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The Autobiography of a Maori

How Mr. Thornton Taught English

How Mr. Thornton Taught English

It is remarkable how well Te Aute boys speak English considering that they are cut off from European company; their only models are their teachers. A member of the Board of Governors of the Gisborne High School once stated that the finest spoken English he had ever heard had been spoken by Te Aute boys. This statement has been qualified to refer only to what are termed Thornton boys, that is, pupils who were at the college during Mr. Thornton's regime.

Mr. Thornton was not a university graduate, but he page 74made up for what he lacked. Apart from his own excellently spoken English he took much trouble to impart English to his classes. His favourite method was oral teaching, and I think this was the secret of his success as a teacher of English.

Sir Apirana Ngata, Dr. Wi Repa and myself once spoke at a public meeting in Hastings and a Presbyterian clergyman remarked afterwards that he was struck by the fact that all the speakers seemed to have the same English model. I do not think there are any better speakers of the English language than the first two men I have mentioned above.