Results Of The Survey

  1. Course Aims
  2. Course Design And Uptake
  3. Course Materials
  4. Course Targets (see also Annex on grammatical coverage)
  5. Linguistic Ability
  6. Class Sizes
  7. Short Courses
  8. Teaching Methods
  9. Study Methods
  10. Assessment Methods
  1. Morphology
  2. Syntax &c.
  1. Morphology
  2. Syntax &c.:


1.1 Respondents were invited to rank a number of possible aims for an elementary introduction to a classical language, in what the particular respondents felt to be their descending order of priority for students on their courseas a whole. Five suggested such aims were printed on the questionnaire, with write-in spaces for up to three others. Results were collated with a weighting of 7 for a first-place ranking, 5 for a second, 4 for a third, 3 for a second, and 2 for a fifth or lower. In the event, write-ins were relatively few and diverse - too much so to be included in the number-crunching - but a few recurrent points were made, reported below.

(1)as a means to engage with literary texts and/or other documents in the original119173292
(2)as a "toe in the water" to test aptitude and interest for further study of the language6093153
(3)as a means of finding out about the structure and character of the language (without necessarily progressing to reading in the original)4166107
(4)as a training in general linguistic concepts and skills4575120
(5)as an "initiation ritual" for entry to the classical community182442

Write-ins were relatively few, and limited in the main to variations on 1-5 (such as substituting "generate" for "test" in the wording of 2). On 4, one respondent noted that general linguistic training becomes ever more important as such training disappears (apparently) from the schools. 5 was the most controversial formulation, with some respondents ranking it first and others prompted to uncollatable expostulations.

One further objective did, however, emerge clearly and repeatedly: what was variously termed "promotion of cultural awareness", "a vehicle for authentic experience of the Greek/Roman world & its values", and "a vehicle through which students can explore other aspects of the Classical World; through this strategy Latin is learnt not just as a linguistic exercise but as part of an integrated approach to Roman culture".

The artificiality, of course, of any such ranking needs to be stressed; a couple of respondents stressed the diversity or ambiguity of aims among different students within the same group. "Is this ranking really useful?" wondered one. "Most students have mixed and often vague aims/motives - which can clarify over the year."

1.2 Does the course documentation include a statement of course objectives?
In cases of "yes", it was suggested that respondents might wish to append a copy; 5 Latin and 4 Greek courses did so, with documentation ranging from a paragraph in a Departmental degree programme document to several pages of detailed course outline. One institution offers a formal "teaching and learning contract" signed by both teacher and student.


2.1 Who teaches the course?

full-time staff152035
part-time staff91019
postgraduate students156

4 Greek courses recorded "Others", specifying schoolteacher fellows, postdoctoral students, and retired schoolteachers; probably some or all of these were also included by other respondents under "part-time staff".

2.2 What is the length of the course in: (a) terms, semesters, or academic years? (b) teaching weeks?

Nearly all courses reported ran for a single, full teaching year, though several respondents stressed the continuity between the first and subsequent years' courses (with longer coursebooks such asReading Greek andTeach Yourself finished off in the second year). One University runs its beginners' courses in both languages over three semesters, and one confines itsab initio Greek course to a single 12-week semester (with a reading course following in the second semester); one offers an alternative, two-year version of its Latin course for non-classicists; and the adult-education courses tended to run for fewer hours weekly over a longer span (2 hours weekly over an extended teaching year of 30 or 32 weeks in two cases, 1.5 hours weekly over 4 years for the whole ofReading Greek in a third).

The vertical axis of the chart counts institutions rather than (as elsewhere in this survey) courses or respondents, since the length of the year in teaching weeks tends to be determined institutionally rather than course-by-course, and practically all responding institutions quoted the same figure for courses in both languages. The handful of courses lasting longer than a single teaching year are not included in these figures. It comes as no surprise to see that the number of teaching weeks in a year can vary by almost 100% - from two 8-week Oxbridge terms to a three full 10-week teaching terms (though it should be remarked that the two 30-week figures came from adult-education institutes).

Some respondents hesitated understandably over the definition of a "course" for present purposes - sometimes from hesitation over the separability of a beginners' language course from parallel strands of a less-than-completely modularised degree programme, or from subsequent and closely-continuous language courses (for example, in second and higher years of the degree), but mostly because the elliptical drafting of the questionnaire failed clearly to define "course" as meaning, for these purposes, a modular or quasi-modular unit within a degree programme, rather than the entire span of study leading to a particular degree. Nevertheless, responses were sufficiently meticulous in practice to allow like-for-like collation in most cases. Since nearly all courses ran for a whole academic year, the responses to later questions has, where appropriate and feasible, been taken from information provided about first-year teaching only.

2.3.1 How many contact hours are there per week?2.3.2 How many would be ideal?

Respondents were begged to give a collatable figure (rather than "as many as possible", &c.); only one defiantly responded "infinity". The difference between the contact hours felt appropriate for the two languages in 2.3.1 is still more pronounced in 2.3.2. The three low-figure responses all came from adult-education courses, which run to a different pattern of contact hours from undergraduate courses.

2.4 In addition to class hours, roughly how many hours per week of private study are students expected to do for the course?

2.5.1 How many students are enrolled on the course in a typical year?

2.5.2 What categories of students are involved?

(Respondents were invited to indicate the approximate percentages on their course of six principal types. The figures below give the averages of these percentages - whence their failure to add up to exactly 100%).

Others, generally too few to show up statistically, included: students on Combined Honours degrees; exchange students; part-time students; non-classicist members of academic and administrative staff; adult education students (not just on AE courses), members of the general public, "Associate Students", researchers, occasional students; external and Open University students; auditors and voluntary attenders. Two institutions used summer schools or adult-education classes as access courses for students entering for the BA.

% of course made up of first-year undergraduates on classical degree programmes:

2.6 Are non-beginners (other than resit candidates) included in the course?


3.1 What published textbooks (if any) do you use?

Jones & Sidwell,Reading Latin9
Randall & Cairns,Learning Latin3
Betts,Teach Yourself Latin2
Wheelock,Latin: An Introductory Course2
Cambridge Latin Grammar2
Kennedy'sLatin Primer1
HarperCollins College Outlines1
no textbook/own materials3
One Department runs two beginners' groups, one onReading Latin and one onLearning Latin. The once-mighty Wheelock has almost vanished from the scene.Teach Yourself seems (from anecdotal rather than questionnaire evidence) to be more popular with Intermediate, second-year, and non-beginner courses.
JACT,Reading Greek13
Balme & Lawall,Athenaze4.5
Wilding,Greek for Beginners2
Mastronarde,Introduction to Attic Greek2
Beetham,An Introduction to New Testament Greek2
Abbott & Mansfield,Primer of Greek Grammar1
Betts & Henry,Teach Yourself Ancient Greek1
Nairn & Nairn,Greek Through Reading1
Randall,Learning Ancient Greek (unpublished beta-testing version)1
Usher,An Outline of Greek Accidence1
North & Hillard1
own materials1
The survey was conducted before the appearance of the long-awaited UK revision ofAthenaze, which redresses the universally-loathed transatlantic case system.

3.2 Would you prefer to be using a different textbook, or none?

In the event, most respondents felt happy with their current coursebook; discontent was expressed by 5 for Latin and 7 for Greek.

Latin: no statistically ponderable results here. One user ofTeach Yourself would prefer to be usingReading Latin; one user ofReading Latin hankered after Laughton'sLatin for Latecomers; and one user of theCambridge Latin Grammar would prefer to be using in-house materials.

Greek: two users ofReading Greek expressed a preference forAthenaze; oneAthenaze user had a regard for Hansen & Quinn, but felt it perhaps too intensive for student beginners; two users of other books would prefer their own materials.Athenaze drew the widest praise of any single textbook, here and in 3.4, butReading Greek commanded a greater depth of enthusiasm from its adherents.

3.3 What original or supplementary materials (if any) do you provide?

This was a write-in category; responses ranged from the elliptic ("handouts") to the quizzical ("the occasional joke"). Six types of material not unexpectedly predominated, but there were some interestinghapax ideas.

  1. grammatical tables, paradigms, example sheets, etc (home-produced or from other books)
  2. unseens
  3. passages for reading
  4. exercises & informal testing material (including English-into-Greek)
  5. set texts (not widespread in beginners' courses, but the EdinburghHistoria Apollonii abridgment has several users; Ovid and selections from Catullus were also mentioned for Latin, and Lysias i for Greek)
  6. vocabulary lists

Other materials mentioned included:

Not surprisingly,Reading Greek andReading Latin tended to be the most commonly supplemented with additional grammatical material, and theTeach Yourself volumes with additional exercises and reading.

3.4 What do you feel are the particular strengths and weaknesses of your current textbook?

All comments recorded are reproduced more-or-less verbatim. Special apologies are owed to three authors who found themselves invited to pass judgment on their own coursebooks. ("Ouch!" said one; "Perfect," brazened another.)


Reading Latin


Learning Latin
STRENGTHS: computer package
WEAKNESSES: too little accessible grammatical/syntactical information

STRENGTHS: clarity & arrangement; coverage; designed for mature students; mistakes of Latinity which instructor can show off by correcting
WEAKNESSES: misprints; too difficult for undergraduate beginners in places; moralising sententiae over-adapted & a bit boring; too given to subject-verb-object ordering

Cambridge Latin Grammar
STRENGTHS: grammar clearly set out
WEAKNESSES: agrammatical experience of students; inability of students to appreciate necessity of private learning; poor vocabulary; few examples

Teach Yourself Latin
STRENGTHS: "none" (!); clear structure & progression
WEAKNESSES: clutter of military verbiage; lack of running/continuous passages; difficulty of exercises; insufficient explanations of grammatical points; insufficient elementary exercises & reading material; lacks clear method of building up vocabulary


Reading Greek





STRENGTHS: very clear & full explanation of grammatical concepts & principles (English and Greek); early use (by about lesson 19) of longer connected passages of original or adapted Greek texts
WEAKNESSES: course & exercises too full for a single-semester course; includes quite a lot of advanced linguistic concepts &c. in the explanations; sometimes insufficient translation examples of lessons' key grammatical topic

STRENGTHS: grammar well explained; plenty of practice sentences; assumes no formal knowledge of grammar (even English)
WEAKNESSES: badly typeset; shortage of continuous passages; criticised for ignoring some of the more specialised aspects of Christian Greek

Teach Yourself Ancient Greek
STRENGTHS: economical; contains basic grammarand "dictionary" facilities; covers grammar in an order sensible for a course of this type
WEAKNESSES: introduces Homer too soon; not enougheasy translation passages; felt meaningless by comparison withRG; why learn the grammar unless to engage in a text?

STRENGTHS: continuous (adapted) passages introduced early on
WEAKNESSES: some information misleading or wrong

3.5 What needs would you wish to see addressed in future course materials?

Latin respondents:
Greek respondents:


(see also Annex on grammatical coverage)

4.1 If you use a coursebook, which section would you expect to reach?

Reading Latin: 8 respondents indicated coverage in a 1-year course or the first year of a longer course; the results are charted below. "Most" in this instance means all of the grammar and syntax, but omitting the scansion and verse-diction. Regrettably, the questionnaire did not think to ask how long it took to finish the book in cases when a year was insufficient.

Wheelock: Of the 2 users, 1 finished the book and the other moved to handouts once the basic grammar was covered.

The sharpest apparent contrast was onTeach Yourself Latin, where one of the two users reported completing the book (31 Units) in a year, while the other made it only as far as Unit 15 or 16. But the first was a non-assessed postgraduate course for non-classicists, while the second was a compulsory undergraduate beginners' course (the largest, in fact, recorded in the survey).


Reading Greek

10 respondents gave figures for one-year courses; as the graph shows, they vary widely. Only one was able to finish the book in a year, and then not with all groups; others omitted sections (6D-E, 11) to get as far as they did. One course aimed to completeRG in 3 semesters.

4 courses completed both volumes in a year; 1 aimed at Chapter 22 (of 24); and 1 completed the first volume only in a semester, thereafter proceeding to other materials.

The solitary users ofGreek for Beginners and of Learning Ancient Greek completed the books; the lone Teach Yourself respondent made it to Unit 12, omitting most of Unit 11.

4.2 By the end of the course, which of the following can most students realistically be expected to be able to do?

consult a text in the original language alongside a reading translation172340
read original texts with the aid of dictionaries and commentaries131932
translate unseen passages from ancient authors in modified/unmodified form91423
read original texts unseen with reasonable understanding347


5.1 Do you "screen out" students who students who have difficulties with formal language learning? (Respondents could tick more than one box if appropriate.)
in admissions369
at course enrolment156
early on course84018

5.2 Are you able to offer an "exit route" for students who prove unequal to the challenge?
exit with part credit235
exit without credit7815

5.2.1 If you do offer an exit route, what kinds of exit are available?
(a) transfer to alternative, non-linguistic course within the Department51015
(b) transfer to non-linguistic course outside the Department279
(c) transfer to non-linguistic course modular course314
(d) transfer from Greek to Latin, or to Latin-only degree022
(e) transfer to non-classical degree programme022
(e) is presumably a widely-available option, but will have be seen by most respondents as equivalent to not offering an exit route at all. Most of the offers of (c) came from north of the border, where the highly-modular Scottish system makes such transfer comparatively painless; one respondent offered the interesting variant of transfer to a non-linguistic course outside the Department, which nevertheless would still take much or all of its materials from the Department.


6.1.1 How many students do you have in a single class?

6.1.2 Is it, so far as you know, typical of language classes in your institution?
not known91221
An interesting and somewhat unexpected set of findings, if the pattern exposed by the small number of positive responses is typical.

6.1.3 In your view, what number would be ideal?

Two respondents (with Greek classes of 10-20 and 35 bodies) felt that class size was immaterial: "size is irrelevant; studentability is crucial".

6.2.1 If your classes are larger than ideal, what particular pressures would you identify as resulting from this?

Considerable convergence between responses here; most of the following points were made repeatedly.

6.2.2 Are there particular techniques that you have found useful for coping with large classes?


7.1 Are you able to use short-burst language courses (excluding Summer Schools)? If "yes", what is the length of the course, how many contact hours are involved, and when in the academic calendar does it fall?

Unsurprisingly, only two institutions were able to answer in the affirmative. One offered Latin short course of 3 weeks in September-October with 32 contact hours, and a one-week pre-sessional Greek course of 10 contact hours at the same time of year. The other, catering for part-time students, offered a series of three intensive five-hour day classes in Greek on Saturdays towards the end of the year.

7.2 Do you encourage students to attend Summer Schools? If so, which, and are you able to subsidise students' attendance?

4 positive responses for Latin and 14 for Greek, though only 1 and 5 respectively could offer subsidy. Of the Summer Schools specifically recommended, JACT had two Latin and seven Greek mentions, Lampeter 1 and 3, London 2 Greek, and City Lit 1 Greek.


8.1 Approximately what percentage of class-time on the course is allocated to different activities?

The pie charts again are based on averaging the percentages reported, to give a breakdown of the average proportions of time spent on the six listed activities. There is, of course, considerable necessary overlap between categories.


Since many found this extremely hard to quantify, differences between the average allocation of class time reported for the two languages may easily be a statistical ripple. They are nevertheless suggestive enough to seem worth presenting in the form of separate pie charts.

8.2 At what point in the course (if any) is the reading of continuous passages from original texts introduced?

The question was slightly flawed by the failure of the wording to distinguish adapted from unmodified passages (and, to a lesser extent, by an intentional vagueness over the scope of "continuous"). Some respondents, for instance, reasonably felt thatReading Greek and/orReading Latin introduced "continuous passages from original texts" at the outset, rather than in (say)RG section 11; these answers have not been counted in the above table. "Never", of course, means for these purposes "not in the first year of study".

8.3.1 Which of the following do you include as regular elements of the course?LatinGreektotal
aural learning (oral drills, reading aloud by teacher or students, etc.)142337
translation into Latin or Latin (at sentence level or above)121830
comprehension exercises74522
comparison of translations347
survey of English grammar111526
non-linguistic information about the culture 101727
computer-aided instruction*:448
*Latinstudy and LLCP had two users each, and SCIO one; the remainder were in-house programs devised by Departmental staff.

8.3.2 Are there other kinds of special language or reading exercise that you have found especially helpful, and would recommend to other teachers?


9.1 Do you offer students formal guidance on language study skills and methods?


as part of language course151833
as separate strand033

9.1.1 If you do offer such guidance, what language-learning skills are covered?
management of private study time91423
techniques for private translation and text preparation101626
techniques for specific forms of prescribed exercise101626
use of vocabularies and dictionaries151631
learning techniques for accidence and/or syntax121830
techniques for reinforcement and revision74623
linguistic theory279
examination techniques61016

9.1.2 How much time in total is spent?

Most found this the hardest question to answer quantitatively, and it would probably be misleading to tabulate the results; but everyone who attempted an estimate gave a figure in the range 2-8 hours or 2-10% of the course.


10.1 How is your course assessed? (Respondents were asked to tick as many as appropriate.)
unseen final exam162339
in-course tests91019
other assessed coursework5712
Other:1 respondent used computer tests; 1 Latin and 3 Greek courses for non-classicists were not formally assessed.

10.2.1 If you use in-course tests or coursework assessment, at how many points in the course does assessment take place?

234567weeklytwice weekly
Figures quoted ranged from 2 to 40, but in the event two distinct patterns emerged: one with a small number of tests at fixed points in the year, and one with weekly (or more) tests throughout the course. There was no correlation between the frequency of tests and the proportion of total course marks they carried (see 10.2.2), but there was, as might be expected, a rough inverse correlation between frequency and duration (see 10.2.3).

10.2.2 ... and what proportion of the total marks for the course does it carry?


10.2.3 If you use in-course tests, how much time (in minutes) is allowed for each?

It is assumed here that "an hour" often means a "lecturer's hour" of 50 minutes, so periods from 45 to 60 minutes are simply lumped together. No other durations were specified.

10.3 What types of question or exercise do you use in the final exam or other terminal assessment?

(Respondents could tick as many boxes as appropriate, and were invited to enclose a recent question paper if they wished. It proved impossible to devise a table that would be combinatorially complete, but the following gives a sense of the range of practice.) Latin into English:
made-upsimplifiedunalteredseenwith vocabunseen
Continuous passages79571011
Comprehension exercises241433

Greek into English:
made-upsimplifiedunalteredseenwith vocabunseen
Continuous passages791171619
Comprehension exercises344435
Comprehensions seem to be regarded with some wariness. "Useless as test," commented one respondent: "just a way of giving marks for nothing so as to avoid fails."

Translation from English into Latin/Greek:
single words or phrases279
continuous passages033
on vocabulary7714
on morphology121729
on syntax71623
1 Latin and 2 Greek respondents used a prescribed-texts paper; 2 Greek respondents included substitution exercises in the exam (such as "Put into the plural", changing subject from singular to plural and making all consequent changes). Other individual responses specified:

10.4 Do you allow the use of dictionaries in examinations or other assessments? (Respondents were asked to tick as many boxes as appropriate.)
Latin/Greek into English5510
English into Latin/Greek314
in exams426
in tests325
Other: one permitted the use of English dictionaries by non-English speakers; another allowed a form of assessed coursework consisting of Greek-English & English-Greek sentences completed in students' own time with whatever book help they wish.


(16 responses)


Nounsdeclensions 1-5:16
Adjectives1st/2nd & 3rd declensions16
Pronouns &c.demonstrative14
pronominal "declension" (alius &c.)14

THE VERB (all conjugations):
presentfutureimperf.perfectfut. pf.plupf.
indicative active161616161115
indicative passive161616161114
subjunctive active1111910
subjunctive passive910810

Infinitives:present active16
present passive13
perfect active[accidentally left off questionnaire! but at least 10]
perfect passive13
future active15
future passive11
Irregular verbs (if covered for the same tenses and moods as above).


Indirect statement15
Indirect question7
Indirect command8
Relative clauses:
- with indicative12
- with subjunctive8
Causal clauses:
- with quod/quia10
- with cum9
Final clauses10
Consecutive clauses10
Concessive clauses8
Temporal clauses12
Subordinate clauses in indirect speech2
Ablative absolute12
- with indicative9
- with subjunctive8
Verbs of fearing6
Impersonal verbs8
quominus & quin3


(22 responses)


The verb in -w:
pres.futureimpf.w. aorst. aor.perf.fut. pf.plupf.
indicative active22222222221511
indicat. middle222222222214710
indicat. passive191816161614711
subjunct. active1717179
subjunct. middle1717179
subjunct. passive1615159
optative active1813181810
optative middle18131818107
optative passive15131515107
2nd imperat. act.2220208
3rd imper. active1717179
2nd imper. pass.1817178
3rd imper. m/p1717178
infinitive active2220212114
inf. mid. & pas.22191919148
participle active2220212114
partic. mid./pas.22202121139

Duals in verb: 8

Verbs in -mi
(if covered for the same tenses, moods, and voices as above):

Irregular verbs* (basic tenses and moods):

Noundeclensions 1-322
Adjectives:1st/2nd declension22
3rd declension21
Pronouns &c.:demonstrative22
Duals in noun/adj./art./pron.6


with o{ti/wJ"20
- with acc. or nom. + inf.19
- with participle
(verbs of sensing/perceiving)
Indirect question19
Indirect command18
Causal clauses14
Relative clauses:
- with indicative20
- with subjunctive/optative15
Temporal clauses:
- with indicative21
- with subjunctive/optative15
- with indicative19
- with subjunctive/optative15
Final clauses17
Consecutive clauses17
Concessive clauses16
Genitive absolute18
Verbs of fearing14
Subordinate clauses in indirect speech5
Homeric Greek5

*"No such thing - only inadequate rules."

© Council of University Classics Departments 1995-8

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