For many teachers, the New Curriculum Map is just what they need to to articulate what it means to teach for language acquisition. For others, it isn’t structured enough, and falls short of what they’re accustomed to using. Surprisingly, a few even consider this curriculum format TOO restrictive with its high frequency words and suggested structures and topics. If you are in the first two camps, this post will help you see the big picture of how simple it is to teach without a grammar syllabus and instead focus on high frequency vocabulary, just like the Sample CI Schedule for the Year:
1) Determine a topic to read and discuss
2) Create embedded texts
3) Provide CI
4) Read and discuss the topic
It really is that simple. Here’s each step explained:
Determine a topic:
There are a few ways to determine a topic. First of all, not all topics must be based on a target language-speaking culture. In fact, the Novice will begin to gain fluency through discussion of familiar topics in the immediate environment (self, family, classroom, community, etc.). Once they’ve acquired enough and feel comfortable with the target language you could begin discussing cultural topics by either 1) selecting and presenting several topics for students to vote on, or 2) asking students to suggest their own. Note how one of your topics could be a passage directly pulled from that familiar textbook!
Create embedded texts:
Use the vocabulary tiers from the New Curriculum Map to build up to, or deconstruct from your selected text. There’s no need to hold back on any grammar (= unsheltered grammar). Even if your text is from a textbook, expect to create embedded versions. Textbooks notoriously introduce far too much vocabulary too soon, so you must create a reading using whatever vocabulary your students understand at that moment. Contrary to how we’ve been trained to teach, planning too far ahead isn’t conducive to creating developmentally appropriate readings. Using only vocabulary that your students understand seriously limits the topics you can discuss, but that’s the point. We learn about the target culture via the target language, so the focus must be on the language before we can discussed detailed readings about the target culture. Creating embedded texts will be most of your preparation, but pales in comparison to traditional planning.
Before you read and discuss the topic, students must understand the necessary vocabulary. The text you’ve selected will parallel the language used in class. Use your favorite CI strategies (TPRS, MovieTalk, Discipulus Illustris, Story Card Magic, TPR, etc.), and focus on the lowest tier (Quaint Quīntum), then expand when students are ready.
Read and Discuss:
Use your favorite reading strategy and discuss the topic.
Keep reading below for a walk-through of steps 1 & 2 using an authentic text. For step 3, Provide CI, see this post on 5 Things from 1 Story.
Steps 1 & 2 Walk-Through:
Here’s the scenario: after the Ides of March your Latin I students begin to ask about Caesar and express interest in reading something he wrote. Why wait until their 4th year/AP to read dē Bellō Gallicō? You can do it now with minimal effort.
Step 1) Your students like maps, so you might as well start at the beginning of dē Bellō Gallicō with the geography of Gaul, Book 1, section 1. This is your text.
Step 2) Creating embedded texts is most of the work, but still less than what you normally might do. You could get the original from www.thelatinlibrary.com, but you already know that your Latin I’s are going to need a LOT of support from massively adapted texts written to the vocabulary tier (from the New Curriculum Map) that your students know. Instead of doing all that work, you head over to Practomime’s Project Arkhaia Operation CAESAR Reading List, choose Book 1, section 1, and take a look at the Tiers they’ve already established. Go straight to the lowest, since that will be closest to your Latin I’s, who are still on the 2nd tier (Awesome Octō) in this scenario.
– Next, you must remove Latin that your students don’t know. Looking at the first five sentences, highlight the verbs they don’t know:
trēs gentēs hominum, quī incolunt in Galliā, sunt Belgae, Aquītānī, et Celtae. in linguā Latinā, Celtae appellantur ‘Gallī’. Belgae, Aquītānī et Gallī differunt inter sē in linguā, in institutīs, et in legibus. Garumna flūmen dīvidit Gallōs ab Aquītānīs. Mātrōna flūmen et Sēquana flūmen dīvidit Gallōs ā Belgīs.
– It turns out that the only verb your students know is sunt, which occurs only once. If you really want your students to understand this passage from Caesar, you need to rewrite this using only the verbs your students know so far in this scenario, which is the Awesome Octō (esse, placēre, īre, habēre, velle, dīcere, dēbēre, putāre). The temptation to use habitāre, or vocātur is great. If your students have seen them through other CI activities like Discipulus Illustris, use them! If not, you really need to stick to what they know. N.B. 95% known vocabulary is a good number to shoot for. There are 94 unique words in this entire paragraph. Ideal readability would be understanding all words with the exception of 5. Continue that process with other words in there that you haven’t seen. Here’s the passage rewritten to your students’ level:
in Galliā sunt Belgae, Aquītānī, et Celtae. in linguā Latinā, Celtae sunt ‘Gallī’. Belgae, Aquītānī et Gallī linguās aliās habent. Garumna flūmen inter Gallōs et Aquītānōs est. Mātrōna flūmen et Sēquana flūmen inter Gallōs et Belgās sunt.
So, you have your first embedded text, and could do provide some great CI using maps and discussing the topic in class (see this post on 5 Things from 1 Story). Perhaps the next tier embedded text includes some other vocabulary you start using in class discussions via PQA and class stories (e.g. hominēs, lēgēs, vocātur, dīvidit, etc.). The highest embedded reading your Latin I’s will read will come quite close to the original adapted version, if not the original itself. They might even be able to continue on with the original, but I wouldn’t push their limit just because authentic readings are the bee’s knees. The novelty of the text will be lost by the time you interact with the different versions of the text necessary to get them to the level of reading the original Caesar so early.
Keep doing stuff like this throughout the year and your students will be reading exactly what they find compelling with high comprehension levels. Oh, and they just might stick with Latin if they know some day they could read Caesar in the original, which isn’t far off from what they did in Latin 1!