Citius, Altius, Fortius:
The Challenge of Teaching Living Latin

A panel organized by Gina Soter, Univesity of Michigan

Everyone seems to be speaking about speaking Latin these days: oral Latin is a frequent topic on LATINTEACH, Traupman's Conversational Latin is in its third edition,  Forum Romanum has been re-released as a DVD, and Latin-speaking "immersion" seminars, once attended by an intrepid few, now boast waitlists.[1]

The motive for learning to speak Latin varies, though most people who undertake this enterprise do so with the conviction that using Latin actively will benefit their understanding of the language and make them better readers. Many who teach find even greater incentive to activate their Latin because of potential results in the Latin classroom. After all, we recognize that many of our students are all too passive in their approach to learning, and that their inert relationship with the language may forestall or prevent mastery. And though we have all enjoyed a few outstanding students who have learned to read Latin with real fluency, we must admit that many more students, even bright ones, get stuck along the way. Is there a way to help more students succeed? Current pedagogical theories invite us to unlock the potential of diverse types of learners. Since it is a maxim in virtually all language classes that students prosper most effectively when exposed to the four-fold components of language acquisition: speaking, hearing and understanding, writing, and reading, we have every reason to believe that this more active approach, applied to Latin, will immensely enrich the language experience of students who have a variety of learning styles. Still, it is one thing to contemplate theoretically the value of speaking, another to develop the skill ourselves, and yet another to figure out what one can do in the classroom. In our view, speaking Latin in the classroom is not an end in itself but, rather, a uniquely effective means to the goal which has been the primary objective of all Latin teaching since the end of antiquity: reading Latin literature. "Living Latin" is ultimately not about learning to speak, it's about speaking to learn.[2]

This panel strives to provide efficient models for using Living Latin in the classroom, even for those instructors who have previously never spoken Latin themselves. Our approach alternates between the theoretical and the practical. We envision a tightly integrated program with four presenters and therefore have written our abstracts collectively as part of the overall proposal.

Age, incipiamus: the Living Latin classroom

We begin by articulating our rationale and the benefits of introducing spoken Latin into the curriculum. Our discussion will include a consideration of what we can learn from theories of education (e.g. Total Physical Response, Multiple Intelligences), and methodologies of modern language instruction (e.g. The Rassias Method).

Gradus incerti: confessions of rank beginners

All of us had to get started somewhere, and we will include brief testimonials of "first" experiences of novice Latin-speakers using spoken Latin exercises effectively in the classroom.

Ludi R Us

The bulk of our panel will model and illustrate a variety of techniques and drills that target critical issues of morphology, syntax and vocabulary. These exercises are designed to help students internalize the language and master automaticity. In addition, we will demonstrate  how different exercises may be adapted to students at a variety of ages and competencies.

Exhibitiones: demonstrations of our methodology

We will model techniques on local students and volunteers from the audience.

[1] In 1996 Terence Tunberg held his first Conventiculum Latinum in Kentucky, attended by 11; now he draws the line at 50, and the course is waitlist-only months in advance. SALVI began its Rusticatio Californiana five years ago, has expanded every year, but it, too, has to turn people away as early as April; the Conventiculum Rusticum Vasintoniense is only in its second year, but already hosts a full contingent, though director Stephen Berard hopes to expand capacity in years to come.

[2] Paraphrase of John Rassias.

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