What's all this then?

My name is Victoria Stiles and I'm an Early Career Historian currently doing whatever odd research / consulting / outreach / tutoring jobs come my way. I blog here about some of the interesting texts I've found.
My research focusses on books about Britain and the British Empire which were in circulation in Nazi Germany but you'll also find a smattering of school textbooks, witchcraft beliefs, bog drainage, bemused travellers and weird illustrations that caught my eye.
Translations from German are my own. Comments are currently unmoderated and are mostly spam for leather jackets anyway.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Schmidt: Lehrbuch der Englischen Sprache

Here's an English textbook I found on the "Kunstmarkt am 17. Juni" in Berlin. It's from 1905 and has some nice Jugendstil touches:

The first section of the book is a series of "lessons" to be used by teachers. It seems to be following a Berlitz-style approach; target language only, gestures and tone of voice used to convey meaning (so words are associated directly with concepts, not with first language translations), and intensive repetition of new vocabulary in different contexts and grammatical structures. As this explanation of the Berlitz Method puts it, "Teachers would have to constantly encourage students to speak the language being taught, employing a barrage of questions to be answered and a quickly expanding vocabulary. "

One thing I love about this book is the generous detail of the illustrations (although it's a shame more pages aren't illustrated). I find them far more appealing than the rough, cartoonish approach of many modern textbooks.

Further in, the book switches to more typical reading material for self-study. The texts cover the usual range of historical, political and cultural information but there are some surprises. I'm tempted to use this next page on my own classes, for a "guess the gadgets" activity:

Most helpfully of all are the model letters which could be copied and used in a wide variety of situations, from getting out of social engagements without causing offence, to putting tradespeople in their place:

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