Journal article Open Access
Wilhelm Viëtor's polemical pamphlet (1850-1918) Der Sprachunterricht muss umkehren ('Foreign language teaching has to change' 1882) is considered by many manuals of didactics as a founding document of the direct method in foreign language teaching. The idea of the exclusive use of the foreign language and of the absolute exclusion of the native language, which includes the inductive teaching of grammar, is attributed to Viëtor. In this article, I will first analyse Viëtor's article to contextualise it later in the tendencies in linguistics of his time and to discover possible influences. Furthermore, I will focus on the influence of August Schleicher (1821-1868) on Viëtor's concept of language. In the second part of the paper I will try to analyse Viëtor's linguistic context. Viëtor's ideas can mainly be explained by the development of phonetics and the interest of its protagonists in language teaching.