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October 2017


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I answered a 10 question interview last night and got permission to post it here.


> Here goes with the 10 questions...hope they're to your liking.
> There's no rush on getting back with the responses...we have almost a
> month until deadline. I am looking forward to reading what you have
> to say! - Jacque
> What inspired you to start playing cards in Latin, and what benefits
> have you and your students realized from it?

I grew up playing cards with my grandmother and great aunts, not to mention siblings and cousins. Now that I have children of my own, I have used playing cards to work on social skills as well as to have something fun to do for the whole family that does not involve the television set or the computer.

I started researching card playing in Latin when it occurred to me that cardinal numbers are adjectives, but the numbers on cards are not. We say, "I have 3 kings" as well as "I have 3 tens." The numbers, in this case, are nouns. From there I began to do a little digging and discovered the Ludus Chartarum colloquia by Ioannes Lodovicus Vives, written in the 1500s.

I based many but not all of the card names/numbers from vocabulary in this dialogue, which can be found at I dropped the Greek words, added appropriate Latin equivalents, and made it user-friendly with a few handouts which can be found at

I have used playing cards in Latin for a Latin club activity, which many enjoy. I have also used it for ALL LATIN days during Latin week. In class I introduce it when we hit accusative plurals in CLC because it is a great way to hear/use those accusative plurals. You are constantly saying things like, "habesne ullos biniones?" or "habesne ullas reginas?" You also get practice with changing your verb to agree with you or the person you're speaking two. For instance, "habesne ullos septeniones?" "non habeo. i piscatum!"

I personally believe that the more you speak Latin and use Latin, the better you'll be at reading it. With that said, trying to have a Latin conversation is often daunting, if not impossible. It's hard to find something meaningful to say, let alone intelligent. BUT if you are playing cards and have your basic card-playing vocabulary handy, you have a built in comfort zone. As a beginner, you can just stick to the script--asking for cards, replying when asked, etc. Once you feel more confident, you can stretch yourself a bit to announce when you have a book of four cards: "ego librum reginarum habeo!" aut "tu librum regum habes." You can work on tenses: "duas reginas habebam; nunc tu tres reginas habes."

I could go on. In fact, there's no reason why a clever teacher couldn't script additional phrases to target certain grammatical concepts. Surely an ablative absolute or two could be worked in, or perhaps a purpose or result clause? The possibilities are endless--and it makes for a great break from regular book work.

> Other than playing cards, what's your favorite activity to do with
> students?

I love to read to them and with them. I love to teach reading skills and how to read like a Roman. And then I want to read to them again. I am a dramatic fool, no question, and that probably goes back to my JCL days. (National champ in dramatic interpretation for 3 years straight in the 1980s.)

One of my best days with my Latin 2/3 split level class last year was when we hit Catullus 13. Here it is:

Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me
paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus,
si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cenam, non sine candida puella
et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis.
haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster cenabis bene;
nam tui Catulli plenus sacculus est aranearum.
sed contra accipies meros amores
seu quid suavius elegantiusve est:
nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae
donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque,
quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis
totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.

I knew the Latin 3's had already "covered" the poem with their previous teacher, but assumed that they had just been told to "translate it." So I invited them to join us and revisit the poem.

First I read the poem to them, then I had them read it with me. I asked them whether they had picked up much. (No.) So I read the first line again, and we translated it. Then we read it again and added the 2nd line, and translated that. Again we reread what we had "translated" in the Latin and added the next line, always being mindful of the word order, of emphasis, etc. Each time we'd reread the Latin, I encouraged them to read it expressively, especially since they now understood what the words meant. And so we continued until done with the poem.

On the next day the students had to transcribe the poem onto an unlined sheet of paper using Roman graffiti/cursive script (I use the Pompeii Graffiti booklet from ACL) BUT with at least THREE CHANGES in the poem. This is sort of a controlled composition project and perhaps not as challenging as it could have been, but I was new to these students and they were new to me. Many students changed the name (Fabullus) for someone else (usually in the class), what that person was bringing (I believe one had orders to bring a brawny young man), and what the sacculus was full of--things like that.

It was a fun project that had a two-fold result: 1) I had student work to put on my walls, and 2) the students virtually had the poem memorized by the time we were finished with it--memorized IN LATIN, not in English.

This last was very important to me. I don't want my Latin students to spout English translations of poetry; I want them spouting the Latin!

> You have made some lovely posters and other items for Latin teachers.
> How did you get started with that?

Several things just happened to fall into place. First, I had spent several years doing desktop publishing work in an office (unrelated to teaching) that gave me some basic skills. Second, Santa brought me a large color printer one year for Christmas. One thing just led to another. Once I had developed posters and things for myself, I had to share them with others. It's what we Latin teachers do. And besides, I was tired of there being very little in the way of classroom decorations for Latin. If I had more time, I would design more--tons more. It just takes thumbing through a catalog of Spanish and French posters to realize what I could make for Latin. Perhaps if I had a clone?

> If you had to choose, what would be your favorite piece of Latin
> literature?

Wow. That is so difficult. And it so depends upon my mood. I am very fond of Martial, who I think is underestimated by many. I highly recommend a new book, _Martial: The World of Epigram_ by William Fitzgerald, which demonstrates how rich and complex Martial's books of epigrams were. I have been known to find an epigram that I like and to rewrite it (much like the Catullus poem above) to suit my mood or current life issue. Or, I'll spend time writing a double dactyl translation. Let me give you an example:

Martial I. 64

Bella es, nouimus, et puella, uerum est, et diues, quis enim potest negare?
Sed cum te nimium, Fabulla, laudas,
nec diues neque bella nec puella es.

Higgledy Piggledy
Cutie Fabulla, you're
Obviously beautiful
Rich, too, we see;
But when you praise yourself
Rich, young and beautiful
Hardly you be.

Martial can be fun; he can be a great break from the serious world. He's also great to read when you're angry at someone because while we are fairly well-behaved, Martial will say what's on his mind.

But sometimes Catullus speaks volumes to me, the romantic; and then I might read some Ovid with a student and rediscover how much I love Ovid. I read Cicero's Pro Archia summer before last for the first time and found it truly enjoyable. Then I look up at the teenagers in my room and start reciting "odi et amo" in my head....

So don't make me choose, please, because if I had to tell you what bit of Latin has been going through my head today, I'd have to confess it's "olim lacus colueram...." (from the Carmina Burana, and yes, I'm singing it in my head).

> What people have had the greatest influence on your decision to become
> a Latin teacher, and on how you teach Latin?

My decision to become a Latin teacher was greatly influenced by the two teachers I worked with in high school. Doris Kays was my Latin teacher, friend, and mentor. I lost my mater secunda when she passed away last year and I miss her. The other teacher who greatly influenced my decision to become a teacher is Bob Hicks. He's now a lawyer in San Antonio, but he was the person who worked with me on my dramatic interpretations for JCL competitions. I would not be in the classroom today if it were not for these two people. But I have to also pay my dues to Dexter Hoyos and the correspondence we had in the mid 1990s about reading versus decoding. I wasn't teaching at the time (and had only taught for one year some half dozen years before that and had run away screaming). Our conversations led me to identify what I felt I had done wrong in my own education. If I had had his book, _Latin: How to Read it Fluently_ (from CANE), perhaps I would have gone on to graduate school. Quite honestly, I didn't think I was gifted enough with Latin at the time to cut it in graduate school, and since no one told me otherwise I assumed I was right. And sadly, all I needed was this book.

> You taught middle school for several years, and have recently moved to
> high school. How have you found the transition?

I have found it challenging in regards to the demands on my time. People used to always ask me how I got so many things done. It was easy: I was teaching part-time (not even full time) at a middle school: exploratory Latin, Latin 1a, and Latin 1b. Nothing terribly demanding. Now I have 3 Latin 1 classes, a split level Latin 2/3 with an independent study Latin 4, plus 2 sections of sophomore English. It's a full time job 30 minutes away from my house. I never get ANYTHING done now! (And lots of people are upset with me because of it!) I tell myself that each year will be a little easier once I get used to teaching high school.

I truly love teaching at Dripping Springs. Drippin', as we call it, is a town southwest of Austin, soon to be overrun (sadly) by Austin. There's still a lot of small town feeling out there, but there's also a demand for the best that education can offer. The students in Drippin' are high achievers and go-getters; the administration is fantastic as are the people in central office. I highly respect our superintendent too. How many teachers can say that? This year will be our first contest year--and I'd be surprised if students didn't bring back ribbons and trophies. These kids inspire me to be better for them. They are amazing.

> You're also teaching English now, right? Has working in another
> subject influenced the way you approach your Latin classes?

English hasn't truly influenced how I teach Latin or vice versa, really. I feel barely competent at teaching English and barely one step ahead. But I have a knack for breaking things down so that *anyone* can understand it. We use a style of writing based on the Jane Schaeffer Writing Program, I believe, that utilizes "one-chunks" for short answer essays. Apparently I am really good at explaining how to write this beast referred to as the "one-chunk" and have had students tell me that they understood what to do for the first time after I explained it.

When I attended an AP workshop this summer, I remember thinking how I could potentially start working in short answer essays in Latin 3 to prepare for AP Latin, and that I could teach students to write them as one-chunks (at least to begin with).

But I confess, I am looking forward to not having English classes, and if my program continues to grow, I shouldn't be teaching Latin next year. Last year when I came to Drippin', I had 13 students in Latin 1. Currently I have 75. That's a huge leap.

> If you could have a lasting effect on one aspect of how Latin is
> taught, what would it be?

That's an easy question. (However, is this one aspect?)

First, all college Latin programs would require that all undergrads take a Reading Latin Lab 101 course--a one hour a week course to teach reading skills and pronunciation. Orberg's _Lingua Latina_ would be the text (at least to begin with), and students would learn to let go of the dictionary and the grammar text and just READ from left to right as well as to read EXTENSIVELY (instead of just inclusively). Students would practice accurate pronunciation via reading out loud, learning how to question and reply in Latin, etc.

This step alone should make reading large amounts of Latin manageable and enjoyable, instead of smaller doses, parsed to death. This would also prepare the future teacher to deal with whatever is lacking in his/her degree coursework.

Universities cannot limit their course offerings to what we teach in high school. It would be dull and I would want no part of it. On the other hand, we have future teachers who graduate with a degree in Latin having never read one or more of the major authors taught in AP Latin. I propose that all declared future teachers should be required to purchase a set of all the AP authors. Then, with advice from the current instructor, the future teacher should complement his/her current Latin course with an appropriate AP author. Papers for the course could be focused on a comparison/contrast sort of thing. Reading the extra lines outside of class shouldn't be a major problem after the reading lab 101 course.

Thus no future teacher would graduate unprepared to step into an AP class; no future teacher would graduate who could not properly pronounce Latin (one of my pet peeves, admittedly). It's time we stop sending unprepared teachers out into the classroom, even if unintentionally.

> Do you have a favorite archaeological site in the ancient world?

I haven't seen enough yet. I've been to Pompeii, Ostia, Rome, and Capri. I thoroughly enjoyed Pompeii and would have liked another day or two to explore it. I also thought I would happily live on Capri if I had a good internet connection. And if Vesuvius erupted during my life (as surely it will), so be it! FATO, as the people of Naples say. I have also been to ruins in England--London, Bath, Fishbourne Palace, and Hadrian's Wall. Each offers something unique, but if I had to pick one, put me in Pompeii.

> Teaching, family life, making posters and T-shirts, JCL...How do you
> find time for it all?!

I don't. I truly don't. I drop the ball on one thing to do whatever currently has my attention. I enjoy writing to unwind, so tonight I'm doing this interview. I should be grading. I multitask to the point of absurdity--but surely other mothers out there understand grading papers while at a child's tennis lessons or speech therapy? This summer I worked on some detailed vocab flashcards for my split level Latin class while watching my youngest play his favorite new computer game. I was able to spend time with him and get some work done. But of course, sometimes I chuck it all and just join in the game he's playing.

My friend and favorite author, Lindsey Davis, once said (JOKINGLY!) that to be a successful author you need to kill off your family. No one else should suffer for your art! I sometimes think I could do truly brilliant things in the classroom if I didn't have my family. But of course, I wouldn't trade my husband and two boys, Jonathan and Tobin, for anything. And to have both worlds there have to be sacrifices. Luckily, I think I have enough passion in me for both Latin and family, and if I drop the ball on the rest, I'm guessing all the other parents out there will understand.

I then sent her a post script:


When I was talking about Martial, I was thinking about one poem I had copied and revised to suit my mood. You needn't include this, but it was bugging me because I wasn't sure what spiral I had written it in. I found it:

Martial III.2.7

Numquam me revocas, venias cum saepe vocatus.
Ignosco, nullo si modo, Galle, vocas
Invitus alios: vitium est utriusque. "quod?" inquis
et mihi cor non est et tibi, Galle, pudor.

So Martial was griping about not being invited for dinner when he invites Gallus. I was a bit upset by a friend who wasn't replying to my emails much at the time, so wrote this:

Numquam rescribis scribas cum quaerere quidquid
ignosco, nullo si modo rescribis
Respondes aliis: vitium est utriusque. "quod?" inquis.
Et mihi cor non est et tibi, Mute, pudor.

Anyway. That's the sort of composition--modifying the original and demonstrating an understanding of grammar and meter when revising--that I want the students to do, if for no other reason than you stay in the Latin.

It's a goal. It's not the reality of the classroom yet.

Now to grade some English essays....

Oh, and the PRIMA website is

Link to the interview:

Date: 2016-06-12 04:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]