Using Best Latin (Practices) Every Day!   Recently updated !

Dr. Edward Zarrow, currently President of the Classical Association of Massachusetts (CAM), has taught Latin at Westwood High School for the past 8 years. Dr. Zarrow has just been named to two teaching awards: MaFLA’s Foreign Language Teacher of the Year and NECTFL Teacher of the Year for 2015.  He will be representing Latin teachers at the National conference next year. Recently he hosted a CAM sponsored event:  ‘Active Latin,’ attended by 40 teachers from MA, CT and NH. The following are his comments which pertain to our Latin programs and the centrality of our best Latin pedagogy in those programs.

Corpus Commune                                                                                   Dr. Edward “Ted” Zarrow
We want our students to learn how to think critically, write fluidly, argue persuasively, (maybe even) act rationally, and we engage them with the ancient world so that they can think about their own in a new way. However, if we do not begin to embrace more the lessons of modern second language acquisition, we may be left behind. I don’t mean this in terms of the trendy teaching 21st century skills to which I often retort, “I’m teaching my students 1st century skills!”; rather, I am seeing personally how Latin is being differentiated from other languages as a result of a number of interactions that I’ve had with supervisors and advocates for language learning in general. This is a trend that, if reversed, will only strengthen our programs and allow us to advocate for ourselves as teachers and for our programs more effectively.


At Westwood, we recently completed a curriculum review of our department in which we discussed our mission, celebrated our strengths, and made (increasingly elaborate) steps for improvement. As the discussions about our mission began, I was feeling left behind: “The Foreign Language Department of the Westwood Public Schools is committed to providing all students with the linguistic and cultural tools for meaningful communication in a second language … our curriculum moves students toward proficiency – the ability to communicate and comprehend increasingly complex ideas with increasing accuracy.” Comprehend, yes – communicate, no. Not yet, anyway. As a result, I was left out of the discussion about the direction of our program as a whole.

However, I wondered whether if by incorporating more spoken and active Latin into the curriculum, I would see an increased ability in my students to comprehend and master more complex structures at an earlier stage. After two years of using spoken Latin mastery exercises as the culmination of a unit, we have moved what we used to do from the first quarter of Latin III to the last quarter of Latin II. More importantly, I can defend my position as I did once, when cornered by a conservative member of our school committee who challenged the value of language education, especially Latin, on the grounds that the goal was not communication. I was able to say to him, “As a matter of fact, I speak Latin with my students every day.”

More recently, I have had many opportunities to advocate for Latin learning in general. As a result of the MaFLA award, I was selected as a regional finalist, and I attended an interview in New York with representatives from NECTFL.  As I sat down for the interview, the first question they asked was this: “What do you do to promote the use of the target language in the classroom?” I was able to discuss how my own teaching has transformed over the past couple of years as a result of spoken Latin and how a majority of Latinists in graduate programs now are being instructed in communicative methods, and the general paradigm shift that we as Latin teachers are beginning to experience.  I felt buoyed by the question, and, again, my response began with “As a matter of fact, I speak Latin with my students every day.” Doing what we can to incorporate more active Latin in our curricula will not only strengthen the status of our programs in the eyes of the people who make decisions about them but it will allow us to forge a stronger connection with our modern language colleagues. Our students will experience the excitement and engagement of authentic and purposeful communication.   Indeed, as we take Latin language education seriously along with all modern languages, we take education seriously.

You can find Dr. Zarrow on Twitter:   @drzarrow


Announcements for May 17


  • The CANE Summer Institute is just around the corner (July 13-18, at Brown University, Providence Rhode Island).  Regular Registration ends May 15!



Certamina et Dies Classici et Eventus!

  • Registrations are now being accepted for this year’s summer programs organized by the Vergilian Society.  The details of these tours can be found here.
  • Odds Bodkin tells the epic tale of the Odyssey in three parts at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, New Hampshire. Part II is June 5th and Part III is July 3rd. Call the Cafe for more information at (603) 578-0200.

Conferences and Talks

  • Legion III Cyrenaica will be speaking at the Worcester Art Museum Monday, June 14.  Legion III Cyrenaica is a Roman Legion living history organization based in the New England area, and seeks to accurately portray the Legion as it existed in Roman-Egypt in the 1st Century. Presentations on the Roman military as well as civilians/women will be given at 12:30 and 2:30, free with museum admissions. Worcester Art Museum now houses the world renowned arms and armor collection of the former Higgins Armory Museum, where the Legion had presented from 2004 to 2013. Leg. III inquiries can be emailed to qmj52 or palusbuteo


  • Live in western MA or northern CT and want to practice speaking in Latin? There is a large group that meets weekly in Hadley, MA! For details, contact TJ Howell.
  • In the Boston area? Check out the Active Latin Meetup page for events.


  • See our new Jobs page for details.

Funding and Professional Development