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SAT Subject Tests--the Frequently Missing Piece

As parents of rising seniors plan standardized testing schedules for the summer and fall, one very important standardized test for most highly selective colleges sometimes gets forgotten: the SAT Subject Tests.  The majority of the nation's highly selective colleges and universities require or strongly encourage students to take 2-3 of these tests to demonstrate their subject knowledge.  The actual content is unlikely to be much of a cause for concern for students who are competitive for these colleges, since it is likely to overlap with an AP course, but students should still make time in their schedules to take the tests if they wish to aim high in their admissions.  Now is the time to check websites of your preferred colleges to see whether they require or advise the SAT Subject Tests, and whether they have any specific guidance for which subjects they would like to see.  As general advice:   If only 2 tests are required, they should preferably... read more

SAT II as an alternative Latin capstone

One thing for students and parents to think about, when planning how much foreign language to include on a high school transcript, is that the AP test in Latin is not the only possible standardized test which can be a capstone experience and show linguistic achievement to colleges in a commonly-agreed-upon way.  I would advise students to also strongly consider taking the SAT II in Latin, if they have gone through at least a rigorous Latin 3 (or 4, depending on how your school breaks it down).   In short, the AP Latin test isn't a good equivalent of what most people normally think of as the "AP Spanish test", etc.  When people say "AP Spanish", they usually mean "AP Spanish Language", not the rarely attempted "AP Spanish Literature", which is more advanced and requires a great deal of literary analysis in addition to language proficiency.  However, in Latin, all that the College Board offers is a literature test... read more

Fun Facts from Indo-European: The Ingaevonic Nasal Spirant Law

Here's a hint to remember your English cognates in both Latin and German!   It's called the Ingaevonic Nasal Spirant Law, and it concerns the sequence:   vowel + nasal + fricative   The law states that in the Ingaevonic branch of Germanic Langauges - like English - the nasal in that sequence gets deleted, yeilding:   Proto-Germanic vowel + nasal + fricative --> Ingaevonic vowel + {} + fricative.   Here are some examples!   German uns --> English us (akin to Latin nos, Sanskrit asman (*ns-man))   German mund --> English mouth (th --> d via the Old High German sound shift)   Latin dent- --> English tooth (d-->t and t --> th via Grimm's law)   There are many more examples, post some if you find them in your studies!

Fun Facts from Indo-European: The Latin Ablative

Here's some fun information about the Latin ablative singular:   The ablative singular case, in Latin, is usually indicated (with the exception of the 3rd declension, more on that later) usually by a long vowel (I will use capital letters for long vowels here):   A  O   e   U   E.   This, however, stands in strong contrast to the Proto-Indo-European construction, which is *-Ad for the *-o declension (Latin 2nd declension), and merely a parallel of the genitive ending for all other declensions.   What is going on here? Well, apparently, the initial ablative was an endingless locative case plus a preposition ad, which originally seems to have denoted a limit rather than an approach (hence "away from" in Latin).Pre- Proto-Indo-European should give e + ad, which would yeild -Ad in Indo European.   In Latin, the original ending must of been Ad for the 2nd declension ablative, quickly... read more

New Ways of Teaching the Latin Cases

Here's something I've found to be highly effective:   Instead of having students decline 1st declension, then second declension, then third declesion, etc, try having them go across the chart, filling in nominative, then genitive, then dative, then accusative, etc.    So, instead of:   a ae ae am a(long),   Have them write:   am  um   em   um   em     This way, students start seeing what each case looks like. It's a good way to mix up an otherwise standard exercise, and it forces students to organize their thinking in different ways, always a good thing.    

Good article on the importance of rigorous Latin--don't be put off by the Britishisms

This is EXTREMELY out of fashion, but from experience the author is absolutely right.  I've come to conclude that if students never write in Latin, then a lot of the claims about Latin's value get lost.  What the author calls "busking" (that literally means singing music on the street or in the Tube, for non-Brits) I call the "magnetic poetry approach" to Latin; find all the English equivalents and rearrange them to make an English sentence without looking at the Latin grammar.  I've been experimenting with having students write Latin from the beginning this year, with very encouraging results.   Parents seeking acceleration for their children in Latin, particularly higher levels, might want to consider out-of-school instruction in "composition" (i.e. writing Latin) to firm up grammar understanding through another pathway.   http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/harrymount/100070694/the-tragic-dumbing-down-of-latin-in-our-schools/... read more

Not Accepting New Students Until April

Salvete Omnes! (Greetings all!) This post is to inform all potential students that I am currently about 35 weeks pregnant and will not be accepting new students until April 1st. Current students should be advised that my schedule may become severely limited in the next two months. During this time, I may be available for short sessions or for one-time-only students. I will not be able to make any long-term commitments until April 1st.

TutorFAQs

Q. Where will we meet for tutoring? A. We will try to find a suitable place that is convenient for both of us. Though I do travel to meet you, time and distance are important factors in making this work feasible and profitable for me, so I try to find locations that minimize my travel time, while also providing convenience to you. Q. How will we decide on a time to meet? A. We will try to find a suitable time that is convenient for both of us. Q. When are you available to tutor? A. It varies from week to week, but my general availability begins at 10:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and ends at 9:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and at 3:00 pm Saturday. Please contact me for my current availability. Q. How long will each session be? A. The session length can vary, depending on the subject, the student, and the schedule. Unless otherwise agreed, the session times will be two (2) hours each. Q. Why do you recommend two (2) hours per session? A.... read more

Verbs vs. Nouns

I find that a very common confusion when first learning any language is the confusion of nouns and verbs. The best thing to do is to make sure the student has a firm understanding of parts of speech in English. This way, when the confusion arises you can ask the student what function the word serves in the sentence. Also, many times students try to apply verb rules to nouns and visa versa. When first learning a language (especially Latin), it is important to focus on each word in the sentence and understand its function and why it looks the way it does (ie. endings for verbs, nouns, adjectives). These are easy to correct when caught early, but once it's an engrained habit, it is much more difficult to address.

A New Way to Help Others

For the past two years I have tutored a little over a handful of students all the way from elementary through high school age in a variety of subjects including Latin, AP Literature and Composition, US History, Algebra I and II, and Zoology. I'm pretty stoked to be able to help people and reach out through this new outlet!

Tips for Latin Pronunciation

"Veni, Vidi, Vici!" is probably the most famous Latin expression.  It has come to represent victory ever since Caesar himself first boasted with it. What most people don't know is that this phrase would have actually been pronounced "Wenee Weedee Weekee." Doesn't sound so tough that way does it?  Ancient Latin is pronounced differently from both our English interpretations and Medieval Latin. For instance, many people are surprised to learn that Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" was filmed completely wrong with Ancient Romans speaking Latin that wouldn't exist until hundreds of years later!  Learning how to pronounce Ancient Latin from a textbook or other source can be difficult. Here are some tips to keep from making the mistakes when it comes to pronouncing Ancient Latin. In Ancient Latin, pronounce "c"s hard like our English "k"s and do not make the "s" sound. For example, "Cicero"... read more

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