Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/803

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LANGUAGE AND BRAIN DISEASE.

confuses trade, but which may, in default of anything better, still keep the stream of commodities flowing in the natural channels.

Now suppose a student, having reached the stage of progress above indicated, visits the country whose language he has been reading. What he hears at first is almost wholly unintelligible, though the same words in print would be familiar. A little later it is not uncommon to hear a sentence without comprehending it at all, when suddenly it will flash upon the mind of the hearer as though seen in print and pronounced by himself, and then it is readily understood. The same thing occurs in listening to one's native tongue when the auditory center has been slightly damaged by disease.

In these cases the damaged or un practiced auditory center recognizes but a part of what is heard, but this is enough to suggest to the well-practiced visual center the complete memory of the visual words, which then calls up their usual, possibly incorrect, sound and utterance, with the associated meaning.

As time passes, the strange sounds, through constant repetition and efforts to imitate them, grow familiar and become strongly associated with every-day experiences, so that as soon as a word is heard the idea is vividly present in consciousness. If the student reads now, he finds his former disadvantages greatly diminished. He reads faster and with less fatigue, finding a clearness and vigor of meaning before unknown. It is not because his vocabulary is larger, but because it is more efficient. The auditory center, which formerly, through lack of practice, failed to properly perform an essential part of the work, is now, at the suggestion of the visual center, quick to recall each sound, and, re-enforced by the utterance-memory, it is quick, accurate, and vigorous in reviving each idea. The work of exchange is now done by the true coin of the realm.

The more carefully any teacher or thoughtful student will consider his own experience, the more he will be convinced of what the facts of brain disease demonstrate, that a good method of learning any language, whether the aim be to speak or only to read, must make the thorough training of the auditory and motor speech-centers a fundamental object. This training can be perfectly attained only by living where the language to be learned is spoken; but, although the difficulties at home are great, if the essential requisite is only kept in view, a great deal can be accomplished. This we owe to the clear insight and faithful work of the inventors of the natural method. Although this method is well known, it may not be amiss to give a sketch of how the best results may be obtained.

The first part of the course of instruction should be devoted exclusively to the sounds of the commonest words, their reproduc-