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him some cultural ideas and to get some message to him quickly, like the Liberty Loan, but the foreign neighbor should learn idiomatic English.
When we send our children to high-priced colleges, the colleges advertise in the process of getting our money that they have foreign-born teachers of foreign languages. If it is so important to have our children taught foreign
languages by foreign-born teachers, why should we reverse the procedure · with our foreign people? With those teachers they do not get idiomatic
English. They get a translation method. They are not, except with the rare teacher, taught to think in English.
My kindergarten friends, it is because you have such an unusual equipment that I am appealing to you. You are fitted for this work because you are free from that disease so common in America—the worship of the book. As far as I have observed kindergartners, they are never tied to the book, and if we can get away from the book we shall get along faster with the foreigner. I would not cut him off from the daily paper or from any reading he enjoys, but book knowledge is not the fundamental thing at the moment. The real need is to give him enough English to enable him to speak about his job, to get around his town, and to absorb the ideals of democracy. They have to be taught first by word of mouth, so to speak.
You have always recognized in your relationship to the children the importance of games and amusements. That we have absolutely overlookt with the foreigners. I think that the only way to give the primary lessons to the foreign neighbor is by object teaching The first effective night school that I saw was run by a kindergartner in Palmerton, Pa. She used only object teaching. Her first lesson was water, pan, and a piece of soap. She taught not only the words pan, soap, and water, but she taught the ethics of washing the hands. And it is along these lines that we must have a special technique for this style of teaching.
You have always freed the little child from fear, and that is one of the most important factors with the foreign adults. A foreigner comes to this country with hopes of better living and higher wages, but he sometimes becomes very much afraid. Especially is this true of the woman. She is timid; you cannot send her a written letter to meet you at the schoolhouse and have her meet you there. She fears your motive. When you get her there you must free her from the effect of fear. You kindergartners are particularly able to do that, but it takes technique and time and patience.
You have always put the little child into group action, and that is what the foreign neighbors need; not that they are without groups, but because they have been in groups by themselves. They are not a part of American groups. That is what is worrying us now. But you could not expect them to sit alone in their little kitchens or at foreign lodges and imbibe American ideals, could you? No, that must come from cooperation by and with Americans.
You have always recognized the gifts of your children. You are always sending them home with little gifts. That is exactly what we need with the foreign neighbor.
I went back to Europe once third class. There were no other Americanborn people in that section of the ship, and I met a man who was such a striking illustration of our waste of the gifts of the neighbors that I am always reminded of him when I speak on this topic. There was going back on that trip a Yiddish poet, who offered to give me his book, but as I did not read Yiddish I was compelled like most Americans to decline his gift. He spoke very little English, but he told me that he had been in this country several years. What was he doing? Trying to make himself into a bookkeeper. He had failed, and that poet was going back a broken-hearted, disappointed man because we were not ready to take his gift. And it is so all over this country; we have these people with their wonderful training from all over the world, and we recognize it not at all. We turn their gifts aside, and do you wonder they become alienated, separated from us?
We want for this work the kindergartner who is in dead earnest, who is honest. We want the kindergartner who understands the material that we have to work with. You have the machinery right in your hands. You are the most exceptional group in that way. You have in your mothers' meeting the thing at your hand. The mothers' meeting has limitless possibilities for national service. Your acquaintance with that foreign mother, I believe, must be slightly different from that of the past. You have tried to give all to that foreign mother instead of taking some of her gifts. I think I have observed in kindergarten work one point in this mother plan, and that is that you have focust on that mother as the mother of the individual child. You must, however, look at her as a factor in our democracy, a part of the community, especially in states where women have the vote. You cannot afford to consider her only as an individual to work with for the good of a single child. She is a much greater factor. You must realize that she has a responsibility outside of being the mother of her child. My own responsibility of voting is as much as I can master. We Americans need help; how much more must you help these foreign women. I think a democracy is not the easiest type of government in the world. That individual responsibility for right or for wrong doing that is exprest in the ballot I hold to be one of the great factors in the onward movement, and our foreign neighbors must be helpt to see that.
We are teaching the foreign women all sorts of interesting things in Chicago. Of course it is not easy to teach all of them to read. Many of the women are illiterates, and adult illiterates are extremely difficult to reach. We go into the factory and teach them to make apple sauce, and they eat the apple sauce with their sandwiches. It helps to make the sandwich more palatable, and we teach English to the women while they eat. Then we make jelly out of the apple peelings. That is food conservation. Then we help them with the marketing, and I know a group of sixty who are so keen that they tell the teacher if a vegetable has declined in price between two lessons.
The foreign women are anxious to help. They are interested in the baby. The foreign baby is an ever present problem in this country, and the mothers are delighted to have the lessons on the simple care of the baby. At our house of correction, our city jail, we have four classes in English a week for foreign women. Classes are held in the room where mass is held on Sunday, and there is a broad rail that separates the place for the altar from the large room. One day out there one class was playing store. There was no difficulty about English being spoken in that store. The teacher had on this broad rail things cut out of the advertising pages of magazines and other sample things spread out. Those were the things that were for sale, and she had paper money. When she sold thread she did not sell a spool of thread. She ran a piece of black thread through a sheet of paper markt, “This is black thread, it costs five cents.” The woman took the sheet away and brought it back with her copy the next time. I do not admit that the foreign woman does not want to speak English. If she does not want to, it is our fault.
In closing, won't you come in, won't you get this technique of teaching foreign adults? Won't you use your wonderful kindergarten principles and apply them with dignity to the grown man and woman?
SPOKEN ENGLISH AS A FACTOR IN AMERICANIZATION
EARL BARNES, PHILADELPHIA, PA. As one of the by-products of the present war there is now a great outcry against the use of the German language in the United States. Many of our elementary and high schools have cut it out of the curriculum. In some of our colleges and universities it will not be taught during the coming year. The Governor of Pennsylvania, in an address before the National Education Association, recently declared that in his judgment no foreigner should be allowed to remain in the United States more than five years if during that time he had not learned the English language. On the same day a well-known educator, speaking at a university banquet, said that the time had come for suppressing all publications in this country not printed in the English language, and for insisting that all religious exercises should be conducted in English.
Much of this feeling rests in the belief that the words of two languages are equivalent to each other, and that shifting one's daily language involves simply the trouble of learning the new one. Of course a person can learn new languages well enough so that he can use them for reading or conversation, as he might learn any other new matter.
substitute a new language for an old one in the affairs of daily life is quite another matter.
Much of the difficulty in understanding this matter is due to our failure to realize how language has been formed, and what the language which the person learns in childhood does to him. Before animals and men develop language, impressions from the outside world pour into the neurons of the central nervous system, where they form memory images, or neuron patterns, in endless variety. These become associated in myriads of combinations, until the mind becomes clogged with its possessions. Animals early give up the quest for universal knowledge and confine themselves to the limited field of their necessities and warmest desires.
Man, however, invents a word for flying, feathered creatures which enables him to group all his experience with them under the one term "birds”; his experiences of heat he groups under "hot," and so, by classifying his almost infinite experiences, he brings them into order and is able to think about them; but not until these larger neuron patterns can be connected by words expressing general forms of action or being and limited by general forms of quality is any extended thinking possible.
Meantime, different races of men living under varied environment have developt widely different languages to meet their needs. Since language follows the development of a people, it is inevitable that the words of no two languages ever carry quite the same meaning. Thus the man who changes his native language has to change not only his mind but also his feeling and even the very organization of his brain, for the neuron patterns must always be modified and sometimes entirely remade.
And yet the need for a uniform national language is so great and its advantage to the individual so obvious that we seem justified even in forcing all those who desire to identify themselves with us and become citizens of the United States to learn to speak the English language. It will be well for us, however, to remember the vast difficulty involved in the change, and if our fellow-citizens of foreign origin wish to think and feel in their domestic relations, in their religion, and in all the intimacies of life, with the neuron patterns which have grown out of their national qualities and to which they have been habituated all their lives, they must be free to do so. There would be a great loss in human thinking and feeling if all the world thought with the same patterns, a loss not to be offset by any material advantages. Let us insist then that our fellow-citizens shall learn to speak English, but let us allow them to retain their native speech in their personal affairs and even to write it and perpetuate it in their families, if they can.
Regarding our own present determination not to learn German there may well be a difference of opinion. Something of the spirit of a people inheres in its language, and we do not want our youth to be in any degree affected by the spirit of modern Germany. At the same time German is the key to a vast literature and a great body of science which we shall need increasingly in the future. Besides this, the new internationalism which must follow this war will inevitably drive us to live and trade with the German people. To neglect a great key to civilization because people of whom we disapprove use it may be foolish.
The advantages of being able to speak the language of the people among whom one lives are so obvious that it seems hardly necessary to enumerate them.' In our modern, complex collective life a common spoken language is indispensable. To work, a man must be able to follow directions and to direct others. Buying and selling, getting positions and keeping them, filling positions where one must direct his fellows, banking and travel, all depend on understanding the spoken word.
Spoken English gives common ideas, and these give social feeling, political efficiency, and many of the supreme joys of life. If one can think of the chief executive of the nation only as “Kaiser” he cannot understand the relation which President Wilson bears to the American people. One who must translate can never touch the deeper soul of the people.
Politically it is necessary that where the people rule themselves they should understand not only themselves but also their neighbors with whom they have to live and act in common. Foreigners in America need good government even more than do the native-born, for corrupt government weighs more heavily on them than on us. Most of our foreigners have intelligence, and they probably desire good government as much as we do. And yet the foreign vote is always a danger in our midst and always must be so as long as it depends on interpreters for political information.
And meantime the state needs good citizens as much as the individual needs good government. It is true that modern nations must be unified if they are to be strong. But political unity may exist with wide differences in race, religion, or even in language, as is shown by Switzerland, where three races, speaking three languages and professing two religions, have long maintained a highly democratic form of government. There is one thing, and only one, which a nation must have if it is to be unified, and that is common ideas and ideals. A common language is extremely helpful in creating these, but it is not indispensable.
Our foreigners are unlike those conquered by the European states. They have come to us in recent times. They have come of their own free will, they need not remain unless they desire, and they need not become citizens of the United States unless they wish to do so. If they decide to identify themselves with us they will almost inevitably be driven to live disperst among us, and for economic, social, and political reasons they should know how to speak the English language. We must give them time, we must be patient, and we must be generous toward their native tongues. But before they receive the benefits of citizenship and assume its responsibilities they must prepare themselves to understand and to let us understand them.