The Spoken Word
A serious weakness has not been corrected in the modern language Departments through a more overnight. Because linguistic fluency has been assumed, there is no rule requiring concentrators to take a course in conversation; and there have been students graduated with honors, and even who have achieved a status of Doctor of Philosophy, who have been capable of little more than stuttering speech in the language in which they majored.
Beyond question the ability to converse in the tongue being studied is of inestimable advantage in the ultimate conquest of that nation's culture. One can not fully appreciate the literature of a people, unless one can write and speak the language of that people with some degree of proficiency, and thus realize the difficulties as well as the possibilities the language presents. Moreover, for the study of poetry, especially that of modern poets whose effects depend in a large measure on subtle cadences, an appreciation of the rhythmical and onomatopoetic peculiarities is essential.
Nowhere is the desirability of mastering rudiments better illustrated than in the Fine Arts Department which insists that all students take an elementary course in drawing and design, or else demonstrate that they have completed equivalent basic work.
It would not be unwise if the Departments of Romance Languages and German followed the example set by the Fine Arts Department in the emphasis, on fundamentals, and stipulate that all candidates for degrees take a course in conversation and advanced composition, or show by a written and oral examination in their special fields their ability of handle the language in both its verbal and written aspects.