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.
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.
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
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.