Today marked the first session of my online Latin course.
Okay, technically, tomorrow is the first session, but I was able to access the actual coursework today. In sum, I was impressed.
First, some background info…
I am taking the course through the University of Iowa’s “Distance Learning” program. Normally, if I could help it, I would take any foreign language course with an in-classroom component. However, because my small university does not offer Latin as a language– and the university was kind enough to allow me to substitute one of the offerings they had with Latin– I am taking this online course to better bone up on skills which will help me in my future career as a medievalist.
As with any enterprising student, the course textbooks is Wheelock’s Latin as well as Goldman’s English Grammar for Student of Latin. There is a bevy of optional texts I may buy, but I do not want to commit to purchasing any of those primers until they become abundantly needed. Besides, I have already purchased the (optional) Workbook to Wheelock’s Latin, so I feel with practiced study I won’t need much else.
As for the course itself, I feel confident in the materials, in the way the course is structured.
Honestly, I was expecting something along the lines of this: at a certain point in the week, there is a content dump which constitutes our coursework for the week. Then, throughout the week, we work on the materials and when done, we send it off to the professor and maybe schedule a few online meetings to discuss our progress. Why I envisioned the class like this was because it was the closest I could imagine an online class in coordination with the sort of class construction offered by my present university– UMF.
Why I envisioned the class being like this was because it was the closest I could imagine an online class being in comparison with the sort of class construction offered by my present university– UMF– when they offer once a week courses; in other words, I imagined that an online Latin course would consist of maybe weekly meetings but otherwise remain self-paced due to the medium of the course.
Instead, what I found, was not a free-for-all, minimally guided learning pit, but rather a concrete and tightly connected system featuring videos, digital flashcards (complete with audio enunciation), conversations with my classmates, and online instruction with the professor complete with personalized videos. In short, I found a course which demanded work be turned in every day instead of once a week, a course which demanded instead of suggested.
Of course, this is fantastic, as I intend on putting in a decent amount of effort each day. Though it did require me to rearrange my schedule a bit to better devote time to studying Latin, I feel this is no large issue. If I can manage to devote my mental energies appropriately, then I should learn a lot by the end of the term.
Believe me, I am looking forward to learning Latin. If my online instructor’s video is to be believed, then learning Latin will help me read and write better, become more articulate (when it comes to language), allow myself to easier learn Romance languages, and get a leg up in certain tests (GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc.), all while preparing me for certain careers in the Humanities or Sciences. It sounds like a deal right up my alley and so I couldn’t be happier to begin this journey.
As part of my study, I have created this category– Latin Journal.
Any and all posts which deal with my study of Latin will go into this category. Usually, these posts will consist of summaries of what I learned or am in the process of learning. It will be unusual for these posts, however, to simply repeat information I already know. In other words, I am not likely to repeat information I already ingrained; such posts would be better served as their own individual pieces (such pieces would be categorized in the “Dead Languages” category exclusively instead of the Latin Journal). If I am going to summarize in my own words, for example, the nature of Latin and its history, then that would be a piece onto itself and probably not something to come until later, not unless I have a test which specifically requires my detailed knowledge of how Indo-European language evolved (relatively unlikely on a course focused on basic Latin instruction).
Future posts in these journals will focus, then, on the speaking and writing of the language as I am assigned them. Depending on my mood and time, these posts may be protracted in nature of just convey the essentials. The point of them, though, is to act as an auxiliary to my mandatory coursework. So, that in mind, expect numerous more posts in the future and be sure to comment with your own struggles and victories with Latin.