THE following is written for the special benefit of the Sophomores of next year.
Extra labor may be a pleasure at times when the worker is conscious that the task is self-imposed; but few things can be more irksome than surplus work forced upon us for which we get no thanks, no credit, and which we have to do to make up past deficiencies. Any one moderately wise will be willing to do something in time to avoid this unpleasantness which they must certainly undergo in the future.
The programme of studies gives the information that the Sophomores, who by next October have not passed an examination in the reading of easy French prose, will be obliged to take, in addition to their eight hours of electives, two hours of required French throughout the year. This rule, considered necessary so that no one may complete his college course without having some knowledge of so important a language as French, is only temporary, and will not remain in force when French is required for admission to college (after 1875).
The amount of knowledge that excuses Sophomores from these additional hours of recitation is not great. The ability to read easy French prose can be acquired without much effort during the summer months. An hour of real study daily would do it. A fair knowledge of the grammar, especially of the verbs, makes up for some deficiency in translating. As to pronunciation, it faciltates the study of any language not to neglect this in the beginning. It is a strain on the memory to try to retain words of which the sound is unknown.
Many of the present Freshman class have already passed this examination; many have learned enough French to pass in October with but little additional study. There are quite a number, however, who, never having studied the language, would do well to reflect now whether it would not be better for them to anticipate, by a little extra voluntary labor in the long summer vacation, a required course in a subject which may profitably be studied outside of college. It may be worth mentioning that in the required French, although no marks of credit can be received, marks of censure may be.
There is, then, every advantage in passing the examination in French. Those who do not wish to pursue the study further will be thereby wholly relieved; those who are desirous of electing French can do so only if they have passed. In French, the higher the elective, the pleasanter it is for the student. There is such a gradation from the elementary class, above which are five electives, each a year in advance of the other, that any one who desires to acquire some proficiency will aim to enter, from the first, in as high a section as possible.