The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

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indeclinable
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The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

Postby indeclinable » Sat May 05, 2018 5:35 pm

I'm sure many of you have heard of Arthur M. Jensen's Language courses like: English by the Nature Method, Le français par la «méthode nature», L'italiano secondo il «metodo natura» or Ørberg's Lingua Latina secundum naturae rationem explicata (nowadays known as Per se illustrata).

You can find most of them free here. (Information on the Latin method here)

The so called Nature method (or inductive-contextual method) is the same one that was used by the Berlitz institute for many years in its courses (you may read the preface of their French course or Jensen's French Manual to the English course to see the characteristics of it). Basically they proposed a non-explicit teaching of grammar and exclusive use of the target language from the very beginning so as to "force" the student to learn word meanings and grammar by induction out of a graded comprehensible context. Thus, by giving you easy to understand sentences that form part of a greater, coherent and graded narrative that entices you to keep reading, repeating them and making variations of them you'll learn the language without having to consult a dictionary or a conventional grammar. With the exception of the exclusive use of the target language, this methodology is also very similar to the Assimil methods.

A more modern and scientific version of the Nature method is the so called "Natural approach", in essence is the same. Here's an excellent YouTube description.

The Nature Method Institute's Language courses were a subscription per mail courses.

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As you can see the institute had several subsidiaries around the world. As far as I have been able to investigate none of them exist anymore, a shame since each of them provided excellent ancillary material for their courses (some of them you can find compressed in the link I posted above). To name a few, there were student's manuals (in French, German, Norwegian, Dutch, etc.), vocabularies and even a recording. I was wondering if anyone that speaks those languages (specially Norwegian and Dutch) would be kind enough to translate the manuals and vocabularies and make them available for those of us not fortunate enough to have a working knowledge of those languages.

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Additionally I'd like to know if anyone had parents or grandparents who might have bought those methods when they were available or might even have had some relation with the institute or its subsidiaries. Per chance I stumbled upon a forum where a guy claims he's a son of one of the owners but I haven't been able to contact him. I'm specially interested in finding him, or anyone who might posses the German and the Spanish course, which are the only ones that have not been scanned and made publicly available. I tried to no avail several times to contact the last known address of the institute but have received no response.

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Anyway I hope all of you can profit from what we do have and wish you luck in your learning, I've had enormous success and enjoyment using this methodology and heartily recommend it. Please do contact me if you happen to stumble upon the German or Spanish course or if you happen to find a similar course.
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Re: The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

Postby ilmari » Sun May 06, 2018 3:26 am

Thanks for the fascinating information. I love this approach, and I think Ørberg's Latin books are just brilliant. It is ironic that the only modern natural method materials we have today (as far as I know) are for Latin, and not for any modern language.

I have found recordings for a few lessons of the New First Spanish Book here:
https://librivox.org/search?q=first%20spanish%20book&search_form=advanced
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indeclinable
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Re: The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

Postby indeclinable » Mon May 07, 2018 3:23 pm

Indeed, I was also surprised about it. What I find most odd is that no one seems to have any idea or memory of the institutes apart from those in the Latin speaking community.

I personally went to Zurich, Paris, Milan, Munich, Vienna, Brussels and Amsterdam and did detective work, I interviewed people that lived in the vicinities, sniffed around the bookshops and antiquaries, I consulted the local registers and found nothing tangible. There are records of the company operating but I found no one that actually remembered there ever being a publishing house or anyone that had worked (or knew anyone that had worked) in any of the subsidiaries. As if they had just vanished.

I know that they had also a subsidiary in New York because they commissioned a manual for the LLPSI (by the way, it's a horrible manual, it was denounced, which is why Ørberg ended up publishing his own manual). But then again, only records exist, I could find nobody that had direct ties to the institute. If the New York subsidiary was at least as half diligent as the subsidiaries of Amsterdam or Oslo, then there must be already an English manual for all the methods, but I have found no evidence that might point to their existence. Again, I do not have the time nor the resources to embark on a full scale search, which is why I appeal to the help of good Samaritans that might have a free hour now and then to dig around and ask old folks if they ever bought the institute's material.

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Last edited by indeclinable on Sat May 12, 2018 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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indeclinable
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Re: The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

Postby indeclinable » Thu May 10, 2018 4:18 pm

Much to my surprise I've been informed that there's also a Русский язык по методу Натура written by Oleg Objedof-Koefoed under the direction of Arthur Jensen. The catalog of Copyright confirms it. I have never seen it.

If you search in Google Images for "Russisch nach der Naturmethode" you'll find a lot some images of the book (confirming it does exist), and that it was sold at http://www.willhaben.at, the item is no longer available. They do show however that it was sold by the following company in Austria:

Humboldt Fernlehr Institut
Lothringerstraße 4-8
1041 Wien

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According to the following article, the Humboldt Fernlehr Institut ceased to exist as of 2017 and had been bought by the Humboldt Matura-Schule. The course doesn't appear in their catalogues, I've written them an email anyway. I'll post any information they give me here, but I'd appreciate if anyone in Vienna could pay them a visit and conduct a more thorough interview, I'd be specially interested in getting in touch with the former owners of the Humboldt Fernlehr Institut, inquiring about the copyright status of the method and knowing what relationship they have with the other Nature Method courses.

And yet I fear that no amount of internet searching is going to be of much help locating any other of the missing methods, we have to begin asking around to our grandparents and their friends, someone somewhere must have at least a copy of them in their attic.
Last edited by indeclinable on Fri May 11, 2018 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

Postby ilmari » Fri May 11, 2018 10:44 am

There is a short thread on that Russian book on HTLAL:
http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=37076&PN=17

And another thread (in Spanish) here:
http://www.rusoenleon.com/leonforum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=118

No one could find it...
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indeclinable
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Re: The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

Postby indeclinable » Fri May 11, 2018 9:21 pm

Neither will we apparently. I've just received an answer from the Humboldschule, they claim to know nothing about the course, they say that maybe the Humboldt Bildungsgesellschaft knew about it but it doesn't exist anymore.

Additionally someone asked me if I knew the address of the New York subsidiary, here's the add they put up in the magazines, I have never been able to contact them.

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Re: The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

Postby galaxyrocker » Thu Nov 22, 2018 1:04 am

So, digging up an old thread, how many courses do we know existed?

The ones I'm aware of:

  • English
  • Italian
  • French
  • Russian
  • Latin

After spending some time looking through copyright records, and getting some additional names, it seems there were some secondary books to all these released, dealing with short stories to boost after completing the course. It also seems that someone (Jensen's daughter?) published an "English by the Nature Method for Children", though I don't know any more than that. I did see that someone posted on this forum, mentioned earlier in the thread about having a Spanish and German ones, though that's the first I've heard of them (assuming it's not the Humboldt Institutes knock-offs, which apparently aren't good at all). Perhaps I'll email that person and see what he has to say...
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indeclinable
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Re: The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

Postby indeclinable » Thu Nov 22, 2018 4:30 am

The Spanish one was never finished, as far as I’m aware they only made 10 chapters or so. But I have never seen it.

The German one is supposedly complete, if anyone can locate it I’d be eternally grateful.
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Re: The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

Postby galaxyrocker » Thu Nov 22, 2018 7:34 am

indeclinable wrote:
The German one is supposedly complete, if anyone can locate it I’d be eternally grateful.


Do we know the name of it, or who authored it along with Jensen? That could help narrow the search down quite a lot.
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Re: The Nature Method Institute's Language Courses

Postby neumanc » Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:31 am

galaxyrocker wrote:assuming it's not the Humboldt Institutes knock-offs, which apparently aren't good at all
Very interesting. Could you please elaborate on the differences between the original methods and the courses distributed by the Humbold Institute? Until now, I thought they were the same.
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