Silent Volleyball Reading (3rd hour of Latin)

For me, paired translation activities a) are not speaking activities, and b) have a purpose similar to what Justin Slocum Bailey juuuust wrote about Choral Translation, with confidence building as the primary one. This is week 3 of school, which is also the 3rd hour my students have listened to and read (i.e. received input) in Latin.

Today, I used a new update to the classic ABBA paired translation activity I’ve always known as Volleyball Translation (i.e. the role is tossed back and forth like a volleyball “pass”). This comes from Jason Fritze at NTPRS, and I used it with the following text based on events of last week’s class, which includes:

  • Something funny that happened on that day, specific to each class
  • Details from an Either/Or TPR activity
    • sī tibi placet X, surge, et consīde Pompēiīs (i.e. Pompēiī = right side group)
    • sī tibi placet Y, surge, et consīde Rōmae (i.e. Rōma = left side group).

You’ll notice that I’m still providing significant assistance with comprehension, both using English and Picturae images whenever possible, else non-commercial usage right Google images. The reverse side of the page had the same text without help for those faster processors who felt confident. N.B. I did observe at least 3 of those students flip the page back just to make sure, which reflects keeping some of those adolescent egos in check.

lesson 3

Silent Volleyball Reading
With this update, instead of Person A reading the Latin aloud, and Person B translating into English, Person B translates into English while Person A reads silently. The roles alternate for each sentence, just like the classic version.

When we did this in class today, I noticed that Person A gets a little break from saying anything aloud, which is exactly what my students need at the end of the day. Uh huh, I see my students 1x per week, last class of the day. Lucky me! Oh, and Silent Volleyball Reading is anything but silent! Students are still translating aloud in English while their partner reads along. BTW, this avoids the kind of poor pronunciation models you get from student-student activities that Terry Waltz famously deemed the “McDonald’s-like nutritional input.” 

Also, in the past, I have noticed hesitation when Student A isn’t confident in pronouncing the Latin. This is bad. We don’t want to show a student how well they understand Latin only to give them anxiety over pronouncing Latin?! This is even more noticeable considering my students have had such limited time with Latin, and this update eliminates that risk. So, Silent Volleyball Reading is a big upgrade, not just an update, and will likely replace all of my paired translation activities.

4 thoughts on “Silent Volleyball Reading (3rd hour of Latin)

  1. I like this as another way of getting a re-read going. I’ll be honest that I don’t share the concern for “bad pronunciation” when Volleyball reading is done in the original way. The more they hear from me, the better their pronunciation becomes, and the little bit they hear during a volleyball read is not going to do any damage. To think it will is to hedge toward the urban legend of fossilization which we have heard from BVP is simply not an issue.

    Will be using this silent version soon. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a great idea! Thank you for sharing. I’ll definitely be using this in all my classes.

    P.S. I don’t agree with BVP about the dangers of fossilization. But I guess that is not really an issue in Latin classes where all your students start as novices.

    • Cool! BVP doesn’t believe fossilization occurs in the first place. Are you saying you do?

      Also, the student to student input doesn’t have to be about the concept of fossilization, rather, one of just a lower quality input. When a student hesitating or stumbling over words is heard by another, the input doesn’t have flow. That could be distracting.

  3. Pingback: Partner read with comparison – Comprehensible Antiquity

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