Textbooks

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1Dydo
Oct 5, 2006, 9:59pm

I'm a fan of the Learn to Read Latin textbook on a highschool level.

Favorites, anyone? Ones you don't like? (I'm *not* a fan of Latin for Americans.)

2appaloosaman
Oct 6, 2006, 3:59am

I am of a generation of Latinists that fell between the Victorian texts like Kennedy's The Shorter Latin Primer and Bradley's Arnold Latin Prose Composition and the modern texts that started coming into use in the 1960s. We missed out on the student friendly modern books. I confess that I was surprised to see that Bradley's Arnold is still in print and available from Amazon. That is some considerable longevity in a text book!

3_Zoe_
Oct 6, 2006, 6:56am

I love The Cambridge Latin Course. It's admittedly weak on grammar, but the stories are just so good that I would forgive it almost anything. If it's used in a classroom setting, the teacher can go into more grammatical detail anyway. I really like textbooks that are fun to read.

4MMcM
Edited: Oct 6, 2006, 5:41pm

I'm another taught the old-fashioned way. Late '60s, early '70s. You weren't asked to have favorites ;) Kennedy's Revised Latin Primer, Latin III : Forward in Reading, An Outline of Latin Prose Composition.

5Dydo
Oct 6, 2006, 4:15pm

Hey, we're not asked to have favorites either. ;) Maybe I just happen to be among the few who do. Silly me. :P

6thecardiffgiant
Oct 8, 2006, 11:40pm

My district uses the Cambridge Latin Course and I'm definitely not a fan. I liked the idea of the inductive method going in, but I've quickly come to dislike the approach. It claims to be a 'reading' approach, but kids end up relying too much on crutches, like artificial word order and personal pronouns. The lack of emphasis on forms means that kids end up translating by way of definitions. As long as they stick with Cambridge, they can 'read' the stories, but they don't know Latin. And it becomes very frustrating to teach and re-teach little bits of grammar with minor additions every few weeks when they kids are fully capable of learning the basics quickly and systematically.

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.

7_Zoe_
Oct 9, 2006, 11:15am

I think one of the reasons I like the Cambridge Latin Course is because I don't like the approach of learning all the grammar as quickly as possible, and then starting to read real texts by looking up every word in the dictionary (which is how I learned Greek). I find that when it gets to the point of actually reading, it's the vocabulary that's by far the biggest issue. With Cambridge, at least there's a lot of vocabulary throughout.

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.

8thecardiffgiant
Oct 11, 2006, 8:42pm

The problem is that vocabulary is easily acquired but grammar has to be learned. No amount of vocabulary will help you to read a perfect subjunctive or a proviso clause correctly.

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.

9_Zoe_
Oct 12, 2006, 2:41pm

I definitely agree that grammar shouldn't be ignored. But I also think that teaching grammar to the exclusion of everything else isn't particularly helpful when it comes to actually reading. While vocabulary can in principle be picked up easily, I don't find that I retain it very well when I have to look up multiple words in every sentence.

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.

10staffordcastle
Oct 13, 2006, 11:49pm

Latina Pro Populo makes me laugh a good deal, which never hurts when learning a language!

11appaloosaman
Oct 14, 2006, 9:49am

Perhaps we need more Latin lessons like that in Monty Python's Life of Brian:

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?
Brian: Annus.
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.

12FelixQuiPotuit
Edited: Jan 27, 2007, 11:35am

This message has been deleted by its author.

13FelixQuiPotuit
Edited: Jan 30, 2007, 11:06am

Hm. I'll try again..

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.

14_Zoe_
Jan 30, 2007, 1:13pm

In my second-year Latin course we used the Oxford Latin Reader (first year was Wheelock). But it's not entirely prose - we did prose first semester and verse second semester. It has selections from Caesar, Livy, Virgil, Catullus, Ovid, and possibly one or two others that I'm forgetting. We didn't read all of it - I think we left out a lot of the Livy - so it would be possible to do more prose. Probably not a whole year of prose, but I don't think a bit of verse would kill them.

15thecardiffgiant
Jan 30, 2007, 7:52pm

Ecce Romani III (a text I used when I took intensive Latin as an undergraduate) is a good text because it uses authentic but simple Latin from the likes of Eutropius, the 4th century historian who condensed Roman history from its mythical begining to his own time.

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.

16FelixQuiPotuit
Feb 1, 2007, 9:09am

Thanks for these -- I'll give them a look.

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. (!)

17PossMan
Edited: Feb 12, 2007, 3:18pm

I've also got Wheelock (CoffeeBean #13) and on the whole think it very good but one thing that really irritates me is the order of the cases (Nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, ablative) whereas many UK texts seem to have accusative in second place. But as a lone, at home, learner I'm finding it (Latin, not Wheelock in particular) very heavy going.

18Passer_Invenit
Feb 14, 2007, 3:45pm

PossMan, if you're going the self-teaching route, you might find the Orberg Lingua Latina series useful as a supplement to Wheelock. There's a fair amount of consensus that the Orberg materials are weak on grammar, but you're getting grammar from Wheelock anyway and Orberg is hard to beat when it comes to providing lots and lots of easy-to-read, coherent Latin texts to develop reading fluency. One of the things that I dislike about Wheelock and most other conventional primers is that they fixate on translating Latin into English rather than allowing the learner to engage with the language on its own terms the way any modern language textbook would.

19PossMan
Edited: Feb 14, 2007, 4:03pm

EvaRaphaela - thanks for that link to Orberg. I hadn't come across those books before. I'll investigate the links on his page further as they look useful. The idea of having coherent texts is important. For example I have "Reading Latin" by Peter V. Jones and Keith C. Sidwell. I suspect that the longer passages for translation would be easier if they were more believeable as a story.

20_Zoe_
Feb 14, 2007, 4:59pm

EvaRaphaela, I completely agree that there's far too much focus on translating. Even when we moved beyond textbooks, I found that all my courses were pretty much entirely focused on translating rather than reading. I wish Latin courses were taught more like modern language courses.

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.

21PossMan
Feb 15, 2007, 6:17am

_Zoe_ I see that the review for Thirty-Eight Latin Stories calls them 'weird' and interesting but I'll have a closer look - if they're graded as it seems I think that could be helpful. With passages in some books that I've read I haven't been 100 percent sure that the 'weirdness' is in the story and not my 'translation'. And some of the 'plots' are fairly far-fetched. But thanks for the suggestion.

22casuistry
Feb 24, 2007, 8:06pm

I'm in second year Latin right now, and we're going through a few anthologies, mostly the Cambridge Latin Anthology.

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!

23messpots
Nov 8, 2007, 3:00pm

This thread has not been alive for some time, but in case anyone gives a hoot, I adored my first textbook, Latin : an intensive course. For some reason no one ever mentions it; perhaps it has flaws I have overlooked.

24scaifea
Nov 8, 2007, 3:32pm

#23 messpots: Yeah, Moreland & Fleischer! It's the only textbook I'll teach from - it's the best that's out there, for lots of reasons that I won't go into now, but would be happen to explain to anyone who's interested...

25messpots
Nov 8, 2007, 4:50pm

>24 scaifea:
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.

26scaifea
Nov 9, 2007, 7:52am

I like M&F first and foremost because it introduces the entire verb system (including subjunctives) very early on, which helps in a couple of ways: 1) You can have the students start reading 'real' Latin sooner (and you couldn't do that without the subjunctive), and 2)It takes the psychological fear out of the subjunctive - if you don't get it until near the end of the book (as in other texts, like Wheelock, for example), then students automatically think it must be hard and just decide they'll have problems with it. But if you get it early, it's no big deal for them.

27messpots
Nov 9, 2007, 9:58am

>26 scaifea:
Yes, I remember making a groove in the carpet of my dorm room, pacing up and down, memorizing lots paradigms at the same time.

28nathanielcampbell
Edited: Aug 3, 2013, 6:24pm

I'm going to resurrect this thread, as I have been asked by my college to start from scratch an Elementary Latin course this fall. I surveyed some friends from grad school and my own former teachers, and while Wheelocks got generally high marks (especially when taught in conjunction with the Thirty-Eight Stories put out by Bolchazy-Carducci), I decided to go in a slightly different direction, especially because there is the possibility that the course will be opened up to dual enrollment for the local high schools.

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.

29ElenaGwynne
Sep 25, 2013, 2:16pm

I haven't seen any mention of the book I used in conjunction with Wheelock (by far the book I preferred over the Oxford course which the teacher used for my first time through first year Latin) for my second year Latin course at college: From Augustus To Nero. I very much enjoyed the readings from that book, all excerpts from authors like Tacitus, Suetonius etc.

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