Gregory P. Stringer
It is a dark time in the teaching of Latin. Programs are closing, and student enrollment is continuing to decline. However, there is a NEW HOPE - ACTIVE LATIN….
While the number of students enrolling in ancient languages in high schools and colleges across the US on the whole continues to decline, some individual states, districts, and schools have nevertheless been able to create sustained and significant increases in enrollment and retention. While many of the various possible factors for this are unknowable, there is mounting tangible evidence that a transition from “traditional” grammar-translation instruction to Active Latin methodologies (i.e. speaking, listening, and writing in the target language, as well as reading and/or translating) has led, in many cases, to increases in student enrollment, retention, and achievement, teacher growth and investment and the preservation and expansion of programs.
In this paper, the author intends to demonstrate, via gathered data as opposed to anecdotal evidence, some of the many positive outcomes for students, teachers, and schools in an ancient language program taught via Active Methodology. The author will present longitudinal data revealing some of the short and long-term benefits, for both the teacher and the student, of an Active Latin curriculum informed by research in Second Language Acquisition and Language Instruction best practices. By citing data such as authentic examples of teacher created resources, student work and outcomes, national and local year over year enrollment numbers, National Latin Exam scores, and District Determined Measure scores (school district specific assessments of student growth), in the author’s own school and elsewhere, at both the secondary and post-secondary level, the author will demonstrate that a transition to Active Latin pedagogy can have a pronounced positive impact on Latin programs across many measures, leading to increased enrollment, better retention, increased access to curriculum for all learners, and higher achievement, even on traditional assessments. Much of this is achieved through a greater sense of ownership of and connection with the materials through a more immediate grasp of the language and increased acquisition of language, as fostered by Active Methods. Finally, a transition to Active Methods helps better align curricula with the ACL/SCS’s updated Standards for Classical Language Learning, which emphasize a broader and more dynamic definition of the goals for the study of ancient languages.