French linguist; originator of the Ollendorff method of teaching modern languages; born at Rawicz, Posen, in 1802; died at Paris April 3, 1865. At an early age he went to London, where he began to apply in his teaching the system which subsequently brought him an international reputation. This method is based on the principle that a foreign language should be taught in the same way in which a child learns to speak its mother tongue. Confining itself to the most indispensable grammatical rules, the system begins with simple sentences containing only a subject and a predicate, and then proceeds gradually to the most complex constructions. The allusions to this method in Captain Basil Hall's "Schloss Hainfeld; or, A Winter in Lower Styria" (London, 1836), brought it at once into general notice.
Ollendorff went to Paris about 1830. The first work he published there was the "Petit Traité sur la Déclinaison Allemande"; this was followed by the "Méthode Appliquée à l'Allemand," first in French and then in English. The latter book became very popular in England, and was even translated into Gujarati, a language of British India. Ollendorff himself adapted his method to Italian, Spanish, modern Greek, etc. On the advice of Salomon Munk he sent a copy of his work to the University of Jena, which conferred upon him in return the doctorate of letters. On the publication of his "Méthode de l'Allemand à l'Usage des Français" (1833), which attracted the attention of De Salvandy, minister of public instruction, Ollendorff's system was introduced, despite some opposition, into the French colleges. As soon as it appeared Ollendorff's "Méthode" was pirated at Frankfort-on-the-Main, where it was not protected by copyright, and his system was generally followed. Ollendorff was his own publisher, printing his works in the Rue Richelieu, in his own establishment.
- Salomon Munk, Esquissc Biographique: Le Professcur Ollendorff, Paris.