For Every Sentence, What Can You Add?

The Super Clear Cognate list is up to 475! Aside from making posters of a small selection of them to have more readily available to use during class, I’ve forgotten major plans I had for the growing resource. Late July, I posted the following to Latin Best Practices Facebook group:

My latest plan is to browse the list before writing any texts (e.g. editing class stories, adapting ancient texts, etc.), and just adding at least 1 cognate—maybe per part of speech (while also REMEMBERING that adverb forms exist).

– Have dialogue? Toss in a cognate instead of “dicit!”
– Describing size? Check for more interesting adjectives!
– Introducing a new character? Give them a role!

Yeah…that didn’t really happen. Granted, I did use compacta for something small, but I haven’t made this part of my workflow of typing up the day’s events in class to read the next day. So, despite writing 1300 total words for learners by second week, I wonder if I could’ve been providing more varied input as we focus on those frequent verbs. The good news is that one week won’t have disastrous negative effects, which means I can implement the new workflow right away.

Every Sentence
In addition to the cognates, consider what you can add after every sentence. Not only does this increase exposure to vocabulary, but also creates more of an image. Instead of moving onto the next sentence, action, though, or event…

  • …could you describe something you just wrote?
  • …could you restate the whole message from a different perspective, then add another detail (known, or possible), like how an action was done?
  • …could you add a nōn sentence?
  • …could you give background motivation for what just occurred based on character traits, or what they like/dislike?

The answer to all those is probably “yes.” Don’t get carried away with bogging down the text with super long sentences, but do consider how you might elaborate and expand the input without introducing any new words beyond those super clear cognates. This is one way to deliberately spiral (i.e. recycle) vocabulary that has already been used.



Basics: Current Ideas & Summary of Recurring Blog Posts

All Of My Daily Activities, etc.
– input-based strategies & activities
– how to get texts

Now, here are the practices fundamental to my teaching, making the daily stuff possible:

Course Grade
Speaking & Writing

Continue reading for explanations of each…

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Story Template Using Top 16 Verbs

Keith Toda just posted about writing simple texts and parallel stories for extensive reading use, such as during Free Voluntary Reading (FVR). Follow this template to create simple texts from scratch using the Sweet Sēdecim (Top 16). Also follow this template starting with any text (e.g. the simplest version of an Embedded Reading, a parallel story, a textbook chapter, a Write & Discuss, details from Discipulus Illustris, a myth, etc.). This will get you practice writing for the novice:

  1. Setup:
    (is, is in, likes)
  2. Conflict:
    (there isn’t, doesn’t have, wants [to ___], wants to go)
    Interactions: (sees, hears, says, thinks, knows)
  3. New Location(s):
    (leaves, comes to, is in, goes)
    – Interactions: (sees, hears, says, thinks, knows)
  4. Resolution/Unresolved Ending:
    (if item/object: someone carries, puts, gives, if action: character is able)

Here’s a 250 total word length story I could add to the FVR shelf as another comprehensible option…

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Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) Myths & Starting Your Library For $0 – $250

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!

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Student-Provided CI Training & Output to Input

Can’t get to a workshop, or conference? Well, first try Comprehensible Online, which starts tomorrow! Otherwise, have you watched every CI YouTube video out there, and want more training? Take a step back, be a CI ninja, and realize who’s in front of you each day. Our own students are usually an overlooked source for training us to provide comprehensible input (CI)! Sure, we hone our questioning skillz every day, but students can provide something more…

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HQ (High-Quantity) Reading & Pisoverse Vocab

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…

1) Novellas
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.

The other option is to write personalized texts for your own students. Here, “personalized” could mean texts based on details learned in class about the students themselves, or adapted ancient texts on topics that students are interested in. Writing personalized texts for your students daily is one way to provide copious amounts of CI. This is a high-leverage practice, and doubles as the least expensive option (yes, novellas are inexpensive, but 5 copies of all current 17 could run $500. This is quite low when it comes to classroom resources, yet remains a hard sell in underfunded programs in which teachers haven’t yet advocated for text budgets like ELA courses). So, writing personalized texts is one inexpensive way to provide the most comprehensible reading material, yet it also might require ditching some practices teachers ASSUME they must do, yet contribute very little to acquisition:
  • 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!

Not sure where to begin when it comes to writing for the Novice? Read this, this, and this!

*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.