Illinois Classical Conference 2012


The vast majority of second language acquisition (SLA) research has been conducted from the perspective of modern language instruction, in which speaking and listening are given priority over writing and reading. How, then, is SLA research relevant to the classical languages, in which instructors focus on reading above all? Since Latin and ancient Greek have not ceased to be languages, it stands to reason that second language acquisition research should have something to offer teachers of Greek and Latin. I find one such overlap in the SLA research on input modification and negotiation, which shows that students benefit from interacting with each other to negotiate meaning. Applying these findings to the Greek and Latin classroom reveals that students who produce Greek and Latin texts and then negotiate the meaning of those texts together, even entirely in English, can experience the benefits suggested by the SLA literature.


Cumming, Alister. “Responding to the Writing of ESL Students.” Patterns of Development.
Eds. Mary Maguire and Anthony Paré. Ottawa: Canadian Council of Teachers of English, 1985. 58-75.

Dugdale, Eric. “Lingua Latina, Lingua Mea: Creative Composition in Beginning Latin.” Teaching Classical Languages 3.1 (2011): 1-23.

Ferris, Dana R., and John S. Hedgcock. Teaching ESL Composition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2005.

Gascoyne, Richard, et al. “Standards for Classical Language Learning.” Oxford, OH: American Classical League, 1997.

Gass, Susan M., and Alison Mackey. 2007. “Input, Interaction, and Output in Second Language Acquisition.”  Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction. Eds. Bill VanPatten and Jessica Williams. New York: Routledge, 2012. 175-200.

Gruber-Miller, John. “Teaching Writing in Beginning Latin and Greek: Logos, Ethos, and Pathos.”  When Dead Tongues Speak: Teaching Beginning Greek and Latin. Ed. John Gruber-Miller. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 190-219.

Long, Michael H. “The Role of the Linguistic Environment in Second Language Acquisition.” Handbook of Language Acquisition: Vol. 2, Second Language Acquisition. Eds. William C. Ritchie and Tej K. Bhatia. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1996. 413-68.

Mangelsdorf, Kate. “Parallels Between Speaking and Writing in Second Language Acquisition.” Richness in Writing: Empowering ESL Students.” Eds. Donna M. Johnson and Duane H. Roen. New York: Longman, 1989. 134-45.

Ortega, Lourdes. Understanding Second Language Acquisition. London: Hodder, 2009

Swain, Merrill and Sharon Lapkin. “Task-Based Second Language Learning: The Uses of the First Language.”Language Teaching Research 4.3 (2000): 251-74.