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Latin Spoken Here
05.05.15 |
Dr. Noel Hubler, professor of philosophy, known for his specialization in Ancient Greek Philosophy, also has a great interest in the Latin. Latin is considered to be a dead language and if learned, is commonly taught only through memorization and writing. In his language instruction course, however, he teaches Latin as a spoken language using what is called a “flipped approach.”

The flipped approach refers to method of teaching foreign languages in which students first complete grammatical exercises in online lectures before class begins and then once in class applying what was learned through the homework. The class is taught entirely in Latin in order to get students used to the way the language should sound.

“I was motivated to adopt the style because of my own experience as a student. In college, I studied both modern and classical languages,” said Hubler. “The approaches were completely different. Modern language instruction emphasized speaking. Classical language instruction asked one to memorize verbal and noun endings and then to translate sentences from Latin or Greek into English. It was a process of decoding a mysterious code into English. One didn't develop an ear for the language.”

Hubler found himself unsatisfied with the way Latin was normally taught and took it upon himself to remedy that. He studied ancient grammars and Latin grammatical terms and from there develop a series of dialogues and pattern sentences.

“Learning Latin, like any foreign language, involves learning to think differently,” said Hubler. “Not only are the words different, but the grammatical and sentence structure is different too. To learn how to think differently, one has to be an active learner. It is not enough to merely listen or read. One must also learn to form sentences for oneself. Speaking the language is the best way to accomplish this.”

Though an uncommon language, Latin still has practical applications in today’s world. Many English words find their basis in Latin and knowing Latin allows for a better understanding of the root meanings of words. Medicine and Law in particular relies heavily on Latin technical terms.

“Latin is definitely difficult,” said Hubler. “It is a heavily inflected language, meaning that there are many different endings to learn, both for nouns and verbs. As a result the traditional method focused on learning memorizing the endings in charts, abstracted from context.”

The flipped approach Hubler uses in class focuses on utilizing words in the context of sentences so students can learn the word endings, as well as how the would be used. Students overall take well to this method of teaching and are excelling in learning such a difficult-to-master language.

“Most students respond very well to the flipped approach for Latin because I can explain the grammar in on-line, interactive lectures,” said Hubler. “They like the flexibility that on-line lectures give. They can listen to them at their own pace and pause and repeat as needed. The lectures are followed by on-line exercises that review the material in the lecture. In class, we then do exercises to practice the language conducted entirely in Latin.”

There are fifteen students in the current Latin class. Hubler’s classes in Elementary Latin, are offered in sequence in the fall and spring semesters on a three-year rotation with the Greek and Sanskrit language classes, with Sanskrit being offered next year and Greek the year after that. The next time Elementary Latin will be available for students to take will be the 2017-2018 school year. 


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