domingo, 2 de diciembre de 2007


Languages were studied in the most ancient civilizations. In the third millennium B.C, the Sumerians (nowadays the East of Turkey), an advanced culture, were conquered by the Acadians, without a powerful culture behind them. As a consequence, the Acadians learnt the Sumerian language.
The Egyptians developed the art of interpretation. The pharaohs had to talk to their neighbours for diplomatic and commercial purposes and, as a result, schools of interpretation were founded. The method followed by these schools was strongly oral. They learnt words and put them in the context without any use of grammar.
In the age of Romans, the written tradition based on written language was introduced and the teaching method combined both, the oral and written competence. Books based on dialogues appeared in the fourth century. These books were used for learning Greek. The method was based on memorising those dialogues, that is, in an oral way. These books would be kept until the 11th and 12th century. Eventually, the Romans founded schools where works by Plato or Cicero were used. It is also important to point out that wealthy Romans were taught by Greek teacher-slaves.
Later on, the Christian missionaries were forced to learn the language of the people they were trying to convert as the only mean of communicating with them.
During the Middle Ages, the school system emerges in Europe around and within the monasteries. The growing of schools was useful in order to systematize and make homogeneous the learning. The language used for teaching languages is the prestige language, that is, language written by famous authors. These languages were mainly Latin, Greek and Hebrew which were taught in the monastic schools.
In the Renaissance, Queen Elizabeth I reported to have learnt Hebrew, Aramic, Greek and Latin and the entry requirement for Harvard when it was founded in 1636 was to understand any Latin classic on sight.

It was not until the 18th century when the study of modern languages was first introduced officially in the United States. The oral language does not disappear with the school system. It coexists with the written and grammar tradition. Throughout the centuries many methods appeared and died out constantly.

No hay comentarios: