Friday, July 17, 2009

Speaking Latin

From 1899, Catholic World, corroboration of Quintilian's (and Ignatius's) method of immersion in a classic language before formal study:

"Despite the opposition of Mr Grant Allen, there is no better method than a use of the ancient classics for a college training. It would be out of place to repeat the well-known arguments that show the value of a study of Latin and Greek in mental culture, but I should like to call attention to a serious modern fault in the teaching of these languages.

Take Latin, for instance -- it is treated as a very dead language indeed. Latin is no more difficult than modern German, yet after two years at German the average boy or girl, if taught with even ordinary skill, is able to read that language at sight. No college graduate after a seven-years struggle reads Latin with a facility at all comparable to that with which he has read German after two years' study. The causes of this bad result are that the student has been worried with grammar, which is an excellent study for philologists, but is not digested by young stomachs except in small quantity, and secondly, Latin is not spoken in class.

Any priest will tell you that after one year's residence in a theological seminary, where lectures are given and recitations are made in Latin, he learned more Latin simply by hearing it spoken than he did during his entire college course.

The Ratio Studiorum of the Jesuits, one of the most wonderful books in existence, requires that Latin be taught by the method of speaking it in class. If teachers spoke Latin even a freshman could read any author at sight, and then the study of Latin literature might really begin, and there would be no reason for the nonsense written by opponents of a classic course. "

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