Yesterday I gave out a pre-test consisting of pictures pasted onto regular paper. They were scenes we had covered in our readings: certain sites like the forum and the villa (house), certain rooms, etc. They had to write as much as they could about each picture without book or notes and turn it in at the end of the hour. The first year students had 2 pages, about 12 pictures, and the second and third/fourth year had 5 pages.
They turned the papers in at the end of the period and I returned them today with remarks at each picture prompting them to write more, such as “what’s going on”, “what’s in it”, “where is it”, “who is it”, etc., in the TL (Latin). They could use their books and notes now and did so.
Everyone seemed to jump into the activity. I allowed a degree of mutual suggestions and so forth. My ones did great for having only a few weeks of Latin. My Twos had a tough year last year – we started in one book and finished in another, we suffered the death of one of our number, I was in limbo for the first part of the year and not able to institute my own practice until later in the year, etc. Nevertheless, most of them did quite well.
The three/four group displayed the advanced language acquisition predicted: full sentences, descriptor words, etc. I didn’t even bother to give their papers back. Instead we discussed what they would need now to further their TL development: words or grammar. I suggested we go over their papers and work on the grammar and they declined. Why? I asked which is higher in the hierarchy of communication, words or grammar. They said words. So what is grammar for, I asked. Organization, was one response. I offered John DeMado’s “guarantee of meaning”.
So I assigned them the captions on the pictures introducing the next stage.
Tomorrow, all classes turn in HW assignments which are from the book and basically grammar work. Everyone also turns in the diary entries for one of the characters in the stories.
I told the classes I would be showing them the expected development for each level next week (from Shrum & Glisan) and I told the Three/Four class I would be developing exercises to tease out the grammar. Most of them have a working knowledge of the cases and tenses and so forth but need to have it sharpened up. They said they had learned more grammar in my class than in their English classes even though I didn’t teach it directly.
Perhaps I am able to explain grammar issues well. I would need someone to observe my explanations but I think the fact that grammar is my own deepest interest allows me to clarify it for students.