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October 2017


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 Last year I tried having Latin free write days where for 7-10 minutes students would do a timed write in Latin. We used sheets with word blanks provided (5 per line) and word counts provided at the ends of the lines.

I had mixed feelings all year about what to do with them, how to provide feedback or whether to provide feedback. Written? One on one sessions? The effectiveness? Towards the end of the year I just stopped doing them. I didn't feel it was a productive use of their time or mine. There was no structure at all. If anything, I felt it allowed for the reinforcement of their own errors. Instructionally it felt poorly designed.  Yes, some students liked it and, yes, it did diminish their fear of trying to write in Latin since they had been doing it all year. But otherwise I didn't feel that it added to their learning.

Yet there is no question that while my students typically end up being strong readers of Latin, most of them couldn't compose worth a darn on the fly. It is something I don't really work on. Thus writing IS something I want to do more of. Somehow.

One of the things I enjoy doing from time to time is rewriting a passage of Latin to suit my own needs. I recall once rewriting a passage of Martial complaining that "friend" wasn't reciprocating on dinner invitations to make it about a "friend" not replying to my emails. I was mindful of the structures used in the passage and even tried to keep the meter (but that wasn't critical for my purposes), carefully monitoring my changes in vocabulary and how it affected other structures, etc.

This, I felt, was always a way to control and improve my writing. So I tried it Friday with my Latin 1s.

I demonstrated via this Google Slides Presentation what sort of thing I wanted. In it, you will see the story "amicus" from CLC Stage 2. It's a short, simple story. I pointed out grammatical structures/forms we had been discussing (Nominiatives vs Accusatives, prepositional phrases, action vs linking verbs, etc). Then on the next slide is a story I had created using the name of a student in one of the classes. I pointed out how I had started with the "amicus" story and used only one change per sentence until incorporating those changes led to something more interesting (story-wise). For instance, when I decided the father needed to curse at both the cook and his daughter, I realized the story line was about how the cook apparently had tried to teach the man's daughter (my student) to cook but that she was still a horrible cook. In the process I stole some lines from other stories like "in triclinio" and even "Cerberus" to fit my needs. In other words, I didn't have to stick tightly to "amicus;" it was just a guide and a starting place.

The challenge for the assignment is using ONLY what you know and what you have seen. The rules were: 1) You could NOT use any vocabulary we had not seen either in the book or elsewhere (greetings and such we had worked on before starting the text) this year. 2) It could not be rude.

The students had the last half hour of class so there wasn't a rush. There was time to think and have fun. We used the same paper that I had made up last year for automatically counting words, and most students wrote between 40-60 words. Of course the results weren't perfect (they are students after all), BUT I felt there was a lot more right and productive about writing like this than just a loose free write. And the students seemed to enjoy it.

I think I will keep using this kind of writing for the rest of the year to see what happens. If you try this as well, let me know how it works for you and your students.

P.S. I am not declaring that free writes or timed writes are bad; only that I felt they didn't work for me. My spoken Latin isn't fluent enough thus my students don't get a 90% exposure to comprehensible input, which I feel they would need for this to work well. I am simply positing another possible writing activity that isn't just composition from English to Latin.
OK so I have a confession to make. I have been stuck in a rut all summer. I've been unable to move my "great ideas" forward, to finish fleshing them out. Admittedly I have been depressed and whether it was caused from my inability to move forward or that inability caused it, I'm not sure. But there's only a week or two left of summer and I've had to kick myself to get moving.

Last year upon reflection it seemed as if I had been playing with Comprehensible Input. Well, that's not really a fair assessment. I was really trying and way out of my comfort zone, at least the first semester and even the beginning of the second, prepping madly, making Google Slides for every talking point, scripting things to say and do, etc. But then as I saw holes in student progress (as in, some students were falling through the holes, not things missing in their learning--but a bit of that too), I pulled back. I take the blame; in great measure it was me. Try as I might, I could not converse well for long lengths of time AND maintain good student interaction and control. Too many would tune out, even if I were doing everything in my power to make what I was doing interesting and comprehensible and even compelling (although sometimes things would end up less compelling than I had planned). And as much as is said about the importance of being compelling, it has to be addressed that it is difficult to be compelling if your own conversational ability is stilted. I don't do small talk well. I can't just wing-it on students likes and dislikes, on their hobbies and interests. I can't take the time to look everything up because in that 30 seconds I've lost someone's attention. (In fairness to myself, the A/B students were engaged, did seem to be enjoying it, did seem to be benefiting from what I was doing.)

I've always had really high engagement levels with my students--even students with learning disabilities. I must be the only teacher who used CI who had student engagement drop... drop noticeably.  (At least to me--I'm used to 95-100% engaged.)  

I really didn't like the assessments. I didn't like the structure or lack of structure. I didn't like the mixed messages from experts in the field in certain areas. And I absolutely HATED the feeling of not advancing. Finally I realized that what I had envisioned and what was happening were two different things, very different things. For all the years I attended Rusticatio, and before that the sessions at conferences presented by Nancy Llewellyn, what I always imagined was a way to use spoken Latin to add to and enhance learning, not take over what I do, expelling or at least demoting the rest. I feel very deeply and passionately about the reading methodologies I've developed over the years and their benefits to students, especially those who continue to take Latin in college. What I've always wanted to incorporate was more conversational Latin in a meaningful, engaging way AND extensive reading opportunities. Block schedule gave me longer class periods to incorporate sustained silent reading (which I really enjoyed being able to do); the changing TEKS and pedagogy the opportunity to break the pace I had been keeping in teaching from CLC.  But there's a big difference between modifying the pace and totally going off the tracks and into the wilderness.

I guess when I say it feels like I was playing with Comprehensible Input it is because I was test driving it without the feeling that it was totally tied into my overall internal view of the curriculum. That's about me. So, when things started tanking spring semester for a variety of reasons, I began my usual internal problem solving for preventing the same problems next year.  And I had good ideas. I think I had good ideas.  I do have good ideas.....

As for all the conversational stuff, and trying to assess students on interpersonal / interpretive / presentational communication skills, I realized that in great measure things fell apart last year because there was no goal, no direction, no buy-in. So I hatched a plan.

The plan is to have students in Latin 1 this year become TIME TRAVELERS. They will have to learn enough conversational Latin to go through a PASSPORT INTERVIEW with partners who fill out the forms after asking the questions. They will have to become a member of Pompeian society--a merchant of some sort in the Roman world--and by early spring participate in a market day, buying and selling (and bargaining for) goods from each other. They will earn "money" to spend via stamps from conversational activities throughout the year. And before the year is out, they will leave Pompeii and travel to Roman Britain...  I have it fleshed out with more detail, especially for most of the different projects / performance assessments and needed "can-do's" specific for each. It's not entirely complete, but at least 80%.

The thing is, I don't just want them to learn Latin for Latin's sake. I want them to deeply involve themselves in the Roman world and to understand the culture and way of life. The language and the people are intricately tied together. (Last year it I felt like we totally and utterly lost the connection.)  I don't think student centered learning has to mean that everything we do is about their lives. I think the comparisons between the two cultures are important but the class is about the ancient world. And if I can't bring it to them, maybe I can bring them to it.

I've also been trying to write in an over-arching essential theme for Latin 1, which will be about the individual in Pompeian society, the importance of connections and networks, etc., (except that it will sound cooler than that). We will be "walking" in their shoes. There will be more specific themes/questions for each 6 weeks, hopefully proposed in as interesting a way as possible. Mind you, I will mainly be teaching Freshmen, who are often not really ready to think about the bigger picture of where they fit in communities, but maybe this will get them thinking about the importance of their connections and community at the school. Well, it's a thought. 

And then I've been trying to align everything to the standards: the general ACTFL standards, the Standards for Classical Learning draft (because the final draft is behind a pay wall), and the new TEKS which go into effect this year.  And I've been writing can-do statements that tie it all together specifically. (There are general can-do statements out there.)  Some of these I was able to write easily; others have me flustered.

In many ways this has been a big undertaking. But I feel that I'm at a time when I have to justify our curriculum. I have to justify why I still believe in teaching from the Cambridge Latin Course. I have to justify why I still believe that the most important aspect of my teaching is teaching students to read in word order. Not the comprehensible input--although I do definitely believe that CI is important and that I will continue to strive to do more and more Latin in class, incorporating as much CI as I think I can effectively manage. But that's the key: as much as I can EFFECTIVELY manage. I will readily confess that in great measure it may be what I consider my own failings and inabilities with spoken Latin, because without that level of fluency that I lack, I couldn't keep up the engagement with all students. I couldn't compete against the distractors, the rowdy kids, the ones who unless you have them engaged will find something else to do that isn't on task. 

So... how come I've found this so stressful and so depressing all summer?  So difficult to complete?

I think the simplest answer is because it is still significant change; it is still an unknown. 

It used to be that I would spend the summer simply improving material or how I taught specific things. For instance, one summer I decided to pour through CLC to see if I could make a comprehensive list of different types of ablatives, really more because I had noticed that the reason why some ablative absolutes didn't translate naturally as "after X had been done" was because they were really ablative of descriptions with participles. This wasn't about grammar; this was about comprehension and admittedly translation--especially since at that time I was still teaching AP Latin and translation was important. I was searching for patterns, patterns that really gifted people pick up on, but us regular joes need help seeing. I'm good at teaching those sorts of things so that everyone in the room can keep advancing, not just the best and brightest students.

Alternatively in the summer I like creative projects, design projects. Problems that have clear endings. I've made several google slides and a few posters this summer, mainly to combat frustrations over not having all of the answers for this project. And I guess I need to give myself permission to not have all the answers as well as to not worry about all the details. It will work itself out as the year unfolds. I need to remind myself that there's no need to be depressed and stressed, especially when I do have a fair amount to show for the summer.

For instance, I made a Google Slides presentation about Accenting Latin words:

And then I made one on Dividing Latin words:

And I made a few posters from my trip to Italy: House of Fabius Amandus, Via Stabiana, Herculaneum public fountain, and the Lararium from the thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus

And I set up some magnets upon request at my shop too.

And designed a new O TEMPORA  t-shirt, plus one which will be our club shirt

Yes, I confess I thought I wasn't ready for the summer to end. But I guess what I really need is for the school year to just start and to get on with it. Then, if nothing else, I will be too busy to be stressed and depressed. 
I have been thinking a lot about Rusticatio lately. I’m wishing I could be there for one, but also trying to examine in my mind things that were happening and things that we were doing and what I could have done differently to be a better learner.

In all honesty, my mind is pretty scattered these days, skipping from one project to the next, whichever is more convenient for me to work on based on location (home or at my son’s / ex’s house), mood, and energy. I am building my own “can-do” statements that are aligned with ACTFL’s proficiencies and Texas’s TEKS, but also geared toward what I want to do this year in Latin 1. In addition I’m working on a little Latin story, but haven’t gotten very far with it. I’ve written a fair amount, but I’m just exploring my characters. I want to illustrate it myself, because, I dunno, I’m an idiot. I’ve been playing with ibisPaintX, which is fun, but it’s not getting me that much nearer to meeting any of the goals I’ve set for myself. It does make me ask myself what exactly I am after.

So what am I after? My first reaction to that question is not to have a repeat of last year. Yes, there were many things that went well, but I keep coming back to the face of one boy who kept repeating “Latin is so hard!” anytime he was asked to do the simplest thing. He wasn’t a slacker; he just had really low self-esteem. And because we were doing so much orally and (at least I felt that) the grading seemed fuzzy, nothing felt concrete or clear. For some students—the majority of students—what we were doing was clear enough. I was asking questions, prompting repetitions of vocabulary and such, and most students were fine, even if they weren’t the best performers. But I’ve always prided myself on trying to find ways to help students who have special needs of some sort, to buoy them up, to help them find a way to learn too. Last year I bombed at this. That was when I threw on the brakes and finished the last 6 weeks more like how I was accustomed to teaching. I still worked in more oral work than in previous years, but it was not at the forefront. And it may have appeared that I totally ditched it... even though that was not the case.

Which takes me back to Rusticatio, and how I was not the best student there in retrospect, although I was always eager. That is, I unintentionally, inadvertently got in my own way of learning all that I could. I was just trying to comprehend, participate, and do what was expected. It seems silly now to realize I didn’t understand how best to help myself. Then again, I always marvel at the teachers who will mutter things like “students don’t study.” Ok, some students don’t. Others would if they understood what you wanted them to do to study. They think “study” means “memorize” which is why just memorizing an isolated list of vocabulary is rarely enough. When I create materials to help students study and prepare for quizzes and tests, some students admittedly (and unfortunately) are still just memorizing. However, my goal is for students to see vocabulary and grammatical concepts in the context of sentences. I want them reading and rereading the sentences—especially those with the same pattern or construction—until the concept finally solidifies. (Ok, or solidifies enough. Probably more like jello than hard chocolate.)

So here I am now designing kind of an overarching reward system, where students can earn “coins” / “stamps” for a “time-travel passport,” each step of which will help develop proficiency skills needed for a big project during second semester that involves buying and selling merchandise in the forum. What I have in mind for some of the coins/stamps will be some little dialogues which students can record on their own time via Seesaw (app) that will help students get more comfortable with the conversational skills necessary. These can’t just be simple dialogues, but have three things which I think will help build good language learning habits as well as being a step in the right direction for developing a mental representation of the language.

1)     Repeat what a person says to reinforce the answer.
“My name is Spartacus.”
“Your name is Spartacus.”
“Yes, my my name is Spartacus.”

2)    Practice “make me say yes/make me say no” or offering two choices (circling).
“My name is Spartacus.”
“Your name is Sextus?”
“No, my name is Spartacus.”
“Your name is Sextus or Spartacus?”
“Ah, so your name is Spartacus.”

3)    Say the same thing but in as many ways as possible with different vocabulary and perhaps even constructions.
“Leave from this room! Exit the room! Get the heck out! Go and be gone!”

I also look at these three features as ways to fatten up a conversation. There is nothing worse in my mind than feeling like you have absolutely nothing to say and people are expecting you to talk, especially when you are new to a language. “Hi, my name is Joe. What’s your name?” might be all you know. How do you make a lengthy conversation out of that? How do you get the shy students and the low self-esteem students to buy into trying to stay all in Latin during class without risking them totally checking out?  (I am the queen of song-and-dance, of dramatic readings, crazy gestures, etc., but when I was all Latin--even what I considered well-supported/highly comprehensible Latin, there were a few I could just not keep engaged and would thus check out. And if they check out, they get behind.)

Before “mental representation” entered my vocabulary, I always thought of language learning, especially speaking, to be a lot like muscle memory. When I first started to play soccer in my late 20s, I had to concentrate on hitting the ball correctly with the instep of my foot. I was lucky if I made a solid pass to an open person 10 feet away. As I improved, I no longer had to think about how to strike the ball; I could focus on which open person I might want to pass it to up the field while dodging the defender coming at me. Muscle memory allowed me to do that. Muscle memory of a sort allows me to rattle off very familiar phrases without even thinking about those phrases, like replying “dī tē ament” when someone sneezes in class. I now have to think to use English when not in class.

So I want something that can be that beginning stepping stone, which can help begin the process of building that muscle memory.

Here’s an example of the first dialogue I’ve written:

dialogus I.A

1: salvē!

2: salvē! ego sum Lūcia.

1: tū es Livia?

2: minimē! ego nōn sum Livia. ego sum Lūcia.

1: esne Livia an Lūcia?

2: ego sum Lūcia.

1: tū nōn es Livia? tū es Lūcia?

2: ita vērō! ego sum Lūcia. mihi nōmen est Lūcia.

1: optimē! tū es Lūcia. tibi nōmen est Lūcia!

2: quis es tū?

1: quis sum ego?

2: ita vērō! quis es tū?

1: ego sum Quīntus.

2: tū es Quārtus?

1: minimē! ego nōn sum Quārtus. ego sum Quīntus.

2: esne Quārtus an Quīntus?

1: ego sum Quīntus.

2: tū nōn es Quārtus? tū es Quīntus?

1: ita vērō! ego sum Quīntus! mihi nōmen est Quīntus.

2: optimē! tū es Quīntus! tibi nōmen est Quīntus.

1: ita vērō! ego sum Quīntus et tū es Lūcia.

2: ego sum Lūcia et tū es Quīntus. sed quis est Quārtus et quis est Livia?

1: nescio! sed tū nōn es Livia et ego nōn sum Quārtus!

2: valē, Quīnte!

1: valē, Lūcia!


dialogus I.B (Supply your own names.)

1: salvē!

2: salvē! ego sum _______(2).

1: tū es Livia?

2: minimē! ego nōn sum Livia. ego sum _______(2).

1: tū nōn es Livia? tū es _______(2)?

2: ita vērō! ego sum _______(2). mihi nōmen est _______(2).

1: optimē! tū es _______(2). tibi nōmen est _______(2)!

2: quis es tū?

1: quis sum ego?

2: ita vērō! quis es tū?

1: ego sum _______(1).

2: tū es Quārtus?

1: minimē! ego nōn sum Quārtus. ego sum _______(1).

2: tū nōn es Quārtus? tū es _______(1)?

1: ita vērō! ego sum _______(1)! mihi nōmen est _______(1).

2: optimē! tū es _______(1)! tibi nōmen est _______(1).

1: ita vērō! ego sum _______(1) et tū es _______(2).

2: ego sum _______(2) et tū es _______(1). sed quis est Quārtus et quis est Livia?

1: nescio! sed tū nōn es Livia et ego nōn sum Quārtus!

2: valē, _______(1) (in the vocative)!

1: valē, _______(2) (in the vocative)!

Yes, of course, if everything is like this students will soon get bored—unless they see that there’s a point. And that point will be when they have to fill out their Time Travel Passport application with a partner who has to do all the writing. Thus, developing a certain comfort level will make that task go more smoothly.  (The following stage will be a job application in ancient Pompeii, and ultimately having to converse while buying and selling goods in the forum.) Coins/stamps will be earned, which will be part grade and part spending money when we finally have the forum project. Plus I'm thinking each dialogue will be targeting something I will list in the Can-Do statements for Latin 1. There will be no vagueness about the direction we are going and what we are accomplishing and how it fits into the bigger picture. 

Ideally, we will get to a point where the creation of dialogues won’t be necessary. All that will be necessary will be using the three things listed above. (Clearly I need to simplify and name my little list.) Oh, and providing some motivating overarching task (like my forum project).

This is just the beginning of my thoughts on this, thoughts which are rather rambling at present and not well focused. And I know that identifying ways that students can extend a conversation even though they know very little will also increase their writing. I can't help but wonder, though, if I had at all times at Rusticatio, been trying to work these three things--especially in a learning environment where everyone would have understood what I was doing and no one would have minded or thought that I was purposefully being obtuse--that maybe my own conversational skills would be further along today. I'm just hoping that next year that I won't feel like I've let any students fall through the cracks because I didn't understand enough about what I was doing.

Is the thought of incorporating speaking proficiencies stressing you out? Why not start by incorporating student jobs in your classes and making a habit of them. I have been using student jobs for a few years now, and not only are they a great place to start, they also make a great jumping off point for more spoken Latin in your class.

First, I have four main jobs. You can have more or less, whatever suits your needs. Here are mine:

  1. agenda (agenda)
  2. date (diēs)
  3. weather (tempestās)
  4. announcements (nūntiī)

Everything is written on the board for students to just read. At the beginning of the year I often stand near the board and do the loud whisper to prompt students on how to say things.


I try to write most of the agenda in Latin. A typical agenda might be like the following:

  1. mūnera (jobs)
  2. praeparātiō (warm-ups)
  3. recitātiō (recitation – if we are working on a brief passage for them to read to me at a later date)
  4. vocābulum – sometimes traditional flashcards, but I’ve also been working other activities that are more direct use as well.
  5. legimus fābulam “ad urbem”
  6. tessera (exit ticket – I am usually not good with exit tickets but at the end of the year I was using Seesaw for student reflection of how the warm-up tied into the story and whether it was helpful. I could see at a glance whether everyone turned it in digitally, because it was typed I could even read it, thus grading was fast. But that’s for another post...)

Beneath this agenda is a space for pēnsum (homework), so it is clear if they have any and read with the agenda. No one can argue that they didn’t know there was homework AND that they were paying attention because clearly they were not paying attention if they didn’t know. If you see what I mean. (It’s also a good cover-your-backside technique when dealing with tricky students and their parents.)

DATE (diēs)

I do dating neo-Latin style which I learned at Rusticatio from Nancy Llewellyn.

heri erat diēs Sōlis

hodiē est diēs Lūnae

crās erit diēs Martis

diē 3/tertiō mēnsis Aprilis

annō bis millēsimō decimō septimō

At first students are intimidated by the ordinal numbers but in no time most everyone is saying this correctly. On their handouts, the blanks for the date are properly abbreviated like this:

d. ____ m. _____ an. _________

which is then filled in like this:

d. 3 m. Apr. an. MMXVII

What I like about doing the date like this is that we end up seeing and saying the ordinal numbers 1-31 spelled out, as well as the names of the months in Latin without really detracting time from the main focus of class.

WEATHER (tempestās)

The weather gets a full script, modeled on something a colleague of mine (Michelle Vitt) had developed for her classes. I also have laminated pictures of weather which I have posted with a magnet next to the day’s weather.

salvēte, sodālēs!

F: vāticinātrix hodierna sum.

M: vāticinātor hodiernus sum.

mihi nōmen est _____.

(discipulī:) salvē, ____ (vocative), quāle caelum est?

sōl lūcet! (picture next to it)

Announcements (nūntiī)

This is the only job that is mainly English. I simply have a section of my white board for school and class announcements, such as when Latin club is meeting or important events on campus.

Before school I check my list of students to see who’s turn it is to present and post names by the jobs. Once the bell rings for class, I usually say something like, “salvēte, discipulī et discipulae!” Then I begin slowly and with exaggeration (especially at the beginning of the year), “ō Sexte, quaesō, surge et ambulā ad tabulam albam, et lege agenda.” After the student read his job, I would usually say something like, “tibi grātiās agō, ō Sexte! nunc plaudite, omnēs!” Then I call up the next student for the next job.

Early in the year I had to give out candy if anyone noticed my NOT using manners. (This gave students a motivation to listen and pay attention.) For a while we talked about the vocative and that the reason I was calling on the student in the vocative to begin with was to alert students to the correct form if they needed to reply (as in the weather script) using the vocative.

The students in great measure enjoy doing the jobs and will even claim if they think they have been skipped or haven’t had a particular job in a while. And if nothing else, it helps to get them settled and sorted at the beginning of class before we get down to work.

Towards the end of the year I started seeing these jobs in a slightly different light. In my Latin 1’s we had taken a detour off of CLC to read Brando Brown Canem Vult and at the end had presentational projects—in Latin. It was an experiment in my eyes and I did not grade the students hard on the spoken portion (because I feel I had not prepared them well). I told students to utilize some Google Slides which I had made for BBCV with little conversational scripts as well as anything else we had done, including the jobs. The best presentations did exactly that, but even the worst presentations started well because they all started comfortably with “salvēte, sodālēs! mihi nōmen est...” They didn’t have to dig back to what was learned in the first week of class because we were still having that same conversation every time the jobs were done.

This got me thinking about two things: 1) I should expand each of the jobs to include more conversational phrases, and (recently) 2) that these are the kernals for “same conversation” as used in Where Are Your Keys. (See this post for more on "same conversation.")

During the last couple of months of school I changed up the Agenda job to include this script:

salvēte, sodāles!

ut valētis?

(discipulī:) bene valeō (yes, they could say other things if they wanted, but this was the script)

tempus est mūneribus!

1)      praeparātiō... etc.

I couldn’t think of a good script leading into the reading of the dates, so I left that one alone. The weather already had a good script, so I left that one alone as well. For the announcements, I added this:

salvēte, sodālēs!

mihi nōmen est ___.

(discipulī:) salvē, ___. quid novī apud scholam? 

I was particularly pleased with adding “ut valētis” (ut valēs) as well as “quid novī apud scholam” (apud tē) in this fashion because I thought the context made it clear the difference in meaning—one being for how you feel healthwise or perhaps emotionally as opposed to what’s going on in your life.

So now I’m thinking—what more can I do with this? How can I add to or modify the jobs maybe each 6 weeks? What differentiation should I be offering between the levels? I’m thinking about having the Latin 4’s do the date in neo-Latin as well as ancient Roman style next year, though I may be running out of dedicated room on my white board! Plus I think they could do more elaborate things with the weather. (I need to reprint my weather symbol cards anyway which have some text on the back. Perhaps it’s time for the text to get updated...)

My point is simply this: if you don’t do jobs, you should. It’s a low pressure way to add some spoken Latin to your class, especially if you haven’t done much before. Students like having their turn, plus it helps to invest them in your class. Win-win.




I put this document together back in 2006. Patrick Owens took a cursory look at it last year (2016) when he was busy and made a couple of edits. When he sent it back to me I had to put it aside because I was busy.

Anyway, I was thinking that besides having a PDF file that I could simply post the contents here so it is more handy for people. Enjoy!


Interjections! Show Emotion! Halleluia! Amen!


Lists of interjections can be found on the internet and elsewhere, but usually they contain nothing more than a list of the words. I have tried to gather examples of usage when provided from Lewis and Short’s A Latin Dictionary, so that we can begin to employ these interjections in our own classes in a more accurate fashion.


ā/āh – (an exclamation of pain or grief) ah! ha! oh! āh nescīs quam doleam; (of entreaty to avert an evil) āh, nōlī!; (of indignation or reproach) āh stulte! āh rogitās?; (of admonition) āh nē mē obsecrā; (of consolation) quid? āh volet, certō scio.

aha – (of reproof or denial) aha! aha, tacē

ai – (denoting grief) ah!

apage – go! scram! apage, istās ā mē sorōrēs

atat/attat/attatatae/atatte – (an exclamationi of joy, pain, wonder, fright, warming) oh! ah! alas! lo! strange! attata, cavē cadās amābō

(h)au – (an exclamation of pain or grief) ouch! au, nūllan tibi lingua’st?

babae/papae/tatae – (an exclamation of wonderment of magnitude) (in delight) great! wonderful!; (in pain) ouch! how painful!; (in astonishment or surprise) wow! papae! iugularās hominem; (dialogue from a play:) Sa: fac tū hōc modō, St: at tū hōc modō, Sa: babae! St: tatae! Sa: papae! St: pāx!

ēcastor/mēcastor – by Castor! (for women usually) ēcastor vērō!; salvē, mēcastor, Parmeniō!

ecce – (with the accusative) see! look! here! quid mē quaeris? ecce mē!; ecce odium meum! (with the nominative) ecce homo!

eccerē – (ecce plus – ablative of rem) there! see there in fact!

edepol/pol – by Pollux! indeed! pol, mē miserum, patrōne, vocāres!

ehem – (expressing pleasant surprise) ha! aha! ehem, optumē!; ehem, pater mē, tū hīc erās?

ēheu – (expressing pain, often followed by quam) oh! oh no! ēheu, quam ego nunc tōtus displiceō mihi!

eho – (often expressing rebuke) look here! see here! eho puer!

ehodum – look here now!

ei/hei – (expressing fear or dismay) ah! oh!

ēia/hēia – (expressing joy or surprise in admiring an object) ah ah ha! good! (gentle remonstrance or persuasion) hēia, mē Iūnō, nōn decet tē; (in strong affirmation) ēia, crēdō; (expressing haste, often with age) quick! come on! ēia age!

em/hem – (expressing joy or surprise in a good or bad sense, in offering some object or fact to s.o., often followed by a dative) here (there) you are! hem! quid ego audiō?; hem, Pamphile, optimē tē mihi offers; hem tibi maledictīs prō istīs

ēn/em – (in questions) really? (in commands) come on! (to call attention) hey! (with nominatives) ubi rōrāriī estis? ēn sunt; ēn crīmen, ēn causa; ēn quid agō

eu – (sometimes ironic) fine! great!

euax – (expressive of delight at some tidings or events) hurray!

euge/eugae/eugepae – terrific! bravo! euge, euge, perbene!

euhoe (shout of joy at the festivals of Bacchus) euhoe euhoe euhius

phew! (at a bad smell) fī fī fītet!

fu/fue/fūfae – (expression of disgust) yuck!

ha/hahae/hahahahae (expression of joy, satisfaction, or laughter) haha! thank heaven! hahae, nunc dēmum mī animus in tūtō locō’st; (exclamation of laughter or derision) Chr: hahahe! Me. quid rīsistī?; hahahe, iam teneō, quid sit

(h)ercle/mehercle/mehercule/mehercules (expressing strong feeling, used by men as an oath) by Hercules! neque, mehercules, hoc indigne ferō; vērē, mehercule hoc dīcam

heu (expressing pain or dismay; absolute or with accusative) oh! ah! heu mē miserum

heus (to draw attention) say there! hey! heus, Traniō, etiam nē aperīs?

huī (exclamation of astonishment or admiration) wow! trīginta? huī percāra est!

io (expressing joy) (NB: two syllables - the i is not a consonant) ho! iō triumphe / triumphāle!

medius fidius/mediusfidius (fidius - surname of Jupiter; medius - from deus) by the gods of truth! most certainly! nē ille, medius fidius

(only joined with personal pronouns ego, , and with ille, iste, and hic; also connect with other affirmative particles hercle, edepol, mecastor, medius fidius) indeed, certainly, surely! nē ego homō īnfēlix fuī; nē tū hercle; nē ille hercle; edepol nē ego

ō (the commonest expression of joy, astonishment, desire, grief, indignation; usually with vocative or accusative; often 3 times) oh! ō pater, ō patria, ō Priamī domum; ō soror, ō coniunx, ō fēmina sōla; ō Romule; ō Tite

oh/ohoho (expression for the most various emotions of the mind, for surprise, both joyful and painful; for great pleasure or sorrow) oh! oh, iniquus es; oh periī; oh probus homō

ōhē/ohē whoa! ohē, inquam sī quid audīs

oho (an exclamation of surprise or joy) oho! aha! oho, amābō, quid illūc nōn properās?

oi/oiei (an exclamation of complaint, of one weeping) oi! alas!

papae (see babae above)

pāx quiet! enough! pāx, abī!

pol (see edepol above)

prox (comic representation of a fart) dum etinor, prox! iam paene inquināvī pallium / as I struggle to my feet, bang! I darn near soiled my clothes!

st shh! sst! st st tacēte, quid hoc clamōris?

tat/tatae (see babae above)

tuxtax (a word meant to imitate sound of blows) whack, wam; tuxtax meō tergō erit

vae (an exclamation of pain or dread, often with dative) woe! vae miserō mihi; vae victīs

vah/vaha (exclamation of astonishment, joy, anger) ah! oh! vah! apage tē ā mē! vah! periī!

This list was originally compiled by Ginny Lindzey, Dripping Springs High School, Austin, TX, 2006; revised 2017.

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!
 I just posted this on the Cambridge Latin Course list.


A lot of people, many of whom I respect, are totally untextbooking these days. Everything is totally comprehensible input or nothing else.


I have always said that the textbook is only one tool in your toolbox, and I have felt that CLC was a pretty damn good tool. I have read it in-depth so many times as I've looked for examples of certain usages, whether for making materials or presenting papers at conferences, that I feel like I know it intimately. I can't imagine not using this textbook.


And yet, for part of this semester, I wasn't using the textbook but using a novella instead, and letting another younger teacher lead (sort of). I liked the novella, but not as a book to teach from. I want it and others for sustained silent reading, for extra reading, for extensive reading since we get our intensive reading with CLC.


I have always felt on the cutting edge of teaching--when reading approaches were first adopted (and attacked as inferior). In addition, I would never trade a Rusticatio that I have attended and all that I learned there. I hope to go back. I have always wanted to include more oral/aural Latin in my classes and feel I do increase it each year. 


But when I wasn't using CLC this year for 2 months (we're on block), it was torture. We weren't just missing the textbook, we were missing the culture. I felt like we were spinning our wheels because we didn't really progress with constructions or sentence length. 


For pure language teaching, I have nothing against comprehensible input. But it's not like our students are learning Latin to go use a little live language while on vacation.  Our goal is reading ancient (or even humanist/medieval/Renaissance) authors. And I'm thinking about college prep and even AP prep (even though I'm not teach AP again... though I could), and the kinds of skills I wish I had had when I was in college. Pure language learning isn't enough--maybe for the autodidacts in the room--but.... 


I guess what I wanted to say is that I am making a well-considered choice not from fear of change, but from experience and knowing what grew my program to have two teachers. (We actually had three teachers this year, but enrollment dropped after our experiment.)  I know that the most critical skill for Latin is READING, and that all the rest should support it and enhance it.  And I will keep forcing myself out of my comfort zone each year to make what I do even better. But I'm not untextbooking. 


So, to me, the elephant is everyone talking about untextbooking is the next best thing. And it may be for some teachers. But it's not for me. Right now I'm working on plans for more oral/aural work this year tied into an overarching project. (More on that another time...)  I will make more time for it because I know it does help to internalize forms, and if that means slowing my pace a bit, ok. But I know the extraordinary value of CLC and I'm sticking with it.


Thus if you are feeling alone, you aren't.



 So I'm mapping out/planning out how I want to do things to meet certain proficiencies for next year, each leading up to a big speaking project in the spring. And at one point I'm thinking out the logistics of how to grade each of them in person, etc, and it occurs to me that I could have the students do a quick family interview of each other (more on that later when it's more fully fleshed out), and record/post it to Seesaw. Then I can grade at leisure.

Then I thought... hmm.... they would need something to hold their phones to record.  So I went to YouTube looking for a cheap hack for making a phone holder. I needed something simple and NOT time consuming. Also, something that would really hold the phone upright for recording. I found this video:

I'll be using the cup design. Quick, cheap, and then I can stack up for storage.

Problem solved. And I really like that you can video directly in Seesaw and not take up bandwidth on a student's phone.

Now to do more brainstorming.
First, I have been turning everything into a Google Slides Presentation this year. Admittedly, I've been going a bit nuts doing it. So earlier this semester I turned my basic I Piscatum (Go Fish) handout into Google Slides Presentation. I've been tweaking it ever since. Eventually I will redo print materials as well, but right now I'm just working on this, thinking of slides to add, tweaking what's there, etc. And, I decided that it was time to share it with others. It's that time of year.

We have standardized testing going on this week at school, not to mention AP testing, and thus when I do happen to see students, we often play I Piscatum. Today I was playing with my weaker Latin 1 class, and was actually delighted that a few of my quiet strugglers were really having a good time. Even the boys that I know weren't totally on task on the opposite side of the room, were still playing and I could hear them speaking Latin.

There are so many things I like about playing the game. Let me list a few, in no particular order:
  1. Because the basics are scripted, even the weakest students can participate and enjoy. That builds confidence, or at least reduces stress.
  2. It naturally targets accusative plurals, which is useful in Latin 1.
  3. It's sociable, and people end up focusing more on the task than the language. The language is just a means to an end.
  4. It's easily expandable so that students who want to use more spoken Latin can do so.
  5. Teachers can target specific grammatical structures by scripting addition dialogue.
  6. Teachers can assign students to target (without the teacher scripting) specific grammatical structures.
  7. When I play with the students, I enjoy being dramatic, demonstrating different ways to use what limited Latin we have under our belt. For instance, when the first book of 4 cards is placed on the table, I will declare, "tu librum habes! ecce, Marcus librum habet. ego nullum librum habeo."
I could go on.

At a time when everyone is talking about different ways to raise speaking proficiencies, this game comes in very handy. There are so many teachers out there whose instruction at the university level never involved conversation. It is as foreign to them as to their students. I offer this game as a framework upon which one can build. You can have that "same conversation" (which helps to build those neuro pathways, that mental representation) at its core and add and shape to meet the need of your class.

Today after we played during Latin 1, I spent my conference period building a Name Plate. I'm hoping to try it out tomorrow. If you fold it on the solid lines and then tape, you have a triangular name plate to sit in front of you. Before folding, find the side featuring the declension to which your name belongs. For instance, here's the information on the side for 1st declension, which you could then fill out with your Latin name:

VOCATIVE  -a           Ō ______________, habēsne...?
NOMINATIVE -a        ______________ librum habet.
GENITIVE -ae           chartās ______________ vidēre volō.
DATIVE  -ae              dēmōnstrā ______________ chartam tuam.
ACCUSATIVE -am    ego ______________ superō.
ABLATIVE-ā              mihi placet cum ___________ chartīs lūdere.

I'm hoping that being able to talk about their friends, either kindly or competitively, will provide additional motivation for Latin conversation.

Another thought I've had regarding the construction of a new I Piscatum handout, is a place for students to write new phrases either of their own creation or ones created by the teacher targeting particular constructions.  For instance, I can see when CLC starts to really push those 3rd declension genitive plurals, that I could assign scripts including the use of the suits when talking about particular cards. ("regem cordium habeo!") Which reminds me, I need to make another slide with the suits and other card information.... that info is on the original handout. 

In the meantime, I'm brainstorming about next year. I have an idea for gamifying class and providing motivation for speaking and listening activities outside of class. More about that another time. 

Make sure if you use this Google Slides Presentation that you check out the speaker notes. I have been putting additional information for teachers there, including links to the old handout, etc. ENJOY

scroll from Pompeiian fresco

Pardon me while I do some thinking out loud.

So I'm working on curriculum for next year, trying to incorporate all the things I've learned from this year, etc. Students are currently taking standardized tests in other classrooms and thus I have some time to think and to process.

I'm currently looking at Interpretive Communication: Reading and Listening for Level 1 Classical Languages as adopted for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Here's what was put together back in 2014 but goes in effect fall of 2017:

(2) Interpretive communication: reading and listening. The student comprehends sentence-length information from culturally relevant print, digital, audio, and audiovisual materials as appropriate within highly contextualized situations and sources. The student uses the interpretive mode in communication with appropriate and applicable grammatical structures and processes at the specified proficiency levels. The student is expected to:
114.47 2A: demonstrate an understanding of culturally relevant print, digital, audio, or audiovisual materials in classroom contexts;
114.47 2B: identify key words and details from fiction or nonfiction texts or audio or audiovisual materials;
114.47 2C: infer meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases in highly contextualized texts, audio, or audiovisual materials; and
114.47 2D: identify cultural practices from authentic print, digital, audio, or audiovisual materials.
The specified proficiency level is left purposefully vague, or so it seems. The intro to the whole section includes this: §114.47. Classical Languages, Level I, Novice Low to Intermediate Low Proficiency (One Credit), Adopted 2014. The Novice Low rating was for speaking proficiency, and in fact a look at the rest of the TEKS demonstrates that it was considered unnecessary to require going above Novice Mid for speaking even in Latin 4, which in part I feel is a shame, but I remember it wasn't worth pushing hard for at the time. (I also remember a time when we didn't have an speaking component to the Latin certification test for Texas but we finally have something now. Testing oral proficiency in at least reading Latin aloud was something I promoted for decades it seems. Change often moves slowly...but I digress.)

I have been teaching for almost 2 decades using what I clumsily refer to as reading methodologies, which maybe should be better described as reading strategies to train the English speaking brain to learn to accept Latin word order as something totally understandable when reading from left to write, as well as for helping one focus on the details of inflection and phrasing in shaping meaning without having to resort to parsing or decoding (as I had been taught). I teach the skills I wish I had been taught that would have made me a truly superior student of Latin in college (instead of one who just studied for hours to know the answers). Not that I didn't ask in college to be taught how to be better; I was just told the only way to improve at Latin was to read more Latin. As I have said before, I was a decoder, and a good one, but not a reader. So now I try to create readers of Latin in my classroom, not people who can decline nouns perfectly or conjugate any verb in any tense and mood perfectly. They know the basics but it's not the most important thing. Reading is. 

When I taught middle school Latin a dozen plus years ago, I even experimented with extensive reading vs intensive reading, but there just wasn't enough low level material at the time. With block schedule now, I feel that I have had time for a few minutes of SSR (sustained silent reading) which has been a good way to work in extensive reading. Which leaves what Latinists have really been doing for a long, long time: intensive reading. And let's face it: it's not real reading, like one read's for pleasure, but a slower reading that more often than not involves an excessive amount of analysis. At its worst this involves constant parsing (which will NEVER allow you to develop a true feel for phrasing while reading and thus limit your ability to read). And I believe that there are ways to teach reading in word order with attention to inflection and phrasing that can lead you to more profitable extensive reading, which in turn will lead to improved intensive reading. It's intensive reading that's needed for AP Latin & university level Latin course work, like it or not.

And while there's much merit in accessing the Latin writings of the humanists and others, we will not easily escape the need to focus on the Roman world. We have 3-4 years with students, if we are lucky, to expose them to the Roman world and to Latin. The majority of the Latin they will experience in their lifetime (not just in our class) will be in written form. We can provide them with tons of comprehensible input but if we are failing to provide them with the means of dealing with reading material that will almost assuredly always be beyond what they have developed a mental representation for, then we are also limiting their ability to read Latin outside of the classroom.  

I'm rambling, admittedly. But I'm also struggling with certain aspects of the new TEKS/proficiencies, and I'm not afraid to admit it. The Interpretive Reading Can-Do benchmarks from ACTFL, for instance, seem more appropriate for extensive reading goals. ACL's Standards for Classical Learning are not much different.

ACTFL's CAN-DO Benchmarks for Interpretive Reading are:
Novice Low: I can recognize a few letters or characters. I can identify a few memorized words and phrases when I read.
Novice Mid: I can recognize some letters or characters. I can understand some learned or memorized words and phrases when I read.
Novice High: I can understand familiar words, phrases, and sentences within short and simple texts related to everyday life. I can sometimes understand the main idea of what I have read.
Intermediate Low: I can understand the main idea of short and simple texts when the topic is familiar.

ACL's Standards for Classical Learning draft document from 2016 has:
Novice Low Learners can identify a few memorized Latin or Greek words and phrases when they read. For Greek, they can also recognize most Greek letters.
Novice Mid Learners can understand some learned or memorized Latin or Greek words and phrases when they read. For Greek, they can recognize all Greek letters.
Novice High Learners can easily understand the main idea of texts related to familiar topics, personal interests, and studies. They can sometimes follow stories and descriptions about events and experiences in various time frames. For Greek, they can recognize basic transliterated words.
Intermediate Low Learners can understand the main idea of short and simple Latin or Greek texts when the topic is familiar.
As is, it would seem it's not necessary for students to have that attention to detail as long as they have the main idea. But the main idea won't help you to develop an understanding of how an inflectional language works and how to retrain your brain to accept Latin word order and thus allow you to be able to read those super long sentences that come up in Caesar and other classical authors.

I've gone back online to search again for the new TEKS because in my frustration I keep feeling like there was certainly more that we produced in that committee than what I currently have saved on my computer. (Admittedly my memory is faulty; I blame too many years of sleep deprivation.) Anyway, I finally found what I was looking for here. So let's look again:

TEKS for Classical Languages: 

(1) The study of world languages is an essential part of education. In the 21st century language classroom, students gain an understanding of two basic aspects of human existence: the nature of communication and the complexity of culture. Students become aware of multiple perspectives and means of expression, which lead to an appreciation of difference and diversity. Further benefits of foreign language study include stronger cognitive development, increased creativity, and divergent thinking. Students who effectively communicate in more than one language, with an appropriate understanding of cultural context, are globally literate and possess the attributes of successful participants in the world community.

(2) The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) identifies three modes of communication: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational. Interpretative communication is the overarching goal of classical language instruction. Students of classical languages should be provided ample opportunities to interpret culturally appropriate materials in the language of study, supported by opportunities for interpersonal and presentational communication.
(A) In the interpersonal mode of communication, students engage in direct oral or written communication with others such as conversing face to face, participating in digital discussions and messaging, and exchanging personal letters.
(B) In the interpretive mode of communication, students demonstrate understanding of spoken and written communication within appropriate cultural contexts such as comprehension of digital texts as well as print, audio, and audiovisual materials.
(C) In the presentational mode of communication, students present orally or in writing information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers with whom there is no immediate interaction such as presenting to a group; creating and posting digital content; or writing reports, compositions, or articles for a magazine or newspaper.
(3) The use of age-level appropriate and culturally authentic resources is imperative to support the teaching of the essential knowledge and skills for languages other than English. The use of culturally authentic resources in classical language study enables students to make connections with other content areas, to compare the language and culture studied with their own, and to participate in local and global communities.
(4) Students recognize the importance of acquiring accuracy of expression by knowing the components of language, including grammar, syntax, and genre.
(5) At the end of Level I, students of classical languages should reach a Novice High to Intermediate Low proficiency level in reading, a Novice Low to Novice Mid proficiency level in listening, a Novice Low to Novice Mid proficiency level in speaking, and a Novice Mid proficiency level in writing. Proficiency levels are aligned with the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 and the ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Language Learners.

AH!  That's more like it. And I believe that #4's "accuracy of expression" wasn't about output so much as understanding how things are properly "expressed" in Latin. That is, this addresses the need for intensive reading (which should be coupled appropriately with extensive reading) in studying Latin--the need not to just get the gist but to understand with greater depth. BUT admittedly, this is not one of the proficiencies, merely part of the description of a Level 1 course. The reading proficiency is at a Novice High to Intermediate Low, and even that, when glancing back at the ACTFL can-dos, seems vague and more appropriate for a description of extensive reading skills.

One of my other issues is that when I consider what Latin 1 means to me, admittedly it is in great measure defined by where I am in the Cambridge Latin Course. This is of course artificial in some ways. People could claim that I am defining Latin 1 by "chapters covered" and that we shouldn't allow a textbook to drive the curriculum. On the other hand, the underlying design of CLC -- when you strip away all the things that have been added over the years to appease academia -- is the running story with repetitions and gradual building of understanding of new constructions. There are certainly nuances to reading Latin that I have learned from CLC that were never explained to me by any teacher or professor that aide in fluent reading. 

When I am asked what my goal is for the year and reply with a stage number, I'm told that's not a goal. That's covering chapters or covering grammar. But in my mind's eye, it's about reading goals - having certain grammatical constructions in one's passive knowledge at least and working towards active knowledge (or building a true mental representation). And I will admit that I don't seem to be able to counter an argument on what my goals are for the year when someone is demanding proficiency markers. But ACTFL's (intermediate low) "I can understand the main idea of short and simple texts when the topic is familiar" is awfully broad, not that ACL's "Learners can understand the main idea of short and simple Latin or Greek texts when the topic is familiar" is much different. Of course, in many ways this could describe anything.  Heck, ACL's novice high has a better description: "Learners can easily understand the main idea of texts related to familiar topics, personal interests, and studies. They can sometimes follow stories and descriptions about events and experiences in various time frames."  And if that's the case, then intermediate low is understood to include various time frames. 

Something else that's not mentioned and something that I started to feel was totally missing when we detoured off CLC earlier this year and taught Brando Brown Canem Vult--sentence length. Fear of a long sentence, especially a long Latin sentence, is something that I try to get students over early on. CLC does a nice job expanding sentence length as it builds upon new grammatical structures. At first, naturally, it's with simple dependent clauses like "quod" or "postquam," then relative clauses, participial phrases, and subjunctive clauses. I expressly teach students how to read in word order, how to metaphrase (search this blog for "metaphrasing" for more on that topic), etc, so that the location of the period is not an issue--that taking the Latin as it unfolds, one phrase at a time, is what truly matters. My problem when trying to teach a more comprehensible input style class is that we were not experiencing enough complex sentences. That could easily be my fault and tied to my low speaking proficiency. Some would say that experiencing complex sentences could wait anyway. But I disagree: I think that even metaphrasing should begin early when the text is too easy to need it because these new mental muscles need to be built up gradually and consistently. It's not about the metaphrasing, but training the brain to accept Latin word order--and in my experience that can make a big difference in the quality of the experience of extensive reading as well as intensive reading. 

So I guess the REAL question I'm back to in all of this thinking out loud is what I need to define for our program as the goal(s) for meeting an intermediate low proficiency for reading for Level 1 Latin. You know what is left out?  TIME.  This is one reason why I think I might want to specify, at least for my own personal purposes, the difference between INTENSIVE reading and EXTENSIVE. It may not be a big deal in Latin 1, but consider this from the Level 4 TEKS: students of classical languages should reach an Advanced Low to Advanced Mid proficiency level in reading.  I guarantee you that's intensive reading not extensive. That's not comfort zone reading. That's not reading done with a timer on. And I'm not advocating that we should necessarily put timers on reading. I was always a slow reader in English even because I liked to "taste the words" as Rex Harrison put it. And while I do have a timer on SSR this year (5 minutes for Latin 1, 7-10 minutes for Latin 3 & 4), I don't tell them what to read. Sometimes they are reading the simplest things I have, sometimes they are looking at Harrius Potter or Ille Hobitus.

But maybe we should do timed readings--how many pages of Latin at a certain level--since we are also incorporating timed writes. It's a thought. I could save the Orberg Lingua Latina's for timed readings and maybe only do timed readings a couple of times a six weeks. Read, write down how much and 1-2 sentence summary of what it was about.  I don't think I'd put a grade on it. I think I'd just let students reflect on it later in the year.

No final answers here, just more to ponder. 

comfort zones

Apr. 16th, 2017 05:19 pm
ginlindzey: At ACL (Default)
Fresco of a Theater Mask of a Woman from Pompeii

I have been thinking a lot about comfort zones of late.

The first teacher I had that paid any attention to comfort zones was Nancy Llewellyn at Rusticatio At my first Rusticatio it was nothing more than a mid week conversation in English to find out how I was doing. Over the next 4-5 years that I attended Rusticatio, she continued to focus ways to refine monitoring of comfort zones for participants, including the "full check" from Where Are Your Keys She spoke about participants who went home early because of the stress of being in the target language 24/7. Nancy was ever mindful of the teacher or student who has done nothing but read Latin and identify grammar and maybe structured composition. The stress comes from being used to being the smartest person in the room to nearly completely tongue-tied for lack of vocabulary for everyday conversation and thus feeling like the stupidest person in the room.

When Nancy checked on me during my first Rusticatio, I was ok. Yes of course I was having all of the tongue-tied issues of your average tiro, but I was surviving. In retrospect one of the reasons why I wasn't as stressed as I could have been was because I would take nature walks on the property and think. Of course the thinking was in English. In WAYK terms I was putting myself "In the Meadow" to lower my fullness level, but I was doing myself a serious disservice by not constantly forcing myself to engage in the language. In retrospect, it was less to do with the stress of being in the language 24/7 but more to do with complications in my home life between my special needs son and a rebelious teenager (both thankfully into their 20s now). The last year I attended Rusticatio, I made myself talk to myself out loud in Latin when I went on walks through the woods, sometimes practicing drills we had done in one of the sessions--like changing direct statements to indirect statements or questions. It's work to be in the target language 24/7 and it can be rewarding. And while it may come naturally to some, for others of us it is work, and work stretches our comfort zones.

Anyway, I am mindful of comfort zones of my students, though admittedly for the students who aren't engaged it's less about comfort zones and more about a willingness to engage. For instance, there were certain aspects to doing Discipulus Illustris activities earlier in the year that really made some student's eyes glaze over. I do intend to work in some Discipulus Illustris activities next year, but I have to figure out a better angle that keeps the interest and engagement higher, especially when it is NOT that particular student's turn.

But really what I wanted to talk about here was comfort zones of TEACHERS. Several colleagues knew I was pushing off into trying Comprehensible Input this year, and were very interested in my experience (hence my previous post). As I have said before, but perhaps not too clearly, is that my experiences from teaching in previous years as well as this year are MINE, and may not be like yours or anyone else's. I can't give you the answer for what is right for YOU, whoever you are. (And I think saying that doing JCL or Comprehensible Input or whatever will increase your enrollment is also kinda specious; good teaching in whatever form that takes--whatever works for YOU and your students--is probably the only thing that truly makes a program strong.)

One very wise practitioner of Comprehensible Input has said that one shouldn't try to make the shift to CI all in one year--not to overdo it. But perhaps you need a year of many things not going well (in one's own mind) in order to see how to make certain things work better the next time around. I was out of my comfort zone a lot this year--doing things I had never done before, trying to maintain conversations with students when I didn't have the vocabulary for it (especially with some of the Discipulus Illustris and other things I was trying earlier in the year). I gave up early in the year on timing how long we stayed in Latin (especially in one of my classes where there were just too many freshman boys totally not interested and refusing to try). Perhaps if I had given a doughnut party reward or something to motivate them. But in all honesty, it was also really draining on me. That's not to say that I won't keep trying to up my in-class Latin but being "on" all the time when you are not used to it is difficult. And admittedly always in the back of my mind on days where things were particularly unsuccessful or off-task was the thought of different reading-based activities that I knew would engage more students but were not CI related.

There are things which help, which many people who promote CI will talk about. First and foremost is scripting in advance of class. One teacher even talked about how during his first year of employing CI he had little scripts taped up all around the room where he knew he'd be standing. For me, it was scripting out little dialogues to work certain vocabulary that I had in Google Slides. It helped me to get used to having the little mini-conversations to work vocab and forms as well as helping students to understand what I was asking them to do. It made it easier to redirect off-task students as well as keeping myself from misspeaking as much. I don't mind making mistakes in front of students. We just all say "mirabile!" (Another WAYK thing) and keep going.

For Texans (and I'm sure many others out there) new standards will be in place in 2017. There will be speaking proficiencies as well as writing proficiencies, not to mention of course reading proficiencies. You do not need to go whole hog Comprehensible Input to address these things. You may want to, and it may be what's right for you, or it may be the absolute wrong thing for you. I have seen the stress of just considering a CI approach make people think about quitting teaching altogether. And it goes back to comfort zones. For me, it's significantly less about comfort zones and more about students lacking the reading skills I want them to have by this time of year. (Some have interpreted this more about my wanting to cover chapters and not develop proficiencies, but it really isn't.)

For some people, their Latin education never once involved doing much in the way of speaking Latin let alone even reading it aloud. (Professors, what the hell? Not even reading aloud?! I'm just saying....) For these teachers not only is conversational Latin out of their comfort zone, it's not even in their interest zone. And the prospect of teaching effectively without trying to be conversational versus the fear of continual stress and possible failure coupled with ineffective teaching makes it a non-starter for a conversation. And not everyone who teaches Latin effectively has Latin as their 24/7 passion. (Some of us are freaks, and we know it.) Some people have a broad range of interests not remotely tied to Latin. To force a teacher who falls into this category suddenly to do CI is wrong.

As teachers we should always be striving to help each other improve. Part of that is understanding the comfort zones of all those around us, including other teachers and not just our students. We need to understand that what might be easy for us might be very difficult for another for a variety of reasons. Some of us don't mind being pushed a good distance out of our comfort zones; others need to take things more slowly. And while I have believed since my high school days that Latin is meant to be read aloud and heard, conversational Latin still never came easily to me at Rusticatio. Sure, I could participate well in the sessions, but I just never got into the chitchat on the back porch. (Part of being an extroverted introvert, I suppose. If I ever get back to Rusticatio, I will force myself to stay out there and participate!)

My Latin 1s recently did presentations in Latin. They were simple in many respects and I wasn't really sure what would happen. The projects were on Brando Brown Canem Vult, and they were to make a promotional product or educational materials and then present it to the class. (I should really be home grading those right now, but such is life.) I knew this would put some people really out of their comfort zones, but most did fine. A few kids didn't follow instructions or take advice and resorted to Google translate (ugh--who could understand that?), but most were ok, more or less. Here's what I learned: they all started off fine totally in their comfort zone. Why? They began with "Same Conversation" (another WAYK term; see link above). They started with something we did every day and they knew really well. With greetings and introductions. Now, we didn't exactly do greetings and introductions each day BUT it was part of one of the rotating "jobs" at the beginning of class that I have in my room. Everyone was so used to that "same conversation" that it was well within their comfort zone. (More about jobs in a later post because thinking about this has made me revise and improve these jobs.) The most impressive presentations successfully mined every conversational script I built into the Google Slides I used with each chapter of Brando Brown Canem Vult. The students that choked the hardest were also the ones that I was least able to engage. I will need to find a way to address that next year.

Anyway, next year's presentations will be totally backward designed so that whatever phrasing might be needed to present will be prebuilt into activities or tasks that occur earlier in the year. I'm kind of excited at the thought.

So yes, while my last post was all about my "return to reading" which really meant my return to putting my focus back onto developing reading skills and keeping CLC as my leading tool, it's not that I'm dumping everything I've learned this year. There are some great folks leading the way with CI, and as I have said before, my hat's off to them. Just as there are all sorts of ways to be a good parent, I believe that there all sorts of ways to be a good teacher. It is up to you to determine what truly works for you, your students, and your program.
Image from Herculaneum
I have taken the dive into Comprehensible Input this year, diving off of the textbook into the murky water of the unknown. It's been interesting and fun, but a little rocky at times. Most recently we spent practically two months of our block schedule (ABABC) reading Brando Brown Canem Vult. Let me state here that I like the book, I'm glad our school owns a class set, and I want to keep them for SSR (Sustained Silent Reading), BUT I felt like we were stuck in a ditch spinning our wheels the whole time and I couldn't wait to be done. Not only that, the students couldn't wait to be done.

I have been told that teaching the way I was teaching before (though the person did not fully understand nor appreciate the years of developing the reading approach that I use and the methods I employ) was ineffective and that my problem is that I'm just not willing to do something new, to change, etc. And that if we just did it his way and trusted *his* judgment, that we would see our student retention increase. At the time I admittedly burst out laughing--not to insult him, but that in our case (and because of my style of teaching) retention has never been our problem. (He is our 3rd Latin teacher.) Competition with AP courses is the problem. Scheduling is the problem. There is no fighting to keep a small program from closing here. People who often contact me regarding how I manage to have such a robust program with no JCL ask me what kind of promotional materials I hand out or speeches I give. I don't. I let student success speak for itself; I let students tell each other whether what I do is quality teaching.

Somehow my well-meaning colleague (and he truly is) seems to be blind to the investment of time I've made this year to make CI work in my room, from making numerous Google Slides for the chapters in Brando Brown Canem Vult to provide us with talking points, to using WAYK signs, movie talks, and many other materials designed to help us succeed, designed to support conversation and personal input. It may not have been perfect (most probably far from it!), but I have worked hard to help myself succeed in conversational aspects as well as my students. *I have been out of my comfort zone ALL YEAR.* And while many of these things were engaging, what I was seeing from my average students and my SPED (special ed) students was confusion more than anything else. These are the kids I have EXCELLED with in the past. These are the kids I WANT in my room. But at the moment, they are becoming the seriously disruptive students because they are feeling lost. Too many different endings have been flying; too little has been consolidated; everything is too confusing. And returning to take a quick dip back into Stage 6 (gawd, only stage 6!) after 2 months has made a few of them balk. And I knew it would. And I'm ok with that. They will come around as I help them to consolidate so much of what we have seen and heard.

Let me state that I *do* understand that in using a CI approach that it does take TIME for students to begin to develop a MENTAL REPRESENTATION which will then shape more productively their output. I get that, I do. I've attended 4-5 Rusticationes (Latin Camp), been a supporter of SALVI for ages before that, follow folks doing total CI, etc etc. I do get it. But I also take into consideration several other things. First and foremost, we don't have that kind of time. There is no middle school program in our district even though I have fought for it for years. (I miss teaching middle school.) There's no hope of getting anything at the elementaries. The students don't have that kind of time to work on Latin skills outside of class--most are carrying crazy full loads of PreAP and AP coursework. Their desire to take Latin is often based on purely academic reasons. For most, they want and need language credits ticked off their list. That I can get a significant number to continue for 3 years (and a few into Latin 4) WITHOUT using promotional gimmicks is a testament to the confidence they feel in my ability to teach them and help them to progress noticeably in their own eyes. This is not fluff. And my Latin 4s are NOT always my top students, but they want to continue learning and reading Latin.

I do not teach grammar in isolation. I do teach it in context, though not as formally as some teachers. I teach students how to see the endings and the tense indicators, how to read in word order, how to develop a Latin BRAIN, as a colleague at Randolph College once said. If what I teach are reading coping mechanisms and not true language acquisition skills, I'm fine with that. I'm fine with that because I have 11 years teaching at the high school level of developing READERS of Latin who go on to become highly successful in college Latin courses, most of which are dry read & translate sort of courses. I don't want students of mine who have had three years of Latin with me to end up having to take a beginning level Wheelocks Latin course when they go to college. And I don't want them memorizing translations of passages of Vergil or Caesar for tests and then not to be able to read more at college and demonstrate an understanding of the structure and syntax. Real reading.

And while I'm thinking about it, I'd like to talk about embedded readings. I've been playing with embedded readings with the Latin 4s for the last 6 weeks. I have nothing against embedded readings. They are useful and my students like them. I like them. I liked making them; it's an interesting process. We've been reading the new CLC 5th ed. Stage 46 Pliny selections (as well as the original Pliny, since this selection is slightly modified in places). But because we were using embedded readings, we were not working our reading skills in the same way (via Dexter Hoyos's rules for reading, etc). It was a bigger coping mechanism, a bigger crutch than anything I do. And it is doubtful that professors will be creating such things for students. How does that help prepare them for college Latin or reading real Latin on their own?

Last summer when I was binge-listening to Tea with BVP, I was pleased to hear an episode that talked about focusing on form. One of the many examples he gave was having a particular grammatical structure highlighted throughout a passage to help students focus on that new structure. I smiled and thought that many of the activities I used to do in my warm-ups helped students to focus on form, e.g., when we would have metaphrasing practice contrasting nominatives and accusatives. As students progress in Latin (in previous years I've taught Latin 2, 3, 4; this year it's 1, 3, 4), feedback has always been positive on its helpfulness once students got used to it and understood what I was asking for and why. (The full appreciation usually developed in Latin 2 when metaphrasing full participial phrases and learning to see Latin in chunks and not word for word.) While I might work with words in isolation in the warm-ups, they are almost always coming from the CLC story to be read that day, and thus heighten awareness of those forms when they appear in the context of the story. (And, I might add, that almost all of my quia material is designed to work forms in context--which students greatly appreciate.)

Today I wanted to begin to consolidate what we had seen of the imperfect and perfect tenses. Brando Brown Canem Vult was mainly present tense with some perfect tenses and a smattering of imperfect (I think) and futures. I had all this time (the last two months) avoided teaching mnemonic devices regarding the tenses (the imperfect sheep with three legs going ba ba ba and XLSUV "extra long [vowel] SUV" with a picture of a stretch SUV limo), trying to work the tenses with different tasks or activities. However, today I started the warm-up with images of the two mnemonic devices, discussing them, and then had students circling tense indicators and endings and translating a select group of verbs. This would have been a no brainer in previous years, but there were complaints all around--especially from today's class that has so many low performing, needy students. They will come around; they will realize how much they know once they start to consolidate.

So where does all of this leave me?

I am glad I had this experience though feel badly for the Latin 1 students because there are so many reading skills they lack, not to mention so many great stories set in Pompeii which we haven't read. However, not for the first time have I begun to wonder at some friends who have been practicing CI successfully for a few years now (and more power to them) whether their problem with CLC was more not knowing how to really teach a reading based approach--how to teach your average student (not the 4%ers) how to read Latin in word order, how to help your brain to slow down, to taste the words, to see the endings, to register the phrasing, the structures, the shape of it all. How to retrain the brain to accept Latin. I never had to scaffold or embed a CLC story before with my students. And I have had students move from other schools into my Latin 3 classes and exclaim with delight that they understand so much more now, and can read more, and feel far more confident than they ever did with their previous teacher.

With all of that said, I have been trying to figure out for years how to work in more oral/aural work because I had in my mind's eye the time scale/pacing we needed to keep. I never had the guts to just say to myself that it would be ok to slow it down. I've always been too conscientious about where surrounding schools are in the curriculum in case one of my students changes schools. But now...

Now I see possibilities of enhancing what I've been doing with more oral/aural activities. I can see providing the framework as I have done before with reading in context & activities to help students see and focus on forms. Then, much like I feel so many of the activities at Rusticatio did for me, build upon and broaden and develop more fully that mental representation with a variety of meaningful tasks both small and large. Having class sets of the new novellas makes for great SSR material to help build that mental representation. Studies show that the most critical thing for language learning is indeed READING. True reading for understanding and not just the gist of a storyline. (See for a great video/article on the topic.)

While I can understand the reasoning for a full CI approach and not consolidating until 3 or 4 years later, that is not right for my program nor for my personal goals. I do intend to develop proficiency goals based on the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) for Latin, at the core will be reading proficiency. Will I continue to try to teach more in the target language? Absolutely. I force myself to use more every year. We learn by doing. Will I be having my students write in Latin? Yes, I definitely plan to. Will we have any PBLs? I've been working on plans for a couple for next year, and how to supplement and prepare for them from early on in the year.

I can't give you the answer for what is right for you. I can say that I've been at this for a decent number of years, have never struggled with program numbers, and have anecdotal evidence to support what I do. No posts implying that I'm teaching grammar explicitly in isolation will change my knowing and seeing and experiencing what works in my classroom to teach students to read Latin, in word order, with attention to detail, with absolutely no need to consult Google Translate. Students like *understanding* structure. No posts implying I don't understand about form and function will change what I do with metaphrasing, Rassias transformation/substitution drills, etc. I'm not a frightened person, set in my ways. I am always willing to put myself out there and try. But I am a serious student of Latin, of teaching Latin, and of students. For me, my refrigerator covered with notes and letters from grateful students for filling their heads with Latin and their hearts with love will stand as evidence that what I am doing is working.
Image result for latin scribe manuscripts
We are the new scribes. To Macron or Not to Macron, That is the Question--no doubt. It is a question that comes up quite a lot, and it came up again today.

A discussion began privately (small group email) regarding how to add macrons when typing in MS Word. Various people suggested this keyboard or that, but I piped in with how to map keystrokes to make it easy to type.  Here is how to do it for those who still don't know how:

You need to assign keys to the macrons.  I use  ALT plus the vowel.  ALT plus SHIFT plus the vowel for capital vowels.

So do this:

Go to:



MORE SYMBOLS & find the letter you want. THEN choose

SHORTCUT KEY (bottom left button)

in the "Press new shortcut key" press ALT plus A (for a lower case long a), then


Now you can just hit that combination of keys and the letter appears.

I can type almost at full speed with this.

But then someone I love and respect threw in his two denarii that he doesn't use macrons. And while I respect his view and know I will never change his view, I'm always thinking about the new teacher or person I can influence. So I wrote this in return:

... I fully believe in the importance of learning the sound of each word of Latin that enters my head, and the macrons are just representations of those sounds. I don't need them for the cases; those are totally internalized. But when I meet a new word--which for our students is ALL THE TIME--I want to be able to look at that word and, because I know the rules for dividing and accenting words, be able to know immediately what that word SOUNDS like and to fix it in my head.

Children can ask parents how to pronounce English words. I can ask my Merriam Webster app to even pronounce words for me.  But Cicero isn't here, and in my room I am supposed to be the authority. I am supposed to be modeling the best Latin I possibly can. I have heard presenters at conferences mispronounce words putting the accent on the wrong syllable because they weren't aware of (or, dare I say, didn't care about?) a long vowel.  And it isn't a long vowel, remember; it's the way the word SOUNDED--and it can and does change where you accent a word if it is in that penultimate syllable.

I certainly have friends and colleagues who are more fluent than I am conversationally. (I was never good at small talk, and always went to bed earlier than others at Rusticatio.)  I like to listen to Latin though. I like to read it aloud too.  And I want to sound as Roman as I possibly know how. I did dramatic interps for JCL in high school, which I'm sure influenced me. But I was also influence by the great Rick LaFleur in this regard (see what he says on pronunciation in Wheelocks), and I notice that Nancy Ll. and Justin SB ALWAYS (or certainly almost always) include macrons.

The more words I *fix* in my own head, the easier it is to read without them when a text doesn't have them. I don't rely on them like a crutch and I tell my students why I always have macrons on materials and how they too should be fixing how the words sound in their own minds. Or trust that when they had macrons in front of them, that they were, even inadvertently, building a proper mental representation of that word so that when the macrons aren't there they can trust their gut instinct on the word.

For teachers who think of this as an onerous task, I say to just take it a word at a time. Reading aloud with thought and care and really "tasting the words" as I believe Rex Harrison once said (his argument against speed reading) is half of it. Taking an extra few seconds to check a dictionary on the words you are unsure of is the other half. And while the macronizer isn't bad, I would never rely on it.

New teachers and those of you who train teachers, this is important. When I was first teaching middle school Latin, I started by deciding that I would do my best to master those words used in the textbook, and I would master those sounds with each new set of vocabulary I introduced.  I learned with the students. You often do--that is, as a teacher you often learn a lot of your trade while teaching. There are many, many things not taught at universities, or things that are unimportant to professors who are more concerned with the subject of their research (not being critical, just observant). But we are entering a new age of Latin teaching, where incorporating speaking proficiencies to help develop reading proficiencies is becoming of greater importance than ever before. There is no more critical time to CARE about how Latin sounds and why we have macrons. And yes, Romans didn't need them because they WERE fluent, they WERE able to ask mom and dad and their teachers how to properly pronounce a word just like we are able to in English. And since we can't surround our students 24/7 with quality spoken Latin, we do what we can to make sure their INPUT is quality.

So I include macrons, practice a little divide & accent from time to time, and tell them that when they read Latin, they should either read aloud or HEAR IT in their heads.

I have been pushing myself this year to fully invest in using Google Slides and to move away from PowerPoint. As such, anytime I'm setting up a new Google Slide presentation I try to think of new ways to do things. I had a "stulta" moment the other day when I realized that if I embedded a movie for the movie talk IN a slide and did NOT enlarge the screen when showing it, that I could ALSO have vocab words on the same screen.

The last two days (we are on block schedule) I have been doing a movie talk in Latin 1 with Pixar's "Piper."  This is what my screen looked like:

We have just nominally started CLC Stage 6, but my colleague wants to begin Brando Brown Canem Vult soon so I'm busy trying to let go of wanting to do stuff in the book. Then I remembered "Piper" and knew I could really work tenses with this story. .

To keep students awake and prevent the groups that like to talk with their buddies from talking as much, I have students shift after each question. My room is arranged a bit like a theater with three sections, and each section has three rows (the side two at angles) with three desks in each of the first two rows and two seats in the last row. So, after watching the whole video, we started over and we'd watch a bit then I would stop and ask a question in Latin. Students were to discuss the answer in their little group of three student (or two on the back rows), after which I would pick on a row to answer. Then I would indicate for students in the right chair (sella dextra), left chair (sella sinistra), or middle chair (sella media) to get up & switch (surgite et mutate). So each time there would be one new person in the group. Block classes are long and this helps to fight against restlessness too.

When students would answer in Latin, they would usually start in the present tense. We had been practising tenses with gestures (as Nancy Llewellyn teaches), so I would flip their sentence into the imperfect, complete with gestures. I wish I had time to detail how class went, but suffice it to say I felt participation was better because the "helps" were on the screen right with the movie. We got a lot of repetitions in, lots of uses of the subjunctive, etc.

On Monday/Tuesday of next week, we will review and then in groups they will compose their version of the story. I believe we will have time to exchange stories and do some peer editing. If we don't, that's ok too. For the next class I'm hoping to have used their compositions to rewrite the story, this time incorporating postquam, quod, tum, and subito. Or maybe we will combine sentences together.

If you even need help with Google Slides, feel free to contact me. I know most teachers are too busy with the job if teaching Latin (et al) that they often don't learn more than the bare basics of presentation software.
This has been a very full year for me and I haven't been able to write here like I wanted to. It would mainly be about struggles and work and the insecurities of leaving what you know worked (up to a point) for something that seems to take too long. It's hard to think "if I were doing things the old way, we'd be on that chapter by now."  It would be easy to go back to doing things the old way. More comforting. More secure. A lot less risky.

But I have a Growth Mindset.  I am creative and clever, I know.  But I am not the fastest learner. If I were, then I would be a more fluent speaker of Latin by now considering all the Rusticatios I have been to (4 or 5). But I'm not. I would come home excited, do a little of what I learned at the beginning of the year and add tiny bits of spoken Latin here or there and then....go back to the old way of teaching things because I knew that I was creating solid readers of Latin, and that the methods I use--methods that I spent YEARS developing and writing about and speaking about, methods that I have wished that my professors had used so I could have been a better reader in college.

But I have a Growth Mindset and I WANT to change, I WANT to grow, I WANT to be better.  To that end I have listened and relistened to Tea with BVP, as well as Quomodo Dicitur.  I have read CI Latin blogs, participated in #langchat discussions, etc. And I have let go of many things that I do. However, I have only really timed how long we have stayed in Latin a couple of times this year because it was so disappointing. At best, only a 1/3 of the class time, if that. Some days not even close. BUT I keep trying.

Although being a participant at Rusticatio means that I have experienced most all of what I am trying to do first hand as a "student" as well as analyzed how the activities worked, I have only been able to replicate some of them. Asking a story, for instance, was something I hadn't tried but knew I needed to master. I finally purchased Fluency through TPR Storytelling by Blaine Ray and Contee Seely. When all else fails, seek the masters.

So this past Monday I tried to ask a story. It started great but bombed pretty quickly. In fairness I knew I hadn't prepared well for it--I hadn't mapped it out because I had been busy prepping other things for other classes. But because I was determined to LEARN and wasn't afraid of failure, I tried it not only in my Latin 1s but also in my Latin 3s. It was in one of my Latin 3 classes that I finally figured out with their help (I asked the to help me figure it out) how to get the story going. (* nota bene: I am not afraid of failure, but I don't like it, I don't like the way it makes me feel like a loser, I don't like the way it makes me feel less than--especially at my age. But we learn through failure. ad astra per aspera and all that.)

Today (Wednesday--we're on block) I tried again. I did several things differently including getting desks out of the way for better attention from students. I had a scribe write out the story. I wrote words on the board (but I had done that before). I had notes on an index card mapping out the direction of the story and questions to ask. My security blanket. It went pretty well--I was very pleased. Afterwards I did a delta/plus (things to change/things that were great) with the students. They liked it, they understood the story, they liked providing the input, etc. .And because I made part of the story line similar to the next story in the book, I'm going to have them do a compare and contrast discussion--in Latin--next Monday. (I only see them three days a week.) This Friday... well, Friday is going to be saved for movie talk using Pixar's "Alma." Creeeeepy.

Anyway: my point is don't give up the struggle, don't get discouraged. Fight through the frustration of failure and keep going. If you are new to CI like I am, I just want to say YOU CAN DO THIS.  *WE* can do this.
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.

There was a big twitter discussion about Latin pronunciation today, to use macrons or not to use macrons, whether to teach pronunciation to students or let them pick it up by listening to you and other input (trusting the quality you provide), etc. I felt the discussion beginning to spiral in its usual fashion of pros and cons. Back when the Latinteach list was active, this discussion came up numerous times. And often if I replied, I also posted a copy of my reply on this blog. I just read through them, and in some I was quite passionate--one, even a bit out of line. If you would like to read those older posts just click on the PRONUNCIATION tag in the right margin.

So in many ways, there's no need for me to repeat what I've said before, except for the fact that we have a couple more issues now that we didn't really have then. First, there are a LOT of people (well, a room full of 50 at ACL--that's 1/6 of the participents) who are interested in trying to use more techniques to make their class a Comprehensible Input classroom. That requires a LOT of oral work. It is the idea that you can get in more repetitions and in a more engaging and compelling way orally. Yes, reading still plays a strong role but there is a LOT of emphasis on the oral part.

Second, it is less likely that a new teacher will have had formal instruction in accentuation and syllabification if they learned Latin in high school using a reading based text like the Cambridge Latin Course (which I do love) because it does not include a pronunciation guide. From this point, as I've stated elsewhere, the discussion begins to go round and round on who to blame--that is, who should have taught pronunciation (high school teacher/first teacher) or who should have polished pronunciation (professors/person in charge of methods of teaching Latin course)? And that's all mute. Finger pointing never got anything done.

In 2005 I even had proposed initially via the CAMWS Newsletter something called "Fluent Latin 101". The title of the article was "Teacher Prep: New Ideas, New Approach" (page 9). This was way before the Comprehensible Input surge in Latin circles, but at a time when I was really frustrated by the lack of quality pronunciation among fellow teachers at Certamen events. I was also trying to address in the article issues that some teachers had brought up about not having studied AP authors during their undergraduate career and thus not being properly prepared to teach.  But that's another story. I published this article in the CAMWS Newsletter because I was hoping to reach the professors who could have some influence on addressing these problems which future teachers faced. Naturally it fell on deaf ears.

Last year I discovered on a blog post entitled Driving with Dido on the Indwelling Language blog. It is mainly a post--and a good one--on reading extensively in Latin, and how the author, Justin Sloacum Bailey, went on a quest to develop fluency in Latin, even though he began with a grammar first text book (Wheelock's). Anyway, at some point in the post, he gives a list of things to help with fluency, and one of them is to "record yourself reading Latin and listen to your recordings in the car, while doing chores, while shopping, etc."

This has stuck with me even though admittedly I have yet to do it. The idea was to record yourself reading a passage that you have interpreted/translated so you know what it's about, and then work on developing your own listening skills.  As I see it, the way to ensure this works well is to be extremely conscientious about your pronunciation as you read that Latin. This is not only about making sure you are pronouncing long and short vowels correctly, but that you are dividing and accenting words correctly. You are creating your source of INPUT. That is the key.

To develop your sense of quality pronunciation you need lots of INPUT, but if you aren't around speakers of Latin, you don't get the input you need. In addition, if your own teacher/instructor was apathetic with regards to the pronunciation of Latin, you need enough quality input to unteach incorrect pronunciation.

So... I guess the first thing you need to do is to decide that you need to improve your pronunciation if you know you need to. If you cannot write sentences/vocabulary from the textbook you use (assuming you are using a textbook) complete with macrons without double checking 98% of the time, then you probably need to work on pronunciation. Because, really, what we are talking about is not "pronunciation" but whether you have internalized the SOUND of the words, whether you truly OWN the words.

Why is this so important? If you are going to be telling stories orally, you have to OWN your own Latin. And if you want your students to pick up their pronunciation mainly through input, your OUTPUT must be excellent.

OK, so now maybe you realize you need to "learn" your macrons.  Really, you are working on "owning" your Latin vocab by SOUND because the macrons merely represent sounds. First make sure you know your basic rules of dividing and accenting words (see the front of a Latin dictionary or my pronunciation guide for CLC), and then practicing dividing and accenting words that are three syllables or more, followed by saying those words aloud several times. You may find words you thought you knew are really pronounced differently. You may discover you are sloppy with o's and i's. You may discover which words are mispronounced due to related words in English. (Off the top of my head, novem, 9, is a SHORT o, not a long o like in November; toga is a short o as well, not long as it is in English.)

Once you feel like you can divide and accent anything, find a passage you like (could be from your textbook series or AP or whatever), divide & accent all the words in it just to make sure you really are saying all of the words correctly, and then record yourself reading it. Now put away the text away and get a clean sheet of paper. Use your recording for dictation and see whether you can write exactly what you read previously--macrons and all. If your pronunciation is clear and accurate, you should have little problem doing this. TRUST the sound that you hear. If you hear long, write it that way. Likewise, think about where the accent is on the word; sometimes that can help you with a short a versus a long a. Practice this a bit.

Now, try finding something that does NOT have macrons. If you were to trust your "ear", could you add macrons to most of the words? Try it to see. Do any of the missed macrons change the placement of the accent on the word? Or does where you KNOW the accent of the word goes help you with deciding whether you have a long or short vowel? I know, for instance, that I pronounce "they heard" as au-di-VE-runt, so that e has to be long.

The truth is that there is no magic fix. You have to work at it. You have to realize the importance not just to your own learning but to that of your students. You have to see the bigger picture of language acquisition. And you will find that the more you work at it, the more you realize you do know, and the easier it becomes. But it all starts with you having a crystal clear idea of pronunciation.

I often think about Spanish students who will complain that one of the Spanish teachers has lousy pronunciation. Students notice.  Students care.  Students will think less of you and your expertise if they see this deficiency. Your colleagues will think less of your expertise as well. (Yes, I have thought less of professors and teachers....)  And maybe that seems arrogant... But I'm also going to pick the Shakespeare instructor who tries to do restored pronunciation over the one that recites with a heavy Texan accent.

And finally, I do believe we need to teach our students the rules for dividing and accenting words. I've always made it extra credit on one of the types of quizzes I've used in the past. I reiterate the importance of knowing the rules so you can decide how a new word sounds without my being there, but I do not punish students for having difficulties with the concept. I do grade oral recitations which we practices because that is based on hearing/speaking and not artificial rules of dividing and accenting. Nevertheless, I want my students to be armed to read extensively, and to hear the Latin in their heads or to be able to say it aloud.

It's about the input. I can provide a lot of it, but some of it will need to be experienced on their own--and I just want it to be the best experience possible.
My son likes to play Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and honestly I like this game the most of all the ones he plays. The backgrounds are beautifully drawn, storyline isn't bad, the quests are varied, creatures fun, and the music is pleasant enough. Oh, and there's no cussing. My son, who is autistic, constantly demands for me to watch, even though usually I'm usually working on something or grading something while he's playing. At least I'm hanging in the room and we are discussing what's going on in the storyline.

So earlier today I was reading through the early years of this blog, tagging entries as I look for things I've written in the past regarding reading methodologies, and decided that I needed a break. I had read several posts that talked about playing cards so I guess it was on the mind. Thus I grabbed my son's RWBY deck, shuffled (miscere, pontem facere, miscere, pontem facere), then counted out cards in Latin as I set up a round of solitaire the old fashioned way. So I'm working on *thinking* in Latin, and look up occasionally to watch what Link is doing on the screen, and reply to my son's comments and questions... but I'm doing it in Latin. He knows a few Latin phrases and in fact likes to bark "tace, ancilla!" at me.  So I'm having fun, counting monstra which are being killed, gemmae collected, etc.  He's alternating between "tace, ancilla" and "mom, stop" but I'm having fun and he's not really irritated with me.

Then he gets to this screen where Link's in wolf mode (lupus) and is picked up by an avis monstruosa and flies over river where all of these balloon fruit are flying which need to be popped to score points. And I thought to myself, hey, I'm supposed to be finding activities that would be high interest for students--why not find a way to use games? In particular, I was thinking earlier today that I need to find engaging homework activities since we are moving to block scheduling next year. (That is, I want them to have a reason to engage in the language every day.)  I had been brainstorming about how to motivate students to use Latin outside of class. We use Google Classroom to tremendous effect this past year and I had been thinking I would just make it work even better this coming year by posting things of high interest with maybe some sort of google doc/survey/quiz thingy that could be entered online.

So consider the above videoclip from the game which I found on YouTube (because, ya know, everything's on YouTube). I was thinking about teaching numbers which I like to do early in the year. It's always something easy to circle in with other things. Numbers take practice and you need things to count.  Why not count these fraga (strawberries), melones cantalupenses, & melones aquosi? Link also goes through several waterfalls (cataractae)--count them too.  Challenge students to find other game clips to post back to the Google Classroom page to challenge others to count items.  Later on, when more vocab /structures are acquired, this videoclip could be viewed again to discuss colors or to do a movie talk or something.

Games!  Why not/quidni? And let's be honest--where else outside of the writings of Romans would you find as much killing as there is in video games? Finally, a place to put all of the killing and weapon vocabulary to use. I was having so much fun saying things to my son like, " tu monstrum necavisti et, ecce, SAGITTAE!" because, ya know, he killed this monster and then a bundle of arrows appeared. Link had to quest to acquire the gladius domini (master sword, for those who don't play the game). Midna appears first as Link's umbra before taking shape. And, heck, did I mention Link turns into a wolf? How Roman is that?!

Anyway, just some random thoughts.
So I've been reading a fair amount of Latin this year.  Fair amount for me.  Pleasure reading. Latin.  NOT A LOEB. Not rereading favorite Catullus poems or Martial epigrams, not rereading favorite passages of Vergil. Harrius Potter et Lapis Philosophi, Winnie Ille Pu, Commentarii de Inepto Puero, etc. Reading QUANTITY.  Reading for FUN.

And yet.... yesterday morning, as I relaxed on my apartment balcony with one cat on my lap and another at my feet plus my copy of Domus Anguli Puensis, I had this thought:  was I truly acquiring language, was I truly benefiting from all of this input I've been so proud of? After all, I have been reading WHOLE BOOKS of Latin, not a chapter here or a chapter there from an ancient work, or only  x number of lines intensively. I have been letting go of needing to know everything even though we Latin teachers/students have always been about every single detail. I've been enjoying the story. But... I had to ask myself to be honest--was I acquiring more language?  I'm not sure.  But I felt that nothing was leaping into my active use from having seen multiple instances in context. <sigh> Once again I'm on the slower learner's track, I thought.

I feel like I'm always on the slow learner's track. I'm at a workshop for my GT/gifted & talented update today and thinking about the difference between gifted & talented versus high achiever. I'm the high achiever that can occasionally be GT. In college, I was a top Latin student, making A's in all of my classes, but no one encouraged me to go to grad school. (Yes, admittedly still a sore spot.) Then again, I myself didn't think I was grad school material. Why?  Because it took me HOURS to prepare my Latin assignments for class.  I didn't know about Dexter Hoyos's Rules for Reading, or metaphrasing, or any of the reading tools that are in my toolbox now. I was decoding; painstakingly considering every word, every case, every item as something that was part of a secret code. I would be surrounded by books--grammars, dictionaries, translations--to help me get through it all. Latin was not for me a language that I could read fluently. It was work. But I was up to the challenge.

All the reading methods I incorporate now have made me a much better reader. A few years ago I audited a Caesar class at UT and I know I was probably the top reader in class, always being fully prepared for our intensive sessions (long reading assignments), scoring well on quizzes and tests, and producing probably the top paper for the class.  By golly, all of my focus on improving my reading skills had truly paid off in an academic setting!

Then earlier this year Justin SB pointed out that using the Rules for Reading and all the rest are nothing more than coping strategies.  I didn't want to hear it, but I knew it is true. These rules still have their place, I truly believe, as they do help you to read texts above your true level of proficiency. And when we are in academic situations that make us force students to leap frog into reading Latin that is way above their comfort zone, we need coping strategies. (Can you say AP Latin?)

So is that part of my problem--that I'm still using coping mechanisms? I don't think so. I don't feel the grammar/structures of what I am reading or even the vocabulary is above my proficiency level except... except I think we have to be VERY CAREFUL on how we identify proficiency levels especially for Latin readers when almost all of their life with Latin has been about HOW TO TRANSLATE IT INTO ENGLISH. That is, there is a difference between something I can, when I read it a time or two, TRANSLATE versus something that I can read and not think twice about. I know for a fact that Latin teachers in general think that our students read at a much higher proficiency level than modern languages--but I think we are dead wrong. No one is reading Vergil in their comfort zone. Taking 15 minutes or more to "read" (translate! decode!) one long sentence of Caesar is not true reading. But I suppose that's another discussion for another time.

HERE'S my problem: I realize that unless I'm really concentrating on hearing the Latin words in my head or reading aloud, my brain is still translating. I'm having a very difficult time turning that off. I think I'm doing fine because I'm reading left to right (not hunting the verb or decoding), and moving along at a comfortable even if slowish rate. But here's what I realized I was doing.  This sentence came up this morning: '"eamus quia Dies Iovis est," dixit.' Before I could hear myself say the words in Latin in my head, my brain already shouted out, '"Let's go because it is Thursday," he said.' I didn't just see the Latin and move on; my brain had to shout out the English.

(I'm also aware that I'm noticing vocabulary, analyzing it, thinking about how it is getting used--why censeo and not puto? why decerno? why ominor? But analyzing isn't the same as acquiring.)

How do I turn off my English translator?

Yes, ok, I think I *have* to start reading everything aloud. But maybe there's some other language learning trick I don't know about. When I tweeted about it, language experts (Krashen! Gaab!) both said it (the reading) just needs to be HIGHLY COMPELLING.  Hey, I'm finding this compelling, I'm engaged, I want to read more... but my English translator won't turn off. Maybe modern language learners do not have this problem to the extent that Latin learners may have (because there are significantly fewer of us teaching using Comprehensible Input), but this may be a problem that is not being addressed, a problem that is slowing down able students in ALL LANGUAGES.

And you know what else I think? This English interference issue is part of the reason why I haven't progressed as much as I would like with spoken Latin. I have attended numerous SALVI immersion events (mainly Rusticatio), but I'm still nervous anytime I see someone from Rusticatio because I struggle with small talk, and always feel like I don't know enough vocabulary to reply satisfactorily. I feel like I'm always starting over, at least to a certain extent. My last summer at Rusticatio I figured out at least one thing I was doing that was detrimental: on breaks I would often go off on walks by myself and my thoughts would be in English. To correct this, I made myself talk aloud to myself when on walks--the things I would see--and sometimes I would practices Rassias style things: papilionem video. quis papillionem videt? ipsa dico me papilionem videre. quis rogat? ipsa rogo quis papilionem videat. Maybe it would have been easier if I had just stopped going for a walk on my own! Maybe there should have been a buddy rule....

So, I don't know what else to say. I think ENGLISH really impedes my Latin learning, and yes I am still learning. I've always thought that this is one thing that makes me a good teacher. Yes, I'm totally enthusiastic about Latin and all the rest. My students respond very positively to my class and I want my high achievers to bypass me on their way to greatness. But I also have deep empathy with the struggler, especially the bright struggler who maybe doesn't get why he/she is lagging behind peers. So I'm not afraid to identify and analyze my weaknesses.  For me, right here and now it is about how to turn off my English translator when I am reading. And I bet some of your students have this problem too.
So I've been listening to a lot of Tea with BVP lately, having lots of deep thoughts but not being able to pause and write.

A bunch of topics have come up that have had my head spinning but this one really caught my attention: Are languages "subjects" to be taught or something to be coached?

Now, I definitely believe that Latin should be treated fully as a language because it is WITHOUT QUESTION a language. I think the more we teach in the target language, the more we use more modern techniques to provide Comprehensible Input, the better. But...

But... I have had this question personally for a long time: Why Latin?  Students sign up for my class because of me not necessarily Latin. My enthusiasm is contagious, I know, and we have a good time. But secretly I feel like I do not have a good enough reason for arguing that students should take my class over another modern language.

I know I love Latin, even obsess over it in my own way, but I truly cannot explain WHY--outside of thinking that maybe buried deep in my genetic make-up is a Latin speaking Roman ancestor. I do NOT want to hear arguments about benefits to the understanding of English grammar, developing broader English vocabulary, and the like. Let other people say that is the reason for teaching Latin. Ok, I do use it from time to time but secretly I think it's a wimpy argument. I prefer to argue that I feel like I have direct communication with Vergil and Caesar by reading their original; I like to know exactly how they expressed themselves in order to feel a stronger connection with them. Yes, western civilization is indebted to the Romans (and the Greeks), and by studying ancient authors we are broadening our understanding of our own culture. But in general for drawing wisdom from the ancients, well, we can do that in translation, can't we? It isn't the strongest argument when we have so many good translations available these days.

Let me come at this from another direction. In general people who study Latin in college either become teachers or professors or go on to another field. If they go on to another field, they rarely read Latin again. Most students who take Latin in high school do not continue it in college unless they have more language hours required for their major. I took Latin because I didn't want to take Spanish because my brother and sister did. (I have an independent streak.) I continued with Latin because I had fun teachers and professors that made it interesting. I majored in Latin because I thought teaching would be a decent occupation and no one encouraged me to do something that would earn a better paycheck. (But ok, I am a good teacher and I do think this is where I am meant to be even though I am tired of being stressed out over finances.)

One does not study Latin in order to communicate when traveling to foreign countries, or to be able to put bilingual or trilingual on a job application. It is not a language taught in the military to use when serving abroad. A bachelor's degree in Latin does not indicate that one has true fluency of any sort with the language. It DOES indicate a certain ability to translate choice selections of mainly golden age Latin accurately, but it doesn't indicate reading fluency in the same way one would talk about reading fluency in a modern language. Latin is read by the line or by the page. Modern languages are read by the chapter or by the book.  A degree in a modern language can be useful in many other professions. In this country, Spanish is useful in business; it is good to be bilingual if you are a doctor, lawyer, journalist, whatever. Latin helps with understanding medical terminology, but NOT with communicating with someone in need of something (medical help, legal help, etc). Latin is seemingly a means to one end: reading Latin, mainly that written by famous Roman authors. Modern languages are used to communicate to find out all sorts of things from people around us.

So should we teach it as a language or a subject, and does it matter?

I think it does matter--greatly. Right now in general we treat Latin as a subject (even if we think we are treating it as a language--this is something I see myself being guilty of). Our goal is NOT proficiency if we are honest. It isn't; not around here. Our goal is to learn forms and function so that we can then use a variety of coping mechanisms to leapfrog over real language ACQUISITION in order to translate selections Vergil, Caesar, Cicero, Catullus, Ovid, etc. And our goals in these courses are about improving analysis skills more than developing any real proficiency in reading. It is about making the grade of an A via translation, spot grammar analysis/explanation, and writing a paper in English that analyzes some aspect of Latin grammar or a theme in the target author's work.  Make the grades and that's it. We know--we KNOW--this is exactly what AP Latin has us doing.

Consider textbooks for Latin. We like to have discussions about the various worth of the grammar/translation approach versus the reading approach. I was originally taught via the grammar/translation approach. The textbook would introduce a new declension or a new conjugation or a new tense, we'd practice going from singular to plural, Latin to English, English to Latin. Simple enough. Vocabulary lists were memorized, nominatives given and we had to supply genitives, gender, and meaning or, with verbs, principal parts. We all *hated* the day where we had to try to translate the sole story in the chapter. We hated reading Latin because it seemed difficult. It was cracking a secret code. (Ok, I came to like decoding; it was like solving a good algebraic problem.)  When we got to real Latin in level 3 after two years of grammar being shoveled into us, all we did was write out translations in English. That is not reading.

Textbooks like the Cambridge Latin Course, which I use and admittedly love, are reading approach. Ideally they are using repetition and illustration to establish meaning. Grammar is addressed in a section called "About the Language" but they do try not to get too technical. The ultimate goal is to develop reading skills because our goal is solely to read the Latin of dead authors. BUT... unless you are constantly rereading or reinforcing by other means, it just isn't enough input. I personally have created numerous materials focusing on various aspects of the grammar that are demonstrated in the text, bringing them all together in one place so that the multiple examples, which are often spread out in the text, can be seen in one place and thus the concept more fully understood.

Last summer I took great pleasure in combing CLC for examples of certain grammatical structures (ablative of description and ablative of respect among them) so that I could put them all in one place and demonstrate to students that we had seen examples and we could thus now understand this construction, and indeed recognize it when met in Vergil. That is, it would not become another new grammar feature met in AP but one that indeed was there in CLC, met many times, just waiting for analysis and understanding. I took great joy in how brilliant CLC is, how rich with all the grammar we needed in this reading approach even if it is not expressly discussed in the textbook. It's there! It's brilliant!

In fact, when I have heard colleagues state that they think certain passages in CLC are really too difficult and perhaps need embedded readings for students to use as a scaffolding, I have thought to myself, "Well, if you were using my reading methods, if you were training students to read in word order, to metaphrase, to see participial phrases as chunks to be metaphrased, etc etc, then these passages would be doable." Arrogance. Arrogance because what I have been teaching are coping mechanisms that aide in leap frogging true acquisition. Students aren't acquiring mental representations of the language; they are acquiring coping mechanisms for reading/translating. When it comes down to it, I'm still explicitly teaching grammar. It's not in isolation but given in context, but that doesn't mean this isn't still explicitly teaching grammar.

Is teaching explicit grammar necessary? Maybe. That is, it is if we are teaching AP Latin as the culminating Latin experience OR if we expect our students will continue in college and we want to make sure that they will have the skills (i.e., grammar) that professors expect. Or at least that's how it feels to many of us who are currently teaching Latin. I know that the reason why I continue to teach and test grammar concepts (in context) is because of my fear of what the next teacher or professor will think of my student and whether my student will be able to succeed in their classes. It certainly isn't because I think it is the best way to teach Latin.

What we demand of a Latin student is so different than a modern language student. If we do demand output, as in the grammar/translation approach, that output is usually in the form of translating a specific English sentence into Latin and everything must be grammatically correct and spelled perfectly. (And this is why Latin was reserved for the elite for so long and considered something that trains you in precision and logic.) It is rarely any freeflowing composition of our own choosing, in great measure because few of us want to write about fighting and killing, wars, and slavery. Ok, we could use the vocabulary of love poetry, but unless we're writing a commentary on the war against Isis, the language of Caesar may not help us much. We don't learn the vocabulary of our everyday lives so we have little output about such things.  And with the reading approach, there is no real Latin output. Almost all communication in Latin is one-sided: dead Latin speaker to live modern person.

Let's face it: the current design of almost all Latin programs is to get students to a point where they can "read" (too often analyze & decode) ancient authors as quickly as possible. With Spanish, it could be to enjoy reading Spanish novels, or to communicate when you travel, or to be bilingual and thus more employable in any field. Proficiency levels can vary for your needs. It is more welcoming to all. Latin sometimes feels like either you made the Olympic team or you didn't. So long, nothing else for you to read at your level, at least your English grammar and vocabulary improved; glad you had fun.

There is no intermediate or graded material in Latin generally available. We don't send our Latin students home with summer reading assignments or suggestions to watch tv shows (like Spanish can do) or listen to music. Ok, there's plenty of Latin music out there from centuries past, but most choral groups use ecclesiastic pronunciation which is NOT what is generally used in school. Thus it can be impossible to listen to. Even Japanese can encourage students to watch more anime. ha. Summer assignments for Latin generally have been reserved for AP students, and even then it's been about reading an ENGLISH translation of the Aeneid.

Honestly, it had NEVER occurred to me to point my students to extra reading for pleasure. (What is WRONG with me?)  Then again, no teacher of mine ever encouraged me to read extra Latin outside of class.  Latin was something you studied IN CLASS because it was complex with what seemed like an endless list of vocabulary to learn and more complex writing styles with every author. I made A's in Latin in college but that was because I spent hours decoding every single word assigned for class and then going over it all a second time before class. I had dictionaries, grammar books, and translations nearby as I decoded. It took HOURS. That does not make one feel capable of just reading for pleasure. I liked what I was studying, but it wasn't the sort of stuff you could read in bed holding a book in one hand and petting your cat with the other. It was my SUBJECT.

And I hate to confess that it wasn't until this year that I really ventured forth to truly READ FOR PLEASURE in Latin. I read Harrius Potter, Winnie Ille Pu, Commentarii de Inepto Puero, and I'm currently reading Domus Anguli Puensis. When I'm somewhere without a book I have accessed The Latin Library via my phone to read some medieval Latin.  What have I been afraid of?  Extensive reading? Not knowing some of the vocabulary? I'm learning to get over it. I would say that MOST Latin teachers I know that are traditional high school teachers with JCL programs and the like read very little Latin just for the fun of it. We weren't taught how to read extensively or that it was ok not to know every single word. We were taught that being precise mattered and to not demand precision is sloppy work not worthy of a classicist.

And perhaps I'm digressing.  But my point is that we have been teaching Latin as a subject that can only be studied in a school setting.  Maybe we didn't mean to do this or realize that we were doing this, but that is what we have done.  The teachers before us did the same, and probably the teachers before them.

We know--we KNOW--that speaking Latin is part of the natural acquisition process, it activates our passively learned knowledge (forms and functions, etc), and broadens are abilities with the language. And that is from the point of view of someone who learned the grammar first. Friends who are teaching in Georgia using entirely Comprehensible Input are having incredible success with students who, in large numbers, continue on to 4 or 5 years of the language, can speak, write, and read. And most importantly TAKE GREAT PLEASURE IN THE LANGUAGE.
We are about to shift to proficiencies for ALL languages in our Texas standards. And although Latin's proficiency requirement in spoken and written language isn't nearly as high as our reading proficiency level, we will still have them. It's time for us to decide--do we want to continue teaching Latin as a subject that has grades slapped on for perfection, or is it time to treat it as a language? Do we really need to rush to Roman authors, or can we take a little more time to actually help students acquire the language, to build mental representations, and read medieval and humanist authors along the way? I have been to several Latin immersion workshops and have learned and participated in lots of comprehensible input. I know in my heart of hearts that this is the way to go, but I'm having a hard time leaving, even partly, CLC. But I also had a hard time facing that my wonderful reading methods which I have built the whole of my teaching career around, are still nothing more than a coping mechanism for not having true acquisition of the language.

I am not fluent in Latin. Yes, I can read Latin, but not with the kind of fluency that I would like. Picking up a new author can be intimidating. Teaching reading skills for the last 15+ years has made it significantly less intimidating and rather empowering, which is perhaps why I'm suddenly reading more in Latin for pleasure. But I'm not fluent though and I know it, and I read more slowly than I read English. Even still, I am finally comfortable with my proficiency level because I'm beginning to understand why I am at the level I am at. Latin was always a subject, even when I thought I was treating it as a language.

It took me several years of attending Rusticatio (a SALVI event) to develop decent listening proficiency. My speaking proficiency is still not where I want it to be as well because one week of immersion a year is not enough. And any time I have tried to have days of speaking entirely in the target language at school, I have discovered there is still a lot of vocabulary that I need and don't know.

Next year I want to start using Comprehensible Input in my level 1 classes because I want to teach Latin as a language not a subject. I'm excited and terrified. It took me 16 years to develop the quia materials, the quizzes and tests and everything that I use with CLC. I was all about reading methods; I thought that was being about the language, but textbook Latin isn't enough input, even with the best of books. It's not meaningful enough, it isn't engaging enough, and it lacks that quality of purpose that BVP describes so well in his "tasks." (See Episode 24 - Principle 5: The Nature of Tasks.)

I want to teach Latin as a language. I want a deeper, more meaningful relationship with all those who came before me who wrote in Latin for centuries, not just a handful of dead Romans from around the time of Christ. I still can't answer "Why Latin?" to my satisfaction, but that's ok.  Maybe I will discover that along the way.