I have been cobbling away writing about comprehensible input with the fervor of a new convert for some time now. It has helped given me context for rethinking my approach in class and reshaping my practice. The goal actually is to speak Latin, which will make it much easier to read any Latin you have access to.
I am also very much convinced, in watching the success of my own students. that language is not acquired consciously but subconsciously. However it is quantified with research, and references to Krashner’s affective filters abound, the more students try to “learn” a language, the more difficult it becomes. It is like muddied water; it only gets clean when we cease meddling in it and let it settle on its own.
In my class now, we have been going pretty solid for a few months now with nothing but CI as the focus. A few of my students who had been the “weaker” links in the chain have made such significant progress that I am blown away. I should share this with them and celebrate it more, but I want to get raw data to show this progression in real time. I have reshaped my thinking on evaluating my students based on ACTFL’s proficiency ratings and Lance Piantaggini has helped me find a system to do just that. These students have risen not through intensified efforts, but through utilizing a simple disposition of watching, listening, and asking questions for clarification. Their proficiency has grown as a result of constant exposure to Latin.
I just stumbled across an excellent resource that outlines some main objectives for those of us trying to make the conversion. I have written about these topics here, through my own findings, but the resources continue to grow and evolve and improve the field.
This is a great place to start. It creates a blueprint using three different strategies to improve your Latin – we teachers need to lead by example and we cannot expect from our students what we cannot do ourselves. We need to pass through the crucible – not only to improve our performance and confidence, but feel what it is going to be like for our students.
Extensive reading is going to help give you more exposure to the language without relying on someone else to be there with you. Texts are great ways to get your reps in and will eliminate excuses. Consider it a must for your classroom practice as well (I currently have extensive reading on Fridays each week for my students).
Extensive listening, like reading, is another way to gain more exposure to the language. Again, you want to make sure the content is comprehensible as you will want to get more reps in to really build up your familiarity with the language. A little more invasive than text work as you will need to be listening and not distracted – or distracting others. Another potential building block for the classroom but will need some managing.
Speaking the language – listen, read, write, speak. This is the last pillar of communication and should not be the focus of your goal from the onset. It is the culmination of lots of exposure to comprehensible input and can only arise when you’re ready. Read more about it here.