Ten commandments of language teaching

Browsing through a 75-year-old edition of the Modern Language Journal, I came across this article entitled “Ten Commandments and One More in Modern Foreign Language Teaching” by Harry Kurtz of the University of Nebraska.

His ten tips are:

1. Thou shalt make every student recite every day.

2. Thou shalt make thy questions shorter and distribute them more frequently to the unworthy of thy flock.

3. Thou shalt demand written home-work for every lesson as an evidence of individual effort.

4. Thou mayest spare thy strength in the marking of these by having them corrected in class, but thou shalt collect them and check them off on the rolls.

5. Thou shalt refrain from personal eloquence in the classroom.

6. Remember that the strained silence of pupils thinking is worth more than volubility, thine or theirs.

7. Thou shalt plan thy hour and mark thy pages beforehand, so that never, no never, shalt thou ask thy sheep on what page they stopped grazing the last time.

8. Thou shalt have thy watch before thee to guide thee in the passing of time and to guard thee from over-stressing one thing at the cost of another. So shalt thou finish the assignment and never have the ignominy of covering less than what was imposed upon the fold.

9. Thou shalt watch thy pupils' thoughts as reflected in their faces and hurl the thunder of a question where it may be necessary to recall the straying.

10. And last, so shalt thou prosper and discover the best devices in language teaching in the measure that thou wilt insist upon work and get it.

Harry Kurz, “Ten Commandments and One More in Modern Foreign Language Teaching,” The Modern Language Journal 20, no. 5 (February 1, 1936): 288-293. Full article available from JSTOR.

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