Welcome back! Je suis contente de vous revoir! Last week I shared with you my family’s journey learning French as Charlotte Mason and friends intended. We explored Mason’s three vital questions as they apply to foreign language…“Why must they learn at all? What must they learn? And how should they learn it?” Mason wrote,
…to acquire the speech of neighbouring nations is not only to secure an inlet of knowledge and a means of culture, but is a duty of that higher morality…which aims at universal brotherhood (Mason, Charlotte. Parents and Children, page 7).”
Not only was language taught as a means of reaching others, Mason said that language,
…taught orally, is exceedingly valuable at affording training for both ear and voice (Mason, Charlotte. Home Education, page 133).”
With these ideas as our foundation, our aim this week is to walk away with a better understanding of Mason’s method in practice in the Parent’s National Education Union (P.N.E.U) schools. Prayerfully, if we can understand the practice, we can more easily apply it within our own homes.
Though students in Mason’s schools graduated well versed in French, Latin, and German (or Italian), only French was studied throughout the Forms. To obtain a full picture of study, we will follow the study of French through the Forms.
FORM I (Grades 1-3)
Last week, we learned that Mason believed language must be taught orally, just as a baby first learns its primary language.
The initial idea, that we must acquire a new language as a child acquires his mother tongue, is absolutely right….[I]t is incontestable that the ear, and not the eye, is the physical organ for apprehending a language, just as truly as it is by the mouth, and not the ear, we appropriate food(Mason, Charlotte. Home Education, page 302).”
[t]he child should never see French words in print until he has learned to say them with as much ease and readiness as if they were English (Mason, Charlotte. Home Education, page 301).”
Programme 127 details, “The work should be oral, but in Upper IA children may write down words and short sentences.” This, of course would happen, as we have read, only after the students had mastered the word or phrase.
Programme 105 lists for Form IB, conversational French lessons (vocab, phrases), series, poems, and songs. In Form IA French fables were added.
The exam reveals what the children were expected to know:
- Sing a French song, or, act a nursery rhyme in French.
- Give the French names of four things in your bedroom, and say in French how you use them.
Programme 105 Exam Form IA, 1926
- Say, in French, how you get up in the morning, wash yourself, dress yourself.
- Recite, or, act in French, a scene in a lark’s nest (L’Alouette et Ses Petits), or recite a French poem.
FORM II (Grades 4-6)
“Children in Form IIB have easy French Lessons with pictures which they describe, but in IIA while still engaged in the Primary French Course, children begin to use the method which is as full of promise in the teaching of languages as in English, that is, they are expected to narrate the sentence or paragraph which has been read to them….the teacher should with the children’s help translate the little passage which is to be narrated, then re-read it in French and require the children to narrate it….They learn French songs in both divisions and act French Fables (by Violet Partington) in Form IIA. This method of closely attentive reading of the text followed by narration is continued in each of the forms (A Philosophy of Education, page 211).”
Programme 105 lists for both A & B, conversational French lessons, songs, short stories and poetry. In Form IIA, students began their second language of study–Latin.
The exams reveal the different expectations in lower and upper Form II.
Programme 105 Exam Form IIB, 1926
- Say what you can, in French, about a visit to a fruit shop or to a grocery’s shop.
- Make six French sentences about Le Brave Chasseur (see picture page 24, Themoin)
Programme 105 Exam Form IIA, 1926
- Describe, in French, (a), how La Petite Cherité was taken away by the fairies, or, (b), Le Mauvais Elève.
- Make six sentences, using different tenses of the verbs écrire, prendre, arriver. Name each tense.
FORM III (Approx. Grades 7-8)
In A Philosophy of Education, Mason writes “Part of the term’s work in Form III is to ‘Read and narrate’ Nouveaux Contes Francais by Marc Ceppi (page 211-212).”
Programme 105 lists conversational French lessons, grammar, French songs, poetry and the reading/narrating of French stories and plays. In Form III, students would begin studying their third language–German or Italian.
The exam reveals students in Form III now translating English to French.
Programme 105 Exam Form III, 1926
- Describe in French, (a), an incident from La Princesse Feuille-morte, or, (b), two places of interest in Paris.
- Translate Siepmann, p. 125, IV., “Henry….early hour.”
- Make sentences, (three of which should be in the past tense) using the conjunctions, quoique, bienque, à moins que…ne, de peur que…ne, il faut que.
FORM IV (Approx. Grade 9)
In Form IV, students continue with similar—though more challenging—lessons as in Form III, though now the,
“…French books when possible illustrate the history studied (Mason, Charlotte. School Education, page 294).” Mason writes in A Philosophy of Education, “Form IV is required amongst other things to ‘Read and narrate’ Molière’s Les Femmes Savantes [a five act play] (page 212).”
Programme 105 lists conversational French lessons, grammar, literature with narration, poetry and songs.
The exam reveals a strong command of French grammar.
Programme 105 Exam Form IV, 1926
- Write a French conversation between two ladies, who have visited France, discussing, for example, a vintage, a picnic, or the journey; or describe, in French, the judgment scene from Pathelin.
- Which conjunctions require (a), the indicative, (b), the conditional, (c), the subjunctive, in French? Use one of each of them in sentences.
- Use, in sentences, the third person singular of the present indicative of the verbs,–mener, geler, céder, jeter, appeler; give the second person plural of the Imperative of these verbs.
FORMS V & VI (Approx. Grades 10-12)
Mason writes in A Philosophy of Education, that ,”Forms V and VI are required to ‘Write a résumé of Le Misanthrope or L’Avare,’ [and] ‘Translate into French Modern Verse’ (A Philosophy of Education, page 212).”
Programme 127 lists conversational French lessons, literature, history, poetry and songs.
- Write a short account of Bertrand du Gueselin. Dates.
- Describe in French, (a) a meeting between Louis VIII and Richelieu, or, (b) Anne of Austria holds a reception.
- Translate into French An Anthology of Modern Verse, page 44, “The pebbles….began.” (prose)
Programme 127 Exam Form VI, 1933
- Give a résumé of Le Monde ou l’on s’ennuie.
- Write upon the origin of the expression “a Roland for an Oliver.”
- Translate into French Dante by Dean Church, page 48, “Dante….himself.”
THE BIG PICTURE
We just took a speedy walk through all twelve years of French study in a P.N.E.U school! With so many details, it’s easy to get lost. Before we get overwhelmed, lets sum up the big picture.
- The primary method of teaching is oral and conversational.
- Stories, songs, and poetry provide variety, life and joy.
- Students do not see or write words until they know and use them with ease.
- “No doubt M. Gouin’s [series] method should be more successful than any other in steeping the student…in German or French thought (Mason, Charlotte. Home Education, page 303.)”
- The practice of narration begins in Form II. “This method of closely attentive reading of the text followed by narration is continued in each of the forms (A Philosophy of Education, page 211).”
- The study of grammar begins in Upper Form II and continues through all the forms.
- Students in Form III begin translating English into their language of study.
- Literature selections become more challenging as the child progresses through the forms.
- Beginning in Form IV, “…books when possible illustrate the history studied (Mason, Charlotte. School Education, page 294)”
SO, WHAT NOW?
Give yourself a round of applause! Phew! You made it through a two part series on Mason’s philosophy and method on teaching foreign languages! I pray your time has been well spent and that you feel refreshed in your understanding and approach to foreign language in your own home. When you’re able, I would highly recommend you listen (or listen again!) to A Delectable Education’s two podcast episodes on foreign language: Foreign Language and How to Teach a Foreign Language that You Don’t Speak Yourself. A wealth of information awaits you there!
When you’re ready to begin planning, take a look at Mason’s practice for the form(s) in which you find yourself with your children and begin gathering resources! Below are some great resources mentioned by the ladies of A Delectable Education:
Thank you so much for taking this journey with me! My heart is humbled and full at the opportunity I’ve had to share my life with you. May your days be filled with joy and wonder! Keep in touch!