Thursday, August 26, 2010

"... and they are eating snails."

In my brand new, right-out-of-the-package Latin II classes, I have led off early with an exercise having the students translate an English passage into Latin. The passage goes,

"Look! In the picture is a Roman girl named Cornelia. Also in the picture is another girl named Flavia. The girls are sitting under a tree and they are eating snails."

The students are not allowed to use any books, notes, etc. -- just translate the passage in Latin. They, being eager to impress and please, set off with confidence because this is too easy... until they get to the end. Most remember the passage and translate it perfectly through "Flavia." There are occasional errors in adjective-noun agreement or spelling. Believe it or not, "The girls are sitting under the tree" is a little more challenging to translate cold; and then they get to the end. Some openly question whether we have had "snail" before, others think we must have because (certainly) the teacher would never ask them to translate "snails" (without notes!) unless we've talked about it before. Some think they must have forgotten it.

I then asked for four volunteers to put their Latin passages on the board. Some wave their hands frantically, trying to get my attention, so I oblige and send them up. After they have written their works on the board, I go over the English again and THEN talk about the point of the exercise: "This year in Latin II, we are going to build upon what we have learned before. Some things are going to be very simple, because they are second nature, like 'Look! In the picture is a Roman girl named Cornelia.' Other things will need some polishing and review, like '(there) is another girl.' Some things will need to be retaught, like 'under the tree' or 'they are eating' and some things are going to be brand new, like 'snails.'" Almost right away most are relieved that their teacher really didn't expect them to know 'snail' from Latin I. Hey, good illustration there of what we are going to do in Latin!

The interesting creations for "they are eating snails"?

edent escargoti

cenant snailos

appetizent snaili

and the best,

edunt (drawing of a snail)

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