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not talk of things of which he knows little or nothing. All that he can do when the conversation turns on such topics is to listen, and it is not a conversation that then takes place, but a lecture by the teacher.
These lessons are not intended for beginners who have neither the vocabulary nor the grammar necessary to make a good use of them. The best kind of conversation that beginners can practise is that which is based upon the text that they are studying. They can then make use of the terms which they have come across in their reading, and although a conversation of that kind is necessarily very simple, it is, nevertheless, an exchange of ideas and not without profit to the student. It is the only kind of conversation that beginners can indulge in.
It need hardly be said that a book of this kind is not meant to be read from cover to cover. The lessons are quite independent of each other, and the instructor will be able to choose, when and as he will, the lessons which appear to him most suited to the needs of his students. The lessons have been grouped according to their subject matter, but we have tried to help the teacher by indicating by numbers placed opposite each lesson as listed in the Table of Contents the degree of difficulty of each lesson. The simpler lessons are marked one (), the others with two (2) or three (3) according to the difficulties which they present. The instructor will thus be able easily to test the strength of his students, and to follow their progress.
We have wished to leave every latitude, and all possible initiative to the instructor in all that concerns the manner of making use of the material provided, limiting our part to the suggesting of such and such ideas or discussions which seem to arise most naturally out of the subject of the lesson, and multiplying those suggestions so that some of them, at least, may be found to appeal to each group of students.
We hope that the teacher will find that we have furnished in each lesson ample material for an hour's conversation.
The instructor may select any one of the questions which appeals to him or is likely to appeal to his class, leaving aside all the rest. In some of the conversation groups, at Smith College, our students asked to continue, at the following meeting of the class, the discussion of subjects which they thought had not been exhausted.
We have added to each lesson a short selection, dealing with the subject of the lesson and which will furnish the students with a living vocabulary, i. e., with a vocabulary in direct relation to the thought under discussion, and often, too, one that will add ideas or suggestions of problems to be discussed. Here again the instructor will do as he thinks fit; he will insist upon the reading matter, or pass over it lightly, according to the needs of his pupils.
How are the students to prepare for class ? Before coming to class, they ought to read through the whole lesson and learn the vocabulary. After the first reading-which will give them the general lines of the discussion, they will take up the various questions and problems set forth, trying to answer them by means of the vocabulary, or with the aid of the illustrations, and, if needs be, with the aid of a dictionary. They will then be mentally prepared to put forth their opinions on the questions before the class, and even to discuss them. It will be necessary therefore that before coming to class they acquaint themselves with the meanings and the usage of all the words of the vocabulary. This done, they will study the selection in the manner indicated by the instructor.
The instructor, who knows the strength of his pupils, is best qualified to judge whether the whole of the lesson or only part of it should be studied.
Students of advanced courses should prepare the whole lesson. The instructor will lead the discussion either by following up one or another aspect of the question, or by plunging his class at once in medias res. If the students are advanced enough, this free discussion will yield the best results, for it is more interesting.
With less advanced students, who are not yet used to discussions, the instructor will do better to lead up to the general discussion by limiting the conversation, at first, to the consideration of one or two of the proposed questions. Then, as soon as the class has acquired a little more freedom of expression, he should gradually increase the number of questions which they are to study, and finally make them take up all the questions one after another. But whatever procedure he adopts, he will do well to insist upon the first two parts of the lesson, viz: the vocabulary and the exchange of ideas, for they are the most important.
The instructor, moreover, will be well advised not to neglect his own preparation of each lesson, so that, being thoroughly familiar with all the ideas and all the facts to be discussed, he may be in a position to lead the discussion and thus to prevent it from becoming desultory and therefore dull. It is a good plan,-as our own experience has taught us,-for the instructor to sustain views opposed to those of the class; by that simple means the discussion gains enormously in vivacity, and therefore in interest.
HÉLÈNE CATTANES. NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS,
TABLE DES MATIÈRES
III. ACTIVITÉ INTELLECTUELLE