A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Erin.Devin

Conversations with Lua

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I've had one conversation with Lua so far but her specialty is the closest to what I am most passionate about - learning how to teach many, many, many ways to many, many, many different learners all in one lesson or series of lessons.

In our initial conversation I took away the following:

Teaching words should be separated into two separate activities. It is important to activate the right brain so that the information will then pass into the left brain. Pronunciation and meaning should be two separate lessons.

While, what most of what Emiliano was talking to me about how to teach language was mostly applicable to basic vocabulary - Lua gave me a frame work to work in for more complex language - "absent language or language that is a concept."

Brain dump

Pronunciation - find a way to make the words rhyme with a word they already know. Such as numbers or animals. Words that are very basic and that all teenagers should know They should make songs or rhymes with these words and practice them verbally. In this stage the kids should not be allowed to write things (definitions, etc) but only to make associations for the sound. Then kids should make associations with the meanings (again no writing - this time it should be visual). This will help them to create images in their head of the definitions of the word (which is also an important skill we teach in 9th grade - visualizations when reading).

Fun ways to reinforce this are bingo with images on the card. Crossword puzzles. Hangman. A few strategies that we already employ in the classroom and will fit nicely with the root word teaching.

I asked her about teaching root words and she thinks it will work and I don't need to focus on the Latin aspect as much (the history yes but the grammatical stuff no). She said it is the right brain to left brain movement that is most important.

Ideas that came up where allowing kid to make up their own words with the roots (a pretend language if you will) in order to have fun with the words and to play with the idea that you can pull out meaning from different parts of a word. Also creating visual cards to match the roots will be helpful (visuals that will cue them into all the different meanings that the one root can have but direct them to the similarities between those words as well too).

I have another conversation with Lua scheduled for Friday -- so hopefully more to come when I get back from my trip.

She is also putting me in touch with her Dean at Venice University so I can continue these conversations with him and get more ideas.

Posted by Erin.Devin 17:01 Archived in Italy Tagged educational Comments (0)

Latin with Benedetta

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Latin_Gram..nedetta.jpg Benedetta going over grammar rules for Latin

Benedetta is my very supportive and very grammatically focused Latin teacher. I say grammatically focused because she used what Emiliano called the "grammatical" approach. She taught me all about conjugations, declensions and gave me H.W. every night. (Yes, I am in Rome doing H.W. every night).

She also gave me tips on sights to see in the city, food to buy and informed me about the Italian way of life. She called my iPod Touch a "supercomputer" and has now permanently renamed it for me. Who could resist calling their iPod a supercomputer!

It is too hard to go into detail what Benedetta has taught me but I am working on a brochure (which is about half way done) and I took photos of my notebook. Lots and lots of Latin rules and grammatical rules that (to be honest) I don't ever really remember being taught in school. It is amazing how people from other countries sometimes have a better understanding of English than we do.

My_notebook.jpg A peek inside of my notebook. Lots of lots of things to memorize!

Latin_with_Benedetta.jpg Benedetta at the white board doing teacher things

Super_comp..nedetta.jpg Benedetta with my "supercomputer"

Summary and thoughts[b]

While Emiliano was a thunderstorm and Benedetta was a consistent woodpecker -- they both had there place and importance in my learning. Benedetta gave me the foundation, things to study, practice and notes to look back on, while Emiliano forced me to used what I learned in a practical way (although after lessons with him I had disorganized notes if any at all) and allowed me to free my mind from getting caught up in the grammar details. I found myself trying to spend so much time just trying to determine what all the Declension possibilities were for each word that it made me forget what was important - which was using my natural language skills to deduce the meaning. Time with both of them helped to balance out my learning. It is important to keep in mind that I will need to find a way to do that in my classroom too. Both teaching methods have a place in the classroom.

Posted by Erin.Devin 16:46 Archived in Italy Tagged educational Comments (0)

Learning with Emiliano

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Emiliano is a thunderstorm. Essential to nature but can be chaotic and hard to follow. His approach is very interactive and he always has you on your toes (or at least I felt like I needed to stay on my toes to keep up with him). The first week I thought of him as "the man with the plan." It wasn't until the second week that I came up with "thunderstorm."


1st Lesson

My introduction to this course was Emiliano going through my grant point by point and telling me how most of what I discussed in the grant was either the wrong language to use when talking about teaching language or the wrong approach. He told me that learning language can not be as formulated as I want it to be and that to be that way with the students would only turn them off to language. He told me in no uncertain terms that learning language can not be like Math because the Mathematician Wittgenstein already tried to prove this and could not. Then we went on to tell me about the 3 movements in language instruction. The first being the grammatical approach – this approach is focused on learning the rules of the grammar and then the language. Then the Natural ( or what we call “whole language”) approach emerged. This idea was focused on the reading and writing, and not the grammatical rules associated with language. Then, more recently, structuralism emerged. This method begins with the whole language approach and then layers on the grammatical to teach people the most frequent grammatical rules. He told me all this so I could understand the methods used at Studio Italia. Why they used these methods and why they would NOT be using the more recent methods to teach me Latin. Latin is so rules based that it is important to teach the rules of grammar first.

2nd Lesson[/i]

He taught me the 1st Declension and emphasized the importance of saying the language as well as memorizing it. We verbally repeated it over, and over and over again. Then he had me write it over and over and neater and neater. Then told me for homework to keep writing it over and over and over. I did it for a little bit and I started to remember it but as soon as I put the pen ad paper away I had trouble recalling it in my head. I went home and created a blank game board with a row for each case and then created pieces of paper with the Declension endings on them and then placed the endings on the board where they went. In other words, I made a giant blank grid and forced myself to physically move the pieces to the places on the grid – tactile learning. The next day I was able to remember the endings just by looking at the blank grid.

This day I also stayed and watched Emiliano teach an Italian Lesson. He taught the students through a typical think-pair-share model. In this lesson, he quickly taught the students how to say “My/Her/His style is…” and then gave the students 4 pages of pictures with people in clothing and the Italian words for the clothing (the definitions of the words were not on the page). The students were then paired and asked to create a list of their partners style of clothing in Italian. After doing this in partners, the students shared their findings with the rest of the class using Italian. Some students were timid and shy about using Italian to describe the other students’ style while others did not mind making mistakes and just had fun with the activity. In both cases, Emiliano never told the student their pronunciation was incorrect or corrected them but instead usually just repeated what the student had said as a clarifying question (a tricky way for the students to hear the correct pronunciation without making the student feel like they made a mistake). This activity filled the 60 minute lesson.

3rd Lesson

He introduced me to Assimil, a program that allows you to here and repeat simple conversations in a foreign language. Again, giving me the opportunity to increase my exposure to the foreign language and begin to internalize the new words as well as to speak them. Speaking, hearing and writing a new language is key to internalizing, more so than memorizing it. A foreign language can be taught by exposure and usage of the everyday language. While this makes sense for everyday language how can this be used for absent and abstract language, the language that is used in more technical texts?

[i]The rest of the lessons


The rest of the lessons went on like this. He continued to bring in different materials for me to translate. They included mottos from Italian language, common phrases that came from the ancient philosophers that are used or heard in most languages today (like - Veni, Vidi, Vici). He burned me copies of Transparent Language programs and the Rosetta stone. He searched endlessly to find ways for me to be motivated to learn Latin on my own time. As well as, to model and introduce ways for me to teach language to my students.


We conversed in great length about if teaching students the Latin roots of words in my class would be helpful and he thinks that it will be necessary for me to also teach some Latin to them as well. While I agree that it will be important for the students to understand where these roots are coming from, I disagree about the need to have such a heavy Latin emphasis. He suggested that I should have students translating brief quotes, etc, etc. I think he is on to something in regards to finding a way to make "translating" fun for kids and getting them engaged in the art and idea of translating(especially because there are some rad quotes about power that align well with the 9th grade curriculum). My means to the end though is that they can "translate" informational texts that they read. Will this do the trick?


In short and long, he said it needs to be a game and it needs to be fun. Learning a language is emotional and if you make it a chore or you criticize then you make it anxiety inducing for the kids and they won't learn because there emotions will get in the way. So whatever I do, make it fun. Understand what is the most important aspect of the language that I want to teach for that day (understanding meaning and not how to pronounce it) and then move from there with activities that trick the kids into using the language,

Note to self: Read Linguist Austin

Posted by Erin.Devin 16:03 Archived in Italy Tagged educational Comments (0)

Studio Italia

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Studio Italia is located only about a 15 minute walk from where I am staying in San Paulo.

One the first day, Emiliano was my "tour director" for the day and gave me a little bit of information about Studio Italia before going to great depth about my grant.

Basically, Studio Italia is dedicated to giving non-Native Italian speakers an opportunity to immerse themselves in the Italian language and to learn through being immersed in the Italian culture. They also offer opportunities to learn other languages but most of their students are there to learn Italian.

What I thought was really interesting about the staff that works there, and what I sensed immediately, is that the staff really loves to make learning fun. Mostly because I think they love to learn and they love to have fun while they are learning. Thus, there extreme passion for learning/teaching in a way that is fun.

The offices are simple. They are adorned with Italian movie posters and information about major and minor attractions in Rome. As well as pictures of other students and group trips. It reminds you more of a community center than a school or office.

Posted by Erin.Devin 15:54 Archived in Italy Tagged educational Comments (0)

Fund For Teachers Grant

What is this all about anyway?

I am able to write this blog and go on my Roman adventure thanks to Fund For Teachers. Over Christmas I wrote a 10 page grant detailing how I wanted to travel to Rome to take a Latin course in order to increase my ability to help my students with their vocabulary comprehension skills. In addition, while I am there I proposed that I take photographs and create a graphic novel, in Comic Life, about the Roman empire for my 9th graders Global Studies classroom.

I won (certainly making the writing the grant and puling out my hair over Christmas break well worth it). I will begin my adventure on Monday, July 21 and you will be able to follow me along the way.

I will blog about all the cool Latin instruction ideas I get from nifty Latin instructor and post photos of the historical locations in Rome. Hopefully I will return with an arsenal of teaching ideas and a photographic account of the Roman Empire.

Read often, comment often and enjoy often.

Click below to view a Map of Rome and photos of my adventures

Click here to see My Adventures in Rome

Posted by Erin.Devin 08:59 Archived in Italy Tagged educational Comments (1)

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