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activities with Spanish-speaking lands have served to a marked degree to stimulate in our land the study of Spanish.
A second factor is the prejudice that exists against Gera natural phenomenon accompanying war against Germany. This prejudice has, whether rightly or wrongly conceived, operated to encourage the study of Spanish and, in lesser degree, French.
Thirdly, we may have been encouraged to study Spanish in the very erroneous belief that "Spanish is easy." No language is easy to acquire; Spanish least of all among the several Romance languages. Fourthly, many are beginning to realize, though they have been slow to do so, that we Anglo-Saxons may possibly, after all, have overestimated our "superiority" and underestimated the Iberian and Ibero-American nations, their past glories and their present capabilities—in exploration, in commerce, in art, in literature, in politics. Among the many wrong conceptions of other people which the present war is serving to drive out of the heads of us North Americans, so proud in the past of our "splendid isolation," is the one that we are "superior" to our fellow-Americans in the republics to the south of us. As a result, we are interesting ourselves in Spanish and Portuguese.
The situation thus created we teachers of Spanish must look upon with mingled feelings,-with joy that at least Spanish is obtaining its equal place with other languages in the curricula of our institutions, and at the same time with deep concern because of the unpreparedness that exists to meet the demand for instruction in Spanish.
Our joy we can truthfully say is not a selfish one, is not merely because the favoring winds have veered in our direction, but it is based in the fact that our citizens are, consciously or unconsciously, laying, by their desire to study Spanish, the most inspiring and the most secure basis for real Pan-Americanism, for a reciprocal, sympathetic understanding between the republics of the new world. As President Butler of Columbia University has so well put it-"It will not be possible for the people of the United States to enter into closer relations with the peoples of the other American republics until the Spanish language is more generally spoken and written by educated persons here, and until there is a fuller appre
ciation of the meaning and significance of the history and civilization of those American peoples which have developed out of Spain."
Eighteen of the twenty-one nations of the New World speak Spanish. That language is their only medium in commerce, education, religion, daily life. Shall those fifty millions in eighteen nations be compelled to learn English in order to establish the "closer relations" referred to as so necessary, or shall the one hundred millions of our nation be expected to give a reasonable amount of time and effort to the acquirement of Spanish? English is at present studied by proportionately greater numbers in Spanishspeaking lands than is Spanish in the United States. We should at least make half of the advances on the way toward a complete understanding between the Americas.
Our concern at the present time is as marked as our joy. And for this reason: the number of teachers really well prepared to teach Spanish is lamentably small when compared with the demand for such teachers. Outside of the Far West and the Southwest.of the United States few are those who possess a ready conversational ability in Spanish and who are therefore equipped to impart a correct pronunciation to students and to give oral practice to the extent and in the manner required by the most widely accepted and up-todate methods of language teaching. The belief held even by some teachers of Spanish that the language is easy to pronounce or easy to understand, easy to read or to write, is frequently accompanied by the weirdest sort of pronunciation and general knowledge of the language on the part of the pupils of these teachers. Principals of high schools and superintendents of instruction, in common with thousands of educated North Americans, have shown either a marked ignorance of what Spanish has to offer the North American youngster or have shown a kind of dilettantism toward the teaching of the language that is at once exasperating, discouraging and thoroughly disorganizing. Add to all this the fact that the supply of suitable textbooks in some of the work in Spanish is as yet either inadequate or insufficiently varied or ill-adapted to the purposes for which they were planned, and then one has probably a fairly complete picture of the dark side of the situation.
But these hindrances should not be and will not be insuperable. Great numbers of teachers are preparing themselves for the teach
ing of Spanish. The summer courses and extension courses of the universities are being thronged with teachers seeking work in the Spanish language and literature. Courses in phonetics, in methods. and material for teaching Spanish are gradually worked out and offered. The Southwest and the Far West are producing those who have an actual acquaintance with the living language and these people are seeking training in methods of teaching. Numerous publishers are busily engaged in supplying any shortage that may exist at present in the way of suitable textbooks. And everywhere enthusiasm for Spanish on the part of those who teach it and those who study it is surprisingly strong.
Let us delineate briefly some of the aims which our Association should strive to accomplish.
First, we should aim at a more thorough preparation of the high school teacher of Spanish. Too few of them have encompassed more than an elementary study of the language. In many cases only a year or two of study of it in college has been had, whereas most of the teachers of French or German began the study of the foregin language in the high school and continued that study throughout their undergraduate course and then did a year or more of graduate work in the language. There should be available to these teachers in every college and university advanced courses in the language and literature of Spain and Spanish America. Our Association surely can take steps to urge and encourage the establishing of such courses in the higher institutions. Again, too few of these instructors have had the benefit of experience in Spain or Spanishspeaking countries. They should be encouraged to spend their summers in Porto Rico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico or Panama, if they cannot get to Spain or the more distant countries of Spanish America. Residence for at least a short time in a Spanish land is almost a sine qua non for the Spanish teacher. Perhaps some day our Association may help to effect a plan for the interchange of teachers with Spanish-American lands or with Spain. Again, there is practically no body of methodology suited particularly to the needs of the teacher of Spanish. It is hoped that
ON THE THRESHOLD
Hispania, the first journal published in this country particularly to aid the Spanish teacher, will meet this need.
Second, we should aid teachers of Spanish and educators in general to make a clear-cut evaluation of the worth of Spanish studies. There are at least four values that the study of Spanish. offers and the teacher of the language should inform himself thoroughly about those values. The first is the commercial or practical value that Spanish has for the North American. No language from a purely business point of view is so useful today to North Americans as Spanish. This claim probably needs no elucidation, so self-evident is it. The second value resides in the disciplinary training it provides. Spanish, especially for the student who approaches foreign language study for the first time through that language, provides excellent material for the development of brain loops. Irregular verbs, an exceedingly rich vocabulary, peculiarly complicated verb idioms, unusually extensive use of the subjunctive, abundant aphorisms and elliptical expressions, very puzzling forms and uses of object pronouns-all these make Spanish worthy of the best mental effort. The third value of Spanish is that, contrary to the common and uninformed opinion of most North Americans, even of those in educational circles, there is embodied in the Castilian tongue one of the richest literatures of the world. Take the ballad: the old romances are a mine of popular poetry unquestionably superior to the ballad literature of any other nation. Or take the novel: the novel of adventure, la novela picaresca, was brought to its greatest perfection in Spain and culminated in that world masterpiece, the Quijote. The modern novel of Spain is almost sin par. As our own incomparable novelist and critic William Dean Howells says: "Take the instance of another solidified nationality [having previously mentioned the Germans], take the Spanish, and you have first-class modern fiction, easily surpassing the fiction of any other people of our time, now the Russians have ceased to lead." (Harper's Monthly, November, 1915).
What of Pereda, Alarcón, Valdés, Galdós, Valera, Azorín, Blasco Ibáñez and numerous others? What nation can excel their work of the last seventy-five years? Or take the drama. That of Spain is rightly called one of the three great national dramas of
the world. From Lope to Echegaray and from Echegaray to Benavente, Martínez Sierra and Marquina the list is unsurpassable. Who writing drama this day even can approximate the wonderful work of Jacinto Benavente? More of the glories of Spanish literature could be added. Why, then is asked, if Spanish literature is so excellent, do we not hear more about it in the schools of our land? The answer is: because of tradition plus sheer neglect. Tradition says that only the literature of central Europe and of England is of value. The literary ideals of Germany, England and France have dominated us. Those of Spain have been neglected-probably because so few North Americans could read Spanish well enough to appreciate the literature it embodies.
The fourth and greatest reason for the study of Spanish in North America is that, as suggested in the early part of this article, a knowledge of that language among North Americans will do more than any other one thing to promote international amity in the Western Hemisphere. To secure to all Americans of all the Americas that liberty of thought and action so desired by all, to make possible at the same time that unison of effort and that shoulderto-shoulder effectiveness which will make for democratic solidarity in the Americas, the two great national languages of the New World, English and Spanish, must be fostered in Spanish America. and Anglo-Saxon America respectively. In this way much can be done to ward off the possibility of our hemisphere becoming some day the shambles that the Old World is now.
These, then, are the reasons for the "faith that is within us." For these things we must strive. Realization of our hopes for better prepared teachers of Spanish and a proper evaluation and defense of the study of Spanish are surely worthy objects to strive for. But we can realize none of these things as scattered individuals. Therefore, on the threshold of new things our watchwords should be: TODOS A UNA and A DIOS ROGANDO Y CON EL MAZO DANDO.
New York, N. Y.
LAWRENCE A. WILKINS