Manesca argues that nature relies on wants to engender learning. As linguistic elements take the place of pantomimic elements, the latter become obsolete. The philosophy which he puts forth is at the base of a great deal of modern pedagogy. For today, just a note on the importance which Manesca puts on the art of teaching foreign languages. It appears that the author received extensive criticism on the length and complexity of his coursebook. All those lean and puny productions which inundate public schools, under the specious title of elements, may be admirably adapted for sale; but they most certainly are mischievous instruments of instruction.
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The Sorbonne, more formally known as the University of Paris. Beyond his innocent and yet fundamental role in the Ollendorf-Manesca story, Brisbane is of interest to us for another reason: he is an example of just how far meticulous and motivated study of foreign languages can take you. Albert Brisbane was born in in Batavia, New York — a small town smack in the middle of Genessee Country in the far western reaches of Upstate New York which at the time was essentially a frontier town; in fact Batavia now bears the nickname Birthplace of Western New York.
The meeting with French teacher Jean Manesca was fateful, and at the age of 18 Brisbane set sail for France armed with a solid knowledge of the French language and an enthusiastic curiosity about the Enlightenment culture which had pervaded the teachings of his French instructor.
Upon arriving in Paris Brisbane made a beeline for one of the most prominent institutions of learning in the world at the time — the Sorbonne, more formally known as the University of Paris. From rural Batavia by way of bustling New York, Brisbane had finally arrived at what most have seemed to him the center of the intellectual world.
However before long he began to realize that the lessons of the teacher who most interested him at the Sorbonne — Victor Cousin — were nothing more than a translation of German philosophical thought. Kant, Jacobi, Schelling and Hegel were all to be found to the east of the Rhine.
The meeting with German teacher Heinrich Ollendorf was pursuant to the discovery of German philosophers and it served its purpose — after only a year in Paris Brisbane left for Berlin. However the magic of Germany lasted about as long as had that of France, and in October Brisbane left on a grand tour which would take him first to Vienna and then as far as Turkey and Greece before eventually bringing him back to Paris. It was upon his return to Paris that the exemplary student met his final teacher.
After having travelled all across Europe, delved into French and German philosophy and hobnobbed with the most avant-garde intellectuals on the continent, Brisbane decided that the way of the future was to be found in a French philosopher. We are told that Brisbane paid Fourier five francs an hour to teach him his system — and just as it had with Manesca and Ollendorf, the investment paid off.
The book brought Brisbane great prestige, and he quickly built Fourierism into a national movement with branches all across the United States, including in the Federal Government. At the head of a national movement, Albert Brisbane could at this point look back and be happy with the results of his education. His French and German lessons had allowed him to absorb the highest level of European intellectual thought and had paved the way for the series of lessons in philosophy which would become the foundation of an important career.
However, at the height of his career, Brisbane left the United States to spend 8 months in France. In his absence the Fourierist movement — which had been at the peak of its inertia — collapsed and would never again recover.
Although Jean Manesca only published his landmark language instruction manual in , by the s his carefully devised system had already been crystallized into a definite form, and students who assiduously frequented his courses found that by the end of their studies their notes had become a complete record of the Manesca method of learning French. The story goes that one Mr.
Albert Brisbane, Esq. Heinrich Ollendorff, using, upon agreement with the teacher, the notes from his French course as a guideline for the new German adventure. Brisbane states that during his studies with Mr. A few years later, in , Mr. Ollendorff published his book, which, with some unimportant alterations, is merely a copy of the French Course of Mr. Brisbane — who would greatly profit from his time in France and go on to achieve fame as a utopian socialist heavily indebted to the French philosopher Charles Fourier — further elucidates the details of the fateful meeting between him and his German teacher in his biography:.
We began: I writing in French the words I wanted and he giving me the German. When this was done, I directed him how to ask me questions, which I replied to. Thus I began training Mr. It was of course very natural that he should want to offer suggestions of his own, but as I insisted on no deviation from the plan we had set out on, at the end of the fourth lesson he accepted my offer to suspend study for a few days to consider what he should do.
At the expiration of the allotted time he came back decided to continue. I pursued German with Mr. In the lessons which he has painstakingly detailed in his manual, Manesca rigorously introduces one new word, term, or principle to his students at a time. The pronunciation and spelling of these words are imparted — one at a time — to the students, who are required to write the words and their English translation on a sheet of paper which they will maintain as a sort of database throughout the duration of the lesson.
The newly acquired knowledge of these two words is then reinforced by the introduction of the question Avez-vous? Once the series of Avez-vous le clou? Spelling and pronunciation are duly noted by the students. On the next round of the mouvement the teacher introduces the adjective bon good — Avez-vous le BON pain?
By the end of the mouvement the students will have become acquainted with a variety of nouns, adjectives, possessive adjectives and interrogative adjectives — used directly in their appropriate grammatical context. At home the student is then asked to rewrite each of the questions which was asked during the lesson, along with an appropriate response.
But such qualifications are seldom met with in youth under fifteen; nay, they are not always found at a more advanced age. Manesca states quite emphatically that because he feels that before the age of 15 students are not equipped with the proper theoretical tools to grammatically understand their own language, language studies should not begin before that age. This position of the pioneering language teacher strikes a strong note of discord with the commonly-held hypothesis that we lose our capacity to learn foreign languages as we grow older, and that childhood is in fact the best time to study other tongues.
Jean Manesca – The First Modern Foreign Language Teacher
Lesson 1 – Do you want to Learn French Online for Free? Manesca French for Beginners