Heinrich Gottfried Ollendorff
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Ollendorff is heavily indebted to an early 'modern method' teacher, Jean Manesca, who appears to have written the first fully developed modern language course in the early 1820s—designed for French, Ollendorff was keen to see it adopted for the classics, and actively promoted the idea. His Oral system of teaching Living Languages Illustrated by a Practical Course of Lessons in the French through the medium of English was entered at the library of Congress in 1834.
In his introduction, on pg xix, Manesca writes,
If I have not spoken of the advantages that may be derived from the present mode of teaching applied to dead languages, it is not because I entertain the smallest doubt of its efficacy in that particular; for, on the contrary, I am confident that many years of toilsome, tedious, and almost fruitless labours, would be saved by the adoption of such a method for these languages. A well disposed young man, between eighteen and twenty, well versed in the principles of his mother tongue, would, in twelve months, acquire a sufficient knowledge of Latin or Greek for all the purposes of life. Such a consideration well deserves the attention of the few scholars competent for a task which would prove so beneficial to the present and future generation of collegiate students. The present modes of teaching the dead languages are sadly defective. It is high time that a rational, uniform method should be adopted.
Shortly afterwards, Henri Ollendorff adopted Manesca's methodology, and produced series of books using the 'Ollendorff' method, which follow Manesca extremely closely.
In the 1840s Ollendorff also wrote the first post-renaissance textbook for conversational Latin, the Nouvelle methode pour apprendre, a lire, a ecrire et a parler une langue en six mois, appliquee au Latin. Ollendorff's French text contains little on grammar, and is almost entirely intuitive, with learning based on practice alone, not theory. George J. Adler's American edition is an extensive revision of Ollendorff's first attempt, including grammar; this version of the Ollendorff text has 600 pages of very fine print, with copious exercises. Adler also expanded and re-wrote the Latin text, resulting a much higher quality textbook, with more elegant Latin, and a wider variety of examples based on the historical classic sources.
The French-Latin Ollendorff was, as far as can be ascertained, the first textbook written in modern times aimed at teaching Latin as a spoken language, using 'modern' methods. Manesca's method was never translated directly into Latin or Greek for publication, although it did appear in a Spanish edition written by Carlos Rabadan. Albert Brisbane's biography,[clarification needed] where he describes in some detail his private classes with Manesca, says that he studied Latin using the same method. If Manesca ever wrote up any Latin exercises, perhaps they only survive in manuscript among his papers. The Ollendorff version went through several editions, and was quite popular for private pupils, but it was never taken up by schools for teaching Latin. Adler's American edition seems to have suffered the same fate, and original copies of it are very hard to come by, although it is now available as a reprint.
"Yesterday he bled and wept," said the Satyr. "You never bleed nor weep. The Master does not bleed or weep." "Ollendorffian beggar!" said Montgomery, "you'll bleed and weep if you don't look out!"
Montgomery is mocking the Satyr's repetitive discourse, as Ollendorff's texts rely heavily on repetition, likening this to playing musical scales. They also use artificially constructed sentences, which, while illustrating grammar and tense well enough, are extremely unlikely to occur in real life. This aspect of Ollendorf is made fun of in P.G.Wodehouse's 'The Pot Hunters'(1902):
" 'Mr. Robert. Is he in?' It seemed to Charteris that the form of this question smacked of Ollendorf. He half expected the servant to say 'No, but he has the mackintosh of his brother's cousin.' "
Wodehouse returns to the attack in 'The Prefect's Uncle ' (1903 );
' The man perpended,and when he replied did so after the style of the late and great Ollendorf.'
- Greek Ollendorff
- Ollendorff's New Method of Learning to Read, Write and Speak the French Language
- Ollendorff's New Method of Learning to Read, Write, and Speak the German Language
- First Latin grammar and exercises in Ollendorff's method
- A Practical Grammar of the Latin Language