On last week’s Tea with BVP, Bill VanPatten discussed what humans do when they listen to and read messages, known as Input Processing (IP), and then elaborated on his work with Processing Instruction (PI). Don’t let that acronym palindrome (PIIP, or IPPI) confuse you! Bill’s Processing Instruction (PI) is an instructional technique used to gently push students into linking form and meaning while processing input, although it’s meaning-based and communicative in nature, not explanation-based like pop-up grammar, etc. Regardless of using Processing Instruction (PI), the language teacher should be aware of what’s going on as students process input. So, what do they do first when they listen to, and read messages?
**Update 11.14.16** Piso has been published! See this announcement post.
Over the last couple years, I’ve doubled-down on pedagogy, becoming very comfortable teaching Latin, and can now place more emphasis on improving my own proficiency. Whatever my current proficiency level is, however, I’ve written a poetry-themed historical fiction novella set in Rome for the Novice reader (including 22 original lines of dactylic hexameter), which, as many have noted, we are in dire need of as a profession.
As a speaker, my Latin is not great, but it’s certainly NOT WORSE than most teachers out there. This novella, then, is an educational tool to get those teachers AND their students to read more fluently (ease + speed). It also happens to be a confidence-boosting read as an intro to Latin poetry if used in upper-levels. Pīsō Ille Poētulus now contains just 108 words (excluding names, different forms of words, and meaning established within the text, so this is quite low). I strongly feel that reading material with a low word count and frequently recycled vocabulary is a great asset to the Novice reader. Because of this parameter, decisions were made, such as esne hīc? in place of adesne? Here, I didn’t use an additional word, adesse (even if it’s a compound of other words that occur frequently), since the same, or similar meaning could be expressed with other words that already appear in the novella. Because I fully admit that my focus has been on pedagogy, I recognize that some people might have excellent suggestions to make Pīsō Ille Poētulus an even better resource for the Novice reader and our students reading Latin poetry.
So, I’m releasing the first five chapters of Pīsō Ille Poētulus (though without illustrations or all poetry audio files) for you to pilot in your classes, or at least read over Labor Day weekend. Why? This is for us—as Latin teachers—especially those who’d like to share Latin poetry with their students before the majority of them bail after year 2 or 3, and an opportunity for those with high levels of Latin proficiency to contribute to the profession.
Interested? I’m asking that you take a look at the first half of the novella, maybe run off a class copy (or project it and read through with upper-level students), and then get back to me with ways to improve it—particularly concerning the buzz about “Latinity” and “Classically Attested” and attention to Latin idiom. Keep in mind, however, the need for a Novice-level novella with a very low word count. If both can exist, hooray! If not, I’m sticking with a low word count as the priority, and you can go ahead and write a perfectly idiomatic Latin novella for Intermediate+.
Given that parameter of keeping the word count low, I’ll gladly accept suggestions for direct substitutions, especially ones that can be used in many places, or ones that don’t increase the word count by more than a word or two. Some suggestions I’ve already received have been fantastic, yet would have pushed Pīsō Ille Poētulus beyond what you’d expect from novellas with higher word counts, such as Cloelia, or Itinera Petrī. After October 1st, I’ll begin editing Pīsō Ille Poētulus for November publication. Remember, this novella is for us, so speak now or…
Click here to access Pīsō Ille Poētulus for piloting. **Update 11.14.16** Piso has been published!
**Updated 5.19.18** I forgot about this post until a comment came through just now. Was I really not using http://latin.packhum.org in 2016?!?! Sure enough, Perseus is utterly unhelpful, still showing no hits even when “different forms” is checked or if they are there, it’s not in Latin, and it’s buried deep within the pages. Packhum, however, has 60 hits, instantly. 60?!?! There I was this fine night in 2016 thinking I had to defend myself for using “magis placet,” yet look at all those beautiful instances right there! Anyway, the particular phrase, then, is a proxy for any phrase we actually DON’T have. I’m not editing this post.
Teacher-written reading material for Novice & Intermediate language learners is not new, at least for modern languages. TPRS Publishing and TPRS Books frequently add more to their roster, so teachers have their choice of topic. 2015 saw the publication of the first two of these novellas in Latin, [self-]published by Pomegranate Beginnings (i.e. Pluto & Itinera Petri). Since then, there has been a wide range of reception amongst Latin teachers (or Classicists, or Linguists, or Scholars, etc.). The general consensus regarding the positive reception has been something like “this is helping our students feel successful and have a positive experience in Latin class. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it.” Regarding the negative reception, most of it revolves around two buzzwords: