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Oak Latin Class Newsletter

7th and 8th Grade Latin Newsletters -­ Winter 2020

Latin Class Newsletter Winter 2020

Hello, parents and guardians!

It’s hard to believe that February vacation is nearly here! Students have been hard at work learning about Roman culture and practicing the Latin language.  Here are some updates for each grade level.


Students in grade 7 have completed some language and cultural based projects.  Their family tree projects demonstrated a good understanding of Roman naming conventions and an ability to write simple sentences in Latin to describe their fictional Roman families.  Many students added some creative flourishes to their projects – there were mobiles, pop-up illustrations, “camera film rolls,” and a short film.  Their mythology projects were even better.  Students were tasked with learning in-depth knowledge about a god or goddess and presenting a myth about that deity with a digital movie poster.  There were many innovative titles and students offered excellent presentations.  These are by far the best myth projects I have seen, and it was a pleasure to watch your students make class presentations.

Students will be illustrating a Latin poem this week and learning about the area of Italy where our textbook family lives.  After vacation, expect students to be doing lots of reading and vocabulary practice as we work our way through the early chapters of Ecce Rōmānī.


First trimester, students in grade 8 presented informative projects on the Roman military.  This trimester, projects have been shorter and focused on writing and speaking.  They have made great strides increasing their Latin vocabulary and expanding grammar knowledge to include imperative verbs, irregular present tense verbs, and substantives.  A recent chapter in Ecce Rōmānī highlighted the genitive (possessive) case; next, we will focus on the ablative case.  Each reading builds upon the foundation of previous readings.  It is important to master new concepts because students continue to use these same skills in every chapter.

Students completed the first part of their placement exam with an in-class translation.  Vocabulary and grammar knowledge will be assessed on a multiple-choice exam on February 12.  Bonam Fortunam!

Extra help

If you’d like to set up extra help for your student, please contact me.  I can stay after school on Thursdays.  Since my hours are part-time, I need confirmation by 12:30 pm on the day your student plans to stay.  You can send me an email or your student can let me know during class.  Watch on Schoology for additional opportunities for peer tutoring.  If you sign up for a time slot with a high school tutor, be sure to email both me and the tutor so that everyone is clear on meeting times and so that I can update the tutor on topics to address.

A Note on Google Translate

Students are often asked to compose short Latin sentences that require the vocabulary and grammar rules that they have been studying.  The purpose is to practice and master specific vocabulary and sentence patterns.  

Sometimes, students do not trust their own abilities in writing Latin.  They may be tempted to turn to Google Translate, mistakenly thinking that it can do the job. Alas.  Google Translate has no idea what we are studying in class or what sentence patterns and vocabulary students are expected to use.  Google Translate also has a very poor grasp of Latin grammar and is a topic of much humor on Latin Facebook groups.  

For an analogy, let’s look at the robot from the old Lost in Space series.  There are many ways to warn someone of danger.  You can say, “Watch out!” “It’s dangerous!” “Stop!” or “Beware!” among other things.  But when that robot sensed trouble, he always said, “Danger, Will Robinson!”  If he said anything else, the audience was suspicious that an alien had control of his central processor.  Will Robinson and the Robot frm Lost in Space

When students use words that have not been introduced in class or employ a fancy gerundive, it is very suspicious.  It tells me immediately that I am not looking at authentic student work.  Most of the time, whatever Google Translate has concocted is simply wrong.   When you make mistakes, I can offer feedback.  Everyone makes mistakes and learning from them is an essential part of the learning process.   

Trust me: your own authentic mistakes are better than whatever Google spits out. After all, Google is not a member of our class!  

And if you use it, you will have to do the assignment over.  Therefore…Cave Gūgelem!                

Our textbook follows the daily life of a fictional Roman family that has a home in Baiae.  You can visit Baiae today…if you scuba dive or get a ticket for one of the glass bottomed boats!  Baiae slipped beneath the sea ages ago.  Check it out:

Nancy Sinacola