Help Answer the Latin Question

Today’s post is a guest post by Elliott Goodman.
As a Latin teacher I have often found myself answering the question “Why Latin?” to someone completely incredulous that there could be any value in Latin class. This article is not about that person. This article is about asking the question to the Latin lovers – students, teachers, and enthusiasts alike – who come to the Latin language excited. My purpose in asking “Why Latin?” is to find out what brings these people to Latin.
A “needs analysis” is a way of asking people what they want from a certain educational experience. The National Latin Survey is a needs analysis for Latin classes in the 21st century. In a world with Harry Potter and the @pontifex Twitter account, there are new reasons for students to come to Latin. In a world more interconnected, there are new reasons for students to choose Spanish, Chinese, or Arabic, as well. In the spirit of the ACL’s Classical Investigation of the 1920s and Sally Davis’ study published in 1991, the purpose of the National Latin Survey is to engage with middle and high school students and teachers all across the United States and find out the many different reasons why people study Latin.
This is where you come in. We need your help! Please participate in the survey and invite your students to share their opinions too. The student and teacher surveys are both based around three questions: “Why Latin?,” “How does studying Latin benefit students in your opinion?,” and “What topics should be a part of Latin class?” The teacher survey includes several more questions to get a better picture of what is currently happening in Latin curricula. Once as many teachers and students as possible participate, we’ll have a much richer picture of what is drawing people to Latin. Then we can ask, “Are we teaching the skills and knowledge that students want to learn and we want to teach?,” “What are we doing right?,” and “What do we need to change?”
To participate, click on the appropriate link below. It takes about 10 minutes for students and about 15-20 for teachers. The survey will close December 2013 and the results will be published in the Spring of 2014. Thank you for your help!
Elliott Goodman taught middle and high school Latin for five years at an independent school near Los Angeles, California before joining the Ed.M. program in Applied Linguistics (Second Language Assessment concentration) at Teachers College, Columbia University. He served as California JCL Certamen Chair from 2010-2012, volunteered at the Getty Museum’s Academia Aestiva Latina, and is an alumnus of SALVI’s Rusticatio Virginiana, the Classical Summer School at the American Academy in Rome, the Klingenstein Summer Institute, and the Classics and Linguistics departments at the University of Chicago. Elliott’s favorite texts to read with students are the Testamentum Porcelli, the poems of Sulpicia and Catullus, and the speeches and letters of Cicero.

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