Rūfus et arma ātra: A New Latin Novella

**Update 3.15.17 – Rufus has been published!**

Rūfus et arma ātra is a spin-off of Pīsō Ille Poētulus written with ONLY 40 words—the lowest word count of currently published novellas! Rūfus is simple, funny, and can be read a) after Pīsō once students have a connection to the character, or b) before Pīsō early on in Latin I. At the end of November, most of my Latin I students read Rūfus over just a few days of Free Voluntary Reading (FVR); some read it within the first 15min!

Click here to access the first 3 chapters (of 7) for previewing/piloting.

In the preview, you’ll recognize some illustrations from Pīsō. Over 50 of them, both old and new, will be used to aid comprehension in the final version of Rūfus. I’ll be editing the book in February for publication in March, so contact me with any suggestions you and/or your students might have by the end of January.

p.s. Rūfus was inspired by Mira Canion’s El capibara con botas containing just 55 Spanish words. The book was a breeze and a blast to read, and I knew that Latin students needed something like this. Granted, the word count figure excludes a lot of Spanish cognates (twice as many?), but that seems to be the industry standard practice. For Pīsō, however, I strayed from this practice and instead chose to include cognates in the word count figure of 108, since I don’t believe cognates are necessarily transparent, and excluded the ~30 additional meanings established in footnotes. Similarly, Rūfus has just ~10 additional meanings established in footnotes. If that reckoning irritates you, it’s fine to say that while Pīsō has under 150, Rūfus has under 50 words—a figure still worthy of note!

High-Frequency: a Concept, not Stats

Recently, John Piazza reminded me of Bill VanPatten’s definition of “high-frequency vocabulary” as vocabulary used often in a particular context.

The classroom context is very important. I can tell you that pater, though the 84th most frequent Latin word (according to Logeion), doesn’t come up much in my classes. You know what does? saccus pyraulocinēticus, meaning “jet pack.” Honestly, I don’t blame kids for finding a reason to sneak that into class, and I don’t mind one bit because a) we can show how Latin works with saccus pyraulocinēticus just as much as we can pater, and b) because it’s pure buy-in that makes Latin class fun.

The high-frequency lists are useful, but don’t forget that those lists are based on literature. Realize, then, that most of your students, if not nearly all, will NEVER read Latin literature. If your class is truly communicative, vocabulary used in your room each day will be relevant to students and their interests. Once you move beyond the Quaint Quīntum, Awesome Octō, Sweet Sēdecim, Top 32, Most Important 52, etc., the “high-frequency list” words you CHOOSE to use in class might be in vain, especially if they aren’t compelling, or worse, somehow causing grief in an effort to “get through” or “cover” words that appear in X, Y, and or Z.

Lingua Latīna: LOVE the textbook, but is it right for my students?

No.

Lingua Latīna per sē Illustrāta (LLPSI), the Latin textbook entirely in Latin, has a cult following. I understand the appeal. Personally, I love it, and am currently rereading it for the nth time. Still, I’m wary whenever people suggest LLPSI as the panacea to common pedagogical problems, or assume it’s the most appropriate resource to use when teaching Latin communicatively. Again, I understand, but LLPSI is still a textbook, and comes with every downside of using a textbook to teach communicatively.

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A New Curriculum Map

**New iteration of the Curriculum Map as the Universal Language Curriculum (ULC) Updated 2.4.18**
**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. 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!

CI Curriculum

**Updated 2.28.18 with the Universal Language Curriculum (ULC)**

The bad news; there isn’t one for Latin. The good news; we do have a list of Most Important Latin Verbs. More bad news; most teachers new to CI don’t know what to DO with the list, yet this is what they crave, and NEED the most. It makes perfect sense. There just isn’t time to create a realistic curriculum from the ground up, or tons of Embedded Readings while we’re just getting used to the idea of CI from reading blogs, articles, and research, let alone honing our craft when it comes to delivering understandable messages.

The role of a curriculum changes when a skilled CI teacher is able to use more student details to drive content, and can create teachable moments ex tempore. There’s also the case for non-targeted input which leaves a curriculum optional. STILL, all that’s advanced stuff, and this is about getting teachers help who crave it most.

Some support.

Although I’ve heard recently that some teachers have ditched TPR at the start of the year in favour of beginning storytelling immediately, I will continue to start with TPR since I really haven’t exhausted the possibilities. There’s an updated, or “evolved” version of TPR anyway, which I find is more powerful and I’d like to get some experience with that.

So, I’ve been working on an essential list of classroom vocab (remember, “shelter vocab, unshelter grammar!”) to use with the most important verbs…about the closest thing to the high-demand curriculum that’s needed.

Access the TPR Word Wall here.

 Update 10.08.15 DO NOT attempt to work through the TPR Word Wall as a curriculum to complete. Like EVERYTHING we teach, when something loses steam, move on. My pattern has been to work on a verb or two, then get some details from a student with DISCIPVLVS ILLVSTRIS, and read, give a dictātiō, etc. For reference, I am just past the 8 hr mark with my (online) classes, and haven’t begun storytelling.