Sunday, May 01, 2005

Quo Vadis?

It would appear that reports of the death of Latin as a language were greatly exaggerated:

Latin is considered by many to be a dead language, but not by Marie Davis.

Davis, who teaches Latin to children at Daniels Run Elementary School in Fairfax City, Va., [website] is trying to develop students' skills not just in word recognition but in conversation, too.

Because Latin is not commonly spoken anywhere in the world, lessons usually are about everything except conversation.

Students generally memorize verb endings and adjective and noun declensions; translate classic Roman literature; and learn about Roman history. Some students who have trouble learning to speak modern languages -- the hardest element of language learning -- sometimes take Latin instead.

But teachers such as Davis say they are trying to revive Latin -- and that includes conversing in it. They say they are modeling their effort on how Israelis revived the ancient language of Hebrew.

Davis teaches Latin to students in grades 3 through 6 by connecting it to concrete content areas, such as science and math. Students learn to count in Latin and learn Latin adjectives to describe the butterflies they study in science. "The best approach to language is to apply what you learn," she said, adding that it is also important to integrate language learning with other academic disciplines.

There is even a AM/Short Wave Latin-language radio station broadcasting from Finland, of all places. Visit their site here, look for instructions in English in the lower right sidebar as they indicate that they also have audio streaming via Real Audio:

Some argue that since so many English words come from Latin words, then the study of the language might improve standardized test scores. We are not so certain of that, but somehow it's just plain comforting to know that somewhere, even now, kids are still practicing their laudo, laudas, laudat, laudamus, laudatis, laudant.
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