I’ve had a lot of prep time for a couple years now. How?! Not because of my teaching schedules, but because I constantly streamline practices to ensure I can actually complete my work during the workday. Most of this time is spent typing up class texts for students, as well as researching teaching practices online. Last week, however, I spent waaaaaay too much of that prep time crunching numbers with voyant-tools.org. Here are some insights into the vocab my students were exposed to this year throughout all class texts, and 8 of my novellas (reading over 45,000 total words!). N.B this includes all words read in class except for those appearing in the first 6 capitula of Lingua Latīna Per Sē Illustrāta that we read at the very end of the year. The stats:
- 550 unique words recycled throughout the year (there were 960 total, but 410 appeared just a handful of times!)
- 30% came from the first 8 Pisoverse novellas (Rūfus lutulentus through Quīntus et nox horrifica), and not found in class texts.
- 290 appeared in at least a few forms (i.e. not only 3rd person singular present for verbs, or nominative/accusative for nouns).
- 2470 different forms of words (grammar!)
- 45% came from the 8 Pisoverse novellas, not class texts.
I first adopted more realistic expectations of students after understanding how languages are acquired. This was within the first few months of teaching in my first job, so I was lucky; some have never had that opportunity. However, I was still trying to apply what I learned to a textbook program still focused on grammar, so it was a rocky start to any comprehension-based and communicative approach, to say the least. Despite what some might claim, CI and grammar just don’t mix. That is, whenever we decide to teach grammar, even for legit reasons, students are likely not receiving CI.
CI is not out to destroy the Classics. On the contrary, those advocating for teaching with more CI are the professions’ biggest cheerleaders, aiming to increase interest and enrollment worldwide. How? It starts with including all students.
Still included in the included, though, are those students most like us who have always thrived in conventional Latin classrooms. We can’t leave them out. At this point, I’ve had about 10 classes with students this year, which is just around the time when it becomes clear who’s really into Romans, and/or really into learning (as opposed to everything else that interests adolescents). Since a few of these students have made their presence known in my inclusive classroom, I have a plan…
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.