How Should They Learn?
Mason believed that,
- “…[languages] should be acquired as English is, not as a grammar, but as a living speech (Home Education, pg 300).”
- “…[t]he child should never see…words in print until he has learned to say them with as much ease and readiness as if they were English (Home Education, pg 301).”
- “…it is very important that he should acquire a pure accent from the first (Home Education, pg 302).”
- “…it is incontestable that the ear, and not the eye, is the physical organ for apprehending a language… (Home Education, pg 302)
- “…the acquisition of a foreign tongue need not present insuperable difficulties to any of us (Home Education, pg 307.”
Language Through the Years/Forms
Like reading and math in Mason’s philosophy, language lessons are scaffolded through the terms and through the Years/Forms. Just as babies first learn their mother tongue, “…children should learn [language] orally, by listening to and repeating…words and phrases…(Home Education, pg 80).” After much time has been spent (about 2 years) listening and speaking, the work moves to writing (year 3) and then finally to reading (last term of year 3). Much of the work in Form 1 continues through the Forms getting increasingly more challenging as the student knows more.
Below you will find the work laid out by Year, Form and Grade. I used the three to help those unfamiliar with Mason’s Forms and those who have older students beginning a new language. You want to follow the progression of work instead of placing your student in their current Form or grade. For example, a 4th grade student beginning a language would not jump in with the work you see below for 4th grade. This student would begin at Year One. An older student beginning a language would likely progress more quickly through the steps.
The only caveat for this situation is time. Lessons for older students in Year One of a language would be 20-30 minutes instead of the 10 minutes you see below. The time allotted for each lesson according to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy had to do with mental development and the ability to focus attention.
For more details on what was expected in each Form specifically, based on Mason’s programmes, check out my two part series, “Foreign Languages with Charlotte Mason and Friends, Part One and Two,” over at Charlotte Mason Soirée!
Year One∼Form 1B∼Grade 1
Lessons are 10 minutes, three times per week. A separate 15 minute lesson is for song.
- Vocabulary-an emphasis is placed on the steady learning of vocabulary meaningful to the child–around the house, grocery store, pets, the natural world, etc. The words are learned through the use of pictures and real objects. Vocabulary words are used in sentences and recorded in a notebook for the teacher to recall and use in daily life with the children.
“…they should learn a few–two or three, five or six–new…words daily, and that, at the same time, the old words should be kept in use…(Mason, Charlotte. Home Education, pg 80).”
“…the child’s vocabulary should increase steadily, say, at the rate of half a dozen words a day….Of course, his teacher, will take care that, in giving words, she gives idioms also, and that as he learns new words, they are put into sentences and kept in use from day to day. A note-book in which she enters the child’s new words and sentences will easily enable the teacher to do this (Mason, C. Home Education, pg 301).”
- Series–-Mason believed M. Gouin’s idea of the series was “…the most important attempt that has yet been made to bring the study of languages within the sphere of practical education (Mason, Charlotte. Home Education, pg 302).” In a 1893 Parent’s Review article, Rev. Henry Bell beautifully describes M. Gouin’s series as,
“…connected progressive sentences, bound together by the living experience of the being who acts and utters them, whose very life and individuality they unfold. The child thus lives the language, and so learns it. The chain of sentences thus becomes his natural history.”
- Conversational Lesson Book-Though Mason agreed that M. Gouin’s idea of the series was groundbreaking, she submitted that, “[t]he method of teaching may be varied, partly because that recommended by M. Gouin requires a perfect command of the [language], and teachers who are diffident find a conversational method founded on book and picture easier to work and perhaps as effectual—more so, some people think...(Mason, Charlotte. Home Education, page 306 ).” Therefore, in Mason’s schools, teachers used conversational lesson books to assist them in their teaching. In Form 1B, the book would include basic vocabulary, sentences and paragraph stories with pictures. Depending on the type of lesson book used, students complete about six lessons per term.
- Poetry/Nursery Rhymes-students listen to and recite short poems
- Short Stories-as vocabulary is developed, students listen to short stories
- Games-simple games using pictures, vocabulary words and phrases
- Songs-songs provide joy and variety, essential to giving life to the language studied; learn two songs per term.
Years 2 & 3∼Form 1A∼Grades 2 & 3
Lessons are 10 minutes, three times per week. A separate 15 minute lesson is for song.
The work in Years 2 & 3 is the same as Year 1, with the addition of:
- Narration-the process of narrating begins in Form 1A. “…at this stage the teacher should with the children’s help translate the little passage which is to be narrated, then re-read it in [the language] and require the children to narrate it (Mason, Charlotte. A Philosophy of Education, pg 211).” (Mason writes extensively in volume 6 about narration beginning in Form 2A, but study of her programmes shows that her students began this process in Form 1A. Mason felt that both the oral method and use of narration were the secrets to strong language development.)
- Writing (if comfortable with writing)-in Upper Form 1A (year 3), students begin writing the words and phrases they know
- Reading-students in the last term of Upper Form 1A (year 3) began with a simple reader, reading first sentences and moving to paragraphs
Year 4∼Form 2B∼Grade 4
Lessons are 30 minutes, three times per week. A separate 20 minutes lesson is for song.
The work in Year 4 is the same for Years 1-3, though progressively harder, with the addition of:
- Grammar-the formal study of grammar begins. Teachers used lessons and exercises from their formal lesson books, though not exhaustively.
- Pictures-though pictures are used in previous years to learn vocabulary, students now look at pictures and describe them with complete sentences. This is another step toward more fully narrating. Mason used Tableaux Auxiliares Delmas, among other things.
- Writing-if students did not begin writing in Form 1A, students begin writing words and phrases they know
- Reading-students continue with a simple reader, reading first sentences, paragraphs and then pages
Years 5 & 6∼Form 2A∼Grades 5 & 6
Lessons are 30 minutes, three times per week. A separate 20 minutes lesson is for song. In 2A, students began the study of their second language with songs only. The more in depth study of a second language begins in Form 3.
The work in Years 5 & 6 is the same as years prior, though progressively harder.
- Narration-in the process of narrating, students move from narrating sentences to short paragraphs to short stories in preparation for reading/narrating more extensively on their own in Form 3. In Form 2A, students are narrating more fully from much longer readings.
“This method of closely attentive reading of the text followed by narration is continued in each of the Forms (Mason, Charlotte. A Philosophy of Education, pg 211).”
Years 7 & 8∼Form 3∼Grades 7 & 8
Lessons are 45 minutes, two times per week. One 20 minute lesson per week is for song.
Students in this Form began their second language with 30 & 45 minute lessons twice a week. Separate 20 minute lessons were for songs in the new language(s). Keep in mind, this was scheduled during a six day school week!
By Years 7 & 8, vocabulary is learned by-the-way through literature and there is less use of games and pictures. Students continue formal lessons in grammar, and the reading and reciting of poetry and songs. The work becomes considerably harder as students now:
- Read & Narrate-students now read from chapter books and narrate them orally and in written form
- Translation-students begin translating simple sentences and paragraphs into their target language
- Parsing-students have a good understanding of grammar and parse pages from their books
Year 9∼Form 4∼Grade 9
Lessons in their primary language meet three times per week–two 45 minute lessons and one 30 minute lesson. Lessons in their second language met two times per week for 45 minutes. Singing is scheduled for 20 minutes, everyday of the week.
The work for Year 9 is the same as Years 7 & 8 though Mason wrote about the books chosen, “…books when possible illustrate the history studied (Mason, Charlotte. School Education, page 294).”
Years 10-12∼Forms 5 & 6∼Grades 10-12
Lessons in their primary language meet four times per week–two 45 minute lessons, one 25 minute lesson and one 30 minute lesson.
Lessons in their second language meet twice per week for 45 minutes. Singing is scheduled for 25 minutes, everyday of the week.
The work for Years 10-12 is the same as above though considerably harder. Students read, narrate and summarize substantial works in their target language. Students now translate modern verse into their target language.