Sermó Latínus I (Desessard 1-56)
English | Español
TEACHER: Canicus Buckus
MATERIALS: The Assimil method by Clément Desessard, Lingua Latina sine molestia, including the sound recordings (on cassettes or CD's or mp3).
Clément Desessard originally composed his method Lingua Latina sine molestia (Le latin sans peine) in 1966 with the explanations about grammar and vocabulary in the book given in French, and the audio recordings carried out by native speakers of French. Since then, Assimil have also published versions of the book with those explanations given in Italian, and in German; and have as well produced several new recordings with native speakers of Italian and other languages. We are hoping to be able to help them also provide an English and a Spanish version of the book soon.
French version: After almost half a century of service, Assimil withdrew from circulation the original French version of Desessard's Latin method (Le latin sans peine 1966) at the end of 2007. They substituted it with another method by Isabelle Ducos-Filippi called just Le latin, which turned out to be unworthy of the quality standards of Assimil and which we were never able to use for our teaching at this school. Fortunately, Assimil decided to return to Desessard in 2015, and published a new version, updated by Chantal Guglielmi, with new recordings carried out by native speakers of four different languages, much clearer even than the original. They also entitle the method Le latin, and it still belongs to the Collection «Sans Peine», so students are advised to keep a close eye and make sure they check the author carefully when they buy. We repeat, the method required for this course is Le latin of the Collection «Sans Peine» by Desessard and adapted by Guglielmi in 2015, not the creation of Ducos-Filippi. The Ducos-Filippi method is not good enough for this course, and will not be accepted.
Italian Version: The Italian version of Dessessard's method (Il latino senza sforzo, adattamento italiano di Elena Barberis, 2002) was likewise withdrawn from circulation two or three years after the French original was, but early in 2012 Assimil (Italiano) reissued it with with fewer typos than the previous one, and new recordings of all the audio material carried out by native speakers of Italian with a clearer, albeit somewhat less animated, diction than the original French ones. We recommend our prospective students interested in the Italian version to contact the Italian Assimil (logging in is required before proceeding to purchase) to obtain both the book and the recordings that are required for the course. Don't hesitate to ask us if you need any help with the procedure.
German version: In October 2013 Assimil (Deutsch) issued a new German version of Desessard's book (Latein ohne Mühe, deutsche Übersetzung und Bearbeitung von Manuel Fischer & Susanne Gagneur), where the adaptors nevertheless changed all of Desessard’s notes and explanations, although not the text. As far as we know, it is sold with the Italian recordings.
As Desessard's method is based on a textbook which currently exists with the explanations about grammar and vocabulary given in French (Le latin sans peine & Le latin), Italian (l latino senza sforzo) or German (Latein ohne Mühe), students are expected to be able to understand one of those languages well enough to follow the course. Students who can read neither French, Italian or German will be provided with an English translation of those explanations along the course. All students are still required to obtain their own copy of the book in one of versions available, and the recordings that come therewith before they join the course. They may not be cheap, but the material is absolutely worth it, and obtaining it is a necessary proof of commitment to the course. Please note that the audio material (all in Latin) is essential for the success of the course, and the textbook on its own will not do.
The method has 101 lessons. On this first course, the students will be covering lessons 1-56. They are expected to study one every three days over 24 weeks starting on the 26th of September 2769 (2016). The lessons are very short, and do not require more than one hour to go through; so the established three-day schedule will allow even the busiest of people to follow the course. A sample calendar from a previous year, including our two three-week holiday intermissions for Sáturnália and Quínquátrús, is available here.
The role of the student
Every lesson in the book (except the first three) includes a Latin dialogue on the left and a translation with extensive explanations in the vernacular (French, Italian or German) on the right.
During each three-day period scheduled in the calendar, the student is expected to study the corresponding lesson indicated for it, which will involve:
1. Reading the Latin text, sentence by sentence (aloud if possible), comparing it, word by word, with the vernacular translation.
2. Reading the vernacular notes and explanations until everything in the Latin text has been understood (no need painstakingly to memorise anything).
3. Reading again the Latin text (aloud if possible), until it is understood by itself without looking at the vernacular.
4. Listening to the recording once while following the Latin text in the book, and then again without looking at the text, only checking if it is absolutely unavoidable due to the odd hard word or phrase, again and again until the recording is fully understood just by itself.
5. Listening to the recording, now completely without the book, as often as possible during the three-day period, on any possible occasion (through breakfast, during lunch, in the bath, while cooking dinner, before bedtime...).
In order to find out more about the need to understand rather than to memorise, as well as about the radical importance of vocabulary in language learning, see the further information here.
The role of the teacher
In addition to the valuable information the students will be able to find in their textbook, on the first one of the three days allocated to the study of each lesson the teacher will provide to the students his own commentaries and observations about the lesson to make sure nothing remains unclear.
Since understanding is essential to learning, the teacher will be available on-line also to answer any questions that may remain after the student has carefully gone through the lesson.
For lessons 1 to 50 the teacher will provide his notes in English, and students are recommended to put their queries also in English, although they can also use French, Italian or German for that purpose. The teacher will reply in English, unless the student putting the question would prefer French, Italian or German in the answer too. From lesson 51 the teacher will use only Latin, both for his commentaries to the lessons and for his answers to students' queries; students are guaranteed to be able to understand him in this language by that stage. Students are not expected to query in Latin at any point in this course.
The teacher will also provide additional written and listening exercises on-line as homework every seven lessons. These will all be in Latin. One sample of the returned homework will be corrected in class.
As with any nonvirtual school, our virtual class is a public space that will allow all students to profit as much as possible from the questions of the others and the answers and corrections provided by the teacher. All students are there to learn, and no-one should be ashamed to ask what more often than not will also be in the mind of everyone else, or otherwise actively to participate in the learning process. Private messages to the teacher are highly discouraged.
Although there is no prerequisite to embark on this course, prospective students are recommended to gain as soon as possible a working acquaintance with the basic categories of universal grammar (parts of speech: verb, noun, adjective, etc.), and with the concepts of declension (gender, number, case) and conjugation (person, tense, mood, aspect, voice), although the details will of course be explained during the course.
Prospective students are therefore recommended to start perusing the following introductory resources and to try and assimilate as much of the information given as possible before starting the course.
1. Basic grammatical categories.
2. Elements of Latin.
3. The declension (nouns and adjectives).
4. The conjugation (present indicative).
Assessment and Certificates
There will be six pieces of homework set during the course, which will not be awarded a mark, although completing and returning on schedule each of the six will be a necessary requisite to remain in the course.
Other than that, the final grade for the course will be determined by a weighed average of two further assessments: one written test at the end of lesson 28, which will count for 40% of the final mark, plus one final written examination after the last lesson, which will count for the remaining 60%.
Only written language skills (reading and writing) will be assessed at this level. The rest of skills (listening and speaking) enter the assessment process in Sermo Latinus II.
Ideally students will progress to Sermo Latinus II the following year and so no certificates will need be awarded for having completed just Sermo Latinus I. However, if this is not the case, the Schola Latína Európæa & Úniversális would provide a certificate corresponding to Levels A1 or A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), in writing skills alone, as granted by the student's overall performance.
No additional material is strictly needed, although any committed student should avail themselves of the following as soon as possible:
In a living Latin course, getting the pronunciation right is quite essential. All students are therefore advised to buy as soon as possible and peruse the little masterpiece of clarity which is W. Sidney Allen, Vox Latina, A Guide to the Pronunciation of Classical Latin, Cambridge University Press 1992 .
The only dictionary any English-speaking Latin student needs to have at this stage is the Collins Gem Latin Dictionary. This little wonder will last any beginner for a good few years.
Beyond the Collins Gem, the only advice worth giving is to start saving big-time from this very moment in order to be able to buy a copy of the Oxford Latin Dictionary sooner rather than later, as the price will only be higher the longer one waits. Nothing between these two dictionaries is worth recommending, and nothing exists above the OLD. No one will be able to speak Latin correctly without the OLD.
The only grammar book any Latin student needs to have is B.L. Gildersleeve & González Lodge, Latin Grammar, Bristol Classical Press 1997 . No-one has ever written a perfect Latin grammar, but this is still the best. No other substitute will do.
Of course loads of other study aids can be found, on-line and elsewhere; but the student is recommended not to get too distracted with those. The course as it is will be enough to keep everyone busy until May.
Give your all to the greatest language ever spoken!
If you have read all of the above, you will understand that to enter this course you just need three things:
a) to be able to understand English well enough to follow the teacher's explanations for lessons 1 to 50 (only a passive knowledge of the language is required);
b) to be able to understand French, Italian or German well enough to follow the explanations on the textbook (only a passive knowledge of the language is required), although a working translation into English can be provided; and, of course, in any case,
c) to have your own copy of the textbook and the audio material.
The Schola Latína Európæa & Úniversális started carrying out its teaching through Yahoo! Groups created for the purpose, but soon moved on to fantastic «Moodle» Course Management Systems which allowed us very remarkably to enhance the whole teaching and learning process.
So, the next step our students need to take, if they fulfill the three conditions above, is to proceed to apply for access to the course within our CMS. You are asked therefore please to:
1. Copy the text below, inserting your full name where indicated:
I, [your name here], own a copy of Desessard's "Lingua Latina sine molestia", textbook and recordings, and want to enrol for Sermo Latinus I.
2. E-mail that text to our address, and we will indicate by return of post how to proceed.
Remember that the course starts 26th September 2769 (2016).