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.Continue reading
Would you believe that fūr, Latin for “thief,” is among the most compelling words used in class? The moment a student spontaneously yells out that word, there’s an immediate conflict—a problem to solve. This is gold for comprehension-based and communicative language teaching (CCLT), especially for collaborative storytelling/storyasking!Continue reading
What’s an appropriate level text for students reading independently?
That is, texts intended to be used for Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) need to be way, way, way easier to read than most teachers think…
This is not an audiobook with sound effects or music. It’s not just narration. It’s definitely not repeat-after-me.
This release is part of a new series of audio, Learning Latin via, planned for other Pisoverse novellas. This series assumes a listener with ZERO prior Latin can maintain comprehension and confidence while listening to any book! If you listen to this while following along with the novella (or maybe even without the text!?), you WILL start to pick up Latin.
The audio to accompany Agrippīna: māter fortis is the first offered in the series. There are over 1500 Latin messages, some of which are comprised of 10+ words—none of that isolate word-list, or “repeat-after-me” stuff! This contains 6 hours of Latin! Each chapter has the following 3 tracks:
Following Carol Gaab, and M & M (i.e. Mira Canion & Martina Bex), here’s a quick post on how I’ve organized the Pisoverse. While those authors have hundreds of titles to address, I have just 8, and they’re much smaller in scope. After all, I write novellas, not novels. Still, there is method to my madness…
With students meeting 1x/week—this year only—we just had the 30th class of the year. I compared this to our calendar for next year, which is as if it’s October 9th meeting every day of the week. Now, with constant reminders of routines (since at least one week passes from class to class), and typical testing/school interruptions, and Northeast snow, those 30 class hours could amount to fewer total hours of input (25, 20, 15?!). Total input hours is tough to calculate, though, so we’ll just stick with 30 for the purpose of this post! What does that mean for reading? Cue the first novella…
Myth 1 – “My students aren’t ready.”
Face it, this is a myth. Your students might not be ready to spend 15min/day reading 300-word, 5k length novels, but they’re probably ready to begin self-selecting short texts like class stories to read very early on. Once you have about 5-10 class stories, make some booklets and start FVR for a few minutes 1x/week. For this reason, I intend to make TPRS a priority early in the year after some TPR. In the past, I’ve built this up too much, spending a whole class or two on a story. My new plan is more shorter stories, at least 2/week.
Myth 2 – “There aren’t enough resources.”
Curating that collection of class stories takes care of this second myth, at least for a while. Also, don’t forget about writing/adapting short texts yourself!
Here’s the latest compelling, comprehensible text written with sheltered (i.e. limited) vocabulary to provide more understandable reading material for the beginning Latin student. Drūsilla et convīvium magārum features mages (i.e. witches, sorcerers, etc.), serpents, a dinner party, peacocks, and potentially pooping in a cooking-pot (fūfae! = gross!). Fun for everyone, right?
Drūsilla is the longest Pisoverse novella to date, finishing at over 3400 total words in length. That’s over 500 words longer than Pīsō Ille Poētulus, but with half the vocab! It’s the first Pisoverse novella to venture into magic and the occult, making for quite the compelling narrative, yet still within the context of ancient Rome.
Drusilla lives next to Piso. Like many Romans, she likes to eat, especially peacocks! As the Roman army returns, she awaits a big dinner party celebrating her father’s homecoming. One day, however, she sees a suspicious figure give something to her brother. Who was it? Is her brother in danger? Is she in danger?
Drūsilla et convīvium magārum contains 58 unique words (excluding names, different forms of words, and meaning established within the text), and works well with any Roman daily life unit (e.g. home, family, food, etc.) in Latin class.
Drūsilla et convīvium magārum is available…
One Second Language Acquisition (SLA) idea is that teachers mostly control only the quantity and quality of input—the sine qua non of language acquisition—with the learner’s internal syllabus acting as a major constraint. Conventionally, Latin teachers have been preoccupied with quality of Latin over quantity, which is likely the opposite of how to acquire a language! Furthermore, quality* has different interpretations, especially concerning its comprehensibility.
Recently, John Piazza has been promoting HQ (High-Quantity) Reading—of texts students understand—on the Latin Best Practices Facebook group, and with good reason. Blaine Ray’s recommendation is reading 32 pages a week (half in school, half at home) beginning in the 3rd year, which is quite the challenge for a profession lacking a high quantity of understandable reading material (i.e. texts written with a reasonable number of words, and NOT what some consider appropriate texts)! Right now, there are a couple of ways Latin teachers are working towards that goal…
2) Writing personalized texts
There are about 17 novellas written with sheltered vocabulary for the beginning student, which I’ve been updating on a list, here. These novellas are ready-to-go sources of more understandable input than has ever been available in the past, offering thousands of Latin words for students to read in compelling contexts. As an author of some of those texts, I can share some stats. At this point in the Pisoverse, there are 4 novellas, and 2 readers. This winter, there will be a 5th novella of 58 unique words, which will end up being the longest in the Pisoverse at over 3000 total words! These 8 texts are written with just 300 unique words across them all—a reasonable amount for students to understand by their third year, no doubt containing some new words (because high-frequency is context-dependent). The total word count of these 8 texts is over 16,600. That’s a lot of Latin—twice as much, in fact, since this past October! So, the Pisoverse alone is just one huge source towards the 32 pages/wk goal in the third year. Approx. half of that Latin is available completely free for projecting/printing on each publication’s blog post,which you can find on the Novellas tab.
- Instead of creating worksheets…
- Instead of designing a 1-2 page quiz…
- Instead of grading quizzes at home, or during planning time…
- Instead of creating a translating activity…
…write personalized texts daily for your students!
*Quality is usually synonymous with Latīnitās, which will be debated ad nauseum, ad inferōs, and beyond, yet another take on quality of input is in the richness and clarity of meaning. The ancient unadapted short sentences found in “Wheelock’s” and “Learn to Read Latin” textbooks hold very little meaning for the beginning student—not to mention some degree-holders—which calls into question the quality of input if only few can understand that level of Latīnitās. After all, even the best examples of single-sentence Ciceronian Latin can be meaningless to most! Quality, then, can be seen as messages that hold a great deal of meaning, and not just messages of a particular style consistent with great ancient authors.