Students in grades five and six at CSA are now using a different curriculum than in past years. It’s called Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, which means “the Latin language illuminated in itself”. There isn’t space in a short article to tell all the things I love about this curriculum, but the main thing is that it provides direct experience of the Latin language in a way that brings delight. I don’t want my students to receive only the secondary benefits of studying Latin, you see. I want them to know and enjoy Latin itself. To do that they must experience the words as living symbols that convey meaning. This doesn’t happen as easily when we encounter the words decontextualized in a vocabulary list. Words come alive when we meet them in stories and in real life scenarios. This is why I use as much spoken Latin as I can in the classroom. This is why the Lingua Latina curriculum is full of stories, skits, and humor. It isn’t just for fun. It is necessary to draw us further in and to lead us ad fontes, to the source.
The goal is for the student to associate the Latin word directly with an image, an object, or an action, rather than with its English equivalent. I want my students to experience Latin words expressing thoughts and making meaning apart from any reference to their English translation. When you hear words in a target language and understand their meaning, this is what world-reknowned linguist Stephen Krashen calls comprehensible input. It is through comprehensible input that human beings of all ages acquire a language. The more exposure I can give my students to Latin words in context, the better. True enjoyment of Latin per se comes when you meet it in the wild: perhaps in a quotation from a Roman author, in a Medieval song, in a fun story, or in a conversation with your teacher. The more you learn, the more you can understand. The more you understand, the more you can enjoy. Enjoyment is the natural fruit of learning.
By Mr. Jeremy Wagner, 5th/6th grade teacher