More than a century ago, Henry Sweet wrote The Practical Study of Languages and through it, criticized the existing methods of the day, much as we still do now. The book's myth-busting objectives reviews phonetics, alphabets and pronunciation issues before diving into methods, grammar, vocabulary and texts.
In fact, while scanning through the text, I honestly couldn't help but think I bet he'd have been a blogger if he were around today. His prose is tight, easy to read and the language direct.
His obvious annoyance at the 'insufficient knowledge of the science of language' (1899:3) like my own, literally jumps off the page. Given that this post is part 2 of No Evidence for a Fixed Aquisition Order, I'll hone in on this one quote which I wanted to share with you, for reflection, as it neatly wraps up the debate on authenticity vs manufactured texts:
...the dilemma is that if we try to make our texts embody certain definite grammatical categories, the texts cease to be natural: they become either trivial, tedious and long-winded, or else they become more or less monstrosities' (1899:192).
Really sounds like he was describing Headway long before it ever arrived to influence all the other copy-cat productions from then on and into today. The question is though, will it influence tomorrow's or can we teachers at least try to stop it before it does?
Wikimedia commons, wolf in sheep's clothing
Sweet, H. (1899). The Practical Study of Languages. London, UK. J.M. Dent & Co.
(Available for free online from Google Books)