Education: Say Da!

The nation's hottest self-education enterprise this year is the self-teaching language record. Nobody is sure how the spurt started, unless by the Sputnik-born furor over schools. But bookstore windows across the U.S. have blossomed with gaily packaged invitations to learning another tongue. The buyers: not only tourists and awakened adults, but thousands of parents who feel that children are not learning foreign languages early enough in school.

The new wrinkle is not the idea itself—Manhattan's mail-order Linguaphone Institute (34 languages) has sold records since 1932—but the wave of cheap records and new languages. The top record-makers are book publishers with expert pedagogical...