Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0302-5160
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9781
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John Brinsley (1566-C.1630) seems to have been the first English scholar to publish a comprehensive language-teaching course for students of Latin. His first textbook, which appeared in 1612, was a lengthy discussion of teaching method; it was followed by a grammar, and by translations of Latin texts of varying degrees of difficulty, arranged in a special format to assist private study. His last publication was a dictionary devoted to the kind of vocabulary relevant to the practical needs of the early 17th century, when Latin was still the language of the professions. So valuable did English schoolmasters find his works — which also stressed the necessity of studying the vernacular — that they were reprinted two or three times, and one (the grammar) reached a fifteenth edition. But they did not attain the continuing success which they deserved, because they were superseded from the 1630's by the textbooks of Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670) which were more specifically directed towards the growing scientific interests of the seventeenth century. Although the name of Brinsley has long been known to historians of education, no comprehensive account has previously been given of his writings or of his biography. This study is an attempt to supply more detailed information about both, and to assess his importance in the history of applied linguistics.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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