when spoken, into English.

3.  The teacher should then speak each sentence of the English exercise in English; the pupil translating each sentence in a distinct voice into French.

4.  The teacher should then translate aloud sentence by sentence, the French exercise into English; the pupil retranslating each sentence into French.

This will double the exercises, which are usually rather scanty.  As we see, this part of the lesson is for the pupil exclusively aural and oral; he works through the ear and tongue only, his book being kept closed.

In working alone at the preparation of his lesson, there is the disadvantage for the ear, that, before the sound reaches it, the eye has conveyed the meaning to the brain, but when working p. 7with the teacher as above, this drawback is obviated.  The test is indeed a more severe one than actual conversation would be.  When conversing, the subject is known, and the question suggests the reply; but with disconnected sentences, no such help is forthcoming.

The pupil can much hasten his own progress by varying the exercises, forming of them question and answer, changing tenses and moods of verbs, varying them so far as he can trying how far he can make conversation out of them.

This method has further the advantage of showing the pupil plainly, week by week, the progress he is making and the remedy being in his own hands, he becomes responsible for his own failure.  If he cannot translate freely and easily, when with the teacher, he cannot expect later to speak freely and naturally, when he comes to engage in actual conversation with foreigners.  His remedy is to translate his exercises alone, until he can do so, as readily, as if they were English.  The shyness and diffidence that so frequently accompany first attempts to converse are not experienced under this method.

One reason why pupils in conversation fail to understand readily is because they do not know the verbs well; do not know their grammar; a sentence does not convey to them at once a definite meaning, and whilst engaged in puzzling out the meaning of what has already been said they cannot give their undivided attention to what their interlocutor is just saying.

I have described the manner in which on Mr. Wm. Rodger’s visit in March 1891, I was led to this method.  Theoretically it seemed to me sound, and after having since tested it practically, I do not think its merit exaggerated.  In April last 1894, a French Grammar by Mr. Paul Baume was brought under my notice.  Mr. Baume recommends a similar method between teacher and pupil, but omits to state how the pupil can best prepare himself for it.  Mr. Baume, will, I think find the difficulties he mentions to disappear, if the pupil prepare himself as I have prescribed.  I have never encountered such difficulties, and attribute this to the fact, that I always recommend pupils to prepare themselves by studying aloud.  Mr. Baume says he has practised his method with considerable success during twenty years.  I was not very much surprised at having been partially anticipated by Mr. Baume, for, while error is infinite, the truth is one; there can be only one straight line between two points, and this seems to me the most direct, the straightest way to the simultaneous fourfold acquirement of a language.

p. 8With a Grammar like that of Otto an expeditious mode of learning words is desirable.  Perhaps the quickest, is to transcribe the words to be learnt, into parallel columns and covering up each column in turn, to run down them ten or more times.  Whilst doing this the foreign words should always be pronounced aloud.  The transcription impresses the spelling on the memory, and where the written alphabet differs from the English affords valuable practice.  Arminius Vambery thought it a matter for congratulation when having begun by learning ten words daily, he was able to reach sixty.  The column of twenty foreign words can be mastered in about one quarter of an hour, and I have myself done over 200 at this rate on some days, though I do not say they can be retained without repetition.

Lord Dufferin says that in a work of about 600 pages, there will probably be three thousand words of which the meaning will be unknown to the student.  A list should be made of them, and they can be conveniently mastered at the rate of forty daily and thus all learnt in three months.  With each successive work, the process should be repeated, until it becomes unnecessary.  He adds that this has the advantage that, if necessary, after a long interval, by preserving such lists, the words can be relearnt with little trouble.

An able Swiss authority recommends the pupil to learn from 10,000 to 12,000 words of each language, dividing them into three or four classes according to their usefulness or frequency of occurrence.  He recommends their periodical repetition.

Asher’s German Correspondent and Booch-Arkossy in the “Eco de Madrid” recommend the translation of a good idiomatic work into English and its translation into the language of the original, carefully comparing such retranslation with the original and noting mistakes.  With the teacher, such translation may be made by word of mouth, the teacher translating into English and the pupil retranslating each sentence when uttered into the language of the original.

Another method is to read and translate some idiomatic foreign work.  At the end of the paragraph, the teacher forms questions from each sentence, to which the pupil replies.  So soon as able, the pupil, in turn, questions.  This is I believe substantially the old “Robertsonian method.”  The pupil can prepare his lesson by framing both question and answer himself.  It is excellent drill.

Good practice in speaking is also to be obtained by the pupil’s narrating to the teacher in the language of the original, p. 9the contents of each paragraph.  He need not of course attempt to recite by heart the words of the text, but merely repeat the sense.

Mr. Chardenal recommends the pupil to translate mentally an increasing number of sentences daily and to repeat them as frequently as possible during the day.  The sentences should illustrate important rules.  His object is to induce mental work, personal labour on the part of the pupil.

Arminius Vambery’s method was to enter into imaginary conversations with himself.

All these methods do not mean discordance but agreement.  All methods which concurrently with Grammar, mean practice or induce it, are good.  This is the pith and secret of all successful systems: practice with method often, much, and aloud but by all means master the Grammar as quickly and thoroughly as possible, and thus practice strengthens grammar, while grammar guides and illumines practice.

Dr. Abercrombie in his work, “Intellectual Powers” chapter “Memory,” says the depth, the permanence of an impression on the mind depends upon the distinctness of the perception, the intensity with which it is contemplated, the length of time during which it is kept before the mind, the impression being very much strengthened by being repeatedly brought before the mind.  This labour must be a voluntary act on the part of the individual.  He adds: “The habit of listless activity should be carefully guarded against by the young, and the utmost care should be taken to cultivate the opposite, namely, of directing the mind intensely to whatever comes before it in reading or observation.  This may be considered as forming the foundation of a sound intellectual character.”

Lord Macaulay attributed his marvellous memory to a very simple method, adopted when a boy.  When reading, at the bottom of each page, he required himself to give an account of its contents.  At the outset, said he, he needed to reperuse the page three or four times, but he ended by being able almost to recite a book from beginning to end after having once read it through.  This is also the essential feature recommended by Dr. Abercrombie in his “Intellectual Powers” chapter on memory.  Such a method of summarising each letter, order, invoice, or conversation at its close would also give good results to the Merchant, Clerk, or Traveller, both in leaving a clear impression and in strengthening the memory.

It certainly seems to me an excellent way for mastering the p. 10rules, and would admit of their recapitulation each time the exercises are gone through.

Reading aloud is also an excellent practice.  It improves the pronunciation and trains or keeps the ear in practice.  Its benefit is not to be measured by what is retained by the memory.  It confers also a benefit similar to that which is derived from a course of arithmetic.  Grammatical peculiarities may be noted at the end of the book, and the page added.  As the limbs are invigorated and strengthened by suitable exercise, so the powers of the mind are strengthened and developed by following a great mind at its best, following its train of thought, of reason.

Mr. John Cryer in his school board electioneering address, 1894, ranges promising pupils in the order of workers, plodders and bright ones.  The last are frequently overrated, the memory more quick than retentive.  “Wie gewonnen, so zerronnen,” “Lightly come, lightly go,” mere quickness may prove a will o’ the wisp, and may be peculiar to one subject, but the capacity for patient, honest, painstaking work is a vastly more valuable quality, which can be applied with fair success to any pursuit.  It gives earnest of the sense of duty, of responsibility, and that capacity for self-sacrifice, which peculiarly fit and qualify their possessor for positions of trust and responsibility; it is a pledge that the amount of labour will be forthcoming to render equal to the position.  “Practice makes perfect” says the proverb.  “Habit becomes second nature” and the facility and aptitude which nature sometimes bestows as a free gift can be acquired at the cost of application and diligence.

Whilst mastering the first language the pupil is also learning how to learn languages, each successive one becomes more easy.

Let the pupil make it a rule always to do his best.  He will naturally take a pride and a pleasure in work well done, and by continually striving and studying to do better, he cannot fail to improve in it.  This is the road to honest success, to happiness and to self-improvement: this will continually enlarge his capabilities and strengthen his natural powers, and, even if he fail in accomplishing all he aimed at, there can be no better consolation than that of knowing that he has nothing to reproach himself with that he has manfully done his best, and that he is the better for the effort.

In their desire to disparage and discredit the already existing system of learning Foreign Languages by means of a p. 11Grammar, the exponents of the “Natural Method” and “Method of Nature” choose to ignore the existence of the large number of Linguists who have acquired their knowledge through a Grammar.

Mr. Gouin is of opinion that one can learn a language perfectly in 900 hours, or 300 lessons of three hours each, one can know enough French to feel at home in France, to understand what is said in street, cafe, or railway, to read a French newspaper with ease and to talk French with a French accent in six months lessons of 2 hours each, five days per week—seeReview of Reviews” 1892, page 512, and January, 1893.

Most teachers under the Grammatical Method have to achieve success or make the best of one lesson of one hour weekly.  This is one-fifteenth, or one-tenth of the time per week mentioned by Mr. Gouin.

The saving of time shown by the Grammatical Method is due to generalisation.  It distributes words into classes, defines the laws or rules that govern their use, and regulates the construction of sentences.  Sentences are thus taught in groups and not singly.  The pupil learns to construct sentences, and does not simply learn by heart to repeat them.  He can thus supply himself at will with an infinite number.  If he fail thus to apply his knowledge, only his own lack of diligence is in fault.

The writer first commenced the study of languages nearly forty years ago, and during this time he has spent nearly twenty years abroad, in various foreign countries, but he never met with a case where a pupil had continuously, daily, earnestly, and honestly devoted one-fourth of the time mentioned by Mr. Gouin to the study of a good grammar of a foreign language who could reasonably complain of failure, nor indeed a shorter space of time applied under the same conditions which did not meet with a proportionate measure of success.

The titles of the new methods have been adroitly chosen, they claim to be those of nature and by implication stigmatise the Grammatical method as unnatural.  They profess that they teach a foreign language as a child learns to speak its mother tongue.  A very high classical authority coupled “ratio et oratio” reason and speech as complements and indubitably speech can only improve and develop as the mind unfolds and matures.  Those who adopt the new method appear to think the limitations imposed by the immature child’s mind worthy of imitation when dealing with the riper adult.  Rule of Thumb has the advantage that being born of and acquired by p. 12practice it can be applied and put into practice, but it is certainly rather late in the day to revert to it in the acquirement of languages.  We have had some experience of Rule of Thumb in this town.  The Grammatical Methods of teaching languages are those of teaching any science in a thorough manner.  They classify the various parts of speech for the purpose of reducing them to rule, these are studied in detail and the rule defines the conditions and limitations under which they can be used in construction.  This rule teaches us how we can correctly form thousands of sentences on the model of one, instead of regarding each as so many distinct phenomena.  One Grammarian, Lennie, 47th Ed., defines Grammar as the art of speaking and writing the English Language with propriety.  I venture to say that in dealing with a foreign language one cannot express one’s self with accuracy, nay one cannot be confident of expressing one’s own meaning at all without a grammatical knowledge of it.  But, of course, speech means practice, and no amount of theory can become a substitute for this.

Mr. Gouin was a youthful unmarried student of Caen University distinguished by a capacious but not very retentive memory.  He was sent by the Professors to attend lectures at Berlin University and Hamburg and proceeded to master German.  He learnt the German Grammar in ten days.  But being unable to understand the lectures he learns the 1000 German roots in four days, and again tries the lecture room with the same ill-success.  He then decided to learn the German Dictionary by heart and did so in one month, but on again attending the lecture room, he was still unable to understand.  He passed ten months in similar efforts and states that on one occasion he attended the lectures for a whole week, without understanding a single sentence.  He subsequently states, that his previous ten months work, so far from being useful to him in a new effort was detrimental.  He had a wrong pronunciation, and there was not a single verb in the whole language to which he did not attribute a meaning other than the true one.  He had to unlearn, then relearn.  After ten months labours he returned to France unsuccessful.  Under a teacher’s guidance, with much less labour, he would have achieved an unqualified success.

By observing a young nephew of four years he is led to his present method.  He returns to Germany, puts it into practice, and is speedily and eminently successful.  He banishes Dictionary, Grammar, Roots, Ollendorf and Robertson.

Mr. Gouin appears to have thought that since a language is p. 13made up of grammatical rules and words, it was only necessary to commit them to memory to have mastered the language.  His mistake was that of the person who should suppose that since strength is derived from food, the more food he swallows the stronger he becomes.  He exceeded his capacity of mental digestion and assimilation.

Another cause of Mr. Gouin’s failure was that of supposing that a knowledge of the theory carries with it the ability to practice.

Mr. Gouin states that his memory was in his eye not in his ear, and that a month’s interruption of his labours proceeding from disease of sight brought on by overwork was sufficient to efface from his memory Grammar, Dictionary all previously learnt.  Dicken’s Yorkshire schoolmaster, Mr. Squeers recognised that knowledge acquired, ought speedily to be put into practice.  Mr. Gouin would have found in Paris, many young Frenchmen engaged in commercial pursuits who speak Italian or Spanish or Portuguese, and even English or German, well, who have never been in any country where these languages are spoken.  This was the case so far back as 1866.

Review of Reviews, 1892, page 88.—Professor Blackie says that after five months in Germany, he knew German as well as his mother tongue.  He attended Professor’s lectures, took regular lessons in German.  He added to this the text-book used by Professor, daily intercourse with students, and the constant reading of easy German books.  By this combination of social intercourse, primary training of the ear, and secondary use of relative books both in reading and writing, he spoke German like English in five months.  Memory depends upon force of original impression and frequency of repetition.  He says that at the University pupils did not learn to speak Latin.  A new professor came who spoke it, made a speech in it, and called upon the pupils to reply, Blackie was the only one who ventured to do so, and had learnt by “spouting” Latin speeches of Cicero etc. in his room.  He used Italian vowels.

Dr. Hanes says it is impossible to learn a language by the translation of disconnected sentences, referring to the usual exercises of the Grammatical Methods, and by learning lists of words.  The sentences are only disconnected in that they do not always form question and answer, but this the student can easily and profitably remedy.  Besides all speech is not dialogue.  See page 7.  They are no more disconnected than are so many soldiers of a regiment, moving at the impulse of one mind, and marching to the attainment of one object.  The connection is that all p. 14the soldiers act in unison in execution of the command of their officers.  The connection between the so-called disconnected sentences is that they have been selected to illustrate and inculcate the rule under study.  This is the true connection that unites and harmonises them all, that each leads the pupil directly to the attainment of his object—the mastery of the rule.  The illusory connection of some insipid narrative is only delusive.

What can a method be which, from the beginning excludes the mother tongue of the pupil when he knows no other? it is necessarily confined to dumb show and practice.  It is no more to be compared for thoroughness to the Grammatical Method than would be instruction in weaving by a weaver, with the instruction of Master of the Technical School in constructing a piece.  Doubtless a person can learn to weave a piece in a Factory but no one will compare such an acquirement with the course of instruction in manufacturing, in the construction of a piece, imparted at the Technical School, under the guidance, of Mr. Ashenhurst’s text books.  Grammar, in the study of language is such a text book, it imparts order and method to the study.

We have suffered from the divorce and the dissociation of theory and practice.  Until recently our universities, or seats of learning, catered only for the aristocracy, the land-owning class, and the clergy: science was neglected.  Originating in the natural advantages of an abundant supply of easily-worked coal and iron, an extensive coast line, and a favourable geographical situation, we had achieved an undeniable pre-eminence in industry and manufactures, which was supported by abundant cheap capital and a spirit of enterprise; it was backed by workmen possessed of natural ability, and such skill as practice and highly sub-divided labour can impart.  All this was found insufficient to enable us to hold our own, our supremacy was passing away, and when the cause of our inability to maintain it was investigated, our deficiency was declared to be the lack of a systematised higher education.  Public Spirit founded our Technical Schools to supply the remedy and they have been found effective.

Owing to the neglect of modern languages by our Universities and a system of higher education which took no cognizance of industrial needs we were amongst the most backward in this branch of study, but when interest was aroused our grammars were largely borrowed from our more successful competitors from those who excelled as much in modern languages as we ourselves in industry.  They were often the work of foreign specialists and experts they are the very instruments of success used by our p. 15most successful rivals, how then can they be inadequate?  Translation has put us into possession of the best works used by our foreign rivals, and if we are less successful than they it is due as a Swiss correspondent of the “Manchester Guardian” recently stated not to the superior aptitude but the superior application of the foreigner.  He is less sensible to the attractions of football and out-door sports or at least they are not of such an all-absorbing irresistible temptation.  With a mother tongue compounded of the Teutonic and Romance languages, no other people than the British enjoys such a natural facility for acquiring both the German and French and their sister tongues.

In 1893 the Scotch Education Department issued a report to the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education for Scotland, by Professor Herbert A.  Strong, L.L.D. on

Methods of teaching Modern Languages in Belgium.

Belgium was selected as a field for investigation, says Professor Strong, because, from force of circumstances it has paid particular attention to this branch of instruction, the necessity of learning modern languages being there felt, much more strongly than in Britain.  It is a small country, thickly populated, with an extensive commerce, for which as well as for its literature, it is compelled to look to countries larger than itself.  It embraces three languages within its borders—Flemish, spoken by more than three millions; Walloon by over two millions, and French the language of literature and commerce.

In the Primary Schools, French, the language of their Literature and Commerce is studied six years.  Every child must study one language besides its mother tongue.  This is compulsory.







6th year

Girls weekly






3 hours

Boys weekly





3 hours


It is understood, it is no part of the duties of the primary school to teach the literature of a language.

In the Athénées, or Secondary Schools, French or Flemish compulsory courses comprise six lessons a week during first two years, and three lessons per week in following years:—


German six years, page 11.

7 years, page 12.







7th year







3 hours


p. 16The degree of proficiency of the pupils is also stated page 17.  In these schools the method of teaching from objects is not anti- but simply ante-grammatical as is apparent from the classes in which the two methods are respectively in use.  In the two lowest classes of a primary school, ignorance of their own language, and their unripe mental powers would not admit of children of such tender age learning otherwise than from objects.


The following French Numerals are differently pronounced according 1st—as they stand alone, or are joined to Noun or Adjective beginning, 2nd—with Vowel.  3rd—with Consonant.

Compound numbers as simple ones.

Practise the sounds given

with the words






un n’arbre





































17 diss-sett,

18 diz-huit,

19 diz-neuf,














In ils étaient neuf a diner, neuf en tout, the f keeps its natural sound.

No tie is ever made before onze

In 21 to 29 the t of vingt is sounded, 22, vint-deu, 23 vint troi etc.  From 80 to 99 the t of vingt is everywhere mute, and the n is sounded nasal.  Quatre-vingt-un is sounded quatre-vin-un.

Cent un is sounded san un; but 200 deu sanz hommes.

Mille, thousand has no plural form.  deux mille 2000; deux milles means two miles.  Mil is used in Christian era, l’an Mil huit cent, 1800.

In pronoun Tous, the  is never silent and always pronounced like ç or ss.

In Belgium for 70, septante, for 80, octante, for 90 nonante are used.

“The Aural System” Supplement.