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August 2017

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If you are going to a SALVI event / Rusticatio this summer or perhaps something with Paideia, I would like to offer some advice from a game teacher but mediocre speaker of Latin.

That is, my true conversational skills have a long ways to go (though my pronunciation is solid).

I have attended, I dunno, 4 or 5 Rusticationes and a couple of Bidua. While I am a bright person, even a creative person, I am not a natural when it comes to languages. Whatever instincts others have to make picking up languages a natural act, I seem to lack.

In fairness, my first several Rusticationes were--to me--a vacation with my intellectual family and away from the emotional turmoil that was my home life. These people *got* me--my obsession with Latin and all that comes with it. While in the sessions, I was totally focused. However, out of the sessions I could and would be alone with my thoughts--my English thoughts. Thus I might well have been in a 24/7 spoken Latin environment, but my brain was not tuned into Latin 24/7. I was cheating and for the first several years I didn't even realize it. And just like when our students cheat, it was impeding my true progress.

I was busy trying to learn techniques and things I could gradually add to my classes which focused on ways to work with literature in the target language. I felt I was making great progress with teaching my students how to truly read Latin in ways that I had never learned. Now I wanted to enhance that with spoken language because I did and do understand that it helps to build that mental representation. However, I didn't really work on small talk. That is, I could manage to say what I needed to say with some thought, but I didn't practice it. I'm not the type to stay up late drinking and chit-chatting, so there were things I also missed out on. I didn't think they were important at the time, but now I see that they were.

This year I made a big push to incorporate significantly more comprehensible input in my classes. Ok, admittedly, the year didn't quite end that way, but I mentally have been building a list of all the things I would do differently with the students, much of which stems from having a clear understanding now of how I inadvertently undermined my precious, limited time at Rusticatio. So here are five specific suggestions that I suggest you take to heart. I am betting your progress will be significantly more substantial than mine if you do.

1) Try never to go off on a walk, etc, alone. If you do, talk to yourself out loud, describing everything around you. Try to incorporate anything that was presented in a session.

I tried doing this at my last Rusticatio and it did prevent me from taking vacation time in my head in English. I enjoy nature watching, and would compose Latin haiku in my head during my walks or make observations aloud and then transform that observation into an indirect statement or indirect question. Sometimes I would then turn it into a conditional clause.

2) Work your small talk. Can you, with the ease of habit, say where you are from, where you live now, where you went to school, how old you are, how many levels of Latin you teach, etc etc? Can you ask those kinds of questions with the same ease?

My problem in great measure is that small talk bores me. I'd rather get into a meaty conversation on an interesting topic or try to tell some really funny story. But the basics are important if you really want to develop that mental representation of the language. There are phrases that I have internalized in Latin that I say with an automatic response--like when someone sneezes--so automatic that I have to think to say such things in English now. But when you ask me where I'm from, I spend too much time thinking through exactly what I want to say. What's important here is not necessarily that you can talk the small talk but that you are developing that mental representation, that automatic response. Plus these can be the building blocks for "same conversation" (see below).

3) Learn how to "hunt" language, and "hunt" every moment you can.

This is a WAYK (Where Are Your Keys) technique, and somehow the first couple of years that the wonderful and marvelous Evan Gardner was at Rusticatio, I missed the session on the full explanation of WAYK, let alone understanding how to "hunt" language. In fact, it wasn't until the Rusticatio Pedagogy camp that I really learned how to hunt, and not until the last day. I remember having the absolute best and most enjoyable and educational lunchtime discussion on lids on drinking cups/bottles. (Did the lid screw on? Just push down? How does it compare to a salt shaker lid? The lid on the coffee thermos?) There's an art to it; part of it involves understanding how "circling" works. And it sure beat a table full of tirones trying to figure out some small talk.

For more on WAYK language hunting, go here: WAYK Language Hunting

4) Practice "same conversation." This is when you take something that you would say every day, for instance, starting with the smallest version possible, and add to it a little bit at a time.

The example I was given was about morning coffee. The conversation started something like this: "Is the coffee ready?" to which each day a little more was added: "Is the coffee ready? Did you prepare it?" "Is the coffee ready? Did you prepare it? Is it French roast?" etc. I'm sure I'm not remembering this quite correctly, but you get the picture.

I learned about the value of this on one of the last days I was at my last Rusticatio. It had never occurred to me before to build upon a conversation in such a way, even though this sounds completely obvious. And in thinking about this now, I realize in my own teaching this year one of the things I missed out on were opportunities to incorporate and build upon "same conversation"--but I intend to target this next year.

For more on WAYK "same conversation," go here: WAYK Same Conversation

5) When you read Latin, read it aloud (or aloud in your head). Don't let your English translator kick in. Shut it down by reading aloud.

If you are a natural language learner, if you already have other spoken languages under your belt, you probably don't need these hints. You probably naturally intuit how to go about activating your Latin. I myself clearly am not a natural linguist, but a good student. And admittedly sometimes I need things spelled out to me, which is ok. It's ok because it helps me to understand and deeply empathize with what so many of my students go through with language learning.

If you are just nervous about all the vocabulary you don't know, there are materials I made for Rusticatio that I believe are still in use which you can find on my website.

I'm not going to an immersion workshop this summer, sadly, but I am thinking of all of these things as I prepare for incorporating more spoken Latin into my classes last year. I hope you find these hints helpful. Please feel free to share with any tiro at a speaking event this summer!
This will be a short entry because I feel like I don't have time to post at all but I MUST MUST MUST start posting some things about what I am doing.

1) We are on block schedule this year, and I like it.  I like that after a day of busting my butt planning for the next day's classes that I can then relax a day.  Sort of. Well, I should have graded last night but I took care of me instead. Our block schedule is A B A B C, with C being a flex day of seeing all classes for only 41 minutes.  Otherwise we have 92 minutes per class.

2) I have been able to work in Rassias substitution/transformation drills in Latin 3 and Latin 4 because I had time!  And instead of just using some target sentence from the story as is, I will change out names to be people in the class.  Talk about increased engagement!  They want to know what they are doing in the sentence!!!  So that's been good.

3) I have been working in using basic WAYK symbols with the Latin 1s to make sure they can stop me or ask questions while staying in Latin. Of course even I'm not very good at forcing the issue of staying in Latin because I've been dealing with a few behavior issues (in my last class) and some learning disabilities and I want to make sure EVERYONE is feeling ok before pushing high percentages of Latin.

4) I have been working on making myself do two things: 1st, to pause for a count of three before allowing answers, and 2nd, to actually call on people by name for questions. Boy, let me tell you, that was eye-opening, especially with my last class.  From group responses it sounded like most people were getting the hand of UBI and QUID FACIT, but, sheesh, individually proved something else!

And here's the question: Why?  I think it was two-fold. I think there were engagement issues in that class AND I think I should have given them a brain break instead of racing to the finish line. I didn't get to the finish line because of all the interruptions, so I should have just had a brain break. By not having the brain break I wasted time.

I also gave my first quiz and I'm feeling like it was harder than I meant it to be.  I mean, I think it was very, very easy for some.  However, for students who have processing/analytical issues, it may have been tricky.  That is, I had a fill in the blank conversation over basics of quid nomen tibi est, mihi nomen est, salve/vale, tibi gratias ago, libenter, mihi placet, quid agis hodie, etc--all of which were in a word bank. If you followed the conversation, it was pretty easy. But if you weren't use to solving puzzles by seeing what comes next, it was tricky.  Well, for some. I should grade them next but I have a stack of Latin 3 quizzes to grade first.

So, I dunno.

5) OH OH OH!  We have been having 5 minutes of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) in Latin on A & B days. So far this is only in Latin 3 and Latin 4, but they are liking it.

6) I have been working on masting Google Forms, Google Sheets, Google Slides, etc.  Just not Google Docs because it doesn't allow me to script keys to type macrons, so Word is still my go-to for that.  I have done some cool slides, made a rubric in a Google Form which then feeds into a Google Sheet and calculates the grade--which was great until I realized that you can't give students feedback that way. I'm researching writing a script (ok, copying the script) to automate emails from the data sheet. I used it for scoring simple (scripted) presentations on Latin names and bullas.  By the way, some of the bullas have been gorgeous this year!  Look at these:

So it's been a busy start to the year for me.

Tomorrow I'm going to have students write about this picture after we discuss it. I combined two pictures so hopefully there will be enough to write about.  We'll see how it goes.  That's all for now.

I must confess that I am disappointed that the Simon's Cat videos that I have been adding Latin subtitles to have been blocked on YouTube. I had, as I said, sent an email to (I guess) Simon, asking for permission or his blessing, providing a link, etc--being very up front and honest.  While I am sad that he never actually replied, I see now the response via the blocked videos. I respect that; I don't have to like it to respect it. I'm sure it seems like I'm interfering with his livelihood, and taking advantage of his art. And for that, I publicly and sincerely apologize.  But as you know (you few teachers who read this), I am but a Latin teacher with no ulterior motives for profit. Just trying to help provide usable materials for Latin teachers.

In any event, the Simon's Cat videos can be used without the Latin subtitles I provided. I encourage you to find them on YouTube, or better yet, go to the website at to support the creator directly. (I myself purchased one of his books this Christmas for a friend who has already opened the present and raved about how funny it is.)

So, in all honesty I was adding the Latin subtitles mainly for me, to make myself simplify what I'm seeing/what's being told in the story, and to make sure that I myself know the vocabulary so that I can do my best when trying to use them in the classroom. This ain't Caesar or Vergil after all. I realized that using the Simon’s Cat videos is one way of introducing some common daily vocabulary that we might need to discuss things around us versus what is introduced in the textbook (Cambridge Latin Course). For instance, I realized, as did my students, that we had never learned the word for “drop” before, yet in “Snow Cat” the dog drops his stick. I was able to contrast this with the stick falling down from the snow cat and the snow cat falling onto the cat. And it really isn’t necessary to have the Latin subtitles. Perhaps it is a crutch as we learn to go from a “dead language on the page” to something with more energy and life. Then again, it saved me time from having to write words on the board that were unfamiliar. And I could have gone from the version of Snow Cat with the Latin subtitles (it is probably blocked--OR TRY HERE through my Google Drive account) to the original without. The possibilities are endless.

I knew that doing a “Movie Talk” for the first time would not be perfect, especially because I am unpracticed at circling. However, I requested that my school’s instructional facilitator film the class so that I could critique myself, study problem areas, and work on ways to improve things.  It’s not brilliant; look to other people’s blogs for brilliant examples of things. But if you would like to see it, you should be able to go here to view it.  (You may have to join, but that just takes a minute.)  The Movie Talk begins around minute 11.

I have been a student/participant at Rusticatio for several years and have experienced circling and TPRS storytelling. I became aware that there was a mix of questions to prompt yes or no answers, etc, but I hadn’t studied it from a teaching perspective.  I thought that perhaps using the latest video which I added Latin subtitles to, Snow Business (here’s a link to the original without the subtitles), I could practice circling by writing it out here. I am using the circling template provided on Susan Gross’s TPRS website.

The sentence under question is a simple subject verb object sentence. Here are the basics from the template. It begins with a statement using a student as the subject and a proper noun or cognate as the object.  In this case, Lana finds a Rolex.

Circle the subject:

  • Wants a YES Answer: (Does Lana find a Rolex? Yes, Lana finds a Rolex.)

  • Provides a CHOICE: (Does Lana find a Rolex or does Pat find a Rolex? Right, Pat doesnʼt find a Rolex, Lana finds a Rolex)

  • Wants a NO Answer: (Does Pat find a Rolex? No, Pat doesnʼt find a Rolex, Lana finds a Rolex)

  • Open Ended / Answer Not in Question: (Who finds a Rolex? Thatʼs right, Lana finds a Rolex.)

Circle the verb:

  • Wants a YES Answer:  (Does Lana find a Rolex? Yes, Lana finds a Rolex.)

  • Provides a CHOICE: (Does Lana find a Rolex or does Lana eat a Rolex? Lana doesnʼt eat a Rolex; Lana finds a Rolex.)

  • Wants a NO Answer:  (Does Lana eat a Rolex? Of course not, Lana doesnʼt eat a Rolex; Lana finds a Rolex.)

  • Open Ended / Answer Not in Question: (What does Lana do? Lana finds a Rolex.)

Circle the complement / object:

  • Wants a YES Answer: (Does Lana find a Rolex? Yes, Lana finds a Rolex.)

  • Provides a CHOICE: (Does Lana find a Hummer or does Lana find a Rolex? Lana doesnʼt find a Hummer, Lana finds a Rolex.)

  • Wants a NO Answer: (Does Lana find a Hummer? How ridiculous, Lana doesnʼt find a Hummer; Lana finds a Rolex.)

  • Open Ended / Answer Not in Question: (What does Lana find? Thatʼs right, Lana finds a Rolex.)

Thus for us Latinists, we are talking about nōnne, aut/vel, num, and quis/quid questions, perhaps with a rectē, a certē and an est ridiculum thrown in for good measure. I suppose what I didn’t fully think about when I was doing my circling with Snow Cat was WHAT I was targeting—nominative, accusative, verb. I also didn’t have good alternatives to offer (like a Hummer instead of a Rolex in the examples above). I was doing well to just remember to try to question.

So, time to see what I can do with preparing to use Snow Business after the holidays. (This will all be thinking out loud sort of stuff, be warned!) I also want to create follow-up materials to get students writing. Here is a screen capture from Snow Business with Latin subtitles (OR TRY SEEING IT HERE!).  (Here is the original without).

I have a compound sentence here; I thought nothing of it when I wrote it. But if I want to circle anything here it would be useful to focus on either the first part or the second part.

So here's what perhaps I would circle: avis pilam niveam facit.

Circle the nominative:

  • nōnne avis pilam niveam facit? ita vērō, avis pilam niveam facit.

  • avis aut fēlēs pilam niveam facit? rectē, fēlēs pilam niveam nōn facit; avis pilam niveam facit.

  • num fēlēs pilam niveam facit? est rīdiculum! fēlēs pilam niveam nōn facit; avis pilam niveam facit.

  • quis pilam niveam facit? certē, avis niveam pilam facit.

Circle the accusative*:
(*Do we want to emphasize the accusative by moving it up in the sentence, since we can in Latin? Why not!)

  • nōnne pilam niveam avis facit? ita vērō, pilam niveam avis facit.

  • pilam niveam aut hominem niveum avis facit? rectē, pilam niveam avis facit.

  • num hominem niveum avis facit? est rīdiculum! hominum niveum avis nōn facit; pilam niveam avis facit.

  • quid avis facit? certē, pilam niveam avis facit.

Circle the verb**:
(**Although we could also move the verb up in the sentence, I’m not going to. Students will truly need to learn to listen for/watch for accusatives coming first in a sentence; it is far less common to have a verb first in a sentence.)

  • nōnne avis pilam niveam facit? ita vērō avis pilam niveam facit.

  • avis pilam niveam facit aut invenit? rectē avis pilam niveam facit.

  • num avis pilam niveam invenit? est rīdiculum! avis pilam niveam nōn invenit; avis pilam niveam facit.

  • quid agit*** avis? certē avis pilam niveam facit. (***I usually use quid facit for what is he doing but clearly with facit/making being targeted, this will not work.)

The alternatives I used here, hominem niveum (snow man) and invenit (find), are not exciting alternatives. Not as engaging as something more unusual or unexpected.  A Rolex and a Hummer will keep the attention of a student. However if I’m daring and think the students are able, I could follow with quō modō avis pilam niveam facit?

But that would be a big leap because the answer would require an ablative of means. That would better be modeled in a sentence first. And I guess I could circle it something like this:

  • avis pilam niveam ālīs aut rostrō facit? or ālīs aut rostrō avis pilam niveam facit?

...and maybe follow that with

  • vīdistīne avis vēra pilam niveam facit? est rīdiculum!

The good aspect of doing this would be making it a personalized question—getting direct student involvement and engagement at a personal level.

In reviewing what I have written for circling the nominative, it is worth noting that a moment later in the video the cat does make a snow ball too.  Thus it will be worth all of the circling so that pila nivea becomes internalized or at least comfortable.

Having hominem niveum for an alternate for the accusative is nice (even if not terribly exciting) because it is masculine and thus we have a different ending on the adjective. And while invenit is fine for an alternate for the verb, looking ahead to this next picture makes me realize that perhaps the alternate verb should have been portat.

In fact, if I had been thinking about how I would teach with this video, I might have used portat instead of habet, as I have above. Also, considering the big cat imprint in the picture (the bird hits the cat in the behind with a snow ball and he lands deep in the snow), I could have used angelam niveam as well as hominem niveum. Then perhaps we could have joked that he made a fēlem niveam when he fell.

So, if I have really circled early on in the video with NOM ACC VERB, I can still continue to do similar things, or I could consider other constructions worth targeting. In this second screen capture, the bird has a huge snowball. I could work adjectives in some sort of circling fashion, I suppose.

Circling positives:

  • nōnne pila nivea est magna? ita vērō, pila nivea est magna.

  • estne pila nivea magna aut parva? rectē pila nivea est magna.

  • num pila nivea est parva? est rīdiculum! pila nivea nōn est parva; pila nivea est magna.

  • quanta est pila nivea? certē pila nivea est magna.

Circling comparatives:

  • nōnne pila nivea est maior quam avis? ita vērō, pila nivea est maior quam avis.

  • estne pila nivea maior quam avis aut fenestra? rectē pila nivea maior quam avis.

  • num pila nivea est maior quam fenestra? est rīdiculum! pila nivea nōn est maior quam fenestra; pila nivea est maior quam avis.

  • quae est maior? (Not sure if this is really doable, since for a comparative you can’t really have something open-ended—after all, you are comparing two things!)

I could return to the earlier snowball, but maybe that is best left for the superlative:

  • quae est maxima—prīma pila nivea,  secunda pila nivea, aut tertia pila nivea avis? certē tertia pila nivea est maxima!

The bird, however, does miss when he throws this huge snowball. I suppose we could develop a line of questioning of which is more accurate, the larger snowball or the smaller one? Unfortunately, off the top of my head I’m not sure what I would use for “more accurate.” A quick look at a dictionary tells me that we could use accūrātus, -a, -um (nice and easy!);  more accurately is adverbial, which would be good to work in since it uses a different ending from the comparative adjective.

  • quae pila nivea accūrātius iacitur—parva pila nivea aut magna pila nivea?


  • quis pilam niveam accūrātius iacit—avis aut fēlēs?

This latter could lead to an interesting discussion towards the end, because at 1:47 (thereabouts) the cat hits the bird while it is flying—a moving object—and the bird then ends up stuck to the window. Some other questions come to mind now, which are admittedly getting away from circling, but that’s ok:

  • quis plūs pilārum niveārum iēcit? (Tense change, plūs + partitive genitive)

  • quis pilās niveās celerius fēcit? (Tense change plus another comparative adverb)

From here, I could work infinitives:

  • nōnne fēlēs avem edere vult? ita vērō fēlēs avem edere vult.

  • fēlēs avem edere aut laudāre vult? rectē fēlēs avem edere vult.

  • num fēlēs avem laudāre vult? est rīdiculum! fēlēs avem laudāre nōn vult; fēlēs avem edere vult.

  • quid fēlēs facit? certē, fēlēs avem edere vult.

  • (quō modō scīs fēlem avem edere velle? quod fēlēs ōs aperit!) (indirect statement!)

I could see side comments worked in as well:

  • fortasse fēlēs avem laudāre vult quod avis magnam pilam niveam fēcit.

And if I keep the video frozen on this particular screen, I could also ask students what they think will happen next. But first, maybe we should recap:

  • prīmum fēlēs in nive lūsit. tum avis et fēlēs pilās niveās iēcērunt. nunc avis ad fenestram adhaesīvit. quid proximē accidet?

Perhaps that is too open-ended. Maybe offer some choices (and work the future tense)?

  • fēlēs avem edet?

  • avis advolābit?

  • avis rostrō fēlem pulsābit?

  • fēlēs fenestram franget?

  • ūnā hominem niveum facient?

To sum up, there’s a lot to be said about working out much of your circling in advance, especially if you are new to it as I am. I certainly saw some different avenues I could take that I think will be fruitful, many of which I wouldn't have seen on the fly. Even now, it occurs to me to think about the level of questioning with regard to ACTFL's Proficiency Ratings as simplified in WAYK speak as "Travels with Charlie" or "Tarzan at the Party":

NOVICE (Tarzan at the Party / Sesame Street)

  • memorized words and phrases

INTERMEDIATE (Get to the party / Dora the Explorer)

  • question and answer

  • full sentences

ADVANCED (What happened at the party last night? / Larry King Live)

  • past/present/future tenses

  • paragraph narrative

SUPERIOR (What if parties were illegal? / Charlie Rose)

  • lengthy discussions of complex issues

  • structured arguments

  • hypothetical speech

Basically we are operating in the intermediate level, albeit low because the circling is pretty leading. But we are modeling full sentences in the questions and answers. We are tiptoeing up to advanced by using different tenses. I might even be able to squeeze a little superior level in if I were to ask something along the lines of "What if snow balls fights were illegal?" (haha)

One last thing I want to do, as I mentioned earlier, is to create a follow-up written assignment. Yes, I could do a timed write, but since my students didn't learn timed writes from Latin 1, I think that could spook them. Instead, I think I will make some more screen captures, maybe without the subtitles, include them on a worksheet with maybe a word bank, and let them write using the pictures as prompts. I have some ideas.... But perhaps that should be for another blog. 

OWL Workshop

Oct. 5th, 2015 08:13 pm
ginlindzey: magistra laeta (Ginny)
So today my LOTE department has a special trainer in doing a workshop.  OWL stands for Organic World Language.  It's tying into a lot of what I've learned at SALVI events (Rusticatio), where we use a mixture of comprehensible input, TPRS, and WAYK (Where Are Your Keys?).  This has been wonderfully high energy (except that I'm having serious problems with my Achilles tendons lately and all the activity is aggravating severely them).

There are many activities or means of grouping that I will steal and share with my SALVI peeps right away. So, with OWL you are always up and moving (at least in what we've seen so far) and either you are in a circle, or you are paired or grouped up in some way.  If she calls out 2, we get in pairs and play Rock, Paper, Scissors. The winner dances disco, the loser dances salsa. THEN the instructor actually gives the prompt for discussion. (Topics may be listed on the board.) If she calls out 3, you pose for Charlies Angels (three people, posing with finger guns). If you have a person left out, that person decides the topic (from the list). If she calls out 4, it's for Pirates--two prisoners with wrists crossed, two pirates standing behind doing pirate sort of things. If she calls out 5, it's for Zombies--two people lie on the ground, the other three act like they are eating the two that are down.

All of the goofy activities have a useful purpose besides simply being fun. Doing something goofy with your body lowers the affective filter and thus they don't stress as much over speaking. There's also this reassuring aspect that it's just all play--as all good learning should be.

At one point we were grouped into threes, and then did an activity called Microlab. Each person would have a chance to speak with NO interruption from the other two about whatever the topic was. A little monologue. If that person doesn't fill the whole time, that's ok. Transitions between turns happen when the teacher calls out (in the target language) to raise your hands (both), and then calls the number of the person who is to talk next.  Beforehand, the instructor had numbered each person in the group and then asked all the 1s to raise their hands, then the 2s, then the 3s.  After each person had their turn to monologue, we were given a new question. She assigned a new order (3s then 1s then 2s, for instance), once again asked all the 1s to raise hands, 2s, then 3s. And each transition between speakers was done with "raise your hands" (in the target language).

Any time we start to drift off topic, the instructor immediately gets us back by telling us in the target language to touch our heads, touch our elbows, raise our hands, etc. As the day wore on, we were more inclined to digress, so this was done a few times. :-)

There was a discussion on most learning happening as "brain sparks" at the beginning and end of class with a big sagging wave in the middle, and that by changing the class to a more kinesthetic environment that you create a bunch of little waves and thus more "brain sparks."

Another discussion was regarding vocabulary: FULL, PARTIAL, & CONCEPTUAL.  Vocabulary lists are kept on white boards for her classes, and as students move through and acquire vocab, old words are erased and new ones added.  FULL are words that are internalized. Partial are those that are in the process of being acquired. Conceptual are new words that have yet to work their way into active use.

There is a great emphasis on SOCIAL interaction, and social interaction creating the driving need for language acquisition.  We had discussed that we all experienced ownership of the language when in an immersion situation and had to be able to communicate.  Of course, there was lots of discussion about mistakes being made along the way and that that's how we learn.

I also liked the idea that it's necessary to DEUNITIZE. That is, we shouldn't keep topics separate. We should find ways to connect everything, because the more connections that are made with vocabulary and concepts, the quicker those words are internalized. She did a great word web example with CAT in the middle, surrounded by all sorts of related words; then started taking each of the related words out through their various connections. It was amazing to see all the digressions, and how some of those digressions actually ended up with similar vocab. I wish I had taken a picture.

We kept coming back to the theme that CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING. Hearing this repeated so many times made me feel very positive about the things I've done with the Phaedrus poems (see previous post). Having the time to set up context, to build upon previous knowledge, to understand the background--all those things I think have aided in our enjoyment of the Phaedrus poems. And it also emphasizes that language doesn't occur with lists of vocabulary in isolation.

Late in the afternoon we were working with ACTFL proficiencies and types of questioning. I really enjoyed the activities we did because if nothing else, it demonstrated to me that understanding exactly the level of questioning I use (novice, intermediate, advanced) is not as simple as it looks.  I was reassured when the instructor said that questioning is the hardest skill to master. Maybe this is why I balk at asking a story (something I know I want and need to do with my 4s at least).

OWL has five goals for students:

  1. to speak L2 exclusively

  2. to not be afraid of the L2 environment

  3. to take risks and break down affective filter

  4. to be able to infer and circumlocute

  5. to participate in and be part of a community.

Anyway, these are only the bare bones of what went on today. I'm afraid that if I don't take time to process all of this now that I will be too busy to do it later.

One thing that keeps going through my mind when I consider OWL, WAYK, TPRS, etc is that underlying realization that traditional methods of language instruction have failed this last century. The US in its paranoia at losing English as its "only" language has meant language study has just not been taken seriously. Our forefathers did not fear learning other languages--English, French, Latin, and Greek. Surely some Spanish too. But too many feel like everyone else should learn English instead of embracing opportunities to learn other languages.  And Latin's out-of-date focus on its benefits for SAT scores has killed us. That, and that it's the ideal language for people who are afraid of the oral aspect of modern languages.  My friend, John Kuhner, just today has published a wonderful article about Rusticatio and Latin's place in the spoken Latin world. The Latin Speakers of West Virginia. This last summer I couldn't afford to go to Rusticatio and I missed it desperately. It is a magical place. But I realized when I saw that list of 5 goals--I missed it because Rusticatio, for me, has been the only place where all five of those goals were in play for me.

When we were asked today at what point did we feel we really owned our language, I fudged it and said it was when I dreamed in Latin at Rusticatio. In truth, I still don't own this language. I can't pick up just anything in Latin and read with total fluency and comfort, though I am far closer now than I was when I got my degree.  To use a WAYK term, I have massive holes in my pocket.  Massive.  But I love this language. I can't tell you why, I just do.  My roommate asked me last summer what I would do if I could have my dream job.  I'd still teach, but significantly fewer hours, for higher pay so I could get out of debt.  LOL.  And I would find time to be a student.  I think in a past life I must have been a Roman. I can't explain any other reason for why I do what I do. Why I obsess over pronunciation, why I abandoned my moderately successful AP Latin program for level 4 to do what I'm doing now. And to constantly be questioning even now what I am doing.