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They wonder when they'll ever learn the plural, or be able to say something in the first person.
I originally learned with the Oxford Latin Course, and I'm beginning to become a little nostalgic for it. I didn't like it at the time, but I was reading Latin authors two months after starting, so it did something right.
If I had a choice, I might not use a textbook, or if I did I'd use an old grammar-based book and supplement with stories of my own, simple readers, and adapted texts. There was an old approach that you don't see in modern textbooks: lessons keyed to grammars. This was especially common in prose composition books, but I've seen it some others, and I'm very fond of this because it acquaints students from the start with using reference grammars. The sequence is generally sound, and the text allows the teacher the freedom to supplement a solid grammar course liberally.
I often feel hampered by the choices made by the editors of the CLC. Because we follow one linear story, I can't introduce this or that bit of grammar too soon. This goes, to some extent, for the cultural components to some extent.
Also, I don't think it hurts that Cambridge makes Latin fun. Like I said before, I just love the stories.
I'm not familiar enough with older methods of teaching to judge how they compare, though. But I do think prose composition is essential.
I have Latin III students who are coming in with the habit of guessing at the meaning of readings based on vocabulary and failing miserably because they don't know forms and syntax.
I'm trying to stress to them that they know far more about the meaning of a sentence if they know how the words relate to one another than if they only know the dictionary definitions.
This is especially true for Greek because vocabulary changes so dramatically from author to author, dialect to dialect, era to era.
Also, I think that some grammatical forms are obscure enough that they can just be taught as they occur. The textbook I used didn't teach the dual, for example, though it was included in the appendices. So when we were reading something and came across it, we said, Hey, what's that strange form? And then the professor told us all the dual forms, and it wasn't a problem. In fact, I think I remembered those forms better than some we had been formally taught, because I wasn't learning a million other forms at the same time.
I have no actual teaching experience, though, so all this is just based on my own learning experiences.
A Centurion catches Brian writing graffiti on the palace wall.
Centurion: What's this, then? "Romanes eunt domus"? People called Romanes, they go, the house?
Brian: It says, "Romans go home."
Centurion: No, it doesn't! What's the latin for "Roman"? Come on, come on !
Brian: Er, "Romanus"!
Centurion: Goes like?
Centurion: Vocative plural of "Annus" is?
Brian: Er, er, annus, anni, anno, annum, anno, anni... "Romani"!
Centurion: writes "Romani" over Brian's graffiti "Eunt"? What is "eunt"? Conjugate the verb, "to go"!
Brian: Er, "Ire." Er, "eo," "is," "it," "imus," "itis," "eunt."
Centurion: So, "eunt" is... ?
Brian Third person plural present indicative, "they go".
Centurion: But, "Romans go home" is an order. So you must use... ? twists Brian's ear
Brian: Aaagh! The imperative!
Centurion; Which is...?
Brian: Which is...?
Brian: Aaaaagh! Er, er... "ii"!
Centurion: How many Romans?
Brian: Aaaaagh! Plural, plural... er, "ite"!
Centurion: writes "ite" on wall "Domus"? Nominative? "Go home" is motion toward, isn't it?
Brian: Dative! Centurion holds a sword at Brian's throat Aaagh! Not the dative, not the dative! Er, er... accusative, "ad domus"!
Centurion: But "Domus" takes the locative, which is...?
Brian: Er... "Domum"
Centurion: "Domum"! writes "Domum" on wall Understand? Now, write it out a hundred times.
Brian: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.
Centurion: Hail Caesar! And if it's not done by sunrise, I'll cut your balls off.
For those of you who have taken or taught second-year college Latin -- what did you read? Currently we are using Finis Rei Publicae for students who have done Wheelock or the equivalent, but this seems to require a high level of interest in the politics of the late Republic -- not very widespread among these students. So I'm soliciting suggestions for an interesting prose text that comes with thorough grammatical helps. (This course generally does not enroll the super-motivated -- it's mostly non-classics-majors finishing their language requirement -- so it's important to avoid the 'deer in the headlights' phenomenon that undigested Latin prose would cause...)
By the way, I learned with Wheelock myself, and I still think it's one of the most efficient textbooks out there.
The focus, if I recall, is upon the age of Caesar and Cicero, and then of Augustus. The text is presented on the right with glosses, commentary, and grammatical aids on the left page. Between sections important grammatical constructions are reviewed with exercises.
It sounds similar to the book you mentioned, but it's very readable.
If you don't want to deal with history, you may have a hard time finding suitable Latin prose. Students who can't stomach political intrigue probably wouldn't fare much better with Cicero. What other Latin prose might be appropriate?
Then we get into the realm of modern inventions.
One book I would caution everyone to avoid, though, would be The Adventures of the Monkey Pilosus Naso. It's a well-meaning text, and one used by my predecessor, but it's an entirely invented and misleading story about a monkey from early Imperial Rome (I forget the exact era) trying to save Constantinople (!!!) from an evil Carthaginian (!!!). Anachronisms abound. Details like these sealed my decision to scrap the book.
Ah, the monkey book. Apparently once when the Latin TAs got to choose their own texts, one class got nothing but Pilosus Naso for an entire term. (!)
PossMan, do you know the book Thirty-Eight Latin Stories? They're written to go along with Wheelock, so the easy ones can be read with just the first chapters of Wheelock, and so on. I don't remember the content of the stories exactly, but I think there's a lot of mythology and it may move on to adapted real Latin authors at the end.
The class is pining, I think, to do something a bit longer. Wheelock, which we used in first year, parcelled out sentences one at a time, which might help you focus on certain grammatical nuances, but doesn't help you get any momentum. And anthologies are nice in giving you a sampling of the various authors. But it seems that reading the first few sentences of a passage take the longest, and then you get into the groove -- and being in that groove is a nice feeling!
Well that's reassuring! I thought perhaps I dreamt the whole experience! I enjoyed learning lots of grammar fast. I used the book in the late 70s.
Yes, I remember making a groove in the carpet of my dorm room, pacing up and down, memorizing lots paradigms at the same time.
So I'm going with what has to be one of the most underrated textbooks out there (indeed, I'm surprised that this thread mentioned the execrable Cambridge and Oxford offerings, as well as the excellent but sometimes childish Ecce Romani, but not this one): Jenney's First Year Latin and Jenney's Second Year Latin. It combines the strengths of the older, grammatical approach (and its layout of Forms, Syntax, Vocabulary, Exercises, and Reading passage for each chapter is impeccably clear) with the benefits of longer reading passages to develop both sides simultaneously.
That is, it's a lot like the Wheelocks/Thirty-Eight Stories combo, but its presentation is a lot more friendly to students who may not have had the best high school preparation to take college Latin / high school students who are enrolling in the college-level course.
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