A New Curriculum Map

**More recent post on USING the New Curriculum Map**

As stated in its introduction, this New Curriculum Map is designed to reconcile Second Language Acquisition (SLA) principles with planning demands that exist within the current educational landscape. It is part theory but 100% practical. I hesitate to call it a “CI Curriculum” because I agree with Bill VanPatten from Episode 23 of Tea with BvP that some people think that CI is a strategy used to teach the stuff they’ve been teaching all along (e.g. explicit grammar rules, cultural facts, purposeless paired activities, dialogues, etc.). This is wrong…totally wrong, in fact. In an age when educators prefer an “eclectic” batch of “tools for the toolbox,” CI can’t be considered one of them along side others. CI is an absolute requirement for language acquisition. The only thing that’s debated is exactly how much of a role output plays in language acquisition, and for some, it’s null. No theory of language acquisition disputes the need for understandable messages (= CI).

Furthermore, a call from Ellie Arnold during this past week’s Episode 24 of Tea with BvP was right on topic, and Bill confirmed that a curriculum based on targeted structures (i.e. phrases that contain parts of the language’s grammatical structure) will lead us “off track.” That doesn’t mean we can’t plan for a class with targeted structures in mind; it means that we don’t want to write ourselves into a corner by prescribing targeted structures as part of a curriculum.

Without further ado, you can access the New Curriculum Map here, or continue reading it below. If you have another idea for the organization of Latin vocabulary Tiers, either based on frequency or preference, treat the document as a template and add your own vocabulary. If you teach another language, use your own frequency lists and/or the English equivalents as a guide. Enjoy!

A New Curriculum Map – Latin
by Lance Piantaggini

This New Curriculum Map is designed to reconcile Second Language Acquisition (SLA) principles with planning demands that exist within the current educational landscape. The differences are not intuitive, and in some cases are in direct conflict with general education principles, and traditional language teacher training. Here are several assumptions and definitions that inspired the creation of this New Curriculum Map:

  • Our goal is reading Latin via acquisition (universal to humans).
  • Comprehensible Input (CI) is necessary for acquisition.
  • Teaching with CI means providing understandable messages in Latin.
  • Receiving understandable messages as a student means listening and reading—not being forced to speak Latin. N.B. Single word/phrase responses are not considered forced speech.

Given the assumptions and definitions, there are three features found in traditional curricula absent from this New Curriculum Map; reasons are given for their exclusion:

Sequenced Grammar

  • There is an unknown natural order to acquisition. The process is internal and differs from student to student by rate. Individual rates determine what students are ready to acquire.
  • Even if the natural order were known and a grammatical sequence established for Latin, students would still need exposure to more than just the grammar presented in that sequence of acquisition.

Prescribed Culture (often explicitly taught in English)

  • CI must be Compelling. Not all topics concerning the Latin-speaking world (i.e. ancient, medieval, and/or modern) are interesting to students.
  • The 5 Cs of state and national language standards assume that Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, Communities fall under Communication (i.e. the interpretation, negotiation, and expression of meaning) in the target language. English is not appropriate for learning about Latin-speaking cultures when the goal is acquisition. Consider that one can read all there is to read about the Romans, yet not know Latin. Can one read all there is to read IN LATIN, yet not know the Romans? The purpose is to read Latin. This New Curriculum Map focuses on the development of language acquisition which makes reading possible.

Prescribed Pacing

  • The nature of language is not subject matter to be taught. Language Acquisition is an internal process affected by very few external factors aside from the quality and quantity of spoken and written CI received.
  • Since individual rates determine what students are ready to acquire, any attempt to normalize that rate is in conflict with language acquisition.

The above statements distinguish this New Curriculum Map from other curricula by setting the precedent that…

  1. creating a curriculum based on a grammatical sequence is unethical,
  2. explicitly teaching cultural topics (in English) that students find uninteresting does not lead to language acquisition, and
  3. setting curricular benchmarks we commonly associate with the current educational model is also unethical because the nature of language is not subject matter to be taught (like other content areas taught in school)

i. In place of sequenced grammar, this New Curriculum Map includes examples of unsheltered grammar likely to come up naturally in the discussion of various topics. The examples are in no way prescriptive, and might vary from day to day and class to class given the topic, interest, and acquisition rates of different students. This document is an anchor that allows for such diversity.

ii. In place of prescribed cultural topics, this New Curriculum Map includes suggested topics aligned with the National Latin Exam (NLE). Even with such a comprehensive list of topics, note that a specific topic should not compromise Compellingness. It is up to the teacher to find out what students are interested in learning, and then discuss and read about it IN LATIN. One can accomplish this by presenting topic options and surveying students about what to discuss/read next.

iii. In place of establishing the pace of a different curriculum per course level/year, this New Curriculum Map represents an entire language program organized by tiers of high-frequency vocabulary. The vocabulary tiers are not linear. In fact, students will likely move quickly through the first tier or two, but then remain at the other tiers for years, even given individual rates of acquisition. It should be noted that some topics require verbs from higher tiers, or ones not found in this New Curriculum Map at all. Additionally, classic TPR often used at the beginning of the year requires many verbs found in Tier 4. If verbs from higher tiers, or ones not found in this New Curriculum Map are needed to express meaning during class, establish meaning and USE THEM! This document serves as an anchor for the development of language acquisition

In sum, this New Curriculum Map is organized by tiers of high-frequency vocabulary (sheltered) that allows for the freedom to use any grammatical syntax necessary (unsheltered) during class discussions of various suggested topics. Here’s a visualization of the Vocabulary Tiers.

Sheltered Vocabulary Tier 1

Quaint Quīntum
esse be
placēre like
īre go
habēre have
velle want

Examples of unsheltered grammar…
esse volēbant wanted to be, in erat was in, laetus sim I would be happy, esse eī placet likes to be, iīs placet they like, īre vult wants to go, ad īvit went towards, nōn habēbat didn’t have, habēre vult wants to have

Suggested topics…
**Since learning about target cultures is done via the target language, emphasis MUST be placed on understanding these crucial verbs in order to do so IN LATIN** Before learning about the distant past beginning with topics in Tier 2, focus on the real classroom context with topics more immediate and relevant to students’ lives:
Community: town(s), school, landmarks
Family: members, origin/ancestry, home
Self: age, likes/dislikes, wishes

Sheltered Vocabulary Tier 2

Awesome Octō
dīcere say
dēbēre owe, should
putāre think

Examples of unsheltered grammar…
eī dīxit said to her, dīcit ‘sē esse says that he is, dīcere volunt they want to say, mihi dicat might say to me, dīcenda sunt should be said, īre dēbet ought to go, tibi dēbuī I owed you, iīs placēre hī dēbent they should like them, dē putō I am thinking about, putāvit sē esse thought he was

Suggested topics…
GEOGRAPHY: the Roman world, e.g., Roma, Italia, Gallia, Graecia, Britannia, Hispania, Mare Nostrum, Tiber River
MYTHOLOGY: Olympian deities (Greek and Roman names) and associated attributes; founding of Rome, e.g., Romulus and Remus
ROMAN LIFE: city of Rome, e.g., Forum, Circus Maximus, Colosseum; basic housing, e.g., villa, cubiculum, atrium; clothing, e.g., toga, tunica, stola; Roman household, e.g., pater, mater, servus, filius


Sheltered Vocabulary Tier 3

Sweet Sēdecim
iacere throw
capere catch
dare give
accipere accept
sūmere pick up
pōnere put down
vidēre see
posse be able

Examples of unsheltered grammar…
ad caput iēcit threw towards his head, nōn cēpērunt they didn’t catch, mihi dā give me, ab accipere accept from, sūmere volō I want to pick up, ab pōnitur is placed by, mihi vidētur seems to me, vidēre potest able to see

Suggested topics…
GEOGRAPHY: important Italian locations, e.g., Ostia, Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, Brundisium, Apennine Mts.; provinces and major cities, e.g., Africa, Athens, Gaul, Carthage, Asia Minor, Troy
HISTORY: basic historical divisions (Monarchy, Republic, Empire) and associated terms (king, consul, emperor); kings of Rome and early Roman heroes, e.g., Romulus, Tarquinius Superbus, Horatius, Cincinnatus
MYTHOLOGY: Olympian deities and associated myths, e.g., Daphne and Apollo, Arachne and Minerva, Midas
ROMAN LIFE: city of Rome, e.g., Forum, Palatine Hill, Via Appia, Pantheon, Campus Martius; architectural structures and their functions, e.g., aquaeductus, thermae, circus, amphitheatrum, curia, basilica; housing, e.g., triclinium, insulae; meals, e.g., cena, culina; clothing, e.g., toga, tunica, stola

Sheltered Vocabulary Tier 4

Top 32
surgere rise
sedēre/cōnsīdere sit/sit down
relinquere leave behind
tenēre hold
movēre move
stāre stand
audīre listen
legere read
scrībere write
amāre love
venīre arrive
fugere flee
facere/fierī make/become
agere do
loquī speak
scīre/nescīre know/don’t know

Examples of unsheltered grammar…
surgere vult wants to get up, super sedit sits above, sub relinque leave beneath, manū tenēbat helf with he hand, ad movēbit will move towards, stāre dēbent they ought to stand, audī listen, lentē legēbat was reading slowly, id scrīpsit wrote it, ab amantur are loved by, mēcum venī come with me, ex fūgērunt they fled out of, fac ut see that, hīs factīs after these things were done, id ēgit did it, tēcum loquitur speaks with you, scīrem tē esse if I only knew you were

Suggested topics…
GEOGRAPHY: the Roman world; important bodies of water, e.g., Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea, Black Sea; rivers, e.g., Rhine, Po, Nile, Rubicon; important islands and provinces, e.g., Germania, Aegyptus, Sicilia, Creta
HISTORY: prominent historical characters from Roman history, e.g., Augustus, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Marc Antony, Spartacus; major events of Roman history, e.g., Punic Wars, Caesar’s conquest of Gaul
MYTHOLOGY: heroes and monsters, e.g., Jason and Medea, Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus, Daedalus, Minotaur, Chimera; Underworld, e.g., Cerberus, Charon, Proserpina, Styx, Pluto
ROMAN LIFE: education; recreation and entertainment, e.g., baths, chariot racing, gladiatorial combat


Sheltered Vocabulary Tier 5

51 Most Important Verbs
licet allowed
emere buy
quaerere search for
invenīre find
comedere eat
dormīre sleep
vertere turn
petere seek
dūcere lead
ferre carry
mittere send
ostendere show
ūtī use
vocāre call
solēre be accustomed
conārī try
iubēre order
crēdere believe trusted
timēre fear

Examples of unsheltered grammar…
loquī licet allowed to speak, ad it ut emat goes towards in order to buy, quaerere dēbet ought to look for, invenīre nōn potest unable to find, comedere vult wants to eat, nōn dormīvit didn’t sleep, ad vertunt they turn towards, ab petuntur are sought buy, dūcit ut leads in order to, ferre nōn potest unable to carry, tibi mittam I will send you, nōbīs ostendunt they show us, facile ūtor I easily use, vocāre dēbēret should have called, īre solēbat was accustomed to go, audīre conātur tries to hear, iussit ut order that, crēdendum est must be trusted, nōn timēbat wasn’t afraid of

Suggested topics…
GEOGRAPHY: notable cities, regions, mountains, rivers, and bodies of water of Italy and the ancient world, e.g., Naples, Alexandria, Gaul, Pyrenees, Mt. Etna, Nile, Aegean Sea, Black Sea
HISTORY: prominent persons and events from the Roman Republic and early Empire (through the JulioClaudian emperors), e.g., Pyrrhus, Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Livia, Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, Battle of Cannae, Battle of Actium
MYTHOLOGY: typical Roman and Italian deities, e.g., Janus, Vesta; origins and transformations, e.g., Daphne, Pygmalion, Baucis and Philemon, Niobe
ROMAN LIFE: calendar terms, Kalends, Nones, Ides, pr. (pridie), a.d. (ante diem); religion, e.g., pontifex maximus, augures; ceremonies, e.g., weddings, funerals, triumph


3 thoughts on “A New Curriculum Map

  1. Pingback: Using the New Curriculum Map | Magister P.

  2. Pingback: “Hybrid CI/Textbook” | Magister P.

  3. Pingback: High-Frequency Verbs | Magister P.

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