A Complete Lectio, I

salvēte, amīcī!  As promised, this is the first of a series of posts that will take us through a whole Tres Columnae Lectiō, with commentary about what’s happening at the time.  You can see the whole thing, if you’d like, at this link (then follow the link for Lectiō Secunda).

Today we’ll look at the way that the “new grammar” (in this case, the nominative-genitive distinction) is presented, explained, and practiced.  Then, tomorrow, we’ll look at the longer stories, which may possibly take two days.  On Saturday or Sunday we’ll look at the opportunities that participants have to create their own stories, illustrations, audio, and video in this Lectiō.  Then we’ll look at the Continuing Virtual Seminar.  After that I’ll have a Big Question for you about the introduction of verbs.

So picture the title: Lectiō Secunda – domus, īnsula, et vīlla

and picture the picture … an aerial view of Herculaneum (before the eruption of course) with Mount Vesuvius in the background

Now picture … a picture of Valerius standing in front of his domus. The caption (with clickable audio) reads:

  • in urbe Herculāneō est domus.
  • in domō habitat Valerius.
  • in urbe Herculāneō est domus Valeriī.

Now picture … a picture of an īnsula, with Lollius standing just outside the door. The caption (also with clickable audio) reads:

  • in urbe Herculāneō est īnsula.
  • in īnsula est cēnāculum.
  • in cēnāculō habitat Lollius.
  • in īnsulā est cēnāculum Lolliī.

Now picture … a picture of a farm on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, with Caelius standing in front of the farmhouse:

  • in monte Vesuviō est vīlla.
  • in vīllā habitat Caelius.
  • in monte Vesuviō est vīlla Caeliī.

Each of these three is its own, illustrated page, with (obviously) links to go forward and backward as needed.  The meaning is clear from context even though no one has said anything about “genitive case” or “shows possession” – or, for that matter, anything else in English.  Only after there’s comprehension does the Tres Columnae system move to analysis.

When you proceed to the next page, you see:

quid novī?

Just like English speakers can say “Fred lives in the house” or “This is Fred’s house,” a Latin nōmen has a different form if it means “the person’s” or “of the person” or “belonging to the person.” This form is called the genitive case in English, or cāsus genitīvus in Latin. The “normal” form is called the nominative case, or cāsus nōminātīvus. It’s the one we have seen since the beginning of Lectiō Prīma.

Notice the differences:

  • Valerius in vīllā habitat. (cāsus nōminātīvus)
  • in urbe est vīlla Valeriī. (cāsus genitīvus)
  • Caelia in vīllā habitat. (cāsus nōminātīvus)
  • quis est marītus Caeliae? (cāsus genitīvus)

Here, again, we’ve deliberately focused on one thing – and only one thing!  So often, as teachers, we’re tempted to talk about lots of things – many, many things, all at once!  We understand them, we say to ourselves, so our students should too.  Right away!  All of them! 🙂

Of course, it’s hard to slow down, but it’s very beneficial.  That’s why we’re focusing on one thing at a time here.

Anyway, when you click, these sentences reappear:

  • in domō habitat Valerius.
  • in urbe Herculāneō est domus Valeriī.

This time, there’s an arrow pointing to Valerius, with a label: cāsus nōminātīvus.

There’s also an arrow pointing to Valeriī, with a label: cāsus genitīvus

When you click again, you see:

quid agis?

On a scale from 1-5, where 1 is “not at all” and 5 is “quite well,” how well do you think you could distinguish cāsus nōminātīvus from cāsus genitīvus right now?

(with, of course, a pull-down or radio-button choice for you to make)

If you choose 4 or 5, we branch to:

rem probā:

Move the labels to the appropriate words. (And of course there are labels for cāsus nōminātīvus and cāsus genitīvus).

  • in cēnāculō habitat Lollius.
  • in īnsulā est cēnāculum Lolliī

If you succeed, you move on. If you don’t, or if you chose 1, 2, or 3, we branch to:

rem exercē:

Listen and read these sentences again: (with the illustration)

  1. in cēnāculō habitat Lollius.
  2. in īnsulā est cēnāculum Lolliī

Which sentence was about Lollius? In other words, in which sentence did Lollius do something? (with pull-down choice for 1 or 2)

If you’re correct:

ita vērō:  Lollius is the one who lives in the house. So Lollius is the cāsus nōminātīvus form of his name.

If not:

minimē: Lollius doesn’t do anything in this sentence. In fact, no one does much of anything in this sentence. It’s just about the apartment and the īnsula. Since it’s Lollius’ apartment, Lolliī is the cāsus genitīvus form of his name.

Then we branch back up to rem exercē again.  Notice how we’ve built in a couple of “feedback loops,” so that learners who need more – or fewer – examples of a “new thing” can get the support (or, if needed, the extra challenge) that’s appropriate for them.

Then comes another

rem exercē:

Listen and read these sentences again: (with the illustration)

  1. in cēnāculō habitat Lollius.
  2. in īnsulā est cēnāculum Lolliī

Which sentence is about something that belongs to Lollius? In other words, in which sentence would an English speaker say Lollius‘ or of Lollius?

If you’re right:

ita vērō:

This sentence is about Lollius‘ apartment, or “the apartment of Lollius.” So Lolliī is the cāsus genitīvus form of his name.

If you’re wrong:

We try again, but this time we use a different set of sentences. Fortunately, the computer will not make any snide comments about your intelligence! 🙂 Nor, for that matter, will your classmates … since, as a Tres Columnae subscriber, you can work at your own pace. If you’re an independent learner, you won’t even have classmates!  Of course, if you’re a school-based learner, you will, but they should be busy with their own learning.  Besides, in a Joyful Learning Community, it’s not nice to make fun of others who progress more slowly or more quickly than you do. 🙂

Anyway, once you, the learner, can distinguish cāsus nōminātīvus from cāsus genitīvus in these sentences, we move on to a slightly longer fabella.  We’ll look at that fabella – and at the other exercises for nominatives and genitives, and at the actual fabulae in Lectiō Secunda – in future posts.

In the meantime, quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • For those of you who come from a “grammar first” perspective, do you see the grammar at work?
  • And do you see that it’s possible – and maybe even more efficient – to use the language for grammatical explanations?
  • For those who come from a “reading first” perspective, do you like these simple readings? Or do you want a more connected, extended story at the beginning of the Lectiō?
  • And what do you think of having both grammatical questions and comprehension questions in Latin?
    • I have to admit that it was a big stretch for me to give up on English questions at such an early point in the course … and as you know, I’ve said that English questions are always a possibility.
    • Do you think I should include some here?
    • If so, should they be optional, or should they be required?
      • If required, for all or for some groups?
      • And if only for some, what would be the criteria?
  • Regardless of your perspective – and especially for those who advocate “hearing first” – what do you think of the (currently imaginary, but soon to be real) audio component?

Tune in next time for an exploration of the longer fābulae that come next in the Lectiō. And in the meantime, please keep those comments and emails coming!

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. it s a good model for a lesson and of course the text might be extended resting in the same nominative and genitive

    • Mimi,
      Thanks so much! You’re quite right about extending the text. In fact, in tomorrow’s post, I’ll be talking about extensions. There’s quite a long story coming up (either tomorrow or Saturday) that only uses nominatives, a few prepositional phrases, genitives, and present tense verbs.

  2. […] feature of Tres Columnae that we’ve borrowed and adapted from our friends at Paideia.  And this one introduces a complete Lectiō, with commentary . All of the stories, exercises, explanations, and […]


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