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going to be able to get anything out of the shades of meaning expressed by the many subjunctives they will find constantly before them. Such an elementary piece of material as El Palacio Triste, about thirty pages in length, has no fewer than 85 subjunctives in it; Ganarse la Vida, of ten pages, has no fewer than 40; Gil Blas, much used for early reading, has no fewer than 330 subjunctives in the 111 pages of one edition; La Buenaventura has 51 subjunctives in 15 pages; and one might extend the list indefinitely-the average would not be likely to be lowered much. Fortuna in less than 30 uncrowded pages has 48, and the popular Zaragüeta will doubtless run still more to the page. The subjunctive in Spanish is no myth perpetuated by the grammarians—it is a very real thing, acquaintance with which cannot long be delayed, except to the great disadvantage of the student. And yet, very little is done (as shown by results) toward teaching the subjunctive in the first year. This perhaps cannot be remedied. Much material must be crowded into the first year at best, and most beginning books rather slight the subjunctive. When they do not, the treatment is always near the end of the book, and the teacher hurries over or skips it, feeling that it is material for the second year anyway. A tendency of review grammars is to go over first-year material mainly in the same order, hence the subjunctive is again found at the end of the year's work. Some composition manuals treat the subjunctive piecemeal, beginning relatively early in the book, but neither type of book presents a fairly complete, systematic, and unified type of treatment such as would be adequate for an understanding of most subjunctives that will be met very early in the reading of real Spanish material.
As for notes on the subjunctive in standard works used as readers, even those used for most elementary stages, if there is a single annotated text that makes a fairly successful effort to give a systematic commentary on the subjunctive, it has not come to the attention of the writer. Generally a few of the common, easy uses that no elementary book omits are pointed out in the notes, and those that are sure to cause difficulty are ignored or explained in some such words as these: "Why subjunctive?" or "Subjunctive. Translate . . . Decidedly, there is need for a treatment of the subjunctive for second-year use embracing material somewhere between the amount in the usual first-year book and that in a book like Ramsey's Textbook of Modern Spanish.
The above means of counteracting the existing conditions, viz., the attempts to level classes at the beginning of the second year must surely prove to be failures in all but exceptional cases. A better way, feasible where classes may be divided into sections, would seem to be that some classification be made whereby students needing somewhat similar instruction may be grouped together and receive that instruction together, while others needing a different kind may be given what they require. That is, they should be classified according to ability-not simply put into a certain class or section because they have attended class for so many months and have received a "passing" grade. Their ability should be determined not by aptitude or general intelligence, but by achievement. This achievement may be indicated by grades, or better, by more scientifically applied training tests. The latter began to make their appearance in 1920, and nearly every year since has seen the addition of others in one or at more of the commonly studied modern foreign languages. More1 over, others are already announced for future publication, especially by the American Council on Education. A list of these may be found in Bulletin No. 1 issued recently by the Modern Foreign Language Study, 561 West 116th Street, New York.
So many things must be tested to determine a student's achievement in foreign language study that the use of these tests is not entirely satisfactory, but neither is classification by grades, because varying standards of different instructors make these grades "meaningless things," as shown by an investigation in the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools some years ago, which brought to light the fact that 142 teachers of English graded the same paper from 63 to 98 per cent. Another group graded a single history paper from 43 to 92 per cent, and one geometry paper was worth, in the varying opinions of different teachers who graded it, all the way from 28 to 92 per cent! (Bulletin of the Modern Foreign Language Study mentioned above.)
The writer has seen sections made up of a mixture of "A" and "B" students who were put into those sections whether they wished to be in them or not, that showed a discouraging range of ability, or rather, of knowledge of Spanish. Inevitably there can be no complete uniformity of standards of all teachers, and where literal grades are used for which there are no numerical equivalents even greater elasticity must be expected. Therefore literal grades are not
a satisfactory basis for classification except within narrow limits, but students generally know when they have not deserved "A" or "B" grades, and know therefore that they are not likely to be able to keep up the pace in a class of correctly rated "A" and "B" students.. Hence much better results are obtainable by allowing voluntary enrolment in such sections. At any rate, there is a great deal of difference between two students, one of whom does a grade of work that is the lowest that could be called "good," and one, the highest grade of "excellent" work. They probably should be given different instruction if possible. Putting "A" and "B" students willy nilly into sections together to try to do more than an average amount of work does not solve the problem. Voluntary enrolment of “A's" only is proving much more satisfactory.
It might be thought that a section of this type could do the normal amount of work in fewer class meetings than an average section could, and this supposition is probably true; as far as the experiment has gone the opinion has been justified. Less repetition (and therefore less time) is required to make things "stick," longer assignments are covered easily and well, and more time can be given to oral work and to giving the class information not appearing in their textbooks about the country of the language they are studying. And yet the writer feels very strongly that members of these sections are losing much that they ought to have and could have if they spent more time in contact with the language-under conditions, of course, which would keep them doing their best at all times; certainly not under the old condition of merely sitting in class an extra hour a week while mediocre and worse students are taking up the time. They doubtless fare as well in a three-hour class of all "A's" as in a four-hour class of mixed ability. Giving four hours of credit for three hours of class attendance is meant to be a concession to their superior ability, but as a matter of fact their gain is very doubtful. A real concession, which would be of value instead of harm to them, would be to give five hours of credit for four hours of class attendance, it being understood that more ground was to be covered than in an ordinary four-hour class.
A corollary of reduced class attendance is increased class attendance. Provision may be made for such students as feel that they would have a better chance of doing the normal amount of work creditably if they could meet five times a week instead of four. The
plan is to have the week's work divided into five parts instead of four, thus shortening the assignments and giving more time for preparation over the week. Students, however, do not rush in great -numbers into a class that involves extra time, even if it is the small matter of three hours a week, for no increase in credit, and the number of these sections will have to be limited, therefore, unless students with low "C" or with "D" grades can be put into such classes arbitrarily. Because there must be a relatively small number of these sections, some students who would like to be in them will be unable to arrange it because of difficulty in schedules. A possibility of taking care of these students is seen by some, who would favor having the fifth hour open to students from other classes as well as to the regular members. Then any student doing unsatisfactory work in a regular section may be sent to class an extra day, presumably for review, but in reality as a sort of punishment. This makes it necessary to do the week's work in the five-hour classes in the regular way, and spend the extra hour in review. It is more than doubtful if this will accomplish the results desired. Classes cannot all be kept at exactly the same point in the different books used, and review for some students will not be such for others. Also, it is difficult to hold as close a check on the work done by these extra-hour students, or even on their attendance. Certainly just attending the class one day a week, without preparing assignments, is of practically no value at all. What the slow student needs is more time for each lesson. It is not the equivalent of more time to hurry over the work in the usual way and then review it the fifth day. Again, most oneday attendants go under some sort of compulsion, and they are not in a receptive frame of mind. Moreover, their presence in the class on the extra day is a decided disadvantage to the regular members.
Still another administrative device to push along the under1. average student is that of "zero sections," entirely distinct from any regular class, which meet once a week for the purpose of review. This is somewhat in the nature of tutoring, but owing to the number of students and to the make-up of the class it must be somewhat aimless besides having none of the advantages of individual instruction. The students that need that sort of work are not the kind that can pick out of a mass of material just that part which they need. They must have their troubles diagnosed for them, and the remedy applied directly; therefore the value of this method is open to question. The
attendance is not regular; the students are sent to this section by their instructors at any time, and withdrawn at any time. They may be there only a time or two, or they may come again and again. As it works out the teacher is dealing largely with a different set of students at each meeting. What to present from time to time seems to be a real problem.
As far as the experiment has gone, results seem to justify the grouping of "A" students voluntarily, and the like treatment of those who have difficulty in keeping up with a normal class, but only when the students are free to choose for themselves. If this works well in second year, why will it not do so in beginning classes? There is but one difference, and that is that the classification cannot be made by grades. It can, however, be made by aptitude tests. Granting that these tests are not entirely satisfactory—particularly in that they do not test industry-nevertheless, having together students of a general similarity of language ability makes for the possibility of better work than under ordinary conditions. Nor is this an entirely untried theory. The writer has very favorable reports concerning sections of beginning students composed of those making high scores in aptitude tests. There is objection to separating the low-score students from the main body, though there seems to be no apparent reason why such a grouping would not be beneficial to students with a lower degree of aptitude than the average. Unquestionably they need a different sort of instruction from the average students. It is equally certain that they will not get it in the average class. The average class will lock step through the course with a wide variety of grades and a wider variety of material mastered, the slow student getting much less than he should, the superior student wasting time, and very likely losing to some extent the habit of industry. The "educational lock step" will not be entirely broken until instruction is provided for at least three grades of ability, viz., high, medium, and low.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
THOMAS A. FITZ-GERALD