Wartberg, Kerstin: The Mother-Tongue Method

Category: Articles for Parents (English & Spanish)

Wartberg, Kerstin: The Mother-Tongue Method

The Mother-Tongue Method is based on an entirely natural event -- the learning of the mother tongue. This process is occurring every day and demonstrates, in a most impressive manner, the incredible learning potential of small children. Scientific research confirms that even five-year-old children possess unconscious grammatical knowledge more complex than described in any textbook. However, it has also been shown that if nerve cells are not stimulated in the proper way and at the appropriate time, these missed opportunities can hardly be corrected.
The Japanese violin pedagogue, Shinichi Suzuki (1898 - 1998), developed a musical pedagogical concept that he named the Mother-Tongue Method, or Talent Education. Unlike any other musical pedagogical concept, his teaching method, with which children can begin playing an instrument already at age three or four, has found world-wide attention and dissemination.

Suzuki’s method orients itself for beginners on the natural learning processes of the child. He observed very carefully the way in which small children learn to speak, as well as the roles of the mother’s behavior and the environment in this process. It became clear to him that in learning the mother tongue, there is no failure. Every child learns at his own pace, and every child possesses the incredible potential to learn languages smallest details, even the smallest nuances of the local dialect. This all occurs despite the fact that most parents lack training in speech pedagogy. Suzuki undertook to create the conditions in which every child could successfully learn, but his teaching method really possesses no new elements. It evolved from simple observation of nature at work. The remarkable thing about his approach is the special composition of the individual teaching elements combined with
their transfer to instrumental teaching. He gained his knowledge exclusively from practical experience, careful observations, and through intuitive action. Suzuki’s major contribution was his recognition, decades before science, of many important developmental details that occupy a central position in present-day scientific research: the importance of the pre-natal phase; the learning of speech; sensorimotor development; and the prerequisites for early learning. Even when there are differences of opinion concerning some details, scientific research has come to support most of Suzuki’s ideas.

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