Artes Latinae Latin Self-Teaching Level One Version 2.0 DVD Package
By Waldo Sweet
Artes Latinae is a self-teaching Latin course structured to accommodate multiple levels of students, each learning at his or her own pace in a classroom setting or during independent study.
Developed by Dr. Waldo E. Sweet of the University of Michigan for Encyclopaedia Britannica, Artes Latinae is an easy-to-follow course that includes all the tools a student needs to achieve a firm command of Latin. The course was carefully crafted and refined to suit the needs and abilities of a broad spectrum of students. Artes Latinae meets existing foreign language requirements for high school graduation.
The DVD program format, designed by Dr. Jeffrey Lyon, based on Dr. Waldo Sweet’s original, incorporates text, graphics and sound into a computer accessible format, with an interactive methodology.
The DVD features three different pronunciations. At the click of an icon, students can choose the American Scholastic classical pronunciation by Dr. Waldo Sweet; the Restored Classical pronunciation of Dr. Robert Sonkowsky and Dr. Barbara Sonkowsky; or the Continental/Ecclesiastical pronunciation of Dr. Clarence Miller and Dr. Nancy Llewellyn.
- American Scholastic — Waldo E. Sweet’s original cassette recordings using a classical pronunciation have been digitized for the electronic format. This is the default pronunciation for Artes Latinae.
- Restored Classical — Our most current scholarly evidence points to the Restored Classical pronunciation as the most accurate sound of classical Latin. It is used in most colleges and universities.
- Continental/Ecclesiastical — This pronunciation is commonly encountered in liturgy, music lyrics, and Christian, Medieval, and Neo-Latin texts.
Package includes DVD-ROM (Equivalent to Level One, Books One and Two and the original cassette tapes—now on an audio CD), Manual, Graded Reader, TM Graded Reader, Reference Notebook (consumable), Test Booklet (consumable), Guide to Unit Tests. All materials can be purchased individually, click on the Related Titles link to see descriptions.
- Version 2.0 provides easier navigation and seamless learning experience
- American Scholastic, Continental/Ecclesiastical, and Restored Classical pronunciations are all included on one installation disk
- No disk needed when using Artes Latinae (disk used for installation only)
- Macintosh compatible (OS X)
- Runs on current Windows operating systems (Windows Vista, XP, 2000, and Windows 7)
Waldo E. Sweet earned his BA from Amherst College, an MA in Greek from Columbia University, and an MA and PhD in Greek history from Princeton University. Sweet’s other publications include Latin Proverbs: Wisdom from Ancient to Modern Times (Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers), Sport and Recreation in Ancient Greece: A Sourcebook with Translations (Oxford University Press), and A Course on Words (University of Michigan Press).
Comments and Reviews
I used Artes Latinae for two years with about twenty-five high school students of mixed ability and grade levels. In my school district, we offer languages both at an accelerated level and at a standard level. For various reasons, not every student wants to take an accelerated level language class. The greatest diversity of ability and learning styles is thus found in the standard level class. Artes Latinae is, in my opinion, quite simply the best text I have ever found for this group of learners. If we teachers agree that Latin is for everyone, that we need to honor various learning styles, that we need to differentiate and individualize instruction so that everyone has success, then this new incarnation of Artes Latinae is the best answer to these challenges that I have found in my forty years in the Latin classroom.
As the students progress through the "frames" of a unit, they are asked to manipulate the language in various ways in a carefully controlled context. If they are correct, they move on to the next frame. If they have missed the point and responded incorrectly, the error is highlighted and they can either go on if they understand what they did wrong or ask for immediate help from the teacher if they are uncertain about anything. By proceeding in small, discrete steps, the students gain early on great confidence in their abilities.
In my school district, every high school student is now issued a MacBook, so every student has computer access all the time. Before that happened, we held our class in the computer lab, where every computer had Artes Latinae installed, and worked only during class time. Students proceed through the frames of the programmed text and use the earphones from their iPods to listen to the "basic sentences" which introduce and reinforce the grammatical principle being taught. They can repeat them as many times as they need to master them. Teachers can monitor the students' pronunciation. The DVD-ROM allows a choice of American academic, restored classical, and Continental/Ecclesiastical pronunciations. The students hear and repeat Latin with enough frequency to become confident and competent in their pronunciation very quickly. Because Artes Latinae combines listening to the sentence, seeing it written on the screen, and repeating it aloud, the material can be much more readily assimilated. Because each student can work at a pace that is comfortable for him or her, there is far less frustration because the work is neither too difficult or too easy.
Artes Latinae introduces grammar through a series of basic sentences. These are mostly proverbs culled from Latin literature, so from the beginning students are exposed to authentic Latin and encounter the concept that there are often several levels of meaning in a Latin text. There is no "made-up" Latin in the entire text. As students begin to manipulate the Latin in various ways, they are exposed to inflectional changes gradually, but in a manner that seems logical even to students who do not have a strong background in traditional grammar in English or another language. The computer gives them immediate feedback and error correction. As soon as they answer, they know if they are correct or not.
For the teacher, the beauty of this approach is soon apparent. How many times have we masterfully explained some point of grammar to the entire class, given brilliant examples, carefully repeated everything, looked at all the eager faces in front of us and then said '"any questions?" We know of course that there really cannot be any questions. We have been so clear and so careful and have provided such incredible examples that all has been illuminated. But, there is a hand. We smile and say, "Yes," knowing that this has to be an easy question. From left field, even though we have just taught the ablative absolute, comes the question, "How do I know when to use the nominative case?" What do you do? Cry, stop the class, and review the nominative case for that one student, even though you know that all the rest already know it and need to practice the ablative absolute, or just go on? Artes Latinae to the rescue! Since the pace of instruction is individualized, and since you are no longer "the sage on the stage" entertaining a whole class, you can now be the individual mentor and coach for each student exactly when he or she needs it most. When a student has difficulty with a concept, you can give your undivided attention to that student for as long as it takes to insure that he or she has mastered it and can move on with confidence. Because the information is conveyed in small, discrete units, you do not have to wait until Latin 2 when you are teaching the ablative absolute to find out that one student still does not understand a far more basic concept. I am certain you had a clue that this student was sometimes a little lost, but by this stage, remediation on the scale that is needed is really difficult. Artes Latinae allows you to know immediately when someone needs intervention, move in, fix it, and let the student go on with his learning without a weakness which could prove fatal later on.
Artes Latinae has a test at the end of each unit which is designed to test exactly what the unit has tried to teach. How often do we test and then find that something comes up and we cannot grade and return the tests the next class period? We almost never have time to address individual errors with each student. When we realize that some students really missed the point, what do we do? Do we re-teach the whole class, try to schedule a tutorial for a few, or just hope for the best? Because of the individualized approach Artes Latinae allows, we can correct each test with the student as soon as it is completed. If it is obvious that the student has missed the essential point of the unit, we can go over it again right away, answer questions, and send him or her back to go over the review section which is at the end of every unit, and again discuss the points he or she missed. After this review and reinforcement, we can let the student try the test again to make certain that he has mastered the points. By doing this, we can help correct small errors of ignorance before they become a paralyzing force. Every student can succeed at Latin.
As the student builds confidence in his or her ability to succeed, Artes Latinae becomes more sophisticated in its approach. There are graded readers which the teacher can use with the students. The Latin in them is authentic from the beginning. At first, I like to go over the stories individually with the student whenever he or she is ready for one. This builds confidence. Later on, I find that many students like to try to read the story on their own and come to me for help if and when they need it. Simple questions in Latin and English can check for comprehension to make certain that they have read it correctly. Because students are used to oral Latin, oral tests of comprehension are not strange to them.
Because Artes Latinae allows for individualized and differentiated instruction, the teacher can have multiple levels in the same section without anyone having to suffer boredom or neglect. Last year, I had Latin I, Latin II, and Latin III students combined in a single class of twenty-five. Because of the nature of the program, all could work at their own level and I could help anyone who needed advice immediately. I was able to give each student individual guidance at the exact time such guidance was most needed. Once or twice a week we would come together as a class to have a lesson in Roman history or culture. Because everyone had internet access, assigning projects and web quests was easy. Once again, these activities could be assigned on the level of Latin that corresponded to the student's ability. The students always enjoyed presenting their projects to the group.
One of my best Latin I students left school and went abroad for a semester. We knew that there would not be any Latin instruction while he was gone. But we also knew that he would have a computer and email. Bolchazy-Carducci extended a site license for him and so he was able to work through Artes Latinae on his own and email me his questions and his tests for correction. Because he was an outstanding student, he actually was able to complete enough Latin to go from Latin I to Latin III honors (a traditional Cicero course) when he returned to school in September.
If you are teaching in a school where there is not much difference in learning style and the students are mostly homogeneous in ability, then any book will probably work well for you and your students. If, however, you have a more heterogeneous group of students or if for budgetary or scheduling reasons you must have multilevel classes, then I believe that Artes Latinae could really be the best textbook for you. In my years in the classroom, I have seen many approaches come and go. Most often, the method that is most comfortable for the teacher is the one that will be the best for that person's students.
Many of us were uncomfortable when we changed from a grammar/translation text to a reading based series. For most of us, though, the success our students had was enough to convince us that we had made the correct choice. But, as the song tells us, "The times, they are a changin'." Students today are very comfortable and confident in using technology. They are used to working on their own at a computer. The computer has, for so many, become their method of communication and instruction. For example, we have all seen just how much our students know about the Roman army from years of gaming on the computer. Let's take advantage of the skills of this new generation of students. As Latin teachers, we have learned to seize the moment before. Artes Latinae allows us to become practitioners of what will almost certainly be the direction pedagogy heads toward in the twenty-first century. Perge modo et qua te ducit via, dirige gressum.
Charles L. Myers
Harriton High School
Classical Outlook 86.3, Spring 2009