Latin and Comprehensible Input

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8 thoughts on “Latin and Comprehensible Input”

  1. You can also point out that Latin is still the official language of Vatican City, and the current pope is looking for ways to strengthen the language ability of newer priests. When he’s done with his current assignment, perhaps Bob Patrick could give the Holy See a bit of help.

  2. Unfortunately, the supporters of Latin in the Catholic Church are generally not too enthusiastic about making Latin more accessible or comprehensible–think of the old Latin Mass with the priest having his back turned to the congregation, mumbling in Latin to himself and his servers (imagine a language teacher doing this). Rather, this “Latin push” is part of a bigger move to try to turn back the clock, and close the doors that were opened during the Second Vatican Council. So Latin came to represent the pre-Vatican II Church, and being anti-Latin came to mean that one supported progress. When viewed in these terms, the result is that both sides really lose out. The traditionalists lose out on bringing more people to understand what they love, and they hide from a world which they perceive as corrupt; and the reformers reject all the beauty and power that exists in the Latin liturgy, prayers and hymns, not to mention an incredible body of literature spanning 1500 years, all written in Latin.

  3. …the reformers reject all the beauty and power that exists in the Latin liturgy, prayers and hymns, not to mention an incredible body of literature spanning 1500 years, all written in Latin….

    This sentence stopped me cold. Nobody has the right to do that. Nobody rejects literature. Literature is one of the few great things humans produce. This is really a stunning thing to learn. It just makes y’all’s task greater.

    So where IS this all going? What is your vision? Why are people of your calibre delving in with CI in this way? I’ve met you and David and I can see that this is not an idle professional dalliance on your parts and that you mean what you say and that you do are doing what you mean and that you are serious in this work of merging CI into your work. I guess I should go read Bob’s article again.

    What do you see happening? I don’t mean that in a challenging way, just wanting to make sure I see your vision properly.

    1. Oops, no need to answer that last question John. I just found two excellent answers in your first comment here:

      …if Krashen is right, then there should never be a justifiable reason for teaching non-CI….

      THAT answers it. That is a deep answer. Also:

      …we find a lot of common ground with those who are trying to save/revive native languages….

      Not to mention this:

      …just because a language is not commonly spoken, or spoken by a few, this does not make it any less a language, or any less worthy of being taught using CI….

      I might add another one, if I may be so bold:

      …just because most people in the world cannot imagine something, doesn’t mean it can’t be imagined or sought after….

  4. This whole topic represents the (for lack of a better word) satanic side…instead of appreciating and acknowledging language for its communicative possibilities and for its artful human expression, instead of embracing language as a connector, these people are using language to divide. I know nothing about Latin or history or ancient languages or native languages, but we see this all over the world, from the “English only” laws intended to threaten and humiliate, to all of the colonial languages that squashed out the native languages, to this whole Latin thing that is all about power and secrecy or whatever. It’s a sick thing to intentionally prevent people from connecting, whether that be connecting with the beauty of literature or the beauty of a live human interaction. What about all those places over all those years where a child is shamed for speaking the language in which he communicates with his mother? So many places where “education” means deny your heritage, you don’t matter, your ancestors don’t matter, your traditions don’t matter, you don’t really count unless you can ditch all that and just play by these new rules that we made up for your “progress.” It’s just all so warped and sick and you guys are truly revolutionaries standing in a truth that nobody else can see or seems to care about.

    Sorry about that rant. I am in total awe of our Latin heroes.

  5. jen, you’re right, there is a lot in Latin’s history that has gone on behind the scenes with power, elitism, authority, etc., especially since in some cultures knowing Latin was a sign that you were of an elite background, having the money and status to go to the schools that taught it. Read Jude the Obscure or if you want an exhaustive look, Francoise Waquet’s Latin, or, Empire of the Sign.

    I feel (and John and Bob have talked about this on the blog before as I remember) that many Latin teachers or programs wish to keep their programs reserved for the elite – if not the economically elite, at least for the academically elite. And this is one of the main reasons why we do not wish to teach Latin in the 4 percenter manner – it facilitates keeping Latin only within the reach of the academically elite. I know this goes for other languages too, but our task as Latinists is to continue to make Latin accessible to every learner who wishes to learn it.

  6. …wish to keep their programs reserved for the elite….

    When reading along in Jeff’s story with those rabid parents he’s dealing with right now, I see a very visible and politically elitist bitchy edge from the parents attacking him. He is clearly in the sights of a group of power elitists. It’s about the power. Now they have to give it up. It’s time for that. We know better than they do and they can’t produce what we can produce and they can’t get the gains that we are getting. Little future Dr. Fauntleroy Moneybags doesn’t get any more acess to Maust’s Latin knowledge than the other kids in the room. That is the fight that Jeff is fighting right now. He will win that fight. It’s time for them to give it up. They don’t get to have the power anymore. Private Latin tutors for their children to get into medical school? Uh…. no.

    1. I see a very visible and politically elitist bitchy edge from the parents attacking him. He is clearly in the sights of a group of power elitists. It’s about the power,

      Ben et al.,

      This hits the nail on the head. I just had a meeting with a student and a counselor because the girl was so upset that I lowered her JGR grade. She is a very smart student, but she often acts up in class. In the meeting, I told her that I don’t want to leave anyone behind. I explain that I’m like a marine, leave no man/woman behind. I then turned to her and said, “shouldn’t we help others reach the same goal.” She scoffed at me and shrugged her shoulders. She then said very clearly. “No, they are lazy. We should just leave them.”

      If a kid believes this at 14, what do the parents believe. Truly scary.

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