Poco a poco; an elementary direct method for learning Spanish (1922) PDF by Guillermo Hall Aviles

Poco a poco; an elementary direct method for learning Spanish

Poco a poco; an elementary direct method for learning Spanish


t is not necessary to go into a detailed statement here of the general reasons which make desirable the use of the direct method in teaching beginners a foreign language. It will be sufficient to state some of the ideas the author has had in mind in preparing this book.

 Speech in any language is the spontaneous result of a desire to express thought. Spontaneous expression of thought presupposes several factors. Chief among these is the existence in the mind of the speaker of the symbols of thought. These symbols are words and the groups of words that we call sentences. To employ these symbols spontaneously and correctly their use must be a habit. Now habit is the result of doing the same thing many times. 

In other words, correct speech is the result of not so much knowledge as of habit. If anyone doubts the truth of this assertion, let him go to hear some public speaker and listen carefully for slips in grammar and in pronunciation. He is likely to find them aplenty. 

Why? Because the speaker does not know better? No, not that; but simply because under the stress of enthusiasm or of emotion, the man lapses unconsciously into the language heard in his early youth — that is, of the period before he studied grammar and rhetoric. It follows, then, since correct speech is a habit, and habits are built up by repetition, that the young student needs much practice. In this book the required practice is provided by the Prdctica en el Uso de Las Formas and by very abundant Ejercicios, Cuestionarios and Composi- ciones.

Yet another thing is important. If the student is to speak the language, he must previously hear it. The human ear does not recognize the sounds it has never heard. Children who are born deaf rarely learn to speak. The congenitally blind deaf-mutes are not mute because they cannot see, but because they cannot hear. The mute graduates of our classes in modern languages, let us add, are mute in spite of having seen much of the language, simply because they have not heard it. It must be remembered also that first impressions are strongest and most lasting, and their first impressions have been through the eye. For these reasons, and for others that cannot be discussed in limited space, the author believes that the lessons of this book should be presented orally before the student sees the words in print. Let the ear learn to recognize the sound of the basic words of the language. 


The eye will help the ear afterwards. If we reverse the process, the eye simply builds up its own separate memory groups and is a hindrance rather than a help. Specific suggestions as to method, word lists, hints for presentation, etc., will be found in the Teacher's Manual, which may be obtained from the publishers. In Parte, Segunda will be found much valuable reference material, — models for correspondence, rules, explanations of vocabulary, irregular forms, conjugations, forms of adjectives, pronouns, etc., — and at the end, a complete index arranged first by heading of subject-matter, and second by words whose grammatical peculiarities are treated. In conclusion, the author wishes to thank his friends and fellow teachers who have contributed by helpful suggestions to make what he hopes will be found a practical and interesting method of learning the first two

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