A Novice’s Story

This post is about one of my new students.  I wrote about her on the Novice Corner page, but it’s time to feature her on the main page, because what she does with Latin is truly amazing for a novice.  Victoria is now translating at sight, not only from Latin into English, but backwards as well.

Here is what Victoria did.  She played with the paradigms first.  I only showed her samples of paradigm games, like side-by-side conjugations of one verb in different tenses, side-by-side of two verbs in the same tense, mood and voice, or side-by-side of two verbs in different tenses.  I emphasized the importance of doing those side-by-side, and not first one and then the other.  And she took off, concocting her own paradigm potions and having fun with them.  As a result, she doesn’t even need to parse the forms anymore before translating them.  And because Victoria engages the new vocabulary in her games, she ends up memorizing it much more effectively.  Oh, and she always starts with the verb in a sentence, but you won’t even notice it anymore – so smoothly she translates. 

This week, I introduced her to reverse translation.  Always start with the verb, I told her, the logic is the same as with the straight translation.  And she took off so effortlessly that I remembered to tell her the step-by-step procedure only when she stalled at one point – the verb form she needed didn’t come to mind right away because she forgot the verb itself.  So, she had to check it up, but from there it was a straight shot.

Victoria is an inspiration to all, not just for students of languages.  Her approach is very methodical, but at the same time she has fun with it.  (Why is it that we equate method with boredom?!)  In short, she is very much a Flamenco dancer when it comes to Latin – poised, graceful, creative.  Great fun to be her teacher!


3 thoughts on “A Novice’s Story

  1. Thank you so much, Rali, but I should really be writing about you! Your drilling techniques for memorizing paradigms really highlighted the patterns that occur between both declensions and conjugations. Also, your explanations on why the Romans altered some of the endings are equally fantastic, as their reasoning proves to be quite rational, making the irregular endings that much easier to remember.

    Thank you again for the positive encouragement, but it’s kind of hard not to be enthusiastic with a teacher like you! (BTW, I loved the Flamenco dancer line!)

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