In episode 94, Caroline Schlegel interviews Stefanie Neal about how she made the transition from a grammar-based syllabus to proficiency-oriented, spoken Latin. Stefanie share advice for teachers and some of her favorite comprehensible input strategies for the language classroom.

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Show Notes

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Caroline Schlegel is a Spanish Teacher in Washington County Maryland. After graduating from Salisbury University with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Secondary Education, she began her career in the 2007-2008 school year in County Maryland, and currently teaches Spanish in Smithsburg, Maryland.  Dedicated to leadership within the field of education, Caroline received her Master’s degree in 2016 in Educational Leadership from Salisbury University and has her Admin 1 & 2 certificate. Caroline recently was elected to the Maryland Foreign Language Association Board of Directors and was recognized as the 2018 Maryland World Language Teacher of the Year. You can listen to Caroline’s previous WTL episode 86 or reach out to Caroline on Twitter @senoraschlegel , by email, or on her website.

Stefanie Neal is a Latin teacher in Wicomico County Maryland.  She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Latin and Secondary Education from Radford University in 1997 and then began her career in public education.  Stefanie has taught Latin for 21 years and earned her Master’s degree in English with a TESOL concentration from Salisbury University.  Six years ago, Stefanie switched her teaching method from Grammar-Translation to Comprehensible Input as an effort to make Latin more appealing to all students.  You can reach out to Stefanie by email.

Stefanie recommends a few blogs to get you started teaching Latin for proficiency…

Justin Slocum Bailey’s website (You can also hear Justin on WTL episode 26)

Keith Toda’s website

…and Martina Bex’s website (you can also hear from Martina on WTL episode 56)

You might also like some other WTL episodes with Latin teachers…

Episode 81: The Paideia Institute, Spoken Latin, and PhD Careers with Jason Pedicone

Episode 26: Teaching Communicative Latin and Maintaining your own Language with Justin Slocum Bailey

Check out some previous WTL episodes about transitioning to a proficiency model…

Episode 14: Making the Transition to Authentic Resources and Proficiency with Lisa Shepard

Episode 18: Technology, Performance, and a Proficiency-Oriented Curriculum with Catherine Ousselin

Episode 36: A Departmental Shift to IPA-based Units with Rich Madel

Episode 66: Pursuing Proficiency with Williamson County Schools, Part I and Part II


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6 thoughts on “We Teach Languages Episode 94: Transitioning to Proficiency, Spoken Latin, and Comprehensible Input Strategies with Stefanie Neal

  1. Interesting episode for me, as teacher of French, Latin and Ancient Greek. I’m not sold though on the need to teach Latin communicatively.
    I teach french communicatively but I think there are fundamental differences between Modern and Ancient languages.
    Firstly, we need to aim for autenticity. That’s why trying to speak the target language and aiming for fluency, not accuracy is key. When I teach French, I say to my students that the grammar is just a tool, it’s not the important stuff. The important stuff is to feel confident to speak even with mistakes. That’s because that’s what’s it’s really is about. When students go to a French speaking country, they can speak, read, write to the locals.
    Speaking Latin (or ancient Greek) though is not authentic. It can be fun, it can save a program. But there is nothing “true” about it. Doing it is like teaching esperanto: it does not have a reality to hold it to the ground.
    Then the question is which Latin? All countries pronounce it in their own language. People say that the 2nd Vatican council took so much time because when the cardinals took the floor and started speaking Latin, no one understood what the other was saying. They reverted to written communication…..

    1. Thanks for your comment! These are all fun questions for Latin teachers to think through, but I’m not sure they proclude teaching spoken language. I mean, just as one example, there are different varieies of French across time and geography, creoles and such. Right? I don’t think every teacher HAS to teach for proficiency, but it’s wonderful to know that it can be done!

  2. Time and space are different. French people do not try to speak 15th century French.
    For example I speak creole from Mauritius and it’s fine. However, I won’t try to speak like Montaigne or Rabelais

  3. Oh my, this episode definitely resonated with me. I can honestly say that my career has come to a full circle. I began teaching 22 years ago in a bilingual kindergarten class. After 5 years, I got a job teaching Spanish at the junior high level. I taught with the grammar/translation approach for around 12 years. During that time I dabbled with choice boards, the flipped classroom, and very textbook driven. I was not happy with my results and my dwindling numbers. Around 5-6 years ago, I discovered Martina Bex’s blog and something clicked in my head…I needed to change my approach. As I began making my transition to comprehensible input soon after. As Stefanie said, baby steps were required. After trying CI for a couple of months, I came to the realization that I was teaching the way I taught kindergarten and I kicked myself for not listening to the nagging voice in my head that was so unhappy with the other approach. The CI transition wasn’t easy but I’m much happier now and I’m also happy with my students’ output. My students’ favorite activities are MovieTalk, a game called running dictation, readers theatre, and story asking.

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