Monday, August 25, 2014

S21: Aldine Second Language Book

A lot of books pique my interest with just the title but this week’s book title created an enigma that gnawed away at me until I finally flipped it open.

What does it all mean??

Title: Aldine Second Language Book

Was this a book on learning a second language or a book for people for whom English was a second language? Or perhaps the second volume in a series of books about language? Second edition? What was an “Aldine”? That and more questions were left unanswered because the book does not explain the title at all, only that it’s an important text for students.

Truthfully, this should be required reading nowadays.

In case there was any confusion.

Written by Catherine T. Bryce and Frank E. Spaulding, Aldine Second Language Book was published in 1914 and has survived amazingly well considering it’s a century old. The binding is remarkably tight, and the 328 pages are crisp and white. Considering it is a grammar and language textbook for grades five and six, presumably more than a few students failed the exams miserably as the book looks like it has never been opened.

Yep. 1914.

Usually I’m not a fan of textbooks, but the Aldine Second Language Book turned out to be pretty entertaining and actually quite useful. It contains hundreds of short stories and fables that are used as examples for lessons on composition and structure. Some are amusing, others just go nowhere. There’s even a section teaching students how to write a proper invitation letter, an art that is definitely lost in this texting age.

Amusing stories if nothing else.

Surprisingly not as racist as it could be.

Breaking down all the basic components of the English language, it did remind me on many rules that people generally don’t follow anymore, either due to stylistic choice or incorrect usage that has been accepted as commonplace. It’s interesting to see how language evolves, even in a short period of time.

Between and among - oh how we use them wrong.

Funny enough, the book also has a section on story composition that I might end up working on for fun. Chapter twenty-two contains half-finished stories as exercises for students to finish, but what’s interesting about them is that they all seem to be horror stories.

Cause that's not worrisome to a kid at all...

All in all a fun read, even with the lack of explanation on the title. Seriously, why is this a ‘second language’ book? The need to know is going to gnaw at me for a long while.


  1. Some teachers think the ESL teacher is someone who is there to support failing students. Others think that the ESL teacher speaks all the languages spoken by the English Language Learners. That's how I end up speaking more than 20 languages

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  2. The book I would like to re-find is on elocution--the method of formal pronunciation, grammar and elderly friend had her old schoolbook and it was fun to read and learn from it. Approx year 1915-1920. See if you can find one.