A comparative study of methods
The Mastery System. THOMAS PRENDERGAST, an English writer of decided originality, found about 1867 that lads who had been carefully drilled for three or four years in translating English into French and German grammatically, were incapable of putting ten words together idiomatically until they went abroad and learned by imitation; also that in the examinations one who had the power of speaking a foreign language idiomatically was considered inferior in merit to those who had a thorough knowledge of grammar without that power. Children, he says, instinctively imitate and repeat chance combinations of unfamiliar sounds. Only after some weeks they begin to speak a few sentences, which they multiply by transferring words and phrases from one to another.