Writing texts for the Novice isn’t just about novellas. It’s about making Latin more comprehensible, whether typing up class interests to read, editing a student’s ending to a class story, or creating tiered versions of unadapted ancient texts.
Sheltering vocabulary is the most important step of writing for the Novice. As Bill VanPatten mentioned on Episode 61 of Tea with BVP, the Novice student needs multiple encounters of words/phrases as input that repeat throughout.
Time usually takes care of this, but the typical graduating high school student has very little (~450 hours). You can’t repeat words in the input if there are too many. Facts. The solution, then, is to shelter vocabulary. Sheltering vocabulary also keeps the input manageable because Novice students attend to meaning. The fewer meanings they’re held accountable for results in higher chances of comprehension. This is why unsheltering grammar—the other half of the mantra—is beneficial. A student might not have been exposed to –āvērunt enough times to recognized its “pastness” quality, yet if that ending appears as ambulāvērunt, the student who has seen other forms of that word will interpret the meaning as “having something to do with walking,” which is fine, and what we expect.
This is a favorite example of mine. When writing for the Novice, sometimes we are faced with making a decision to avoid vocab-overload. Ideally, we won’t be in this position, but practically, it will happen. Although the meaning behind canem ambulāre is clear (i.e. to walk a/the dog), a more native-like use of Latin to express the same message would be something like canem dūcere (i.e. to lead a/the dog). Choosing instead to write the non-native-like canem ambulāre is a matter of sheltering (i.e. limiting) vocabulary. I recognize that the decision to eliminate just one word from a text doesn’t appear to be worth the non-native-like use. This would be true if it were, indeed, the only decision made. In reality, though, it might be the 20th decision while sheltering vocabulary, which means your text now has 20 fewer words. Decisions like these will help—not hurt—the Novice student.
Critics of Latīnitās (i.e. one’s Latinity) take huge issue with something like this, but it’s misplaced. When the Novice reads, she reads for meaning. The student who understands both canem and ambulāre will understand the meaning behind this message, regardless of how that might have been expressed in the past. In this case, canem ambulāre is a non-native-like idiom. What bothers critics, but has little to no impact on the Novice (and probably up to Advanced), is that students just won’t be exposed to canem ambulāre if ever reading ancient texts. That’s it. Unlike what the critics might fear, non-native-like uses of Latin won’t hinder their ability to understand if they ever continue to study/read Latin.
What is almost certain, however, is that students will not continue reading ANY Latin if they don’t have enough confidence and interest in what they’re reading early on.