Monday, January 25, 2016

Desk Dictionary

One of the tenets of CI that I struggle with is giving a ton of non-targeted input. That is, ideally, you're supposed to spend 90% of class time in the target language. Although I know Latin very well, I have had little practice speaking it. Unlike a modern language, speaking is very rarely one of the goals in traditional Latin classes regardless of the level. Writing is occasionally emphasized, but those courses are few and far between, and they focus on writing in the rhetorical style of our most famous literary lights.

At any rate- one of my two big goals for this semester is to spend more time speaking Latin with my kids, and for them to start speaking more too. To that end, I've made them a "desk dictionary" (feel free to suggest a catchier term, ideally in Latin...). You can print or download it here. Please feel free to copy, edit, & share as you like. See below the cut for more.

May I go to the…
licetne mihi īre ad…
Please give me…
dā mihi …, quaesō
… bathroom?
… locum sēcrētum?
… a pencil.
…  graphium ...
… water fountain?
… fonticulum?
… a pen.
… calamum ...
… nurse?
… valētūdinārium?
… paper.
… chartam ...
… office?
… conclāve rectoris?
… my binder.
.... libellum meum ...
… Guidance?
… conclāve consultōrum?
I don’t know.
I don’t understand.
nōn intellegō.
Thank you.
gratiās tibi agō.
Please repeat.
dīc iterum, quaesō!
You’re welcome.
English please!
anglicē quaesō!
No, thank you.
Slower, please!
lentius, quaesō!
Excuse me.
ignosce mihi.
How do you say... ?
Quōmodo dīcitur…?
Help me!
adiuvā mē!
What does … mean?
Quid significat…?

Thanks to the Latin Teacher Idea Exchange group on Facebook for helping me add things and choose the right words! If you're a Latin teacher and not part of that group already, you should be. It's much less dramatic than it used to be.

This kind of TL phrasebook is something that modern language CI people do to scaffold kids' output. Usually I've heard of it being hung on the chair of the desk in front of them, but that's not feasible in my classroom, so I'll be putting it directly on the desk and covering it with packing tape. The idea for me at least is to give kids
(a) a safety net of phrases they can always use when we're speaking Latin, to cover most of their needs;
(b) a reference for important words like libellus, which I'm using for binder/notebook, so when I tell them to get 'em, they know what I mean;
(c) A handy dandy reference for ME to point to when I want to say, "so, comparative adverbs, like lentius on your desk..." or infinitives "like īre," etc.

I'll let you know how things go!


  1. Hi, Ellie! Thank you for your tireless efforts to facilitate CI/TPRS and your boundless generosity! I'd love to know how your desk dictionaries went over with students, and how you introduced their use... For example - did you start the semester with them already on the desks & ask that students use Latin for these words/phrases from day 1? Thanks again!

    1. Hi Susannah! To be honest, they didn't go that well. I think I didn't do a good job introducing their use. I put them on halfway through the year. A handful of really motivated kids learned from them, but mostly they just picked at the edges of the tape. I am really lousy at introducing procedures, so it's basically all my fault. This year, I intend to make a big version for my bulletin board with the most useful phrases and just have them work off that.

    2. Haha! That makes a lot of sense! I was also envisioning my middle schoolers picking at the tape. :)