Exciting Summer Oral Latin Intensive Workshop with Traupman, Reported by Vicki Wine and Virginia Hellenga

In our immersion in oral Latin workshop with John Traupman , we were all taken aback by the amount of practice even experienced Latin teachers needed to respond spontaneously in accurate Latin, and how much effort was required to speak in full sentences without thinking out the grammar.

Immersion in oral Latin this past summer was made possible thanks especially to the efforts of LeaAnn Osburn, of Barrington High School , working with Paul Griffiths, Director of the Illinois Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages [ICTFL].  Experienced Latin teachers Lanetta Warrenburg of Elgin and Larkin High Schools, Elgin, and LeaAnn Osburn, as well as four of us from Monmouth College: Classics lecturers Vicki Wine and Virginia Hellenga, joined by  two future teachers, Latin students Dawn McRoberts and Sheena Glass, all enjoyed  an intense, packed, exciting Oral Latin workshop for one and a half days, June 25-26, 2002,  in Springfield, Illinois. In addition, two modern foreign language teachers attended the Latin workshop for the experience of learning to speak a language other than the one they taught.

We thoroughly enjoyed our delightful and sensitive workshop leader, John Traupman, Emeritus Professor of Classics, St. Joseph ’s University, Philadelphia , and Editor-in-Chief of Wimbledon Publishing Company, London . Traupman modeled for us a rich variety of techniques which showed the benefits of using oral Latin for conversation and even for teaching grammar in the Latin classroom.

Beginning with simple introductory words spoken slowly in Latin, Traupman skillfully guided us to both greet each other and to give information about ourselves in Latin. “Quot liberi sunt in familia tua?” he asked, and “Quod nomen est patri tuo?” “Quo mense natus est pater tuus?” and so on. Taking turns, we answered each question in Latin, gathering courage as we gained more oral experience.

Traupman wisely started out very slowly with Latin phrases followed by English translation, using enough repetition for us all to understand and practice. He progressively increased pace, careful not to lose us, until the end of the workshop, when he asked rapid questions in Latin which we were to answer as rapidly. It was a challenge and fun, and we laughed a lot. Some of the questions involved numbers, or grammatical questions in Latin, such as case endings and identification of the use of cases, on to questions on a speech of Catiline.

As a change of pace during part of the workshop, Traupman showed slides of the voyage of Aeneas, giving descriptions narrated entirely in Latin, and asking questions on the events of the journey in Latin, which we answered in Latin. This was a clever way to keep us engaged!

For additional variety in the workshop, Traupman played sections from the cassette tape which accompanies his book, Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency. He also recounted the process involved in selecting readers for the cassette tape and in making the recordings. More information on Traupman’s Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency book and cassette, published by Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers,  is available on the Bolchazy-Carducci website, with a link to a letter to colleagues from Traupman regarding the book and cassette.  (http://www.bolchazy.com/latin/conversational.html)

The ICTFL immersion program was part of the Illinois Virtual High School training session in Springfield , thus we were able to mingle with many teachers from all over Illinois , and learn a good deal about online learning before the beginning of our Latin immersion workshop. We were grateful for the care and planning which made this enriching workshop possible.