IN spite of Horace's praise of Homer for not going back further than the beginning,
the Latin teacher must not be content to begin there. Now that English grammar is but little taught in our schools, the Latin master will find, if he does not take care to avoid it, that he has sitting in front of him, as a beginners' class, a set of boys who do not know the difference between a noun and a verb. To attempt to teach a foreign language under such conditions would be wicked, and upon the direct method it is impossible.
A Grammatical Propœdeutic. -
A proper school curriculum must therefore contain provision for the teaching of the
essentials of grammar as a propaedeutic to Latin. This should be done in the form
immediately below that in which Latin is begun. Not much time need be given to it;
one lesson per week is ample, for not much needs to be taught, but it needs to be
known thoroughly and must therefore be constantly exercised. The minimum requirements
are, the distinction between a noun and a verb, the subject-
Of these the S-
Marcus hits Brutus,
in Latin the order of words has nothing to do with it.
Brutum Marcus pulsat
Marcus Brutum pulsat
are identical sentences so far as this relation is concerned.
Pronunciation Quantity and Accent.
We take it for granted that what is known as the reformed pronunciation will be used. There are several reliable guides to this in which will be found no ambiguity except on the pronunciation of the letter v.
This was probably a bi-
It is not a matter of great importance, and as the Classical Association recommend, the choice may be left to individuals, provided, of course, that a uniform practice is maintained throughout a school.
The pronunciation of the separate sounds has already been taught in beginning French
; when these have been identified with their phonetic signs, only the diphthongs
need to be dealt with. With the direct method, which employs so much oral work, a
good pronunciation is of first importance, and special attention should be given
to it from the outset. If the master's pronunciation be good, that of the class will
follow suit; but if the master's be bad that of the class will be worse, for the
very fact that his own pronunciation is bad shows that he is careless and slipshod
in such matters. The letter s provides a special stumbling-
Upon departing, for example, at the end of a lesson they would exclaim, in chorus,
wale magister, and in singing a song (The class-
quando venit dies, durus venit labor
would always pronounce it
quando wenit diez, duruz wenit labor.
One of their pieces of repetition was Horace's O Fons Bandusiae, and we would often hear:
o fonz Banduziae splendidior witro
dulci digne mero non sine floribuz
craz donaberiz haedo
cui fronz turgida cornibuz
until the master put a stop to it.
Care should also be taken about both quantity and accent.
A long vowel should take twice as long, in time, to pronounce, as a short one, and
this should even be exaggerated at first. The boys should be encouraged to correct
one another in reading. Small boys take a joy in doing this, and it has an excellent
effect, for in reading aloud a boy resents being corrected by his age-
but care should be taken to see that the boys do not give false accents owing to emphasising the endings of new grammatical forms. There is a tendency in learning a new verb tense, for example, to say regäm, reges, reget. This should never be allowed. Such groups of forms must be recited very slowly and deliberately, with pauses between ; it is a useful practice to do this all in chorus, the master beating time.
An Introductory Lesson.
It is well to preface the actual teaching of the language by one introductory lesson, in which a little talk may be given about the Romans and why we learn Latin. Most of the class are likely to have read something about the Romans, but a few brief remarks may be made upon the influence of Rome on later civilisation. There are some Roman remains in most localities, and these can be worked in to make the master's point. Then one might pass on to the influence of Latin upon the English language, not forgetting to hold out to one's youthful audience the prospect of an easy solution of all spelling difficulties in words such as insurgent and dominant. This naturally leads on to derivations, when a new world will be opened up to many members of the class by a brief explanation of the etymological meaning of words such as rival, companion, prevent. But such things as these, it will be pointed out, are mere incidentals, and are as nothing compared with the real object one has in learning Latin, which is simply to be able to read Latin literature. A few very brief remarks — rhapsodies are out of place and will leave no effect — may be made upon the peculiar qualities of Latin literature in order to whet the appetites of one's audience and make them anxious to learn the language which reveals such a literature. If this is well done, the class will come on the following day all agog to begin learning Latin. Then the introductory lesson will not have been wasted.
It is in this introductory lesson that the master will make any explanations which he may consider necessary about the Roman alphabet and the pronunciation of Latin. If the class has already been learning French upon the direct method, no remarks upon the method will be necessary. But if such is not the case, it may be well to explain that the boys are expected to pick up the meaning of words used by the master by watching the actions he performs as he utters them. Thus, if I say something as I raise my finger, the words I utter mean "I raise my finger" and not "I blow my nose" or "my brother has toothache."
The First twelve Lessons.
The first twelve lessons
are conducted without a book by purely oral work.
The first thing to do is to teach the present tense of a verb, so the master rises from his chair and says surgo. After repeating this, he exclaims surge to some bright boy, and, as the boy stands up, says surgis. Then pointing at the boy, but addressing the class, he says ille surgit. This is repeated with other simple actions and verbs; then the plural may be introduced either with the aid of another master or of a particularly bright boy who divines what is required. All this has been minutely described in the verbatim report referred to. But care must be exercised that these purely oral lessons proceed upon a definite plan, and introduce the cases of the noun, for example, one at a time. Much will be learnt incidentally, e.g. Quid facis? licet tibi, and oportet te; but the essentials must be carefully organised.
All new words should be written up on the blackboard, by a boy rather than by the master, and copied down by all into notebooks specially kept for the purpose. At first these must have English equivalents attached, but as soon as it is possible — in a few weeks' time at the outside — simple Latin explanations should be given, e.g.
cibus—i (m) = id quod edimus.
All nouns should have the genitive singular and gender attached, and all verbs the infinitive (and, when learnt, the perfect tense), and the boys should be trained from the beginning to demand such indications of declension and conjugation. Only by such methods can a grammatical conscience be inculcated.
The Nominative and Accusative Difficulty.
The first difficulty which the teacher on the direct method will encounter, is that of teaching the use of the nominative case for the subject of a sentence and the accusative for the direct object. To get over this difficulty he will adopt all manner of devices ; he will explain the difficulty in English, and make the boys write down in their notebooks in English something like the following:
The Nominative is used for the subject of a verb.
The Vocative is used in calling a person.
The Accusative is used for the object of those verbs which need one.
The Genitive means of.
The Dative means to or for.
The Ablative means by, with, or from.
He will take care to point out where a difference of form for the accusative or objective
case survives in English (i.e. in the personal pronouns he, him; I, me ; she, her
; we, us, etc.). But in spite of everything he will find the accusative occasionally
used for the subject, :end the nominative frequently used for the object. lt is not
an exaggeration to say that it will take three years /rar the average member of a
class to become safe on this point. We wish to emphasise this, that the teacher who
has just adopted the direct method may not be unduly discouraged by his inability
to eliminate this mistake at an earlier date. Every method has its own peculiar virtues
and vices. The present difficulty is more easily overcome on the old "jig-
aperio fenestra; but I have to teach him to say aperio fenestram, and mention may be made of a device which has been found useful for so doing. Whenever, in telling a story, or in the course of any lesson, a new noun is mentioned, if possible it should be drawn on the board, or a picture shown, and the name introduced thus
Teacher [drawing outline]. Homo est hic. Quid est hic?
Class. Homo est ille.
Master. Hominem video. Quid video (or videtis).
Class. Hominem vides (or videmus).
Master [prolonging its legs]. Ho mo est procerus. Quid est hic?
Class. Homo procerus est ille.
Master. Quid video ?
Class. Hominem procerum vides.
A beginning is, of course, made with the first and second declensions, both singular and plural,
and at first only nouns and adjectives of similar declensions are combined. But soon the fun comes to consist in combining a second declension noun with a third declension adjective, and vice versa. Thus we get such things as
puellam fortem videmus
militem gloriosum videmus.
Later on the same device may be used to exercise the present participle. The endings of these are, after use, given to the class according to the four conjugations, and they write them down in their notebooks thus:
Then the master, instead of saying a single word, says a complete sentence, and we get:
M. Puer fenestram aperit. Quid videtis?
D. Puerum fenestram aperientem videmus.
M. Pueri ludunt.
D. Pueros ludentes videmus.
And so on. Interest may be added making the sentences a description of some incident which as occurred, e.g.:
Magister: Marcus fenestram frangit. Quid videtis ?
Discipuli: Marcum fenestram frangentem videmus.
M. Marcus effugit.
D. Marcum effugientem videmus.
M. Sed pater venit.
D. Patrem venientem videmus.
M Pater Marcum comprehendit.
D. Patrem Marcum comprehendentem videmus.
M Ferulam capit.
D. Eum ferulam capientem videmus.
M. Marcum ferula percutit.
D. Patrem Marcum ferula percutientem videmus.
At this point Juvenal's et nos manum ferulae subduximus will probably come into the master's mind, so he will proceed:
M. Marcus manum ferulae subducit.
D. Marcum manum ferulae subducentem videmus.
M. Pater iterum eum percutit.
D. Patrem iterum Marcum percutientem videmus.
M. Marcus ululat. Quid auditis?
D. Marcum ululantem audimus.
This interchange of conversation takes place at a quick rate, but there is rarely any failure to adopt the change at the end from videmus to audimus.
The Use and Avoidance of English.
The illustrations given in the last section show the principle which should guide us in the use and avoidance of English. This principle may be summarily stated as Never use English when Latin will do. The conversation, for example, recorded at the end of the last section is conducted without a word of English. The class is familiar with the required procedure, and it is only necessary for the master to announce Nunc addite verbum "videmus" to get what he wants. But when the device is first introduced to the class, it will be explained in English. Again, English figures largely in the efforts recorded, at the beginning of the same section, to clear up the nominative and accusative difficulty. One should not make a fetish of avoiding English, but use it without scruple whenever it means an ultimate saving of time.
The chief thing to be careful about is not to mix up English and Latin indiscriminately
in one's lessons. To do so destroys the Latin atmosphere which is such a great psychological
aid to learning. The master knows, to a certain extent, what he wishes to teach in
a particular lesson. If this would be helped by an English explanation, let him give
it at the beginning of the lesson and pass on to the actual practice in Latin with
some such remark as Nunc incipiemus. Thus a Latin atmosphere is preserved, instead
of being dissipated by a continual chopping and changing between Latin and English.
If in the course of the Latin lesson the master finds it necessary — a comparatively
rare thing -
Means of acquiring Facility of Speech.
Our principle of never using English when Latin will serve implies that the master should be almost equally fluent in either language. Even the best of us, of course, can never really be equally fluent; but for classroom purposes anyone who understands Latin can make himself sufficiently so, provided that he is willing to take a little trouble. Here lies the whole crux of the Direct method. We have not ourselves been brought up to speak Latin and Greek, but we shall never make a success of the direct method until we can do so with fair fluency. How is this to be acquired ?
Let it be stated at once that it is a matter of practice rather than of scholarship. Practice makes perfect is truer of nothing than of this. But a beginning has to be made somehow. Let the master then allow his seeming conversation to be informed at first by the text book. If both master and class have the book open before them, much can be done by changing the order of words in question and answer, and the practice excellent for teaching the Latin order of words. Suppose, for example, that we have in the textbook the sentence Imperator fortis milites ducebat, then not much ingenuity is needed to evolve the following conversation
M. Quis milites ducebat?
D. Imperator milites ducebat.
M. Qualis imperator milites ducebat ?
D. Fortis imperator milites ducebat.
M. Quos ducebat imperator?
D. Milites ducebat imperator.
M. Quid imperator faciebat?
D. Ducebat imperator milites.
Then the same questions may be asked and answered with books closed. This example
is based upon a single sentence, but, of course, in class the master will have a
whole page of the textbook open before him. His scope will therefore be some thirty
times as great as with a single sentence. And meanwhile he can be practising himself
in the acquirement of a more real fluency. There are several ways of doing this.
An excellent plan is to give up some portion of a holiday to a walking-
All this, of course, involves a good deal of time and trouble, but it will pay in
the long run. When the class comes to the reading of a Latin author the master who
is a beginner at the method may gain much help by getting an old edition -
It should not be forgotten that this difficulty is part only of a time of transition. Boys trained on the direct method find no difficulty at all in using it if they wish to teach. They do so, in fact, frequently as part of their school work, and they can take a class with ease immediately upon leaving school.
It is time that we came to the textbook. For the first year the ideal book has yet to be produced. At present there is a choice between Initium, which is used at the Perse School, and Primus Annus,
which is used at many schools when the direct method is employed. Each of these has
its faults. Primus Annus is very carefully graded. It is divided into lessons, with
a grammatical pensum attached to each. But it is uninspired, if not dull. Initium,
on the other hand, is rarely dull, but it is badly arranged and leaves too much to
the initiative of the individual teacher. It seems to be so frightened of having
Since Initium is the book used at the Perse School, we will do what we can here to
remedy some of its defects. In the first place, it is badly arranged. The opening
play upon the death of Caesar contains too many difficult words for that position.
The book should have commenced with the Dialogus of Section 2. This follows on readily
after the purely oral work of the twelve lessons. It uses the third declension, which
will be set as home-
Answering in chorus is an excellent thing, and should by no means be neglected. New
words are explained after the fashion now familiar to the reader, e.g. auris -
Boy as Master.
The master asks, Quis volt agere partes magistri?
and so accustoms the class to having a boy-
And, of course, when the portion of the book being read is not a dialogus but a piece
of connected narrative, the boy-
All this, it may be urged, must take a great deal of time and progress must be comparatively
slow. To which it may be replied that it doesn't take half as long to do as might
be imagined from the description. The boy-
but to teach as much Latin as I can in the period. The boys are hearing and speaking Latin all the time, and the practice they have at first the greater becomes i heir confidence. Being confident they speak more, and speaking more they progress better.
After this dialogue come two exercises. They are almost ridiculously easy, and the
same may be said of all the twenty-
Section 3 of Initium is intended to teach the relative pronoun, but it is very inadequate, and the master will do well either to supplement it by a great deal of oral work on the point or to omit the section now and leave the relative pronoun (its agreement or disagreement with its antecedent) to be mastered later.
At the end of this section are grouped all the commoner pronouns. These have been put together because the similarity of their forms makes the learning of them comparatively easy.
So we come to Section 4.— De Discipulis —of which nothing need be said except that
the master will probably have to help with the riddles (which should be translated
into English), and that the whole piece, being in dramatic form, will, after having
been read, be acted -
— in the classroom. This will be followed by grammatical practice on the comparative. Make it real by taking your examples from the boys before you, And teach both methods of expressing a comparative. Begin by writing an example on the board, thus:
Marcus est pinguior Decimo
Marcus est pinguior quam Decimus (est).
Then take advantage of anything that may occur. For example, one boy (Brutus) is more rash than another (Sextus) and rushes in "where angels fear to tread," making several mistakes. Your opportunity is too good to be missed, so you proceed:
M. Brutus audacior est Sexto, Quis est audacior Sexto ?
D. Brutus est audacior Sexto.
M. Sextus errare timet. Ille est cautus. Quis cautior est quam Brutus?
D. Sextus cautior est quam Brutus.
And so on, always making your examples as real as possible.
Section 5 on Miles et civis calls for no comment. This is followed immediately by
two little plays, Salutator and Ludus respectively. Before beginning the Salutator
the master will give a little ten-
The New Tenses.
The next play, which is always popular owing to the phrenologist, introduces the perfect tense. This will be introduced to the class by oral work before they are allowed to read the play.
The same method will be employed whenever a new tense is encountered. The class
now know several Latin verbs in the present tense. The master therefore performs
various actions and speaks, let us say, as follows: sedeo; nasum tango; surgo; ambulo.
Nunc consido; nasum non tango; non surgo neque ambulo; sed antea nasum tetigi, surrexi,
ambulavi. Haec sunt temporis perfecti. Tempus perfectum hos habet fines. Spectate
paginam vicesimam -
Sextus. Surgo et ambulo.
M. Nunc conside. Quid fecisti?
S. Surrexi, ambulavi, consedi.
This correct form may not be given by the first boy asked, but someone will be able to supply it, and practice will render the rest of the class familiar with the new form. Similarly with other tenses. Tempus futurum will be guessed from its similarity of name to the English. The master (sitting) says Nunc sedeo, sed mox surgam et Marcum pulsabo. He rises and approaches Marcus, who rarely fails to anticipate what is coming. The imperfect and pluperfect are slightly more difficult tenses, and are, perhaps, best explained in English.
At this point (i.e. after § 7) the Iuli Exitium of the first section may be inserted
before passing on to § 8, which is a distinct advance in difficulty. The first portion
is merely a narrative in the past tense of the subject-
M. Quis secundum oceani litus ambulat?
D. Rex secundum oceani litus ambulat.
M. Cur secundum oceani litus ambulat?
D. Animi causa secundum oceani litus ambulat.
M. Ubi ambulat rex?
D. Secundum oceani litus ambulat.
M. Quid exclamat assentator quidam?
D. O rex omnipotens.
M. Quid rex ut dicit assentator, regit?
D. Homines, terram mare regit.
M. Quid paret regi?
D. Terra et mare parent regi.
M. Quid rex reprehendit?
D. Assentationem hominis reprehendit.
M. Quid alium quendam facere iussit?
D. Alium quendam sellam prope mare apponere iussit.
M. Quid iussit alium quendam prope mare apponere?
D. Sellam iussit alium quendam prope mare apponere.
M. Ubi iussit alium quendam sellam apponere?
D. Prope mare alium quendam sellam apponere iussit.
M. Postquam ille sellam apposuit quid fecit rex?
M. Quid aliud?
D. Crura usque ad undas extendit.
M. Quid vetuit?
D. Undas propius accedere vetuit.
M. Quid tamen fecit aestus?
D. Nihilominus se incitavit.
M. Et mox ?
D. Pedes regis madefecit.
This procedure may seem long and cumbersome, but it is the only means of training a class to speak and acquire a decent vocabulary. Moreover, as has been said before, it does not take so long as might be imagined, and progress is not to be measured by the number of pages "gone through," but by the amount of Latin learnt nor is it dull to act as it is to read.
The Noverca et Prevignus of §10 should be treated in the same way. In the following section is a small piece of simple narrative which forms a good introduction to the play Puer qui a ludo se abstinuit printed at the end of the book. This play should be taken now that the imperfect tense has been encountered.
Acting the Plays.
Each scene will be acted, book in hand, as soon as it has been read and explained. But it will also be acted — and that frequently — in its entirety, at first with books, but soon without. The boys will enjoy acting it, for it has plenty of life.
But the master will soon forbid it to be acted again with books, and will give a
The Insula Incognita, and other pieces of connected narrative, should be treated in the manner just described in discussing the Fabula de rege quodam. A little variety may be added, in this case, by getting the boys to describe all they can from merely looking at the picture. Sometimes, of course, much can be done without such adventitious aid. After question and answer in the usual fashion the master will ask different boys, without books, of course, to recount as much as they can of the passage read. The lines from Virgil in this piece, and also the couplets at the end of §11 and § 14, will be learnt by heart.
Boys learn by heart with considerable ease, and the direct method employs repetition to a great extent. During the first year these Virgilian fragments, together with much, or the whole, of the Aedes Iacchi of §13 — an attempt to put The House that Jack built into hexameters — will be all that is learnt by way of repetition, and it will be treated as incidental.
The master will hear volunteers recite for a few minutes at the beginning of each
lesson, and he will keep a record in his mark-
1 The couplet at the end of para. 11
2 from para. 14
3 The Aedes Iacchi is too long to be said without a break. Aedes I means the first part, up to the young man “all tattered and torn”. Aedes II indicates the second part and Aedes alone the whole.
This may seem so elaborate—for such a small occasion—as to make the reader smile and quote
parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus
but we describe it in detail now because some check is needed to assure that lazy or diffident boys do not slack, and because in the second and third year repetition will no longer be an incidental.
This is a convenient place to describe the great extent to which the singing of Latin songs
enters into the teaching at the Perse School. These are used throughout the first three years, but especially during the first and second year. There is nothing like singing for impressing things on the memory,
and the songs in the volume referred to have the further advantage of helping to keep pronunciation correct, for in them long Quantities are kept long and short ones short. This is true of no other Latin songs that we know. Small boys will delight in them, especially when they contain such sentiments as:
It is a good plan to have a song sung at the beginning or end of a lesson. Even the best regulated lessons occasionally come to an end a few minutes before the bell goes. This is just the time for a song.
Nothing remains in Initium which involves any unexplained principle until we come
to the passive voice in § 16. This is a matter of grammar, to which we now turn.
It is often vainly imagined that the direct method ignores grammar. Nothing could
be further from the truth. By the direct method a boy first gets his grammatical
forms by induction from his reading ; but there is nothing to prevent his learning
grammar, later on, deductively by paradigms and declensions. In fact, at the Perse
School nouns are Declined, verbs are conjugated, and adjectives are compared in almost
every lesson for the first two years. And — as has been mentioned in the second chapter
— it has been found well, during the first year, to have a written test of grammar
every week. In order to make this quite clear we subjoin a typical paper set to a
A GRAMMATICAL TEST-
I. Declina singulariter et pluraliter creta -
II. Scribe tempus futurum horum verborum: pulso, redeo, surgo, aperio.
III. Scribe ante verbum "video ": libri magni, puellae pulchrae; miles fortis; puer ludit, homines currunt.
IV. Redde Latine
(a) I will give you a book.
(b) The kind master teaches the stupid boys.
(c) May I open the window?
(d) Who wants to act the part of Marcus?
(e) I have written these sentences without a mistake.
To return to the learning of the passive voice. This is learnt from the active (for
the present, future, and imperfect tenses) by noting the change of endings given
in the scheme on page 45 of Initium. It may be practised by the help of the tables
on pp. 48-
The grammatical ground covered by our first-
The five regular declensions of nouns.
Declension and comparison of all regular adjectives.
The numerals and common pronouns.
The indicative (active and passive) of the four regular conjugations.
Irregular tenses of such verbs as volo, fero, and eo.
Incidentally the boys have acquired a fair vocabulary and the ability to understand a good deal of simple Latin, together with the power of expressing themselves with moderate fluency within very narrow limits. But most important of all are the mental habits that they have formed. These will accelerate progress during the second year.
Aedes I 3
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