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Latin Pedagogy and Second Language Acquisition Theory


forty-two
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Or, why do we, as classical educators, care so little about what modern foreign language research has to say?

 

The classical languages are generally taught very differently than modern foreign languages. Most people in classical education see this as a distinct plus: in addition to learning Latin, we also reap a variety of ancillary benefits inherent to deductive language study. Win-win, right?

 

But in the midst of all this brain-training grammar-translation study, do we actually learn Latin?

 

Reading about Latin education in the 19th century - the halcyon days of proper grammar-translation according to Cheryl Lowe of Memoria Press - one finds many noted classicists discussing how, after years of study, most students still couldn't just open a book and read a Latin sentence in Latin word order. They had to laboriously translate, word by word, to have any clue as to the meaning; even then, with each individual word correctly parsed and translated, they still often got it completely wrong. There was quite a lot of discussion about how to change Latin (and Greek) instruction to get better results, so that the majority of students attained some degree of actual reading ability in exchange for all their hard work.

 

I lurk on a list where the focus is applying modern language acquisition research and techniques to teaching Latin. List members cite firsthand experience with the low level of Latin skill achieved by the majority of their students under traditional g/t methods. In fact, they don't believe that learning Latin via a pure g/t approach trains the brain so much as it requires a brain with high cognitive ability in the first place. In other words, they say, learning Latin deductively doesn't make you smart - you had to *be* smart to successfully learn Latin via a grammar-translation approach in the first place. In their experience, only 5-10% of students - usually those gifted in math - can actually succeed in learning Latin by so-called traditional methods (they argue that teaching Latin almost entirely in the vernacular is actually an aberration compared to how it was taught for most of its history).

 

While I'm not sure if I fully agree with their assertion that grammar-translation study doesn't confer any brain-training benefits (though they seem to have cognitive science on their side with regard to it conferring - or more accurately NOT conferring - transferable skills; I'm not sure precisely where I stand on all that. Clearly, yes, critical thinking in a field requires significant domain knowledge; however, most people agree that "how to learn" skills, like note-taking, once learned, are applicable across many fields of knowledge. Which side of the line do the Latin claims fall? I'm not yet sure.), I've never seen anyone talk about a successful g/t program (one that conferred actual reading ability) that didn't involve a lot of Latin exposure and working in Latin (as opposed to the vernacular).

 

This observation dovetails nicely with modern language acquisition research (much of which is based on Krashen's five hypotheses). Some concepts pertinent to teaching Latin:

 

*The Input Hypothesis - A language is acquired through sufficient input that is one step beyond a learner's current level (input at i+1 for a learner at i); often referred to as comprehensible input, it should be self-selected and ideally be on a topic the learner finds intrinsically interesting. Thus they develop proficiency in the L2 almost incidentally while they are consciously learning about topics of interest. Krashen believes that generating output in the L2 has no effect on acquiring the language - input is all that matters - but other researchers disagree, variously considering output anywhere from helpful to necessary to acquire a language.

 

*The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis - There is a difference between acquiring a language and learning about the language, with formal grammar study belonging to the latter and having no effect on the former ("language appreciation"), unless the grammar instruction is in the target language and the student is genuinely interested in learning the grammar. Then the grammar instruction functions as comprehensible input. (Traditional Jesuit Latin instruction would fall under this category; they utilized the direct method - striving to avoid, as far as possible, the use of the vernacular as the means by which Latin is learned - thus giving students large amounts of exposure to Latin.)

 

In reading threads about learning modern languages, I find a lot of support for Krashen's ideas. There is a lot of emphasis about getting sufficient exposure to the L2 - at least an hour a day, if you want to achieve fluency. People talk approvingly about European schools that teach multiple languages by teaching other subjects (math, history, etc.) in the various target languages. Yet, when it comes to the classical languages, we're content to see maybe 15 lines of Latin a lesson?

 

We seem to forget that the classical languages are, in the end, still languages. Whether acquiring Latin confers greater benefits than acquiring another language, you still have to manage to acquire it. Research that is valid and applicable to learning modern languages is equally applicable to learning classical languages.

 

(This ended up quite long, and a little more rant-y than I planned. But I think it is an interesting and valuable topic for discussion. I'd especially love to hear about firsthand experiences that prove or disprove my above observations and analysis - I'm strictly working off of theory, here :tongue_smilie:.)

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I'm fluent in French and Mandarin. I can therefore give my sons the kind of teaching in those subjects (although for Mandarin I am just the supplementary teacher) that leads to true learning of the language: they hear the language spoken in a natural environment and the lessons can be conducted, as far as possible, in the target language. They learn grammar as a tool to complement the immersion.

 

I'm not fluent in Latin or Greek. Even if I used a 'natural' language acquisition teaching programme, I wouldn't be able to give an immersion experience - I'm just not qualified and I (personally) don't think that a video or tape is a complete language teacher. I therefore treat classical languages as different kinds of subjects entirely and don't have any problem with that: they are linguistic puzzles more than languages to us and I do see learning benefits for my non-mathy sons as they manage to fit all the pieces together.

 

Best wishes

 

Laura

Edited by Laura Corin
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random thoughts...

 

our oldest two, now 23 and 25, learned french in french immersion in canada. they had never done math in english until we moved to california when they were in grades 6 & 9. it worked, really well. cambridge latin worked well at the high school age.

 

from our reading of language theory, it makes sense to us to expose children to living languages when they still have the ability to apprehend them as first languages. for the youngest two, we're rapidly running out of time as puberty approaches, so we're saving latin until middle/high school. time will tell.... but if i'm going to spend an hour a day exposing them to language, then its easier if (a) its a living language, and (b) if i speak it already. so far, we've had 4 years of ASL, which we learned together, 3 years of spanish which we learned together, and now we're doing french, which i speak, and which is just 10 times easier because of that. next year, we'll keep the french and add german, which i also speak.... and that will be that for first language (s) apprehension.

 

then we'll move on to second language learning, which suits latin, ancient greek and ancient hebrew just fine ; ). and anything else they decide they'd like.....

 

fwiw,

ann

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I don't know- not my area of expertise at all. But I can say, the year of latin I did age 12 helped me and somehow stuck in my brain until I started learning it with my kids. Latin is not something I aim at mastery of- its just not going to happen here, we move too slowly, we dont dedicate enough time and energy to it. However, I think there are benefits other than mastery, being able to speak or read it fluently. Even exposure to basic Latin teaches how an inflected language works, teaches vocabulary, and teaches logical thinking- stretches the brain. A year or two of Latin is not a waste- or any language. We learn Latin to learn Latin, because it is somehow inherently satisfying and beneficial.....even if we never get to read the original fluently.

Not quite on your point....and I am sure there are many, particularly LCC people who have much loftier goals than I do who can give you better conversation on the topic...but I just wanted to put in that....to me, it doesnt matter much.

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Frankly, In my homeschool I don't know that achieving fluency in Latin is our goal. For a modern language, in which my kids may be expected to communicate with other people in the target language, the research you cited is much more relevant to me.

 

I cannot give my children an immersion program in Latin or Greek, but I can teach them in a g/t method, and add what small immersion/fluency that I can. Yes, this means that they won't be fluent in Latin. Yes, this means that they will (probably) toil with their translations (although at their levels, I do have kids who can pick up a Latin passage out of their books and read it fairly easily on sight, without translating first). But they will still translate. They will still have a knowledge of Latin (and Greek) that will serve them well.

 

The research is correct, it's just not practical for many of us. That may seem counterintuitive, but that's how it is.

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I agree with Mamalynx.

 

And I would like to add, anecdotally, that using Henle Latin for a year (VERY gr-tr :D) with my Latin co-op students, has dramatically improved the "mental organization" ability of many of my students. I have had many of their parents make comments to me that it seems to have improved the students' schoolwork across the board. These have tended to be the parents that were dubious about the value of Latin to begin with. Again, this is just anecdotal, and maybe it would have happened with a n immersion method. But I am not fluent in Latin myself, so that is pie in the sky.

 

We are planning on adding Oerberg to our class next year, but that will be to help with their reading skills, since I can't really teach it as it was intended. Some of my students seem to read just fine anyway with the Henle instruction they have had (at least things on their level).

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It matches your research, more or less.

 

I learned French in school, but didn't really learn it enough to use it. The French at my school was horrible. I went to Switzerland for a few weeks in college to solidify my French, and it helped my ability to understand spoken French if the French was very, very slow and not outside my meagre vocabulary. When I got out of school, I was afraid I would forget my French. About all I could do about it stuck in New England was to read the occasional book. I started with TinTin comics and read one a year, looking up every single word I didn't know in the dictionary (several per sentence). I ignored the grammar, which by then I had mostly forgotten. To my surprise, my French improved enormously. And I could apply it to listening! 10 or 15 years after I began, I had a chance to watch some French tv, and I realized that reading as a way of learning French worked fine, and that my main problem was lack of vocabulary. So I kept reading, working my way up to about Agatha Christie novel level. There is a period of adjustment when I have to get my brain to translate what the words look like to what they sound like, but I can understand much better than when I left school. I taught my youngest French by speaking it to him (in a very limited way) and watching French videos and reading French stories. He is very ungrammatical, but he can function in French, as he recently proved by spending a month in Switzerland with a mixed group of French and English speakers. He can read French pretty well, well enough to read something like Harry Potter.

 

In college, I took ancient Greek. That was taught with a reading program. There was a long reading, a grammar lesson, and excersizes that translated both ways. There was enough reading that from the beginning, you didn't really have to translate (at least I didn't); you just understood most of what you were reading. I only had to translate the bits with very new grammar. We were reading simple original stuff at the end of the year. I memorized a lot of charts and vocab for the class, but I was using the vocab and charts, so I didn't have to do any reviewing. It all just stuck, once I had laboriously memorized it. This is totally unusual for me. I don't remember anything I learn unless I review it constantly. My education was a waste.

 

With Latin, we tried Latin Primer first. There was no reading. My children dutifully memorized the vocab and chants, and then instantly forgot it again. After most of a year, I realized that it wasn't going to work. Not at all. I hunted around for a program that had stories AND grammar, and that went better. If we could keep doing it without taking months off here and there, it would work a lot better. Or if we had better memories. If we had time, I'd add in lots of extra reading. Lots and lots of extra reading. And I KNOW that it would work just fine. None of us translates anything we don't have to - we just read it and understand it unless it does contains too much strange grammar or vocabulary.

 

There is a book that I like called something like How to Learn Any Language. I think it has the right idea. I don't intend to ever learn a language without lots and lots of real reading again, unless I'm living in the language.

 

Not a scientific study, but maybe helpful?

-Nan

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First off, Thank you ! for this thread ! I enjoy reading about linguistics again after so many years away from it.

 

I was bilingual in Spanish and English by the time I was graduated from high school, owing to a phenomenally gifted teacher. When I started Latin in college, it came easily, as did the two semesters of "German for reading" (a graduate school course which I took as an undergraduate). The German was taught by what, in this thread, is being referred to as "G/T" (grammar/translation) method because we had no need to speak.

 

Here's what piques my curiosity: Even though "modern language pedagogy" may result in "fluency" in the sense related to that, why -- (oh ! my heretical "why?" ! ) -- is that useful in the case of Latin or ancient Greek ? (Koine Greek is, of course, spoken, read, and sung in church services, so I don't include it in my question.) (To remain in parallel, I also should, then, exclude the ecclesiastic Latin used in some Catholic church services.) Should one follow this "modern language" model for learning other languages which now are studied primarily for the written texts, rather than for spoken use? (I'm thinking of Sanskrit, for example.)

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It matches your research, more or

 

 

I hunted around for a program that had stories AND grammar, and that went better. If we could keep doing it without taking months off here and there, it would work a lot better. Or if we had better memories. If we had time, I'd add in lots of extra reading. Lots and lots of extra reading. And I KNOW that it would work just fine. None of us translates anything we don't have to - we just read it and understand it unless it does contains too much strange grammar or vocabulary.

-Nan

 

Nan, just out of curiosity, what program did you use that had stories and grammar?

 

Dana

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Ecce Romani

I found the grammar easier to explain if I could point back to places in the story where it appeared, but to use this program, you have to be willing to read Latin passages with unfamiliar grammar in them BEFORE the grammar is explained. We didn't find that a problem, but I think some people might find it disconcerting.

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Wouldn't lots of reading be "immersion" for a language in which you are just aiming for reading ability, not writing or speaking or hearing? And what is wrong with learning Latin using some g/t and lots and lots of reading, preferably beginning with easy things and then advancing? I don't understand your quesiton.

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Wouldn't lots of reading be "immersion" for a language in which you are just aiming for reading ability, not writing or speaking or hearing? And what is wrong with learning Latin using some g/t and lots and lots of reading, preferably beginning with easy things and then advancing? I don't understand your quesiton.

 

 

Yes, I also thought OP's reference to immersion was "conversational" rather than reading. If it is just reading we're talking about, well, I will be doing lots of reading with my students, including Oerberg. Though, I have found as I'm starting to work through Oerberg myself, that having had direct grammar instruction via Henle is making it very easy to understand Oerberg so far. I don't think it would have been as easy without the previous grammar instruction. Why does it have to be either/or? I love teaching g/t with Henle, but I would never dream of leaving it at that.

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Ecce Romani

I found the grammar easier to explain if I could point back to places in the story where it appeared, but to use this program, you have to be willing to read Latin passages with unfamiliar grammar in them BEFORE the grammar is explained. We didn't find that a problem, but I think some people might find it disconcerting.

 

I like this idea. There are so many resources - can I ask what you used? I'm afraid if I call Pearson they'll talk me into buying more than what I need.

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I bought some of my Ecce Romani from Pearsons, and some (used) from Follett. (a good company to buy from !)

 

Here are some links to support resources which I have used and liked:

 

http://abney.homestead.com/ecce1.html

 

http://abney.homestead.com/ecce2.html

 

http://www.flashcardexchange.com/tag/ecceromani

 

http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~glawall/ecceteach.html

 

 

 

I like this idea. There are so many resources - can I ask what you used? I'm afraid if I call Pearson they'll talk me into buying more than what I need.
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Ecce Romani

I found the grammar easier to explain if I could point back to places in the story where it appeared, but to use this program, you have to be willing to read Latin passages with unfamiliar grammar in them BEFORE the grammar is explained. We didn't find that a problem, but I think some people might find it disconcerting.

You could always use an inductive method book deductively, by teaching the grammar first and then going back to read the passage. (Vice versa, too.)
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I bought some of my Ecce Romani from Pearsons, and some (used) from Follett. (a good company to buy from !)

 

Here are some links to support resources which I have used and liked:

 

http://abney.homestead.com/ecce1.html

 

http://abney.homestead.com/ecce2.html

 

http://www.flashcardexchange.com/tag/ecceromani

 

http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~glawall/ecceteach.html

 

Thank you for the links - I just played some of the spelling and matching games - very cool.

 

Dana

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... I am curious if you compared it to Cambridge (haven't looked at this closely, but I believe it is a reading-based program as well) and if so, what made you chose it. Just curious, because I have thought about using Cambridge with my dd, and I'm wondering how they compare.

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Wouldn't lots of reading be "immersion" for a language in which you are just aiming for reading ability, not writing or speaking or hearing?
Yes' date=' I also thought OP's reference to immersion was "conversational" rather than reading.[/quote']

I was referring to using both speaking (both recordings of written work and spontaneous conversation) and reading resources as comprehensible input - anything and everything that is in Latin. But just using a lot of written resources is *far* better than nothing.

 

 

And what is wrong with learning Latin using some g/t and lots and lots of reading, preferably beginning with easy things and then advancing?
I will be doing lots of reading with my students, including Oerberg. Though, I have found as I'm starting to work through Oerberg myself, that having had direct grammar instruction via Henle is making it very easy to understand Oerberg so far. I don't think it would have been as easy without the previous grammar instruction. Why does it have to be either/or? I love teaching g/t with Henle, but I would never dream of leaving it at that.

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

 

Classical educators have different goals than most modern language teachers, and use g/t methods to achieve goals that are above and beyond just learning Latin. I'm not arguing that those goals are unworthy or that g/t methods won't achieve those goals. What I *am* arguing is that, while g/t methods might achieve all those ancillary goals, they *by themselves* won't achieve the goal of Latin reading fluency. I agree with modern research that fluency in a language, even just reading fluency, requires a *lot* of comprehensible input in the target language. Intensive reading of small amounts of Latin (unless it is accompanied by a lot of oral Latin) at a time is no substitute for extensive reading of a vast amount of Latin when it comes to building fluency.

 

I took two years of Latin in high school, taught via g/t methods. I translated via the patchwork method: translate the words you know, look up the rest, slot in the ones that make sense into your translation in their proper places, and sort of fling the rest around and hope for the best. I never felt like I actually *understood* the Latin, and certainly never even thought of attempting to just read it (way too hard, clearly). Yet I always thought, that with enough study, I'd somehow magically develop a reading ability.

 

But that just isn't so. Not any kind of study will do, and I'm just thankful that I, unlike so many classics students of the past two centuries, found out *before* I put in years and years of hard work, only find myself *still* unable to read Latin as Latin. And I don't want other earnest Latin scholars to inadvertently end up that way either.

 

The ancillary goals of Latin study are wonderful, and worth having, but they are just that - ancillary. The main goal of learning Latin is to *learn Latin*. How can it be any other way?

 

 

  • If all you want is to sharpen your memory, just memorize anything you happen to be interested in - it will be far more useful and you'll retain it longer, to boot.

 

 

 

  • If all you want is to improve your thinking skills, deductive study of math or logic could work equally well (any possible superiority of Latin study is lost once you take the actual Latin works out) - and you're probably planning to learn math no matter what; it might as well do double duty.

 

 

 

  • If all you want is to improve your English vocabulary, just study the roots - it's faster.

 

 

 

  • If all you're after is improved English grammar skills, contrasting it with any language would do as well - might as well pick one you actually want to use.

 

Sure, studying Latin confers far greater benefits than just those ancillary ones, but they are meaningless if you have no interest in actually using the language somehow; generally, that is to read Latin classics in Latin. And if you want to read Latin, don't you want to use methods that will actually get you there?

Edited by forty-two
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Out of personal experience, I think both methods have their uses, and the most thorough way to learn a language is probably to combine them. The Spanish I took as a kid started with G/T and moved to using it in practical applications. I think if I visited a Spanish-speaking country, I could become fluent relatively quickly, because I've retained enough. I took it in college as well, but they did this "immersion" thing, or tried to, which encouraged you to speak and figure out the grammar secondhand on your own. It drove me, personally, and several instructors who could see that people needed further grammar instruction than they were supposed to be giving, loony. I did pick up more grammar and vocab, but it didn't really improve my fluency.

 

I also took 2 semesters of Polish over a summer in college. We were taught the grammar explicitly, followed by practice using it. The grammar there makes Latin look like a cakewalk, but I had little trouble with it. I made A's in the courses. However, I wasn't able to go on the 3-week abroad program that was supposed to help cement the language through actual immersion, and within a couple of months, all I could remember were how to say "hi", "yes," and proper pronunciation of Polish surnames. So the long term usefulness of it was pretty limited.

 

For a dead language like Latin, reading and translating are going to be the main practical applications of the actual language. It thus makes sense that that is what you do with it, following from learning the grammar. There's not much call for conversational Latin these days. For a living language, I'd say immersion and conversational use are very important for achieving fluency. I can, for example, read more Spanish than I can speak. I can pretty much follow a Spanish-language newspaper article, though I couldn't write one. My understanding of spoken Spanish is even worse than my ability to verbalize, though. That said, I have a better grasp of Spanish grammar than some bilingual or native Spanish speakers I know who've never had any Spanish in school.

 

So it depends on what you want to do with it. For my DD, I want to use Latin to ground her in grammar. It will speed up teaching English and foreign language grammar later, leaving more time in foreign language for working on conversational fluency. I hope.

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I use Ecce Romani for middle school (its intended audience), and Cambridge for high school.

 

... I am curious if you compared it to Cambridge (haven't looked at this closely, but I believe it is a reading-based program as well) and if so, what made you chose it. Just curious, because I have thought about using Cambridge with my dd, and I'm wondering how they compare.
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We bought a mix of used and new resources, used when I oculd find them, new when I couldn't.

 

I have the student text, a workbook for each child (you are meant to write in them), a teacher's guide, and the audio tapes. We did this (more or less) for each chapter:

Listen to the tapes while reading along in the book until we understood most of what was going on in the story (picture helped). (This was miraculous - we began by not understanding anything and by the third or fourth time through, we more or less had it.)

Then we answered the Latin questions in Latin by finding the place in the text that had the answer and altering it slightly. At the end of this, we understood the story. No translating was involved.

Then we made flashcards and began memorizing the vocab.

Then we read the rest of the chapter and did the rest of the excersizes. The grammar used examples from the text and didn't assume that my children knew English grammar.

Then we did the workbook. It would have worked better to do the workbook a chapter behind the textbook, I think.

 

I did NOT just hand this to my children to do. I taught it. I taught it on the fly (I did no prep) by reading and rereading and interpreting the book, diagramming (not formally, just in my own made-up way) the examples, and making up new examples if necessary. We did many of the excersizes orally together, each taking a turn, me included. We checked each answer right away. Often, we would each do two (six in all) and I would assign the rest of the excersize to be done in the evening on their own. I haven't had Latin but I did have a year of Greek in college, so I knew what a declension was. I was taught NO English grammar whatsoever, but I have to admit that I have a nack for picking out that sort of pattern, so I was able to pick up the Latin grammar easily from the explanations in the textbook. The teacher's guide gave suggestions for plays and hands-on projects and critical thinking discussions of the beautiful art work and papers researching historical figures and all sorts of other things, way, way more than we had time for. You could spend a happy few hours a day on this if you wanted to. We didn't have time.

 

I needed the teacher's guide for the answers to the excersizes. It was really nice to have the tapes for the first readings. That turned out to be an important part of our learning. And we are slow at learning anything that involves remembering things, so it was nice to have the extra excersizes included in the workbook.

 

-Nan

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I needed the teacher's guide for the answers to the excersizes. It was really nice to have the tapes for the first readings. That turned out to be an important part of our learning. And we are slow at learning anything that involves remembering things, so it was nice to have the extra excersizes included in the workbook.

-Nan

 

I ordered the student book/TM/workbook/test & quiz packet but not the CDs (yet). I wonder if there are any audios online that I could access for free.

 

Thanks Nan, I'm really looking forward to this!

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The main goal of learning Latin is to *learn Latin*. How can it be any other way?

 

 

  • If all you want is to sharpen your memory, just memorize anything you happen to be interested in - it will be far more useful and you'll retain it longer, to boot.

 

 

 

  • If all you want is to improve your thinking skills, deductive study of math or logic could work equally well (any possible superiority of Latin study is lost once you take the actual Latin works out) - and you're probably planning to learn math no matter what; it might as well do double duty.

 

 

 

  • If all you want is to improve your English vocabulary, just study the roots - it's faster.

 

 

 

  • If all you're after is improved English grammar skills, contrasting it with any language would do as well - might as well pick one you actually want to use.

 

 

What a great thread. When I have a bit more time, I'll visit the links you and others have marked. At this point, our goal in learning Latin has been really only the *ancillary* benefits. I may be convinced otherwise as I study further, but so far, my dc have taken 2 - 3 years of high school Latin (after an at-home foudational program). Much of this is driven by the enormous academics already on my high schoolers' plates. If they wanted to master a living language and pursue rigorous courses in math, science, literature and more, well, there are only so many hours in a day. Every family will have to balance the high school demands as they see fit. For some students, that will mean pursuing Latin through fluency; for others, it may mean rigorous math and sciences, or perhaps time consuming music or drama. That's been the rub of reality for us.

 

Regarding the ancillary benefits, we do use other memory work, logic, math and grammar. But we use Latin to develop and deepen skills alongside these other studies. Even if a student will not go on to master Latin, I do think there is significant value in the ancillary benefits.

 

Lisa

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The ancillary goals of Latin study are wonderful, and worth having, but they are just that - ancillary. The main goal of learning Latin is to *learn Latin*. How can it be any other way?

 

 

  • If all you want is to sharpen your memory, just memorize anything you happen to be interested in - it will be far more useful and you'll retain it longer, to boot.

 

 

 

  • If all you want is to improve your thinking skills, deductive study of math or logic could work equally well (any possible superiority of Latin study is lost once you take the actual Latin works out) - and you're probably planning to learn math no matter what; it might as well do double duty.

 

 

 

  • If all you want is to improve your English vocabulary, just study the roots - it's faster.

 

 

 

  • If all you're after is improved English grammar skills, contrasting it with any language would do as well - might as well pick one you actually want to use.

 

Sure, studying Latin confers far greater benefits than just those ancillary ones, but they are meaningless if you have no interest in actually using the language somehow; generally, that is to read Latin classics in Latin. And if you want to read Latin, don't you want to use methods that will actually get you there? __________________

 

Okay, I can agree that MY main goal for Latin is actual reading ability. The ancillary benefits are also important, however. And the thing about Latin is that it accomplishes ALL of the above goals with ONE subject: memory, mental classification/organization skills, grammar, and vocabulary. Plus, as I mentioned before, anecdotally at least, math does not confer the exact same benefits. All my students had already had many years of math, yet many parents still reported that Latin seemed to somehow make their students into BETTER students - more organized and clear thinking. Perhaps it was just maturity - it is anecdotal, after all.

 

I will also add this - I learned Latin with a reading method the one year I took Latin in high school (we subsequently moved to my great sadness). I loved it, and it was even easy to a certain extent. I'm not sure if it was Cambridge or Ecce, or something else. I just remember that we spent a lot of time reading and not much time learning paradigms, if any. The inductive method frustrated me and left many holes in my knowledge. I always felt like I was still guessing at endings and tenses. Therefore, I will continue to use my Henle text with my students to lay a strong foundation before we begin more inductive study.

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I'm really enjoying reading about everyone's real-life experiences - I find it all too easy to dive into theory, develop a view of how something works that is elegant, internally consistent, and completely at odds with reality :tongue_smilie:. Reality checks are often needed.

 

At this point, our goal in learning Latin has been really only the *ancillary* benefits....If they wanted to master a living language and pursue rigorous courses in math, science, literature and more, well, there are only so many hours in a day....

 

Regarding the ancillary benefits, we do use other memory work, logic, math and grammar. But we use Latin to develop and deepen skills alongside these other studies. Even if a student will not go on to master Latin, I do think there is significant value in the ancillary benefits.

 

I completely understand that (generic) you can't do everything, and not everyone finds Latin fluency a goal worth pursuing. I also understand why people are drawn to the ancillary benefits of Latin - they are worthy goals in themselves. Even though I don't believe that explicit grammar study and translating help you acquire a language, I still plan to include it in our Latin studies, because I *do* believe they have value (and if I'm going to do Latin anyway, why not kill multiple birds with one stone?).

 

I just don't think that Latin, lovely as it is, is so unique and irreplaceable that it is the only way to achieve those goals, or that it is so far superior to other ways, to make it worth doing if you find no value in reading Latin literature in Latin. Why use a process, however worthy you find the ancillary goals, that ultimately leads to ends you don't find valuable? Why not achieve those goals via a process (or processes) that leads to ends you *do* actually find valuable? I mean, I think Latin's great, but it's not the only way to learn to think.

 

(However, if you *do* find value in reading Latin literature in Latin, but you only have so much time in the day and you value other things more, so you plan to teach what you can and let your kids continue (or not continue) on their own - that's a completely different situation. But you'd still want to teach, as much as you can, in fluency-promoting ways, so they can develop reading ability from the start. Sure, you might not get them to Vergil, but if they have learned good reading habits, they are a good way there already. You may have little time for Latin, but why waste it?)

 

Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I am so gung-ho to learn Latin. I want to read Latin authors, and I firmly believe that they just aren't the same in translation, but then I want to read *everything*. I don't find the ancillary benefits sufficiently compelling on their own merits to justify Latin study (and outright disbelieve some of the claims). I enjoy the study, but I enjoy lots of things. Honestly, I think I mostly want to learn it because it's there ;).

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I mean, I think Latin's great, but it's not the only way to learn to think.

 

I agree completely. For me, it's part of the process of training the mind; part of a grand scheme. :D We also use debate, formal logic, reading, lots of adult conversation, math extras, etc.

 

I came to WTM at the same time that I pulled my 1st grader out and began homeschooling (In the beginning . . . ). So, I've been learning as we've been going. Since my dc were still young and because I have an uber-practical dh, I really didn't think I was out to train classisists (is that the word?) so much as to train minds for whatever it was they wanted to do. I continue to change and develop my ideals for our homeschool. That's where some of this may come into play:

 

(However, if you *do* find value in reading Latin literature in Latin, but you only have so much time in the day and you value other things more, so you plan to teach what you can and let your kids continue (or not continue) on their own - that's a completely different situation. But you'd still want to teach, as much as you can, in fluency-promoting ways, so they can develop reading ability from the start. Sure, you might not get them to Vergil, but if they have learned good reading habits, they are a good way there already. You may have little time for Latin, but why waste it?)
(emphasis added)

 

Yes, food for thought. One more thing to research. :001_smile: I love to see moms of young ones who know they want to homeschool and are laying the groundwork early on. It will stand you in good stead!

 

Lisa

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The ancillary benefits are also important' date=' however. And the thing about Latin is that it accomplishes ALL of the above goals with ONE subject: memory, mental classification/organization skills, grammar, and vocabulary. [/quote']

No disagreement here. I think Latin is a fabulous way to kill multiple birds with one stone - *if* you actually want to learn Latin. It just seems that many people are studying Latin *solely* for the ancillary benefits - they only value the process of *learning* Latin, and don't actually value *knowing* Latin - ostensibly the main point of learning it in the first place.

 

Plus' date=' as I mentioned before, anecdotally at least, math does not confer the exact same benefits. All my students had already had many years of math, yet many parents still reported that Latin seemed to somehow make their students into BETTER students - more organized and clear thinking. Perhaps it was just maturity - it is anecdotal, after all. [/quote']

Interesting. On the one hand, I agree with this - Latin is NOT math, after all, but a language - studying it should provide different benefits. And yet, classical educators insist on teaching Latin as if it were math, but with words. As one Latin teacher put it:

Math = numbers + rules + manipulations

Latin = words + rules + manipulations

As well, those who stress the brain-training benefits of Latin study tend to explicitly compare it to math. As Cheryl Lowe says, "Latin provides the missing component in modern education, the systematic language training comparable to and balancing the mathematics side of the curriculum."

 

It could be how they were taught math. Just as classical educators argue that Latin has to be taught in a particular way to reap all the brain-training benefits, I'm quite sure that math can be taught in a way that negates its brain-training benefits. In fact, to read about the math wars, it seems the only thing people can agree upon is that the majority of Americans weren't taught math in a way that led to understanding - no reason to think that homeschoolers are magically exempt from this. In fact, Mr Michaels of CLAA argues that math only achieves the goals classical education has for it if you study it deductively - aka proofy math. In other words, pretty much what Charon advocates as "real math". This implies that no one short of a math major is coming anywhere close to reaping the promised benefits of math study at this point in time.

 

So could math completely replicate the Latin brain-training experience? All the arguments that Latin (and Greek) are superior to math at brain training that I've seen either assert that it is because Latin is a language, and language skills are foundational to everything, or it is because the *content* studied - the Latin writings - is morally superior to math. The latter argument negates entirely the idea of wanting learn Latin solely for the ancillary benefits - studying actual Latin works is pretty much central to it. The former has no reason for "Why Latin" (as opposed to just studying any language not English) except for the status of Latin as somehow superior to all other languages. Personally, I can't quite buy into the idea that the language itself - devoid of any of its writings - is somehow so much better than every other language out there that it worth studying solely for the ancillary benefits. Surely deductive study of some other language - one you *did* want to learn on its own merits - would be, on the whole, a more productive use of time than studying a language you never actually wanted to use.

 

I will also add this - I learned Latin with a reading method the one year I took Latin in high school (we subsequently moved to my great sadness). I loved it' date=' and it was even easy to a certain extent. I'm not sure if it was Cambridge or Ecce, or something else. I just remember that we spent a lot of time reading and not much time learning paradigms, if any. The inductive method frustrated me and left many holes in my knowledge. I always felt like I was still guessing at endings and tenses. Therefore, I will continue to use my Henle text with my students to lay a strong foundation before we begin more inductive study.[/quote']

 

Just to be clear, I see value in learning to translate as well in explicit grammar study. I'm not advocating no g/t method ever; I think it has it's place - just that it's not the end-all, be-all of classical language study. I agree that it has excellent brain-training potential. I think that translation, in particular, is excellent composition training: you have to choose just the right word, phrase, grammatical structure, etc. to best render the Latin meaning in English or vice versa. Talk about paying attention to every aspect and nuance of a language! I just don't think that translating into or out of a language helps us actually *acquire* it - it just helps us become more eloquent in expressing ourselves in it. I think we need to already be very comfortable working in both languages separately before we can truly reap the benefits of translating.

Edited by forty-two
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And I want us to be able to function in some other modern languages, too. I don't care about the other benefits of Latin, although I've seen them. Spelling improved, since many words come from Latin, and I don't have to do grammar because our Latin grammar works fine for English, and it got my children writing more (physical act), and they learned to memorize and study, and they learned to learn out of a textbook. Any improvement in thinking skills I attribute to math or working with Grampa or something NOT having to do with words. I learned to think doing proofs in geometry. I think doing Latin our relaxed way, with an emphasis on reading as a goal, not translating into English, a lot of the thinking skills that one could aquire from Latin just aren't. I'm relying on math and science and anything else technical for that. I'd rather have my children learn to break something up into little pieces doing computer programming GRIN. We are doing geometry instead of logic, too. But that is just my family. I can't imagine trying to talk my children into doing the hard work of learning Latin for a nebulous goal like brain organization or thinking skills. They work at Latin because they want to be able to read Latin. They work at math because it is useful. My youngest works at geometry and math because it is a puzzle and he likes puzzles. I suppose some people find pleasure in translating in a puzzly sort of way, but my youngest doesn't. He just wants to know what it says; he doesn't care if he can put it into English or not. He plays with words as a large part of his humour, but he wants to do it by saying English things in a funny way. This has been an interesting discussion. It has made me realize that as relaxed as we are about our actual school days and things like jumping through hoops to get into college and how to cover material for a high school class, we really are rather goal oriented about our learning. Well, maybe goal oriented isn't the right work. Maybe applied is better. We don't mind learning to do something hard, but we want to be able to do something in the end, like read Latin...

-Nan

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I have seen it written several places (including in the free How to Teach Latin pdf from Classical Academic Press) that the only reason to study Latin is to be able to read Latin texts in the original.

 

If that is one's goal, then language acquisition theory suggests a way to go about achieving fluency.

 

However, that is not my goal in teaching my kids Latin, and I would not be interested in putting in the time required for my kids to attain fluency in such a specialized discipline.

 

I disagree with those who say that fluency is the only valid reason to study Latin. I see a lot of benefit from familiarity with Latin. That's my goal.

 

For fluency, we are going with a modern language, where my kids will have the opportunity to put their language skills to practical, everyday, humanitarian purpose, and where there is a living culture they can join.

 

Tara

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Why use a process, however worthy you find the ancillary goals, that ultimately leads to ends you don't find valuable?

 

It depends on what you see as "the ends." To you, it seems, the only valid end is to read Latin. Other people see other valid ends. It isn't a matter of "the rest of us" finding other ways to reach our "ends." It's more a matter of being flexible enough to see that there isn't only one "end."

 

Tara

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LOL I don't think my family is going to be fluent in anything. And like you, I'm not at all sure I want to put enough of my children's time into Latin to make them fluent. But I can read French pretty well, well enough to read classics with a dictionary, and it didn't take me all that much time: four years of very poor high school French and a then some reading of easier things with a dictionary. I don't see why Latin would be any different? There comes a point when you can sort of forget about the grammar and just read to get better at reading. I'm hoping to get mine to that point and a little beyond before they graduate from high school. I don't have lofty classical goals, either. Mine don't need to be able to read Latin fluently enough to read the Christian philosophers in original Latin and extract all the exact nuances and study exactly what this philosopher might have meant by the way he chose to phrase this sentence and how that particular wording affects how they apply the philosophy to their own lives. (I'm not critisizing that approach necessarily, just saying that our goals are different.) I don't think it will take that long to get to the non-fluent place we are aiming for.

-Nan

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I don't see why Latin would be any different?

 

To me, Latin is different because there is no contemporary writing in it. My second grader can read a children's easy reader in Spanish, if she so desires, but she's certainly not going to pick up something by Virgil and be reading that. Spanish can grow with my child in a way that I don't see Latin doing (and I don't really see reading Harrius Potter as growing with my child). Latin literature is not something that one would normally go around reading for pleasure, and my kids wouldn't be reading a Latin science book in 5th grade, for example. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but I see it as a highly specialized discipline that requires an enormous amount of work for relatively little practical payoff. (My opinion, and I know others feel differently, so I don't need to be flooded with examples of why I am wrong.)

 

Now, were my kids to want to achieve reading fluency in Latin, I would not tell them no (their interests may be quite different from mine and they may decide that reading Latin literature is very important to them), but I am not going to put 8 years (or whatever) into Latin studies so that they can read original Latin texts just as a matter of course. I would rather focus my energies on building fluency in a contemporary language that has more accessible media.

 

Tara

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I'm watching the French grow with my child. He finds uses for it that are in line with his age and interests. I see what you mean. He also, however, has always loved ancients and would indeed like to be able to read some of them in the original, so for him, it isn't a lot of hard work for nothing. (Well, at least not during his periods of enthusiasm, anyway GRIN.) In retrospect, though, I wish I had embarked us on Greek. I have no idea why I didn't just do Greek instead of Latin, with my children more interested in the ancients than the middle ages, at least from a reading-literature point of view. Playwise, they are more likely to play at the middle ages. If my youngest weren't headed for engineering, I'd add Greek and another modern language now, but I don't think he'll have time. I am definately going back to recapture my Greek when he gets out of school and I have more time, though. That is part of why I have been so interested in this thread. I would much rather learn from reading lots. Much more pleasant GRIN. Not that I didn't already discover all this for myself, but it is nice to see my own discoveries backed up by others. It helps keep me from wondering if I'm engaging in wishful thinking and keeps me from falling into the Christian trap of thinking that just because there is an easier way, there must be something morally wrong with it. : ) I wonder if other religions have the same problem?

 

-Nan

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  • 1 month later...

Maturin Cordier's "Colloquiorum Scholasticorum" are in the process of being recorded and put online in audio.

 

The first 50 have been done so far, each sentence of dialogue in each Colloquy is given Latin - English - Latin , as a help to learning.

 

Corderius' dialogues were staples of the school room and the bookshelf of a university student, from the 1560's through to the late 1700's. As their goal is to give the student the tools to converse in accurate Latin, when Latin turned into a passive discipline in the 1800's, these colloquia were forgotten. Along with the colloquia of Erasmus and Vives, they are some of the more famous educational texts ever written for learning Latin, and are part of a long tradition of writing dialogues for students to study from. Corderius intended his colloquies to be memorised by his students.

 

Links to the archive on Latinum containing the colloquia are on the sidebar of the website.

 

 

http://latinum.mypodcast.com

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I learned Latin (and Greek) the "traditional way" at school, we read many original texts and all of us gained pretty high reading fluency.

A little niece does the "experimental program" with Latin at her school. After 5 years of that, she can construct with no problems sentences about Roman everyday life... simple sentences, sometimes even more complex ones ("complex" meaning that she can put an odd subjuncitve in). Give her Cicero and she trembles, she can't even go through Caesar with any reasonable "reading fluency" (which is usually something you start with when you're done with grammar and syntax, after 2-3 years), not to even mention Virgil, Ovid, metrics in general... No way, it just won't go. She can technically "kinda speak it", but she can't do that which is the basic reason why she studies Latin - diachronic understanding, communication with the original text.

 

We didn't do funny dialogues, we didn't speak Latin, had recorded texts, sang songs or wrote about Roman houses in Latin. Yet, regarding the primary motive why we studied Latin in the first place (and that was certainly not an imaginary communication which shall never take place in real life), we did a great job (and were far, far advanced when compared to what the little niece does) and went through all kinds of texts.

 

Classics are studied out of different reasons that modern foreign languages, and therefore require different methodology, in my opinion. I think the analytical method works wonders for classics, just as the intuitive/immersion approach works more wonders for the languages you can apply it to naturally and then reflect upon their structure later.

So I teach my daughters Latin and Greek analytically. With Latin it's easier, they have Italian as their native language so at least lexically "it's all familiar", and the inflections also aren't as killing as I feared they would be. With Greek it's harder, but they handle it fine.

 

Hebrew, on the other hand, I totally don't do analytically. It's only when they had a decent background in spoken and written language, as well as general understanding, that I touched upon the issue of binyanim (they never thought about them analytically before) and the structure of the language - but that's because it's a modern language which requires different methods, so I let them learn it in the same way they acquired English and Italian.

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A little niece does the "experimental program" with Latin at her school. After 5 years of that, she can construct with no problems sentences about Roman everyday life... simple sentences, sometimes even more complex ones ("complex" meaning that she can put an odd subjuncitve in). Give her Cicero and she trembles, she can't even go through Caesar with any reasonable "reading fluency" (which is usually something you start with when you're done with grammar and syntax, after 2-3 years), not to even mention Virgil, Ovid, metrics in general... No way, it just won't go. She can technically "kinda speak it", but she can't do that which is the basic reason why she studies Latin - diachronic understanding, communication with the original text.

 

At the same time, there are definitely Latin teachers who use reading-based and immersion methods who do bring their students to a high fluency in Latin. Reading-based methods are linguistically-based and train students to use grammatical signalling in order to read Latin in a linear fashion. It doesn't sound like the student above has had a very good experience, but that doesn't mean that other teachers and students will fail to reach fluency simply based upon methodology.

 

We didn't do funny dialogues, we didn't speak Latin, had recorded texts, sang songs or wrote about Roman houses in Latin.

 

And that worked for you and that's great. Other people have had very good experiences using dialogues, speaking the language, listening to audio versions of the texts, etc., and indeed come to a reading, writing, speaking and listening fluency.

 

Yet, regarding the primary motive why we studied Latin in the first place (and that was certainly not an imaginary communication which shall never take place in real life), we did a great job (and were far, far advanced when compared to what the little niece does) and went through all kinds of texts.

 

Many of the Latin classes who have used reading-based and immersion methods read authors like Caesar, Cicero, Eutropius, Vergil, Catullus, Pliny, Ovid, Martial, Plautus, Terence, Horace, etc.

 

Classics are studied out of different reasons that modern foreign languages, and therefore require different methodology, in my opinion.

 

Classics are studied for many different reasons.

 

I think the analytical method works wonders for classics, just as the intuitive/immersion approach works more wonders for the languages you can apply it to naturally and then reflect upon their structure later.

 

What makes Latin different from any other language? It is still a language. It's not a code. At any rate, consider that many people base studying Latin (and Greek) on the medieval Trivium and Quadrivium. Medieval scholars did not have textbooks in their native languages. Latin was the language of scholars, of the church, and it was taught as a spoken second language. It was not the first language of the people who learned it. They were speakers of Italian, French, German, and Gaelic. Yet, they communicated orally in Latin in the schools. (Those interested may want to read the chapters on Medieval learning in Nicholas Ostler's Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin. This is a very accessible book for anyone interested in the importance and influence of the Latin language throughout history and on modern culture.) It seems that those who would use Latin conversationally in the classroom are actually emulating the medieval scholars.

 

Also, one is not restricted to discussing Roman houses or silly dialogues in Latin. One can discuss Latin grammar in Latin or the works being read!

 

Some of the dialogues in Latin for the New Millennium (especially the second volume) involve students discussing the ancient and medieval works that they are reading!

 

In Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, an immersion text, students are taught Latin grammar in the Latin language using Latin language terminology for all the cases, declensions, conjugations, moods, tenses, etc.

 

In Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency, an entire chapter is given to discussing Latin grammar in the Latin language.

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Latin literature is not something that one would normally go around reading for pleasure, and my kids wouldn't be reading a Latin science book in 5th grade, for example. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but I see it as a highly specialized discipline that requires an enormous amount of work for relatively little practical payoff.

 

Well, actually many of the ancient and medieval works in Latin make for quite interesting reading. It's not all epic literature and war commentary! Catullus, Horace and Martial wrote wonderful lyric poetry and epigrams. The letters of Pliny read like blog entries, commenting on Roman life! Cicero also wrote many personal letters which are extant today, and make for interesting reading. (He divorced his wife. He loved his daughter and his brother. He had great friendships.) Ovid's Metamorphoses are great fun to read for anyone who enjoys mythology. He also wrote wonderful poems about love and the loss of love! Plautus was among the first to write situation comedy. The works of these authors have had a great influence on many great writers, including Dante, Shakespeare, John Milton, Alexander Pope, Francis Bacon, and others.

 

There certainly are people who read Latin literature for pleasure, as well as for literary, historical, scientific and religious reasons.

 

Yes, you could read in translation. But there's a huge difference between reading the original and reading someone else's interpretation. There's absolutely nothing wrong with reading translations, but there's also something sublime about reading the original.

 

But even if a fifth grader isn't ready or interested in reading the great Roman authors, many of the stories written for textbooks these days are designed to lead to a fluency with original literature later on, borrowing from the vocabulary and style of the ancient authors while writing stories of interest to younger students. (The Cambridge series has a vocabulary that builds up to be very Vergilian. Meanwhile the stories in the Cambridge course teach a great deal of Roman (volume 1) and Romano-British history and culture (volume 2). The Ecce series is about a patrician Roman family (living a life similar to that of Cicero and Pliny.) The Oxford series is centered around the poet Horace. Other series focus a great deal on Greek and Roman mythology, which many middle and high school students enjoy. There are also elementary level books that aren't difficult to read that center around Aesop's Fables (cultural literacy plus character education!)

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At the same time, there are definitely Latin teachers who use reading-based and immersion methods who do bring their students to a high fluency in Latin. Reading-based methods are linguistically-based and train students to use grammatical signalling in order to read Latin in a linear fashion. It doesn't sound like the student above has had a very good experience, but that doesn't mean that other teachers and students will fail to reach fluency simply based upon methodology.

She didn't, but I visited a class (on the whole, they weren't any better), had a chat with the professor, and so on. And then I went to my old school. What a difference - incomparable.

 

About the grammatical signalling - not really. In the first two years, maybe, but later the reading fluency comes with experience. Just like the metrics does - it's not that you're constantly thinking "this syllabe is long and this one is short"; you have to think that way at the beginning, but with time it becomes natural.

And that worked for you and that's great. Other people have had very good experiences using dialogues, speaking the language, listening to audio versions of the texts, etc., and indeed come to a reading, writing, speaking and listening fluency.

Of course, but from what I've personally seen (and that's the only experience I can talk about ;)), when contrasted to children who do it "traditionally", their skills are poorer and it takes them more time to reach the same material. Grammar-oriented learning speeds up the process, even if it doesn't give you instantly that kind of "intuitive familiarity" with the language and you have to learn to develop it.

Many of the Latin classes who have used reading-based and immersion methods read authors like Caesar, Cicero, Eutropius, Vergil, Catullus, Pliny, Ovid, Martial, Plautus, Terence, Horace, etc.

The ones I know of have never even approached the width of the curriculum we had. I'm not saying they never had any original text in front of them - sure they had - but they addressed the whole issue of reading in Latin... differently. They weren't so serious and "scholarly" (in lack of better expression) about it as we were; they lacked structure too.

 

Okay, I do admit that my school was a little bit... extreme. One of the few "old school" ones (even though they constantly complained that they're being too lenient with us), the rest of the classical schools I've seen weren't nearly as "serious", so the difference wasn't that huge. The strong contrast I experienced is probably due to the fact my school was an exception, they basically treated us as classical philology majors (and we were often better than those, when they'd come to visit and do their teacher practice). :D

 

I'm not saying that the new methods can't produce good results. After all, even the little niece has a "feel" for Latin.

What I'm saying is that I haven't seen new methods producing exceptional results - and I saw plenty of those in my school (not with my own self :D). I've seen exceptional results - not familiarity with Latin, but a fully fluent reading and mastery of the grammatical structure - only with the students taught by the traditional methods. Many taught that way were bad or average, few were exceptional. But my problem is that I've never met a single exceptional with the "modern" ones, their exceptional ones would fit in the average in my old class, from what I've seen.

 

It's only a personal experience, though. But I can judge only by that, till some research is done. ;)

 

Classics are studied for many different reasons.

Sure, but let's not banalize it, okay?

Students today are not in the situation Mediaeval scholars were in. They don't have a body of literature available exclusively in Latin which also happens to be the only source of knowledge, and lingua franca of the academic communities today is English (maybe a few other big European languages - French or Russian - in some other specific fields too).

 

I recognize the importance of Latin for the European heritage, but I just think the learning needs to be in touch with the time and place it takes.

 

Nobody studies Latin today to effectively communicate with other people as their primary goal (not even in the Catholic Church, actually - the role of Latin today is somewhat overrated, and I tell you that not as a tourist, but as somebody who spent most of her life in Italy, surrounded by Catholic culture, though, being from a Jewish family, not belonging to it - their practical lingua franca is largely Italian, even though they formally kept Latin for traditional reasons - Italian is probably "the" Catholic language today). Why focus learning on that, then?

 

It's not that I never had a lesson in Latin. I sure did, though extremely rarely as it wasn't encouraged. It wasn't innatural or incomprehensible, actually. But there was no point in doing it. It's not a big deal if it's added here and there, but they were clear where the focus lies - and that wasn't oral communication.

 

What makes Latin different from any other language? It is still a language. It's not a code.

Every language is a code. ;)

What makes Latin different is that it's largely not applicable to our times without becoming a conlang - see all the "new vocabulary" and all, there is no natural Latin culture it spreads from, half of it is aritificial, even syntax has undergone considerable changes by those who actually speak Latin. They end up speaking not Latin, but a kind of conlang, lexically, dependent on Latin, morphologically.

 

And that's the problem I have with it - it's innatural. It's forcing things.

"Currus electricus" is not Latin. Latin was a language of a specific culture, later perserved in other cultures as an academic language, but it's not applicable as a "fully-fledged" usable language today in our time and place.

It was not the first language of the people who learned it. They were speakers of Italian, French, German, and Gaelic. Yet, they communicated orally in Latin in the schools. It seems that those who would use Latin conversationally in the classroom are actually emulating the medieval scholars.

Because Latin was lingua franca. One could not academically advance without Latin.

Today, English has that position in the scientific community, and computer literacy has taken place of the old-style literacy. Those are the facts of the time and place we live in. We live in one different world, and I don't think it's wise to overlook their fact romanticizing some other times (I'm not implying you're doing that, just speaking generally).

 

The only successful revival of a language as a "full" language that I know of is Hebrew - and even that, if we're to be honest, is largely by making it half-conlang (they were literally inventing vocabulary items, so you have stuff like machshev, "the thinking thing", for the computer and alike), and there was a big national and political idea behind that. It just had a unique strength which is not likely to happen in the case of Latin, since it's not a "national" language. So why force it?

 

If it's because it works to help somebody learn better, okay - different things work for different people who have different goals. I'm just speaking from my perspective. :)

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To me, Latin is different because there is no contemporary writing in it. My second grader can read a children's easy reader in Spanish, if she so desires, but she's certainly not going to pick up something by Virgil and be reading that.

 

What about Cattus Petasatus?

 

Or Virent Ova! Viret Perna!!

 

Or Winnie Ille Pu

 

We don't start Latin unitl next year, but I've been eyeing Cattus Petasatus for years, it's just funny to me somehow.

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Latinteach, as I stated in my previous post, this is merely my opinion, and I am not trying to say that someone is right and someone else is wrong. My opinion remains that Latin is a highly specialized discipline. That's great for those who wish to specialize in it ... rock on. But I don't see the benefit of years and years and years of focus on Latin so that I can read ancient literature limited to one cultural outlook. Great for those who want to do that! But I see it as a skill with limited application.

 

Tara

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What about Cattus Petasatus?

 

Or Virent Ova! Viret Perna!!

 

Or Winnie Ille Pu

 

We don't start Latin unitl next year, but I've been eyeing Cattus Petasatus for years, it's just funny to me somehow.

 

I don't know, why bother? Why not just read Winnie the Pooh instead? That's why we have chosen to focus on Spanish for fluency--there's a living, natural, uncontrived language and cultural experience that we can't get from Latin. My kids can read real Spanish novels in Spanish if they want ... they don't have to read Harry Potter y la Piedra del Hechicero to get practice.

 

Like I said, rock on if you want to be fluent in Latin. I have no problem with that. It's just a goal I don't wish to pursue with my kids because I see it as an enormous expenditure of time and effort for a limited payoff.

 

Tara

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The Latinum podcast is designed so it can be used without the grammar - the original method of Ollendorff, which forms the basis of Adler's book, was very grammar -lite. He thought you learned by reading. Adler had to include the grammar, as writing a Latin textbook in the 1850's without grammar, would have been unsaleable, but he separated the grammar out from the 'meat' of the book.....it is almost like two separate books, grafted onto each other......So, if you use the part B and the part C sections of each Adler lesson, you will avoid the grammar discussions, and still learn a lot of Latin.

 

The English-Latin colloquia on Latinum can be used the same way.

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Latin is not limited to the production of the Romans and Harrius Potter. Quite a few novels were written in Latin during the Renaissance, including some Science Fiction!! and all kinds of other books. The catalogue of those texts accessible online keeps growing - a few months ago, there were 16 000 entries, this has jumped to over 30,000, and I suspect, in a few more years, there will be hundreds of thousands of texts on this database. Much of the material simply has not been catalogued yet. The collection of texts in manuscript, that never made it into print for cost reasons, is even larger....Most of these printed books have not been read for centuries.....we need more people to be able to read this stuff - it was written in Latin, deliberately, to make it readable for a wide audience - oh the irony - Most of the cultural production of Western civilization until the mid 1700's was written in Latin - we tend to forget that, as nationalism pushed Latin aside.....and so we focus not on Buchanan, arguably one of England's finest poets, but on those who wrote in English.....and so for writers in Italy, and other European countries, who wrote for an international audience, and so, in Latin.

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The other thing - Most Latin teachers and people learning latin focus on the grammar, but what is important, is to read, and to read a lot; this is probably even more important.

 

Since May 2009, a new resource has appeared - you probably will not have heard of it yet...this is the Latin section of the TarHeelReader.

There are now over 250 ILLUSTRATED children's books on the site. The illustrations tie very closely to the text, helping with comprehension. Many of the books are delightful.

The can be read online, or they can be printed up.

These books are being produced by teachers. They are proof read ( edited approved texts get a gold badge).

If you are beginning to teach a child Latin, then exposing them to as many Latin books on the Tar Heel site, in addition to your grammatical work, will, I think, be worthwhile.

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I'm using Minimus: Starting Out in Latin for ds (10) -- however, for fluency, we use Rosetta Stone. The little guy can open a children's book in Latin and read it. That's more than I can say. I can read some of it, but I can't pronounce a word. I think Rosetta Stone made the difference.

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