eLatin eGreek eLearn

More wired than a Roman Internet café

Over the summer, I have been working on an Audio Visual Latin Course, that is grammar intensive, yet teaches Latin through only using Latin. I have called this the Cursum Latinum, to tie in with the Latinum podcast.

The course is aimed at complete beginners, who speak any language, and would, I believe, be suitable for children, and adult students. Even quite advanced students are using it, as the course teaches through Latin, doing a lot to activate the language and re-program the brain to think in Latin, using a varied sequence of little dialog sequences. Declensions and verbs etc are examined in Latin.

I have been careful to not rely at all on Romance language cognates, as I am aiming for listeners who do not share a common Romance heritage. The visual format makes it easier to teach fundamental concepts, than a text-only approach.

I have also taken the decision to provide no written text to accompany this course - it will be audio only, although I do give extensive drilling exercises with syllables, as was done by the Romans and ancient Greeks. In many ways, this course is fundamentally Classical, and its format can be traced back in a direct line to the ancient Roman language classroom. Indeed, much of the Renaissance method was a deliberate attempt at reconstruction of the Roman classroom environment, gleaned from surviving educational texts. We now know even more, thanks to recent archaeological discoveries.

To produce this course, I have made use of a large amount of Renaissance and nineteenth century teaching material. The bulk of the course follows Adler's Ollendorff, with its extensive graduated oral examples, and much material is drawn from Comenius, especially the method for teaching the case system using leading questions, and other grammatical explanations.

Many Renaissance Latin textbooks give complete lesson plans, including scripted lessons - so it is possible to see precisely how grammar was examined in Latin, and how basic information was taught in Latin, and reconstruct such a classroom online. There was a great focus on 'realia' in the Renaissance classroom - either using pictures or objects to teach with. I have drawn on this tradition extensively in these lessons.

I have decided to use Varro's method for teaching gender, and introduce the diminutive of a word, as diminutives follow a regular pattern for gender, with almost no exceptions. e.g. hic nauta, hic nautulus, haec vulpes, haec vulpecula. Knowing the diminutive will lead a student to the correct gender in examples where the form hides the gender.

I also teach adjectives in the order feminine, masculine, neuter. I think the traditional order masculine, feminine, neuter makes little grammatical sense, violates the order of the declensions, and hides fundamental patterns ( the neuter being simply a variant of the masculine). It is just straightforward grammatical sexism, putting the masculine first as being more important by virtue of its masculinity.

The course has a lot of interactivity, loads of props, lots of useful repetition, and a fun dinosaur glove puppet, and my declension glove.

So far, I have uploaded over 300 short lessons. Some lessons will need to be listened to a few times, others only once. Should nothing get in the way, the course will be complete in around 2 years time, and will comprise around 4 000 lessons.

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