Latin Podcasting – An Exercise in Outreach
This article outlines the origins of the ‘Latinum’ podcast, and its associated support websites, ‘Schola’ (A safe place to write in Latin), and ‘Imaginum Vocabularium Latinum’ (A visual vocabulary).
Latinum originated in March 2007, with a few reading’s from Fenton’s “A Child’s First Latin Book’. At this stage, Google’s first scan of Georger Adler’s ‘lost’ textbook for Spoken Latin had not appeared on Google Books. This comprehensive rare text now forms the core of the Latinum Podcast.
The reasoning that lies behind the Latinum podcast is simple – for many learners, consolidation of language requires exposure to the ‘language lab’. Few Latin programmes make use of this, as Latin is not usually approached as a language with communication as an objective, and the resources have not been developed to the degree that they exist in the MFL’s. The author of Latinum believes that the most rapid route to achieving fluency, is through firing on all cylinders – reading , writing, and also engaging in speaking and listening to the target language.
The Latinum Podcast provides opportunities for listening , and also for speaking. Using audio files, the user can expose themselves to many hours of Latin. Should they wish to, they can literally immerse themselves in the Language during their waking hours, with the use of an MP3 player, leading to rapid progress, and eventual command of the language.
The methodology used for delivering the podcast lessons is that developed and outlined in great detail by Jean Manesca (An Oral System of Teaching Living Languages, Roe Lockwood and Son, NY 1845). This oral method for learning French is very intensive, and would not be suitable for a contemporary classroom environment, however it is perfectly suited for delivery as a podcast. The goal is to produce students who are totally fluent, and who can think and write in the language effectively.
The Latinum podcast is delivered in a restored classical pronunciation. The student is thus exposed to the thorny problem of quantity from the beginning, and acquires an ear for it right from the start, making the transition to reading Latin verse less of a hurdle when that point is eventually reached. The utility of this for the neophyte Latinist cannot be stressed enough.
The Latinum podcast has a wide and international audience base – over 7 000 individuals have downloaded the introductory episode, which explains what the Podcast is all about, and since May 2007 there have been over 900 000 audio file downloads, with over 1 500 regular users – the population of a small sized university, representing one of the largest communities of active Latin learners anywhere.
In terms of financing, podcasting is cheap. An high quality microphone is useful, but not essential. No other expenses are required. The primary issue is one of time; the time it takes to master the technology required to set up a podcast, and the time it takes to record and maintain the podcast itself. Assuming the host service does not go bust. At present, Latinum is hosted for free on mypodcast.com, however the long-term future of the host provider can not be assured, although at present the future of the site appears secure. At some point in the future it may be necessary to move Latinum to a different structure, however, this will only be done if absolutely necessary, as a primary objective is to keep latinum available as a free resource.