The Living Method – a textbook from 1892

I know I’ve described this book before, somewhere. It was published in 1892, fourth edition, and is titled The Living Method How To Think In Spanish, by Charles F. Kroeh. He was professor of languages at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., U.S.A.
I love the phraseology of this period: “In view of the importance of numbers in our daily intercourse…..” I only wish!
The role of memorization is very large and grammar explanations abound, but the course of study actually consists of using in “daily intercourse” with a partner (we hope) the phrases memorized as part of each lesson. I can see working with a partner in this a developing the sort of associations the author expects in the preface (see below/vide infra):
When you have learned the following pages you will be in possession of phraseology describing most of your actions during the day, from the time you rise until you go to bed.
You should endeavor to acquire the habit of associating these foreign phrases so perfectly with your actions that they will mutually suggest each other. Whenever you do anything , say that you are doing, if you are along, or think it, if you are not. This method has two great advantages:
1 It eliminates English for the time
2 You can practice it, off and on, all day long, without taking time from other duties.
When you have associated your own actions and words, the actions of others are observed and made to suggest the foreign expressions.
When all this is accomplished, the remainder of your task consists in the substitution of new words and phrases in the sentences you already know, in accordance with the genius of the language, so that the accurate knowledge of one sentence will enable you to make a large number of the same kind.
Finally, you will be shown how to connect such simple sentences in all possible ways.
So here we have the vain wish of learning by analogy: memorize sentence A and many more can be made on the pattern by substituting. Anyone for substitution drills?
Nevertheless, this books emphasis on actions applied to daily living is very different from the textbooks that followed. Maybe I should develop a new category for my blog on textbooks; I love reading fl textbooks and could review a lot of them from over the years. Like Ronald, I have a 1916 or so Spanish textbook, some from the 30s, 40s and 50s and on up to the present. Some, like The Living Method, are one offs or at least don’t conform to the textbook template; others reflect teaching fads of the time e.g. programmed learning.
Like I’ve got nothing else to do.

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