The Scheme of the Course The course consists of 45 Steps and falls into three distinct parts, as follows: Steps 1-25, teaching structure (or grammar) and vocabulary: Steps 26-35, completing the Introduction of the vocabulary; Steps 36-45, bringing In no new words except the international teams, numbers, weights and measures, and so on, the purpose of this last section being to give practice in the words already learned and to teach further idioms and senses which will improve the learner's command of Basic. In the first part, some Steps deal entirely with structure, some are reading Steps, and others are a combination of the two. The plan has been to present the grammatical framework of the system in as clear and convenient a form as possible and to introduce each new point into the reading section which follows. In addition, the vocabulary of a structure Step is used in the next reading Step, so that every word may be seen in a proper context. The reading material is of adult interest and deals with everyday topics. From Step 26 onwards there are reading Steps only, and, though some details of grammar are explained in the notes to these, all the main grammatical features are covered in the first 25 Steps. Every Step throughout the course is accompanied by exercises.
Each new learning-item is impressed on the student in two ways-by explanation and by Illustration. Thus, each statement of a grammatical rule or point is followed by one example or more demonstrating how it is applied and similarly, each new sense, idiom, or construction exhibited in the reading matter is made the subject of an explanatory note. In Steps 36-45, these notes (and likewise the instructions for the exercises at the end of the Steps) are written in Basic, to encourage students to think in Basic and to put their new knowledge to some practical use.
Many of the phrases and details of usage that are explained in notes will doubtless be understood in context by the learner, but unless his attention is specifically drawn to them, and guidance given where necessary, his knowledge of them will, for the most part, remain passive. That is to say, he will understand them when they are used by others, but will either fail to use them himself or will use them wrongly. This course aims at giving the Basic student an active grasp of all the material that is put before him.
In this English edition, both the grammatical explanations and the reading notes are fuller than they are likely to be in a translation of the course, because every detail that might be a source of difficulty for students of some nationality has had to be covered. In a translated version, references to points of usage that are paralleled in the learner's language can be omitted.
The combined use of exposition and examples (accompanied, of course, by adequate practice) is, in our view, the method of language-teaching best suited to the needs of older students. We have heard a great deal recently about the so-called 'natural' methods, which substitute pantomime and pictorial aids for the learner's language as a medium of Instruction, and rely on constant drill and repetition. This is advocated as the child's way of learning. it is true, certainly, that children first learn to prattle in some such fashion, but the process is a slow one, and it is also a full-time job. Children hear their mother-tongue spoken around them all day long, and their conversational efforts are continuous, as their mothers and nurses know to their cost, It is obviously impossible to reproduce these conditions in the classroom, where exigencies of time dictate that a language must be learned, and not simply 'picked up.' Moreover, as we advance beyond the nursery, we develop new and, on the whole, more efficient learning powers, based on
a capacity to reason and generalize, while at the same time losing our childish gifts of mimicry and easy memorization.
It is therefore not unreasonable to infer that students of mature years will assimilate a language more readily if it is presented to them as a connected whole and not as a set of unrelated facts. They prefer their facts classified, tabulated, and logically connected. To teach Basic outside the nursery without taking full advantage of the scrupulous grading and logical development to which the system lends itself is to abuse a well-made tool. Is the student to learn parrot-fashion which operators are used with which action-nouns, or will he profit by the clue offered in the note on having your bath in Step 12 ? Shall we teach the omission of the article In phrases like go to school, in bed, at church as three distinct idioms, or link them by the explanation given in the note on to school in Step 20 ? Must the sense connection between each -ing form and its root noun be learned separately. or shall we classify the main senses as is done in Step 24 ?
Our view is that it is an insult to the intelligence of older students to deny them a reasoned account of what they are asked to learn - the sort of account for which gestures and other explanatory devices can hardly ever be a substitute, however usefully they may occasionally supplement it. At the same time, the sequence of exposition -- illustration -- use in a context -- exercise, which has normally been followed in the book, ensures that the student will use what he is taught. A language cannot be learned merely by talking about it. Like carpentry or, for that matter, reading and writing, it is a practical skill which we must exercise in order to become proficient.
The material of the course has been carefully organized for teaching purposes. but it is not proposed to lay down a set routine which every teacher should adopt. Within the framework provided by the Steps, various teaching procedures may be followed. The teacher is advised to take advantage of this flexibility and to handle the lessons in whatever way best serves his particular purpose or suits his own individual style of teaching. He should take into account the size of his class (bearing in mind that in individual teaching a more thorough treatment is possible), the aptitude of his pupils, the time at his disposal. and so on He should also consider whether an all-round knowledge of English is desired or whether special emphasis is to be placed on writing, speaking, or reading.
It is assumed that an average class will be able to work through an average Step in an hour. It should be understood, however, that the Steps are convenient groupings of material rather than carefully proportioned lessons. Some Steps (for example, 17 and 24) are a great deal more heavily loaded than others, and at the teacher's discretion these should be spread over two lesson periods.
If ability to write the language is the main object, the teacher should give frequent dictation from the reading text and the examples. Many of the exercises should be written, and the teacher may set simple composition
themes connected with the reading text or ask the student to re-tell the story in his own words. With students whose chief aim is to speak English, a feature should be made of reading aloud, different members of the class being allotted different parts in the dialogues. They should work through most of the exercises orally, and where questions are in Basic, these should be asked by the teacher. Students who will have little opportunity to use English except for reading should be allowed to practice silent reading. Comprehension may be tested by asking them to translate passages into their own language. In this case, the teacher may think it unnecessary to refer to the reading notes except on major points or for phrases they have failed to understand. He should bear in mind, however, that this is likely to affect their performance in the exercises.
In conclusion, a few general suggestions may be offered.
In Basic, only one sense of a word is introduced at a time. Therefore, in giving the foreign equivalents of the new vocabulary introduced in each Step, be careful to translate only the sense in which the word is first used, which will be its root use in the Basic system. All expansions of sense will be dealt with in the notes as they are encountered.
Teachers may hold different opinions about the wisdom of teaching all the new words at the beginning of a Step, but they are strongly advised not to attempt to make the students word-perfect at the start. Learning lists is apt to be a tedious business.
Much of the exposition in the sections dealing with structure is very detailed. It should be adapted where necessary to the understanding of the students. In some cases the teacher may prefer to let the examples tell their awn story. Explanations of grammatical features with which the learner is familiar in his own language may, of course, be omitted, but do not omit any of the examples, because these give practice with the vocabulary as well as Illustrating the grammar. Do not translate examples unnecessarily. The student's comprehension can be tested by asking him to translate examples which he is suspected not to have understood.
In the reading Steps, the learner should first be encouraged to try to make sense of what he is reading. Do not supply the explanations given in the notes until it is clear that he is at a loss. After the Step has been worked through in this way, attention should be given to the other points dealt with in the notes, with reference back to the text. In Steps 36-45, the learner should be expected to study the Basic English notes by himself, though he may naturally need occasional help.
Where practicable, students should be asked to revise each Step for homework, and to make notes on any points they have failed to understand, which should then be discussed with the teacher at the next lesson.
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For this reason we have divided some of the large pages into smaller, separate pages. For example, the long introduction to the learning text, The Basic Teacher,
has been divided into several smaller pages.
Once you have entered the website, it will stay in translation mode and you can go from page to page in your language. However, not all pages have been separated into smaller pages.
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Note : Translation software is not perfect and can be both misleading and amusing. For example, as this is written, the Basic 850 words are translated as 850 languages. This provides reason for you, and the people from round the earth, to learn Basic.
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