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The Principles of Suzuki's Mother Tongue Method


We have to return to this principle again and again and try to realize Dr. Suzuki's philosophy even more deeply.


Every child is sure to grow is the belief of parents. Because of this belief, parents can, with confidence and infinite affection, help their children learn their mother tongue and develop their ability without worrying or fretting about it. This is not an acquired knowledge, but wisdom inherent in the human being.


Education begins on the very day a child is born. At an earlier date is one of the principles of talent education, and it is certainly observed in the process of mother tongue learning.  One knows well that rice will never give a good crop if one fails to breed a good young plant, but it is a pity that there are many who do not pay enough attention to bringing up their own dear children, while they are still young.


Parents, who are teachers of a mother tongue to their children, are all experts in that language. The better teacher brings out better ability from their pupils. If the teachers ability is low, that of his pupils may not be expected to grow up fully. It is an undeniable fact.


Intuition is important in talent education. Learning of a mother tongue is conducted in close connection with intuition, the highest faculty inherent in the human being. If the first words of mother tongue given to a child, not together with his mothers loving smile, but with hard written letters, will the child be able to learn to speak their own language?


Never force children to practice or rehearse. There may be nobody in the world who has been forced to learn his mother tongue, ordered by someone to study hard.


No parents (teachers) ever get angry with or scold the children (pupils) because they are not able to speak their mother tongue fluently. Therefore, children can easily, and without hindrance, develop their own ability of language, having no inferiority complex at all. Is it not an ideal state of education?


Children develop their own ability for themselves. When children learn to speak, they enjoy speaking and practice it every day among themselves. Elder children often join younger ones and make them conscious of the necessity of learning more and help them get more. In this way, children develop their own ability of language for themselves. This is a wonderful way of learning. The spirit of self-betterment and collaboration prevails among them.


Repeat practice and rehearsal everyday, and thus the basis is prepared for a great leap forward in talent. Learning of a mother tongue is made exactly this way. It is why every child can learn and become an expert in his mother tongue. Human faculty develops by exercise, only by exercise, regardless of its inborn differences.


Why is it necessary to practice every day? Life force has the power of healing any wound inflicted on the human body. Human memory is also being obliterated everyday by the similar process. The necessity of repeated practice is what learning of a mother tongue tells us.


Every child shows a great leap forward before long. An infant, who has learned to utter a word or two when one year old, rapidly develops his ability, and when he is three or four years old, becomes able to command the language freely. This is a wonderful progress in so short a time. Education, which does not bring about such a leap forward, is a failure.


Likes or dislikes are out of the question. If you ask a Japanese whether he likes English or not, you will get an answer easily. But if you ask him whether he like Japanese, he will find himself at a loss for an answer. In this case whether one likes it or not is out of the question. Education, if it is a good one, makes you develop your own faculty to a high degree, while you are unconscious of it.


Disregard the difference in inborn abilities. Of all the cultural faculties a human being is born with, that of learning his mother tongue may be the only one that we can disregard the difference in. Anybody can learn his mother tongue, but it is evident that someone must teach and help him learn it.


Teaching matter needs to be mastered thoroughly, and felt by the children not too difficult. This is the most important point to prevent the pupils from dropping out. At first we teach them an easy introductory part carefully and bring them to play it any way, and then make them practice it again and again. Not until they have learned it thoroughly, been able to perform it beautifully, and begin to feel it is easy, do we move to the next step.


No textbook is necessary for teaching of the mother tongue. A mother always speaks to her baby, with a loving smile on her face. She has been doing so since the very day the child was born. Has anybody ever seen a mother teaching her baby to speak his or her own language with a textbook in hand?


There is no need for any test, entrance exam, terms or school years. Nothing involved with the school system is necessary for children to grow up lively and vigorously. The present school system always drives children by tests and exams. As a result, they develop, not a test for study, but an inferiority complex. A few succeed, but many drop out.


For those who think that the learning of a mother tongue is one, and that of subjects is another: If you think so, you would also have to think of the scene as imaginary the wonderful scene before you in which 3,000 children can brilliantly play the violin in concert.



This article is based on Dr. Suzuki's writings in the monthly publication of Talent Education, issued in April and May of 1957. It is a direct translation from Japanese. These principles continue to have significant application today.
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