I am drafting this post on the train home from Edinburgh and the Classical Association conference, and I am already missing the Living Latin team and looking back in wonder at how at how amazingly well it all went. We had lots of very positive feedback with participants saying they were ‘blown away’ by hearing Latin spoken and amazed at how quickly their ears became attuned to the language so they understood at least some of what was being said. The storified tweets for the panel are here. I’ve included a screenshot of one of my favourites too.
I wish I could have made a video of the whole thing but I have put together the sound with the slides and made them available on YouTube. I am also hoping that a video of the final session where Prof Tunberg demonstrates his Latin teaching techniques may become available soon … watch this space.
We are extremely grateful to the Classical Association and to the Edinburgh team for hosting this panel, and to the Open University Classical Studies Department, the Council of University Classics Departments (CUCD), the Association for Latin Teaching (ArLT), the Roman Society, and Classics for All, for their sponsorship, without which the panel could not have taken place.
This year will see a very special panel at the Classical Association conference. The unique highlight is a teaching session delivered in Latin by Prof Terence Tunberg of the University of Kentucky, convener of the renowned Conventiculum Latinum Lexintoniense. For anyone with any interest in the Latin language this constitutes an amazing opportunity to hear Latin spoken fluently and to take part in the type of learning rarely experienced in the United Kingdom. For Latin teachers in schools and universities, this is a must‑see session!
Leading up to this, there will be two papers dealing with the benefits and challenges of implementing communicative approaches. First, Laura Manning, a student and teaching assistant at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, will talk about pedagogy in action there and its benefits for Latin learners. Then Jason Harris, Aislinn McCabe and Alma O’Donnell will describe how inspiration from Lexington has led to innovative approaches to enhancing engagement with Latin texts at the University of Cork.
To tee the panel off and to bring together learning theory with teaching practices, Mair Lloyd of the Open University, will show how looking at communicative teaching and social interaction in Latin through the lense of sociocultural theory can cast light on the ways in which language learning takes place. This will provide a theoretical perspective from which to view the presentations that follow.
Finally, the icing on the cake is that the panel will be chaired by Steve Hunt, lecturer in Classics Education at the University of Cambridge and author of Starting to Teach Latin.
The panel will be held at 9am on Friday 8th April in the Salisbury Green Hotel, a very short walk from the Conference Centre. Don’t miss it!
Yes it’s that time already! The Classical Association Conference is here again and this is a (hopefully) helpful post for all Pedagogy enthusiasts heading off to Edinburgh.
The day to look out for is Friday 8th April, when there are wall-to-wall panels. MorningPedagogypanels are in the Salisbury Green Hotel(NOT Conference Centre!). AfternoonPedagogy panels are in the Conference Centre (NOT hotel!).
See the map below to find your way round.
Day 3: Friday 8th April
9:00 am- 11:00 am Living Latin Panel – Salisbury Green Hotel (NOT Conference Centre)
11:30 am – 1:00 pmPedagogy Panel – Salisbury Green Hotel (NOT Conference Centre)
When I applied for a full-time PhD place at the Open University, I had no idea you had to go anywhere particular to do it. I was completing my MA at Manchester University at the time and I had never seen Milton Keynes, let alone the Open University campus. During my undergraduate study with the OU, I had thought of them as distant, perhaps imaginary, places and there had certainly never been any reason or occasion to try to visit them. So it was quite a shock to find out during my (telephone) interview for a Phd studentship that full-time students were expected to live within 40 mins and 40 miles of the Walton Hall campus and to see their supervisors face to face on a regular basis.
When I was offered and accepted my place, I still didn’t go to see Walton Hall because I was knee deep in an MA dissertation and grateful that my son, Matthew and my sister, Pat, were willing to go and find me a place to live while I carried on writing. The first time I saw the flat in Fenny Stratford (a couple of miles from campus), was the day I moved in. Thankfully it turned out to be a great place to live though I was also a bit shocked that I needed to buy a car to get about in MK – I don’t know who designed the public transport system, but they certainly didn’t have the Fenny to Open University journey in mind and two miles each way was a bit much for my little legs.
But eventually, I saw the campus and fell in love with it, and I met my supervisors and I suppose it would be a bit odd to say I fell in love with them, but I certainly felt I had been extremely lucky to end up with such kind and generous and intelligent people as I staggered my way round my PhD topic trying to connect with some concrete ideas for exploration. The Open University is an amazing organisation, totally accepting of whatever you are as long as you direct your efforts into your subject with enthusiasm. I think all PhD candidates probably suffer from some degree of ‘impostor syndrome’ where they think that any minute now someone is going to spot that they are really just some random person who wandered into the programme by mistake, but I always felt that, even if my supervisors had spotted it, they would have been far too kind to point it out and would have found some way of making a success of things. Perhaps that is what is happening after all 🙂 Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself.
The first year is not so frightening. There are skills workshops at least once every couple of weeks and they are mostly quite easy to understand. Some of us have already gathered some of the skills in previous lives and that take the pressure off nicely. There are some topics that are more difficult though – I struggle with ontology and epistemology and frameworks but, at they end of the day, they are just words and I will have to get over it! There are other students, actually a surprisingly large and eclectic mix of students, at first all of us trying to look as if we know what we are doing, and then swinging to the other extreme and admitting that we really don’t. Then starts the long habit of supporting each other and trying to understand and help with each other’s problems. We don’t see each other enough though really and our topics are mostly very different. I still haven’t met anyone researching pedagogy and technology for Latin (that’s where my PhD topic has settled now). We do have desks together, at least in my department (the Centre for Education and Education Technology – CREET). My seat is invariably empty though – I never did like working at a desk or in an open plan office. I generally stay at home and wrestle the procrastination monkey alone. I join a couple of on-campus choirs though and that makes me feel more part of the place. At the end of the year, we have to submit a probation report and do a mini-viva defending our plans for the rest of the PhD. This is very worrying. If there is going to be a moment when the impostor thing gets spotted, this is it! Somehow, I end up with extremely kind and generous and intelligent assessors – I am beginning to spot a theme now – and they give lots of encouragement and helpful advice. I can stay for another two years!
In the second year, the workshops dry up, but we still have supervisions – mine are once a month, but some are more often. This is data collection year and I find myself gadding off to America to speak Latin, all courtesy of my research grant. I think I have gone to Heaven. There are trips to conferences around Europe and the UK as well as Work in Progress (WiP) seminars on campus. I can see everyone’s ideas beginning to take shape and my own seem to be settling down a bit too. There is some hope that I might get away with this after all …
But no, the third year is really scary. I am going to have to write stuff! Actually a real lot of stuff! I hate writing! Why did I not think of that before? I start and it isn’t so bad. My supervisors stay true to form and tell me it is all ok while managing to tell me about the bits which are not ok as well. I write and correct and write. The amount I haven’t written doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller though. I am still at that stage where the mountain to climb seems insurmountably large, but I keep plodding along, sometimes forward and sometimes back, hoping that by some miracle I will sneak up on the summit and the PhD will make it through the impostor filter too. Doing a PhD is really hard – harder than any academic thing I have done before – and I suppose that is as it should be. But, whatever happens, I have learned an enormous amount in some really excellent and inspiring company. I would certainly recommend the Open University to any of you intrepid enough to take on the PhD journey.
I’m just making a quick digression from my PhD work (OK this is displacement activity!) to share some interesting study opportunities coming up this Summer. They will be specially useful for anyone thinking of taking a course in Classical Languages or indeed for anyone with an interest in Classics or Ancient History who would like a little more insight into the meaning of ancient texts. Bursaries are available for some of these courses (follow links for details).
I will add further language Summer School options in the UK to this page as I find them, but if you know of any others, please do comment below with a link and I will add them to the list. You can also find some links to Summer Schools outside the UK and to courses which run throughout the year in the comments below.
This year, I have dared to convene a panel as well as present a paper and I am in some great company. James Robson (also OU), Steve Hunt (Faculty of Education, Cambridge) and Evelien Bracke (Swansea) will be with me contributing papers relating to the conference theme of ‘Sustainable Classics‘. The panel will work its way through from primary to tertiary education looking as some of the opportunities and challenges presented to Classics in the modern world. If you’d like to see our abstracts, they start at the bottom of page 102 here. We are on at 9 a.m. on the Saturday in the Wills Building, Room 3.33 so, if old friends have been celebrating meeting up the night before, it may be a bit quiet. If you are going to be at the conference, do come and support us as we try to enliven the early-bird slot. Unfortunately our panel, and, in fact, my own paper (on communicative approaches to ancient language learning), coincide exactly with the paper of my supervisor, Eleanor Betts, who is going to be part of an intriguing sounding panel called ‘Smelling Rome‘ in the Old Council Chamber. I would like to have heard Eleanor’s paper and the odds against us clashing like this must have been very long, but it does at least mean I will be able to bribe my fellow panelists to tell Eleanor that I did really well, whatever happens 🙂
Three further Team OU members will also be putting in morning appearances. Paula Jameswill be second speaker on Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. panel about Pygmalions in the Reynold Lecture Theatre. On Sunday, Emma-Jayne Graham will be talking about Roman votive objects in the third paper of the 11:30 a.m. panel on ‘The Experience of Ancient Polytheism‘. Then, at 11:30 a.m. on Monday morning, Ursula Rothe will be the second speaker of the panel on the Roman Empire in room 3.32. She will be talking about orientalisation in Rome’s Danube provinces. That’s quite a wide variety of topics that we are covering! I am looking forward to trying to stalk all of the team (except Eleanor) and to doing a report on how things went after the conference.
Finally, one of the bits I am most looking forward to is the conference dinner on Sunday night. I will be on table 4 with some long lost friends from Manchester as well as other Open University chums. If you are there, please do come and raise a glass with us, and if I am a little late on Monday morning, Ursula, please forgive me 🙂
Ignoscite mihi (forgive me) that I haven’t kept you up to date with the adventure. The conventiculum is pretty full on so we are at breakfast at 8 and have activities till around 9:30 p.m. (the evening ones are optional but a great opportunity for conversational Latin if you have the energy left). Also, I am having a lot of difficulty connecting my new little laptop to the internet – I think it is a poor wireless signal, but my iPad mini seems to cope better. Anyway, I was up at 7:30am this morning to try to catch up a bit and am now trying to get this done before the Roman dinner (on Friday night) so I am writing this from a distance of a few days.
This day really was hard. We had to get used to everything being explained to us in Latin, from who we would be with in lessons to where we would be to where to find the ‘restroom’ (the usual permanent signs are still signs up for American people but they haven’t been translated into UK English). We were divided into ‘tirones’ (beginners) and ‘peritiores’ (those going on to more advanced speaking and reading). I am firmly near the back of the ‘tirones’ queue. I found the sessions with fellow beginners reasonably accessible, but the ones where we read texts with the peritiores were much more challenging.
One of the most difficult moments was giving a very brief introduction in front of the whole group. This is what I came up with:
Mihi nomen est Mair Lloyd. Est nomen de Cambria et significat Maria, Latine. In Cambria orta sum. Per conventiculo mihi nomen erit Maria. Discipula sum in Universitate Aperta in Anglia. Exploro quomodo discere linguam latinam. Hoc est mihi primum conventiculum.
[My name is Mair Lloyd. It is a name from Wales and it means Mary in Latin. I come from Wales. Through the conventiculum my name will be Maria. I am a student at the Open University in England. I am investigating how to learn the latin language. This is my first conventiculum.]
That took a huge effort. Hopefully it will get easier (and more accurate) as the week progresses.
Today was every bit as manic as expected. It began with a move from Blandings to Roselle, my new home for the next seven days. I ate a hearty American Breakfast at Ovid’s cafe – I don’t know why it is called Ovid’s but it seemed a good omen. I had a ‘platter’ of very salty bacon, quite salty sausage (flat and disc shaped, not sausage shaped) some tiny chunky salty chips and ‘gravy’ which was a bit grey looking but tasted reasonably nice, if salty. I followed that with a Starbuck’s coffee and ‘cream’ – I think ‘cream’ is actually anything white you put in coffee but not actual cream. Anyway that was nice too and mercifully salt-free.
Replete with calories, I was ready for the one mile hike to across campus. Learning nothing from yesterday, I got out the very strong suntan lotion, put it carefully away (forgetting to put any on my skin) and set off through the blazing sun scurrying from tree to tree, towing a large heavy suitcase and carrying a backpack, and shoulder bag and wearing cropped trousers (I forgot to pack any long ones) which exposed my ever-reddening calves. Pink and hot, I staggered into the welcome air-conditioning of Roselle, which is very up-market compared to Blandings. I have a lovely double room to myself but I also have a ‘Jack and Jill’ toilet with the lady next door. This is going to require a lot of concentration in terms of which lock to lock and unlock, but I hope to get the hang of it by the end of the week.
At Roselle, attendees were arriving, but I felt an urgent need for a pair of full length trousers to guard my vermilion shins. The university bookshop (which mostly sells clothes) was just across the road so I treated myself to a nice pair of University of Kentucky jog pants – they are lovely and comfy and might just drop the hint that I would like to stay here again sometime. I really like Lexington and feel very at home here. It is a bit like a very warm and humid Ireland with friendly natives and lots of green.
A new friend, Ellen, with a much better sense of direction than me, took me to find Bingham Davis House, where we will be doing our Latin speaking and where we would be having dinner later. This would be my only opportunity to interview people in English before the conventiculum (at which we may speak only Latin with each other) and the best time to get beginners to do my pre-test designed to assess engagement with a few lines of ancient text. I focused on finding beginners to do both pre-test exercises and pre-conventiculum interviews but I did manage to interview two experienced Latin speakers and to arrange to interview a couple more when we are speaking English again. I also bagged eight beginner interviews and six beginner pre-tests – the other two are going to do the tests tonight and give them to me tomorrow. My head is now spinning with all the information I gathered and I must still make notes on my own responses to my questions as I will be including the effect of the week on my Latin in my results.
Tomorrow I will try to add a little Latin to my blog … and a little more each day … good intentions anyway.
I allowed myself a clear day in Lexington before the convention-proper started so that I could recover from the journey and find my way round a bit. I am really glad I did because I was in no fit state to speak English, never mind Latin this morning. I ate more pizza (yes the same one as yesterday) for breakfast and looked happily out on the rain-drenched lawn below my window, letting the aircon lull me into the illusion that it would be cool outside too. I can’t bear the heat and have been dreading having to cope with it. So, after a morning dozing and writing up yesterday’s events, I ventured out, lost in thought, walking embarrassingly and painfully into a full-height glass window on the way (oops!). As the friendly lady in the lift down from my room had warned me, the impression I had of coolness outside was decievin’ too! It was very hot and humid and I had to scurry from tree to tree to spend as much time as possible in the shade. I was out hunting for food as I was beginning to find the pizza a little too familiar and the on-campus outlets are mostly closed on Sunday.
On my voyage of fast-food discovery, I came across another US innovation, a ‘Cat’s Path’. I saw a few of them signposted and marked out with huge blue paw-prints. ‘But, what sort of cat?’, I wondered. After developing a couple of imaginative, but daft theories, I finally discovered that they were paths with blue lampposts with emergency buttons on them, and they were patrolled by police. I still don’t know why the paths are named ‘Cat’s Paths’, but google found me this: A Clear Path for Campus Safety. Perhaps it is not as safe here as it seems.
Eventually, I dived into the welcome, near-freezing temperature of a McDonald’s, where, after all that heat, I could only manage to eat an ice cream and drink an iced chocolate frappe. Feeling cooler, I headed back to the campus where I had heard there would be a cafeteria open at 4:30. I made my way there only to find an enormous crowd of cheer leaders at a Summer Camp had had the same idea. I waltzed in with them and was offered a nice salad and some lovely coffee, among other goodies. No one asked me for any payment and I began to feel a bit uncomfortable accepting all this largess. On asking one of the cafeteria staff, it transpired that I had in fact been mistaken as one of the camp, whose food was included in their fees. What part I might play in a Summer Camp for cheer leaders is a mystery to me, but I explained that I was actually here to speak Latin, paid up, and slunk off back to my room with my haul! I polished off my friend, the Papa John’s pizza, for supper.
Tomorrow will be a huge day for my research with me trying to do as many interviews and to administer as many pre-conventiculum reading exercises as possible with any volunteers I can find. And I will be eating mostly anything at all but pizza …
I think this is by far the most exciting part of my PhD, not that I haven’t found all of it exciting, but compared, say, to the Literature Review, my trip to Lexington to speak Latin for a week is certainly likely to be filled with more thrills and spills. The idea behind the trip is that I investigate the effect of conversational Latin on Latin learning and, in particular, on the learner’s ability to engage with ancient texts. This will help me assess the utility of a communicative approach in Latin pedagogy, and the applicability of social-constructivist and interactional language learning theories, to ancient languages.
Surprisingly, in view of my adventuring history, the journey out was reasonably uneventful. I made it onto both planes with time to spare though the plane from Heathrow into Chicago was quite late so American Airlines printed me an emergency boarding pass and gave me an orange piece of card to wave as I passed through the airport. Both these gestures made me feel a lot better and I was really very impressed by their thoughtfulness and efficiency. The orange card was particularly reassuring and did sometimes attract helpful attention from airline staff, though, more often, quizzical looks from fellow travelers. The plane from Chicago to Lexington was alarmingly small, but it flew nicely and consistently all the way to Blue Grass airport (named for the deep colour of the grass here, encouraged by frequent rain and sun and high calcium content in the soil).
I first visited the USA about thirty-five years ago and I remember thinking it was like going forward in time. There were drive-in movies, drive-through MacDonalds, all-night stores and hash browns, things I had never seen before, and although it is probably too rainy for drive-in movies to catch on in the UK, all the other novelties are now commonplace here. I haven’t been back to America since then, so I was curious to see what innovations I would find this time round. My first discovery was in a toilet in O’Hare airport. They have the most marvelous mechanism that rotates a kind of clingfilm wrap on the toilet seat and you advance it before you use the loo by waving your hand imperiously at a green symbol above the bowl. Delightful! I look forward to their arrival in UK motorway service stations. I also met some water imported from Fiji, which is the best in the world, apparently, though it just tasted like water really, and a drink called Cranapple Juice (Cranberry and Apple) which was very nice.
When I finally got to my student-room in Blandings Tower, I was hungry and there were no food outlets open on campus, so I asked the reception staff for advice. They recommended I get a take-away delivered or take a taxi to a restaurant and they wrote this advice down for me, lest I forget! When I failed to get my phone to work (it is so old it doesn’t pick up the American networks at all) or to understand the online ordering procedure, they phoned for a pizza for me. They really were very helpful, but when they asked whether I had thought to bring any American money with me, I realised that they had made a reasonable assessment of my knowing-which-way-is-up skills too!
Anyway, the pizza (in fact just one third of the pizza) certainly solved my hunger problem and the marvelous aircon meant I was more comfortable than I had been in England. Despite all the adrenalin of the day, I slept like a baby …