Rus Articles Journal

How Heinrich Shliman invented an original method of learning of foreign languages?

About Heinrich Shliman - the German businessman and the archeologist - are written much. His life reminds the adventure story where the most improbable events which fell to lot of one person intertwine. The greatest popularity to it was brought by archeological excavations in Asia Minor where, according to legends, there was antique Troy sung by Homer. Shliman visited

the half-world, and in any country he felt with-it the person because he knew a set of languages which learned by an own method.

the Curriculum vitae

Heinrich was born

on January 6, 1822 in the small town of Noybukov located to Mecklenburg - the Shverinsky duchy. His father Ernst Shliman was a priest of local arrival. Since young years it developed and encouraged interest of the son in history. But from - for disintegration of a family little Heinrich`s education his uncle had to be engaged.

For a start he sent the boy to the teacher of Latin. Heinrich with great feeling undertook studying of dead language, and in several months he wrote on Latin a sensible sketch about Trojan war. Seeing progress of the nephew, the uncle suited him on training in a gymnasium. Unfortunately, its education in this educational institution was continued only 3 months. From - for financial difficulties of the child transferred to real school.

In 14 years young Shliman began the labor career as the salesman in grocery store. In five years Heinrich decided to look to himself for other work, worthy the real man. He left the hometown and Hamburg where it was employed by the ship`s boy on the vessel “Dorathea“ which left for Venezuela went on foot to a seaport. The ship was not lucky: next day after departure it got to a storm. Fortunately, almost all members of team managed to escape. Instead of Venezuela Shliman got to Amsterdam.

the polyglot`s Birth

to Heinrich was succeeded to find

work in one trading company. Amsterdam - the city international, and Heinrich from the very first days of the work faced a large number of the foreigners speaking different languages. People from England, France and Portugal - three largest powers of that time came into the trading company. Besides, there it was possible to meet also Italians. It is natural that a working language in the trading company was Dutch. Heinrich was lucky that he plunged into such multilingual atmosphere.

The second positive moment was the fact that the young man had at work with the mass of free time. He vividly thought that it has a magnificent opportunity to begin studying of languages which sounded around it. And the management of the company very much was positive to desire of the young man to learn to speak languages of clients.

In three years of work Heinrich began to speak the Dutch, English, Portuguese, Italian and French languages fluently. How he managed to master five languages for so short time? Elements Latin which he began to comprehend in the childhood were useful to Shliman. French, Italian and Portuguese belong to group of Romance languages: Latin is their cornerstone. The lexicon and grammar of these languages is similar, distinctions begin in phonetics. Close words and designs are read differently, depending on national specifics.

Dutch, English and German (the native language of Shliman) languages are quite close and enter into the German group. These three languages are similar in a lexicon and grammatical designs, but very strongly differ in phonetics. Heinrich thought that he should listen and compare related languages among themselves, catching similarities and distinctions. Heinrich “hung up the ears on an attention nail“ and began to listen and remember a pronunciation of familiar and new words in different languages. This process brought it true pleasure.

The following step of Shliman consisted that it began to work with textbooks and fiction where he could behold writing of words and deal with grammatical designs. Heinrich possessed one more peculiar feature of character which was very useful at learning of foreign languages: he was not afraid to make a mistake, having applied the approach to studying of modern languages and having rejected all recognized canons as it was accepted when studying languages in the 19th century.

Shliman did not hesitate to pronounce words and offers of the learned language, asked people to correct it. What was not clear, he asked more and more time. It was the way to practical acquisition of spoken languages with carriers.

The fact that Heinrich did not learn languages in a gymnasium helped it. It was not blinkered doctrines and boredom of mechanical repetition of words and rules. He was not afraid to look silly if said something incorrectly in a foreign language. It always began studying of a modern language with big hunting, it to it was in pleasure, but not in burden.

After three years of work in the trading company Heinrich replaced the place of work. He became the employee of other company which dealt with Russia. Documentary correspondence was conducted in Russian. Representatives of Russia appeared in this company very seldom. For communication, as a rule, the Russian officials preferred either German, or French languages. Such situation pushed the young man to the decision to be the representative of the company in Russia. The management of the company, of course, approved its candidacy.

As Shliman learned Russian, it will be a question in the following article.