How Did Charlotte Mason Teach Foreign Languages?

Charlotte Mason routinely taught her students 3-5 foreign languages. What was her method?I spent years reading her writings and acquiring the texts she used. As a result, I pulled together material that was piloted in Spanish classes for two years in Ambleside Schools International member schools and homeschooling families. The fruit of that effort is now Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and François, a two-volume curriculum designed to teach foreign language using Miss Mason’s method.How did she teach languages? She credited her students’ success to the consistent use of a simple method: they learned to speak series, which are sets of statements that describe a single event or process. The series Miss Mason used described everything students did or saw in life from practicing the piano to how bees make honey. Essentially they learned to narrate life in the foreign language.

Here is how it works. First you learn the series in your native tongue because it is essential to know what you are saying. As you say the series, you act it out. Next, you identify the verbs. These are whatMiss Mason called the “king words” and are the ones that will allow you to quickly make new sentences. Third, you learn the verbs in the new language, but as you hear and say them, you continue to act them out. Fourth, you learn to say the subject in each sentence in the new language. Finally, you learn to say the complete sentences.  In a matter of minutes, students are able to speak the language and know what they are saying.

Teachers in the ASI schools are enthusiastic about the results. Homeschooling mothers also report the method is easy to integrate at home and has students speaking the language quickly.
To learn more about the method and the curriculum go to

Allyson D. Adrian Ph.D.
McDonough School of Business
Georgetown University