Sunday, September 2, 2018

Where my Passion Lies

This past July, I led a Vergilian Society tour to Italy, where the morning focused on classroom sessions about CI in the Latin classroom, and the afternoon was devoted to touring. For our tour sessions, I wanted to focus on classical sites, since we were Latin teachers. At these sites, a number of participants wanted to read aloud excerpts in Latin from Roman authors who had written about some of the sites in classical times which we were now visiting. When our group was in the Piscina Mirabilis in Miseno and was reading excerpts from Book 6 of the Aeneid (where the Sibyl tells Aeneid that his comrade Misenus is dead, that his body needs to be buried, but that the land will be called Misenum after him), we took turns reading the passage in Latin and in English. Many participants really enjoyed it, but quite honestly, I so wanted to feel a part of it all and to experience the joy of hearing the Latin read about these places like others were, but to be honest, my heart just was not into it. That is not to say that there was anything wrong either with those who enjoyed it or with me who did not fully get into the experience - it just means that we are in different places when it comes to Latin.

I have come to realize that my passion no longer is in the Latin language itself. When I came straight out of graduate school, I would have told you that my passion was Vergil and how much I loved anything related to the Aeneid or dactyllic hexameter. That is NOT to say that I have lost my love for the Latin language; in many ways, it is as strong as ever. It is just not as strong as others whom I know and quite honestly, something else has taken its place and superseded it.

Where my passion lies is now in the TEACHING of Latin, in learning how to be a more effective CI instructor, and in passing along this knowledge to others through presentations, blogs, social media, etc. That is what excites me as a Latinist. This is why every summer I attend IFLT - I want to hone my craft and to become a better practitioner of delivering comprehensible input to my students. This is why I read blogs devoted to the topic and follow CI teachers on Twitter. In many ways, this is why I have not attended Rusticatio in the past few summers; as much as I want to become a better speaker of Latin, as I become more selective in what summer conferences I attend, an IFLT or NTPRS conference is going to be my first choice.

Even though I am taking off this year from conferences, I love presenting on implementing comprehensible input in the classroom. My absolute favorite presentation which I have ever given was my first session at IFLT 2017 in Denver on how to play Mafia (I gave two presentations there on Mafia). I had no idea what to expect for the presentation, since it was the first time for me to present on the topic, and I was also a bit intimidated, because there were a number of folks in attendance whom I absolutely admire and respect as CI teachers. Everything went so well, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Usually at the end of doing a CI demonstration in a presentation, I ask, "What made this activity comprehensible for you? Compelling for you? Lowered your affective filter?" One participant responded, "Your body language during the entire Mafia game made the activity so interesting for us and kept it entertaining." To be honest, my body language was something of which I was completely unaware (and am still unaware. Occasionally, I will notice my body language when telling a CI story or asking questions, and it kind of freaks me out). I am always taken by surprise when I hear this, because my body language is completely unintentional. One time, Jason Fritze commented that I look like I am surfing when I circle. At the same time, it is great to hear that my body language even communicates my joy of teaching Latin using CI and of wanting to teach others about how they can implement CI in their classrooms.

Where does your passion lie when it comes to language and to teaching?

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