previous next
In the second year, the aim of gaining in power to read at sight is constantly held up before the students, and occasional written exercises in reading at sight are given through the term, while the first exercise set at the examination at the end of the term is always translation at sight. A proper supplement to this is an elective in the speaking and writing of Latin. In the second and third terms of the second year, which are now devoted to Horace, considerable quantities can be read, with a good deal of memorizing; and the treatment can be made almost wholly literary. That carries us through the Sophomore year, and to the beginning of the elective work, taken by Juniors and Seniors together. Here translation at the daily lesson ends, except in those rare cases where the meaning of a difficult passage cannot be given by explaining the grammatical structure, or by turning the passage into some other form in Latin.1 Translations are written at occasional exercises held for that purpose during the term, and always make a part of the final examination, so that every student feels bound to understand his author. But the students are urged not to have anything to do with English in preparation for their daily lessons or for the final examination, but to read the Latin as literature, with the utmost skill in rendering their author that they can acquire.

In all my teaching, two exercises stand out from the rest, as giving me special delight through the interest and mental activity of my students: first, the exercises with the Freshmen, which I have described as carried on weekly by myself; secondly, an exercise such as I carried on with an elective class recently, when, at the end of a term spent upon Plautus, I read a new play straight through in the Latin (the students following me in their texts), without translation, and with very little comment, moving at about the rate at which one would move if he were reading a new play of Shakespeare in a similar way; and felt my audience responsive, even to the extent of occasional laughter that checked us for a moment, to nearly everything in our author that would have been intelligible, without special explanation, in an English translation.

1 The preparation indicated has been leading for some years toward the dropping of translation at the daily recitations, and, indeed, I have always endeavored to secure time toward the end of the hour in which to read on in advance to my students, without translating.  But I should not have had the courage in the present year to break with translation in the class-room in advanced reading, had it not been for the assurances given me by Professor Greenough, founded upon his own experiments in doing this precise thing.  My experience in the past term has been so gratifying as to lead me to desire greatly that Professor Greenough might set forth, in accessible form, the great advantages of the system for students properly trained for it.  Meanwhile, let me premise that the delight of this method of dealing with a literature — the charm of direct communication with the author, of feeling, in fact, the very untranslatableness of diction and style — cannot be fancied by one who has not made the experiment;  always supposing, of course, that the class has been trained in advance and brought to the point at which such reading is made possible.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: