Start a spoken (Latin/Greek/Whatever) club today: my biggest classics regret

My biggest regret is that in all my time as a student I never took the step to start a group to talk Latin or Greek.

Now, admittedly I did a lot of my classics, in particular, as a distance student, and as a disconnected graduate student, but for most of my student life I was still convinced that active, communicative language approaches were (and are) invaluable. But I didn’t have the confidence, either in myself or in speaking, to start such an enterprise. I was waiting, I don’t know what for. This, I think, was a big mistake.

I don’t really care if you’re at an institution and all your teachers are super-conservative die-by-the-grammar types. If you think speaking Latin (etc.) is  good idea, start now.

If you’re not confident/have no idea, here’s my prescription:

  1. You can pick up a text designed for spoken work: Polis Institute’s Polis for Greek, Forum for Latin, are a good choice. If you’ve got some language under your belt, then the level of language isn’t your barrier, it’s having a source of inspiration to use to bootleg or jumpstart the speaking side of things.
  2. It’s actually incredibly easy to have super-basic conversations about a text in language.  Grab out your dog-eared copy of Oxford Latin Course (uel similis, ach please not Wheelock; Athenaze in a pinch), and do basic conversational comprehension: quis, quem, quid facit, cuius, quo, et cetera. Then just extend it a little: cur? ut quid faciat? and so on. (With some time, I’ll mock up some of such basic conversations).
  3. Remember, you don’t have to talk at any particular level, you certainly don’t need to talk at the level you read! Just strip it down to the most basic, start there, take notes on things you suddenly realise you don’t know how to say, and look them up later.

Oh, you like me have no friends except on the internet? Time to commit to internet chat times. This is 2018, you can find someone(s) to chat Greek to. Not many, but they are out there.

So don’t repeat my mistake, start your classics conversation group today. And if you do have grammar-translation-loving professors, just run it right outside their office.


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