Thoughts on the TEKS and How They Apply to Latin
The TEKS for LOTE
are not as specific as they are for other subjects, in great
measure because of the variety of styles of textbooks that
approach the teaching of a second language differently.
Latin has for
decades been considered largely a language to be read, thus for
a long time oral Latin was neglected and treated as if not
needed. However, more recent research and developments in second
language acquisition have demonstrated that it is important to
involve ALL the senses, even with Latin. You develop good
communication skills by using all means to communicate
(listening, reading, speaking, writing)--but, admittedly,
reading will be the most important communication skill for us to
Students will find
that I try to use a fair amount of oral Latin in my classes,
almost always in a way that supports success and not failure.
While students will not ever be graded on something like
spontaneous conversations, there will be reading grades.
Our textbooks, the
Cambridge Latin Course for levels 1 and 2, and Ecce Romani for
levels 3 and 4 (until the students who started on Ecce complete
their Latin studies) incorporate culture in the readings and
supplement that with additional information in English. In
addition, we will touch upon a bit of mythology and Roman
We make constant
connections in the Latin classroom, seeing just how far
reaching our Latin heritage truly is. It's not just
English vocabulary, but also government, law, the sciences, and
literature that have roots in the classical world.
We will also spend
time examining comparisons of Roman customs, beliefs and
artifacts with those of our own culture. The Romans were like us
in so many ways, but they were also very different, and because
they are long buried, we can discuss our cultural differences
without fear of offending others.
The last of the
"Five C's" is communities, one of the most difficult
items to fulfill in the Latin classroom. While Spanish classes
can visit nearby Mexico and truly immerse themselves in the
culture, this is not possible for Latin. However,
participation in Junior Classical League events with other Latin
students from across the area, state and nation usually fill
this requirement. Participating in all Latin (no English
allowed) event, such as playing cards in Latin, playing online
Latin Scrabble, or even Latin chatrooms also help to create a
sense of community.
The most important
of these 5 C's is the first, communication. I believe
passionately that we study Latin to communicate with people who
lived long ago, whose words should be heard not through
translations, but in their own words, in their own way, imbued
with their thoughts and feelings. The by-products of studying
Latin include improved SAT scores, broader vocabulary, a better
grasp of English grammar and improved writing skills, but those
are just by-products. Those who truly love Latin will strive to
improve their reading skills, enhancing these skills with oral
and aural work.