Welcome to Comprehensible Antiquity. I am a Latin teacher in West Des Moines, Iowa. Currently, our program offers Latin 1-AP at the 9-12 levels. In the Spring of 2014 I started reading about Comprehensible Input. I’m not quite a recovering grammar translation teacher, but CI has opened my view of teaching to be more inclusive.
It all began with my own children. My daughter, Mara, was born in 2011. Mae joined us in 2014 and Emilia in 2016. Language teachers, if you are not a parent, seek out parents of young children. Observe them and ask them about how they talk to their children. It is amazing to watch children figure out language.
My number 1 goal in my classroom is to attempt to replicate the language acquisition process that I’ve watched with my children. Language acquisition with a young child in a native language does not look the same as students in a second language classroom, but the concept is the same. We acquire a language through the understanding of comprehensible messages in the target language. Those messages can be replicated in a classroom with the process of interacting with my children as a guide.
Experience my journey here. If you are willing, share your own as together we will find so many more ways to create an environment of comprehensible messages. Opportunities for learners to comprehend messages in the language drives acquisition.
How does acquisition take place? As many from the CI community will express in some form or another, acquisition takes place when a learner processes messages in the target language that he or she understands. Therefore, many practitioners make claims such as, “You just need to have something interesting to say to students in the target language and acquisition will occur.” But that doesn’t work for every person nor in every situation. So how can we facilitate a course with comprehensible input for learners? It begins with defining what comprehensible input is and isn’t.
Comprehensible input is messages in the language that learners understand. Ideally, it is messages that students want to understand and connect to and there is purpose in the message.
Comprehensible input is not anti-grammar. It does not have to be TPR or TPRS all of the time. Sometimes it is not even compelling but we should strive to find what input compels students.
Welcome to Comprehensible Antiquity were you will find activities to facilitate a classroom of students engaged in understanding input in Latin, reading materials published by numerous Latin materials and reviews of literature helpful for practitioners to grow and continue learning about their craft.