Friday, 30 November 2012

Exams advice

For anyone preparing for Mock exams or a test, here is a piece of advice which I agree with.

I have to give a talk in a week (actually less than that - *panic*) to year 12 Latin students on how to prepare for and do the 'unseen translations' in their final examination. I have some idea of what I would like to say, but I turned to youtube to see if there was anything useful on there.

All I could find was this guy, who apart from being incredibly dull, was also (in my humble opinion) incredibly wrong. I couldn't bear to watch the whole thing, but he started off by saying how important it was to analyse every word - first deciding what part of speech it was, then working out the case/number/gender or tense/voice/mood/person etc., and, where more than one possibility existed, making a list of all the potential forms.

This kind of method would be ok, if you are a computer, but it has serious flaws. Firstly, from a purely pragmatic point of view, it is far too time consuming. It's not a sensible strategy for an exam context with limited time, even when you are only translating a short extract. And can you imagine (as my uni professor used to say) trying to read all 53 extant speeches of Cicero in this way? It would take forever, and it would be mind-numbingly, soul-destroyingly boring.

Secondly, and more importantly, it doesn't help you to understand the mechanics of a Latin sentence, or the way in which Roman authors crafted their writings. If you approach translation in that way, I think you will forever be trying to 'fix' the Latin - to put it into some kind of 'proper' (i.e. English) word order. Or to put it another way, it makes Latin into a puzzle to solve, a code to crack, rather than a language to be appreciated. Perhaps a code-cracking approach is appopriate for an exam, where all that matters is your final mark, although even then I think a more well-rounded approach has the potential to be more beneficial. If you're relying on a strictly analytical method, what will you do when an author breaks the rules, as they often do, or when you come across a usage with which you're not familiar? If on the other hand you are able to develop a feel for the Latin language, if you become used to the balance of flexibility and structure in herent in the language, and for the way in which different authors write, even if you can't give an exact grammatical analysis of every word, you will be able to understand the whole and to come up with a more faithful translation.

This raises the question of whether students should be taught to translate at all, or just to read and understand...
This was written in this blog post by a Latin teacher, please go and check out his blog.
Audio Video Disco

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Youtube Channel : LATINUM.ORG.UK

This channel accompanies a website which sells a lot of the resources that are used in the course, however the Youtube Channel is free and there are hundreds of videos on there, many with a specific focus on Latin, including children's books in Latin.

The owner of these videos presents an entire Latin course in Latin, allowing you to learn in Latin, rather than permanently translate everything. Whilst I haven't yet found the website as useful since everything is paid, I definitely think that the videos could enhance your learning if you watch them.

The first lesson is embedded above, so you can see what I mean. I hope that you take the time to check out the rest of this guy's videos!


A list of just some of his playlists is below:

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Translation Advice

Here is some advice about translating from Carmen Online Latin.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

I realise that everyone has slightly different methods, but I hope that for some of you at least, this will help! 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Featured Book

Having finished Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, we move on to a series of commentaries of Julius Caesar's first book of Civil War.

This is a commentary of the book found on the Perseus Collection

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Featured Podcast

This week I recommend you listen to this radio interview entitled "You Can't Dream in Latin" by an Australian radio station, it's quite interesting, and discusses the effects of Latin on the Western World.

Click here to Stream the Audio

You can see the transcript here if you wish

Monday, 17 September 2012

Featured Website

Drills to accompany the Oxford Latin Course, second edition, chapter by chapter from the University of Missouri St Louis. 

Here is the Website

Friday, 14 September 2012

Featured Book

Following on from the last featured book, this week is Volume 5 of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Featured Podcasts

Dickinson College has another series of Latin Poetry Podcasts 
Christopher Francese, Professor of Classical Studies at Dickinson College, reads short poems in Latin.
The podcasts can be found on iTunes here