Harold E. Palmer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Harold Edward Palmer, usually just Harold E. Palmer (6 March 1877 – 16 November 1949), was an English linguist, phonetician and pioneer in the field of English language learning and teaching. Especially he dedicated himself to Oral Method. He stayed in Japan for 14 years and reformed its English education. He contributed to the development of the applied linguistics of the 20th century.

Palmer was born in London. In 1892-1893, he studied in France. In 1902, he went to Belgium and started teaching English at Berlitz school. In 1903, he established his own school. In 1915, he started teaching at University College London. In 1922, he was invited by Masataro Sawayanagi, Kojiro Matsukata and went to Japan. In Japan, he became 'Linguistic Adviser' to the Japanese Department of Education. In 1923, he established the Institute for Research in English Teaching (IRET), now the Institute for Research in Language Teaching (IRLT), and became the first director. He founded the Institute's Bulletin. In 1935, he was awarded D.Litt. by Tokyo Imperial University. In 1936, he returned to England and became consultant for Longmans, Green. In 1937, he published Thousand-Word English with A. S. Hornby, the main creator of the first Advanced Learner's Dictionary. During World War II he lived in England, and assisted the war effort with his language skills, publishing three booklets about the French language, to assist soldiers preparing for the invasion of Normandy.


  • 1917-The Scientific Study and Teaching of Languages
  • 1921-The Principles of Language-Study, The Oral Method of Teaching Languages
  • 1922-English Intonation, With Systematic Exercises
  • 1924-Memorandum on Problems of English Teaching in the Light of a New Theory, A Grammar of Spoken English
  • 1925-English through Actions
  • 1929-Eigo no rokushukan (The First Six Weeks of English)
  • 1930-Interim Report on Vocabulary Selection, The Principles of Romanization
  • 1931-Second Interim Report on Vocabulary Selection
  • 1932-This Language-Learning Business(With H. Vere Redman)
  • 1933-Second Interim Report on English Collocations, A New Classification of English Tones
  • 1934-Specimens of English Construction Patterns, An Essay in Lexicology
  • 1937-Thousand-Word English(With A. S. Hornby)
  • 1938-A Grammar of English Words
  • 1940-The Teaching of Oral English
  • 1943-International English Coursestarted.
  • 1944- A Beginner's English-French Dictionary
  • 1944- Speak and Understand French
  • 1944- A French-English Conversation Dictionary

The Five Speech-Learning Habits[edit]

  • Auditory Observation
  • Oral Imitation
  • Catenizing
  • Semanticizing
  • Composition by Analogy

Composition by analogy is often referred to as the generative principle. Palmer coined the term "ergon", defined as a phrase that serves as a syntactic prototype from which pupils can construct further sentences. "The learners' task is to acquire these ergons or 'primary matter' as a database which will then serve them to generate many more analogous sentences - 'secondary matter' according to Palmer." [1]


  1. ^ Wolfgang Butzkamm & J.A.W. Caldwell (2009). The bilingual reform. A paradigm shift in foreign language teaching. Tübingen:Narr Verlag, p.121.