Living Latin: Exploring a Communicative Approach to Latin Teaching Through a Sociocultural Perspective on Language Learning

Lloyd, Mair Elizabeth (2017). Living Latin: Exploring a Communicative Approach to Latin Teaching Through a Sociocultural Perspective on Language Learning. PhD thesis The Open University.



This study is motivated by the search for new practices to enhance the teaching of ab initio Latin in UK universities. It arises out of a perception that traditional methods leave some students failing to achieve course aims, their own study goals, and, in the longer term, struggling to read Latin texts with understanding and engagement. At the outset of this research, there was little recent information on Latin pedagogy in UK universities or on student opinions on provision. Some scholarship expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of Latin reading skills attained, but little work had been done on defining the nature of desirable skills or in exploring how they might be attained or investigated. This study instigates progress in all these areas.

To advance understanding of how Latin learning takes place and to investigate the potential benefits of existing conceptual and pedagogical frameworks, this study draws on modern language learning theories and teaching practices and explores the application of Vygotskian sociocultural theory to learning events taking place under a communicative teaching approach.

Research methods were selected pragmatically, with quantitative methods deployed to obtain a comprehensive snapshot of current practice in UK universities, while the more complex areas of learning events and perceived benefits were investigated through a combination of participant observation, interviews and innovative reading and drawing exercises.

The findings confirm that traditional ab initio Latin teaching approaches are not well-aligned with learners’ goals, establish the value of taking a broader approach to pedagogy and provide new ways of defining and investigating Latin reading skills. This research has the potential to enhance Latin pedagogy in UK universities and other institutions. It makes a seminal contribution to applying language learning theories to Latin and suggests innovative methods for aligning students’ needs and expectations with their learning experience.

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