FEBRUARY 20, 1939
HYDE PARK, N. Y. Sunday—In closing my column on Friday, I said I would tell you a little more about the class which Miss Flora Rose has inaugurated for a group of girls in the College of Home Economics. She insists that she is not "giving" a class, but is "administering" one. Miss Rose invites different people to talk to the girls and then have a discussion with them. She expects that the girls will develop this course themselves.
From my point of view, it is one of the most interesting courses for a young girl and I think a similar one should be given to young men. The idea is to try to develop the relationship of the individual to the family and the community and to discover what makes for a satisfactory adjustment to the different responsibilities of life.
You can well see that this type of course would lead one down many paths. A method by which the young people themselves do the exploring is very excellent, for it will develop thought and expression. When we are young we are apt to feel many things but to be careless about the precision of our thought, and actually to have to express it in words is a very valuable experience.
In one of the schools I saw during the past week, someone asked me whether I believed in teaching foreign languages to boys and girls in public school. This is a perennial question and I am obliged to answer it in a rather roundabout way, for I do believe foreign languages are most valuable. It is quite obvious that in developing trade and good feeling in South America, a knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese is valuable, and a knowledge of French will be helpful to anyone who travels abroad in any country. Each added language, German, Italian or Russian, will mean that if one visits the country one will have tools which will provide not only greater enjoyment, but far greater benefits from the educational standpoint. To teach foreign languages, however, as they are ordinarily taught in our public or private schools, has always seemed to me a waste of time. So few young people can talk a language after years of study and, after all, that is what most of us need to do.
A rather interesting letter came to me the other day from a woman who says she has been giving lessons in French in a Canadian paper for some time and that her method of teaching will insure a student the ability to pronounce properly and to be able to talk in a short time. She is anxious to start what she calls a "French corner" in a number of American newspapers. Personally, I think it would be most interesting to have French and Spanish lessons given in this way, for it would undoubtedly be one of the most economical ways to keep up a language easily forgotten after you have left school. The best way, of course, is for groups to meet together and talk with a competent teacher, but that is not possible for many people.