ACL 2016: Authentic Engagement and Student Empowerment

UPDATE: On June 28, 2016, Melanie and I had the pleasure of presenting at the American Classical League Summer Institute in Austin, TX. Our talk, “Authentic Engagement and Student Empowerment,” is available as a PDF which includes not only the slides shown, but also the “script” of the presentation, which has been placed on contrasting-colored pages normally after the slide discussed in each bit of the script.

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In the first half of the presentation, we urge teachers not to lose sight of the ultimate goal of accessing Roman history and culture through Latin. Input that is both comprehensible and compelling can also provide core vocabulary and historical/cultural knowledge, thereby facilitating the transition to classical literature without sacrificing the benefits of Comprehensible Input (CI) and Extensive (rather than Intensive) Reading. We suggest some specific texts, mostly novellas and comics written for learners, that support this goal.

In the second half, we suggest ways to give students a sense of ownership and personal investment when dealing with culturally authentic texts. We also discuss how to help students develop a sense of self-efficacy and a growth mindset. Finally, we consider how learning (in the sense of the conscious process of learning about a language) can support acquisition (an unconscious process, such as the experience with one’s first language), with the goal of preparing students to become independent, lifelong learners.

Here is the original abstract:

Educators often discuss how to get students engaged, but seldom question “engaged in what?” “The Latin (or Greek) language” is one answer that perhaps no one would dispute, but when classical language instruction focuses on modern life in order to generate enthusiasm, we risk exacerbating the tension (already felt by many teachers, whatever their preferred approach[es]) between the communication and culture standards. In this panel, we will first discuss not only how to leverage pre-existing interest in Greco-Roman culture into engagement with the language, but also how to use Latin to generate interest in the culture. Secondly, we will discuss strategies to give students more control over their own learning in order to overcome potential inhibitors and to develop the ability and desire to work independently, which facilitates the voluntary reading of engaging material that research has shown to benefit language acquisition.

Link to online schedule:

General information about the Institute here:

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