Latin in a Week: The Review

3 August 2008

A week ago, most of the Latin I knew could be found on the back of a dime.

Okay, that’s a slight understatement. I had the usual collection of Latin expressions that one picks up: carpe diem, cogito ergo sum, quid pro quo, et cetera. I also had several of the slightly more arcane ones that you pick up in an academic setting (id est, ad hominem, post hoc ergo prompter hoc) and in other weird places I hang out (carpe noctem, aut pax aut bellum, nemo me impune lacessit). But that aside, I didn’t know beans about Latin.

Enter Veritas Press, at which one can evidently find staffers crazy enough to think it possible to teach Latin in a single week. I found out about this a week ago Thursday, signed up Friday morning, bought a textbook Friday afternoon, and enjoyed a restful weekend, because the class would start the following Monday. Iacta alea fuit.

We finished yesterday (Friday). It was great.

Everything about it was great: the textbook, the teacher, the online delivery system, and the company I got to keep as a student. The only little, tiny drawback was the fact that the class ran from 8 am to 4 pm, Eastern time. That means 5 am to 1 pm out here, and rolling out of bed at 4:45 am to study Latin was imperfectly blissful. My wife wasn’t a fan of the alarm going off that early, either. (But when I offered to sleep on the couch she gave me a speech about how she was willing to sacrifice a little sleep so that I could learn Latin — what a woman!)

But on with the review. First, the textbook. Written as GIs swelled the Read the rest of this entry »

News: Latin in a Week

26 July 2008

“Through the Bible in a Year.” It’s a common wording that I saw a lot growing up in devout Christian circles. The Bible’s a big book, but a year is plenty of time to get through it at a fairly enjoyable pace.

“Latin in a Week,” however, sounds like the province of fools and madmen. Closer inspection confirms the diagnosis: all 40 chapters of Wheelock’s Latin, in 40 hours of instruction. Veritas Press has had good results with this approach, though. Word is that students read unedited sections of Caesar and Cicero by the end of the class– it seems a result worth wagering a week’s hard labor for. Niemela and I have had success with similar experiments in short-term language teaching, but I don’t think we’ve ever done anything this ambitious…and online, to boot.

I have three reasons for doing this now. First, I need to bite the bullet and learn Latin at some point. I’m always telling my students that language learning is better done now than later — time to practice what I preach.  Second, if this works even close to as well as advertised, these people know some things about language learning that I need to know for my revamped first-year Greek class. So in addition to struggling with vocabulary, I’ll be keeping an eye on the teaching tactics. Third, learning to teach first-year language in an online environment is an important skill for me to develop, and this will furnish me with a model to work from.

I had been told that the class would run 9-5, Eastern time, i.e., 6-2 my time. For me, that’s fairly humane. I like mornings anyhow. According to the note on the website, however, the fun begins at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Yes, apparently I’ll be doing Latin at 5 a.m.

Your prayers will be appreciated.