Bob Patrick continues:
Let me address the edges of “impure CI”. This is not criticism. This is what we all contend with.
- “using more and more spoken Latin” Surprisingly, this may have little to do with CI and may work against it. This is the tantalizing temptation of spoken Latin intensives that happen each summer in various locations. I am a beneficiary and lover of these intensives, but they also unintentionally mislead Latin teachers who attend them into thinking that they must take the experience back home to their classrooms and do the same thing that they did at the intensive. All that does is frustrate students and teachers alike.
The CI teacher’s almost sole focus is delivering understandable messages in Latin, every day, to all of her/his students. This DOES mean speaking Latin,but it won’t be flashy, sexy, sophisticated, or Ciceronian Latin. Not even in Latin 4. It will be the kind of Latin that babies understand, and preschoolers understand, and third graders understand. I don’t have to be an advanced Latin speaker to teach Latin with CI at the high school level–even in the fourth year. No worries. No one is going to accuse me of being an advanced Latin speaker, but I walk into my classroom and deliver understandable messages in compelling ways to my students at every level. What’s better? I can tell when I am NOT doing that, and I’m getting better at knowing how to remedy that problem on the spot. Takes practice.
- “explain grammar forms and ask students to write them.” CI teachers can do that, and we have to be very, very careful about how and how often we do that. The real caution is when I find myself feeling like I just HAVE to put forms on the board and have them take notes. If I allow myself to get that far, the second warning is the glassy eyed looks that begin to form across the room–and they form very quickly. The third warning that this is a bad move is when only a handful are “getting it” and responding and asking animated questions. That makes us feel wonderful (which is why we did this to begin with–looking to feel better ourselves) and it clear sign that we are no longer teaching most of the class.
The alternative? Deliver understandable, compelling messages every day from a “sacred vocabulary” that you and your colleagues work out together. These are the 100-200 words for Latin 1. Use them to deliver understandable messages in compelling ways and when the students themselves begin to ask about why capit became cepit, then allow yourself and them a very, very short explanation. When the questions become bolder and more frequent, allow yourself and them a whole class period maybe once or twice a month to “explain grammar forms.” Invite them to write things down, if they want to (watch who does and who does not, and it will tell you something about how effective this is–answer-not very).
- “Limit glossing in readings”. One of the quickest ways to deliver understandable messages in a language is to write on the board
“tamen = nevertheless.” And do some circling and PQA with it all the while it is written on the board. When it shows up in a reading the next day, they will know it and not need a gloss or to look it up. When you find they don’t know a word, stop and write it on the board with it’s English equivalent, and then circle it. Not having glosses does not make one a CI teacher. Filling a book with glosses does not make one a CI teacher. Knowing what they don’t know and taking the time to help them acquire it through understandable, compelling messages is what makes us CI teachers and that requires daily practice.
Enough. I’ve have said often that if I teach for another 10 years, I will, on the last day of my teaching, still be practicing and becoming better at CI work. It is not something that one finally is finished with–unless one stops teaching.
Let the discussions continue. This thread has been most enlightening and helpful.