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Beginning Latin II

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John Gruber-Miller, College Hall 312, x4326 (O);

Class meetings: M - F 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.

Office Hours: M W 11-noon and always by appointment.

Required Materials:

  • Maurice Balme and James Morwood. Oxford Latin Course, Part II. 2nd Ed. Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Jo-Ann Shelton. As the Romans Did. 2nd Ed. Oxford University Press, 1998.

Recommended Materials:

  • 3-ring binder for homework, notes, and paradigms (it is best not to do homework in textbook).
  • online exercises

The major goals of the course:

Latin 101-103 is designed to help you develop proficiency in listening, speaking, writing, and especially reading Latin. Obviously, such a goal means that you will acquire certain linguistic knowledge and skills (e.g. pronunciation, vocabulary, morphology and syntax). But it also means that you need to understand the culture that produced texts in Latin and used it on a daily basis. Third, it means that you will learn not only to observe, abstract, and analyze linguistic and cultural information, but also to synthesize it, to put it into a context, and to sympathize with people of another time and land. In short, 101-103 will improve your ability to communicate, both in Latin and in English, to understand another culture, and to develop intercultural competency.

This course addresses the following Cornell College Educational Priorities and Outcomes: Knowledge, Reasoning, Communication, Intercultural Literacy, Ethical Behavior, and Well-Being.

Preparation for class:

The most important thing to remember about a language is that it is a cumulative process, one set of forms and concepts building upon another. It is quite normal for someone new to a language to make lots of mistakes and not to master new material in a single day. Be patient with yourself. The important thing is to use the language as much as possible. At the same time, since you will be learning nearly all of Latin morphology in two terms, it is important not to fall behind. Therefore, every day spend time reviewing vocabulary and grammar. Second, spend time reading connected prose, re-reading it, listening to the tapes. Third, practice by asking a partner questions in Latin, by composing sentences that use new vocabulary, new sentence patterns, new grammar, and by doing the on-line exercises and other homework. If you are an active learner, using all your senses and motor skills, you will learn Latin much more easily, and best of all you will retain it! For ideas about learning Latin more efficiently, check out Tips for Learning Latin.

Steady, daily progress is the best way to assure retention and mastery of the Latin tongue, and consequently good grades. Cramming for quizzes and tests, though it may seem to work in the short term, will inevitably hurt you later in the Latin sequence.

On-line exercises:

On-line exercises are available on the Latin links page. Robert Cape's and Margaret Phillips' exercises are the two best for Latin 102.

Extensive Reading

One of the best ways to acquire a new language is to do lots of reading in the language--stories, dialogues, fairy tales, children's literature, and other fun stuff. The main point is to read easy texts fluently in order to solidify your knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. In our classroom, there will be copies of everything from The Three Pigs and Mother Goose to Olivia and Harry Potter. Four times each week, I will ask you to choose an easy story and read for twenty minutes or so. Each time you read a story, in Moodle (Extensive Reading Forum) you will write down

  • what you read: author, title, (and link if relevant)
  • how long you read,
  • one sentence about the content,
  • one sentence about whether you recommend it to someone else (and why).

Besides the many books that will be in our classroom, there are many good stories online. I recommend the Easy Latin Texts section of the Latin links page and the Tar Heel Reader.

Recording/postcard writing/Latin Story:

Three times this term I will ask you to put your oral and written skills into practice: one recording, one postcard, and an illustrated Latin story. The recording will be a reading of a passage at least one full page in length (about 25 lines). Try to catch the phrasing and meaning of the Latin with your reading. Don't be afraid to be expressive! Be sure to introduce the reading with your name, the chapter number, title of the passage, and the paragraph number with which you begin.

To record in CAN-8,

  • Go the Start menu and find the program CAN-8.
  • Log on by typing your Cornell ID number as User ID; for your password, type pword.
  • Then choose Latin 102 and the item labeled recording.

The 4" x 6" postcard, written from Quintus to his family, will feature a photo on one side (e.g., from VRoma or the web) of a place that Quintus has visited and discusses in the letter and on the other a letter of at least 5-6 well-developed sentences. They will be graded on fluency (ability to develop a narrative), comprehensibility (e.g. is the grammar reasonably correct, are the appropriate tenses being used), and coherence (does the story leave out relevant information, flow from one sentence to the next, use the proper transitional words, etc.). Try to write the first draft looking up only a minimum of words. Put it aside, and then come back to it later. I expect you to use the vocabulary and grammatical structures that are currently being studied. Remember to write and think, as much as possible, not in English, but in Latin!

After you have read easy Latin stories as part of the extensive reading, it is your turn to contribute your own story. Thus, the illustrated Latin story is a myth, fairy tale, children's story, or movie retold in Latin using illustrations from the web, a book, or by your own hand. This project may be done in pairs or individually. The script and the slides are due the third Friday. As with the postcard, I expect you to use the vocabulary and grammatical structures that are currently being studied. Since most stories are told in the past, please use the appropriate Latin past tenses as well as some dialogue. If you are not sure how to say something in Latin, be flexible and try saying it another way.

These assignments will be due on the fifth, tenth and fifteenth day of the term.


There will be three tests (including the final). Each one will include oral comprehension questions, questions on the grammar and vocabulary, a reading comprehension section, a writing component, and a culture essay (in English).

Revising Tests: Since language is a cumulative process, after each midterm I will ask you to correct all sections of your test but the culture essay question and hand it in the following day. In the process of revising your test, you will have a chance to review your notes and textbook, confer with others, and learn from your mistakes. As a result, hopefully your knowledge of the previous material will be more secure and you will be able to add new information to a firm foundation. Please use a different color to mark your corrections.


  • homework, preparation for and participation in class, VRoma activities, taped reading of passage, postcard writing 25%
  • frequent quizzes (1 of which may be dropped) 15%
  • 2 midterms, each worth 20%
  • final exam (comprehensive), worth 20%

Since one quiz can be dropped, there will be no make-up quizzes. There will be an oral component to the exams in the course.

Letter grades will be assigned according to the following pattern:

A 93-100

B 83-86

C 73-76

D 63-66

A- 90-92

B- 80-82

C- 70-72

D- 60-62

B+ 87-89

C+ 77-79

D+ 67-69

F below 60

Final Note: Do not get behind at any time. Ask for help before you feel you are slipping. Carpe diem!

Cornell College
600 First Street West
Mt Vernon, IA 52314

John Gruber-Miller
(319) 895-4326

Maintained by: Classical Studies
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