John P. Piazza, M.A.
Can and should Latin be taught like a modern language?
As long as the study of Latin is perceived as an elective for the academically gifted and as long as the methodology in the Latin classroom addresses the needs of these students exclusively, the profession is doomed to struggle for general acceptance in the curriculum. (Martha Gordon Abbott)
Today’s minority students are entering school with signinficantly different social and economic backgrounds from those of previous student populations, and thus require educators to modify their teaching approaches to ensure that these studeints have access to the American dream. (Lynne Diaz-Rico and Kathryn Weed)
This is the big question among many Latin teachers who are frustrated with the seeming inability of students to reach any level of Latin reading fluency (even after years of study) especially when compared to the progress that students make in modern languages. Obviously, teachers of Latin face certain obstacles which make this goal more difficult, not least of which is the simple fact that Latin is extremely difficult. In addition, there are few opportunities to speak or listen to Latin. The increasing cultural and linguistic diversity of American classrooms demands that all teachers (even Latin teachers) adopt methods which are more inclusive. Academic research on Latin education is still very much in its infancy when it comes to modern theories of foreign language acquisition, and teaching Latin in the multicultural classroom. However, significant research has been done.
The purpose of this page is to gather such resources (both theoretical and practical), and hopefully initiate and/or expand the dialogue among teachers regarding how Latin may best be taught.
In my credential work, I am currently researching the application of modern theories of second (and third) language acquisition to the teaching of Latin, as well as the issues surrounding teaching Latin in the ESL and multicultural classroom. I hope to include my work and detailed bibliographies below.
If you have any information, statistics, personal experiences, etc., that you would like to share, please send me an e-mail.
Online articles and resources:
(coming soon) Teaching Latin: Contemporary Problems and Potential Solutions.
In this paper, I examine the question of teaching Latin to non-traditional students (multicultural, English language learners, learning disabled, etc.), and how Latin might be made more accessible to those students. Paper also draws upon previous alternative Latin projects.
A recent Cambridge brain study suggests that too much conscious processing can actually hinder the learning process when it comes to things which we learn more automatically or unconsciously (e.g. language!).
Why Speak Latin? A defense by Nancy Llewellyn.
Ms. Lewellyn, president of SALVI, responds to the claim that teaching spoken Latin is a waste of time. This was originally posted to LatinTeach.
Krashen addresses the grammar-translation approach, which is still common in many foreign language classrooms, Latin in particular.
Ahead of its time.
Other Resources, mostly available in print.
Tunberg, Terence and Milena Minkova. Readings and Exercises in Latin Prose Composition. Focus Publishing, 2004.
This is the only college level Latin composition guide that does notlimit its definition of “composition” to translation of sentences from English to Latin. As a result, the exercises in this book encourage students to work with Latin as Latin, not as a puzzle to figure out. Each chapter is based on an extensive and interesting passage from authors representing all periods of Latin literature. Read the Bryn Mawr Classical Review article here.
For teachers who are interested in introducing composition at the beginning levels, I have posted a description and materials from my ACL workshop: “Latin Prose Composition as a Fun, Creative and Differentiated Activity.”
Miraglia, Luigi. “Latino e Greco alla Prova: La verifica delle competenze nella didattica delle lingue classiche” Docere 1, 1 (2002) 23-33.
_______. “Latino e Greco alla Prova: La verifica delle competenze nella didattica delle lingue classiche (Seconda parte) Docere 1, 2 (2002). 13-29.
In these two articles, Miraglia shows his method of teaching Latin composition through the description of pictures and texts. Contains many stuents examples. If you can read Italian, and are interested, I can mail you xeroxes, or email you scans. For subscription info regarding Docere, follow this link.
The CPL Forum Online is an online journal published by the Committee on the Promotion of Latin. Read about various teaching strategies at all levels of Latin education.
Piper Salve, a book of Latin dialogues by Robert Maier et al. for use in his European Latin Weeks (Septimanae Latinae Europaeae). Helpful for any teacher who wants to bring spoken Latin into the classroom. Unfortunately it is only available through Amazon Germany for a hefty shipping fee, but worth it. Hopefully we will have a US distributor soon. View sample pages and ordering info here.
Latine Doceo, a Companion for Instructors. by Luigi Miraglia and C.G. Brown.
Available from Focus Publishers, www.pullins.com.
Although advertised as a manual of sorts for Hans Ørberg’s textbook series, Lingua Latina, this booklet contains chapters and articles pertaining to Latin instruction in general, especially the methodology which underlies Ørberg’s approach. Whatever your teaching method, this booklet addresses fundamental questions of Language pedagogy, and will be of interest to any Latinist.
Latin: How to Read it Fluently by B.D. Hoyos.
Available from the Classical Association of New England.
Hoyos addresses the common obstacles to fluent reading on the part of Latin students, especially the fact that what is called “reading” is often translation.
The Living Word: W.H.D. Rouse and the Crisis of Classics in Edwardian England by Christopher Stray. Bristol Classical Press, 1992
Provides some historical background and context for perennial issues in the teaching of ancient languages.