Application of the Method in Preparatory Work
It will be convenient
to refer, in these suggestions, to some one of the books commonly employed
by beginners in Latin; e.g. Dr. Leighton's "First Steps in
Latin." The application can of course be made with ease to any other
book of the same scope.
First and most important is it that the beginner should accustom himself
from the very outset
to the sound of the Roman
language. In Lesson XIII, e.g., the learner, having prepared
himself upon the sentences regina laudat
, scribae portant
, reginae donant
etc., should not open his book to translate them. His
book should be closed
, and he should give the meaning of regina
, etc., as his teacher delivers the sentence to him. To
translate regina laudat at hearing
after having studied it, is not beyond the mental
power of the modern boy
. Neither is it beyond his power,
with possibly a trifle of patience on the part of his teacher, to translate
at hearing a new sentence of the same scope, e.g. laudo
; scriba donat
; scribae donant
But if this is true, a very important truth at once follows. There
is, it will be admitted, no greater jump in any first Latin book than that
from nothing at all to the first lesson in Latin sentences of one and two
words. If, in taking that step, the boy can successfully prepare
himself to translate the set lesson at hearing, and to translate in the
same way new sentences of the same vocabulary and the same scope, then
he can prepare himself
, as he progresses
by carefully graded steps, in any of the books in common use, to
translate any previously studied Latin at hearing, and to translate at
hearing any new sentences of the same scope, framed for him by the invention
of his teacher
. Before the book is opened by any one but
the teacher, the exercises of the class-room should be
- (1) the translation at hearing of the review,
- (2) the translation at hearing of the advance, and
- (3) the translation at hearing of new sentences of the same scope.
And no one will venture to say that a boy who had been carried in this way
through an introductory book would not begin Caesar as a better Latinist
than a boy who had not been so started.
In Lesson XIII, as we have seen, the boy has learned that the subject
of a verb is expressed by the nominative. In the next lesson he is
told that the direct object of a transitive verb is expressed by the accusative.
For the present, that is the sum total of his knowledge about accusatives.
Of course the teacher will narrow his own knowledge to his pupil's horizon.
Accordingly, he will start upon a sentence beginning with an accusative,
, and ask the learner what, without hearing the rest
of the sentence, he learns from the case, with regard to the relation of
to the rest of the sentence; in a word, what the
of the case is. The boy will answer "object of
the verb," and the teacher will accept the answer. Then he will
give the beginning of another sentence, containing a nominative and an
accusative, say regina scribam
, and ask the learner what the two
cases mean to him. The learner will answer "subject" and "object."
The teacher will then give a number of combinations of subject and object,
e.g. scriba puellam
, nauta agricolam
, employing the full
vocabulary provided in the lesson. Then, retracing his steps, he
will give complete sentences of which the combinations just used may be
supposed to be the beginning, repeating each of these combinations in connection
with as many as possible of the various verbs provided; e.g.
regina scribam laudat
, regina scribam vocat
, regina scribam
. Then another combination, e.g. scriba puellam
should similarly be repeated with various verbs. In all this, the
Latin should be given deliberately,1
so that the pupil may be able to form his mental pictures easily, as he
hears one word after another. He should be urged, too, to form these
pictures without thinking of the English word
The word regina
should bring a regina
before his mental vision,
instead of bringing, first the word
"queen," and then a mental
vision of a queen.2
In these exercises there should be no translation
(it will be remembered that the Latin of the review
and the Latin of the advance have already been translated at hearing).
Next should come an exercise like the following:
"How, in Latin, can you present to my mind a queen as acting upon somebody?"
"By saying regina
"How a girl as being acted upon?"
"By saying puellam
"How a clerk?"
"By saying scribam
"How a letter?"
"By saying epistulam
"Now put before me a queen as acting, and a girl as being acted upon."
"A farmer as acting, and a sailor as being acted upon."
After a number of these combinations have been given, "Now tell me in Latin that the queen is waiting
for the clerk," then "that the queen is waiting for the letter," etc.,
etc. Variations of the tense of the verb should also be employed.
I must confine myself, however, to showing the method of dealing with the cases.