New Way to Learn Spanish Dates Back to 1884

by Chief Spanish Learner on October 25, 2011

A new way to learn Spanish that dates back to 1884? Yes, that’s right, not a typo, 1884. I had never heard this story, but apparently back in the 1800’s there was a man, James Henry Worman who came up with an idea for a ‘new’ way to learn a foreign language. His method used only the new language and used pictures to illustrate what was being said and introducing words at such a slow pace, that the reader (this was a long time before learn Spanish audios) could figure out each new word that was added (or I guess barring that they could look it up in a Spanish-English dictionary.

He published a First Spanish Book that is now in the public domain. Here is a small sample:
man in first learn spanish book<– Aquí está un hombre.

Aquí está une silla –>Learn Spanish: SillaEl hombre esta en la silla. Esta el hombre en (= sobre) la silla? Si, el hombre (= el caballero) esta en la silla. Aqui esta un hombre y una silla; el hombre esta en la silla.

The only problem was that the text was not very exciting But considering this is in a time where “See Dick and Jane” was considered a story for kids, this wasn’t bad. I’ve seen teachers teach this way in class, coming in and pantomiming enough that even though they are only speaking Spanish and their students are brand-new to the language, they can get the gist of what the Spanish teacher is saying. I kind of like it and wonder if there isn’t an untapped concept here that could be done with a better story. Just a thought.


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