eLatin eGreek eLearn

More wired than a Roman Internet café

The locutorium is an open space - anyone can enter, if they are a member of Schola, and can use it as they wish. You are warmly invited to come along in, and make of it what you will. It is an open space, and has no 'owners'
The only rule is 'Latine tantum' - Latin only. It is the only universally intelligible language the users of the chatroom have.


There is a synergy of new technologies that has made this possible - three or four years ago, what we now have germinating on Schola, would have been more or less impossible. Yes, there were Latin chatrooms, but they were not functioning in this way, with users present every day.

Firstly, there is NING itself, http://schola.ning.com whose architecture enabled Schola to be set up, and translated easily into Latin. Secondly, Schola itself is fed with a stream of users who find their way to the Latinum podcast. This also relies on new technology - a free podcasting service, and itunes. Thirdly, we have a reasonably stable ( it isn't perfect by a long shot) audio-visual chatroom, that is integrated . Fourthly, we have google books.

It is the wonderful confluence of these new technologies, that is making this all possible. Those of us who want to truly become fluent readers, can now spend some time each and every day, in a proper Latin immersion environment.
There is no longer an excuse that Latin immersion is unavailable - it is - albeit in a virtual setting.

The users

Many users turn up, to listen to others talking, while 'chatting' with text, occasionally directing comments at the 'conversationalists'

Then, there are those who join in with audio or audio-visual conversations, and just shoot the breeze. For a more private conversation, users can open a new room, and go into it.

The use of schola's locutorium that interests me the most, is its use as a study-hall, a place for reading aloud, and studying Latin texts, in Latin, in a friendly social environment.

So far, we have Laura Gibb's study group, which is meeting up to read and discuss Castellion's Biblical Dialogues.

There is also another ad-hoc group, that meets up to read from Comenius' 'Schola Ludus'. We are now up to act iv, scene iv. This is a text that functions like a school textbook and dictionary all rolled into one, presented in the form of dialogue. It is perfect for reading with people taking turns.

Anyone who has a text they want to read, can log in, post the url and the page number they want to read from, and ask someone to join them - you'll find that the locals are friendly. For example, last night, I spent a couple of wonderful hours with a user who lives in Catalonia, reading aloud from Linnaeus' Philosophia Botanicae, which is an introductory student textbook - lots of easy, comprehensible, Latin, with an interesting subject. He also explains all his terms with paraphrases, so it is an ideal student text.

The methodology

The way I envisage the locutorium being used, mirrors the way I studied using the Socratic method, when I once studied in yeshiva (Talmudical college).. We sat in pairs in a large study hall, the texts open before us, and took turns reading, and then disputing over the meaning of the texts, taking turns to consult the dictionary when needed. The study hall was a very noisy place. Sometimes, discussions became very animated. This way, study could be maintained effortlessly for hours. Such a study pair is called a 'chevruta'. Studying alone was seen as a distincly odd thing to do - anti-social, and counter-productive. You needed to have a second person present, so you didn't fool yourself you understood something, when you actually didn't. If you couldn't explain it, you didn't understand it. This is the mediaeval study method, and was also the method used by the philosophers in the Greek academies. This 'Socratic Method' is an adversarial method, but highly effective. The locutorium as virtual academy, is a notion I find to be an appealing one.

Come and join the great experiment! http://schola.ning.com

Views: 38

Comment by Laura Gibbs on January 4, 2010 at 2:45pm
Hi Evan, this idea of speculating about what the locutorium means in terms of the history of "classrooms" and study rooms, etc., is fascinating. I am really intrigued by his idea of this being a kind of noisy and spontaneous place - where you don't even necessarily have a partner when you begin reading! I spend a lot of time reading Latin out loud just to myself… and I am thinking that when I do that, I will go to the Locutorium and read out loud there instead. If I end up alone there, it's no better/worse than reading alone at home… but if someone shows up to listen and/or to interact with me, wow, that's something that will never happen in my own home, where neither my husband nor the cat speak Latin! :-)
Comment by Latinum Institute on January 4, 2010 at 3:20pm
Brilliant idea! And if a conversation is ongoing in the main room, it is simple to open a new room, name it something of other, and head on in there. Someone, sooner or later, is bound to meander in.
Comment by Laura Gibbs on January 4, 2010 at 4:31pm
My goal is 1000 Aesop's fables accumulated this summer to make into a book - all with macrons AND stress marks, to encourage lots of loud reading out loud. I'll do my oral proofreading in the Locutorium and just see if anything comes of it. It's all online - I just started adding Abstemius. :-)
I'm still no fan of macrons, but by getting such a huge pile of fables to work with, I'll be able to cross-check my errors and missing macrons when it's all heaped together. Ex granis acervus! macronizatus! :-)


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