Preface to GRASP Texts

Paedagogica Index


The Idea of GRASP     GRASP Handout    Go to a sample GRASP text.



"Mastery of Latin" implies the immediate understanding of textual material as well as that analytical understanding of forms that has so often been the primary focus of school instruction. We can now achieve a higher level of collective competence in the teaching of Latin with new kinds of pedagogical materials that will strengthen our immediate, intuitive processing of the language.


GRASP texts are structured in such a way that, with some help from a teacher, students will be able to understand even long and complicated sentences with immediacy or near-immediacy.


The GRASP method is marked by features that are vital for language acquisition:

1.  A relatively high rate of repetition of vocabulary and structures.

2.  Proportionately large quantities of comprehensible input prior to any expectation of output.

3.  A definite and gradual upward progression from smaller, simpler units and forms to more complex ones.

4.  A strong orientation toward immediacy of comprehension.

The GRASP method can also guarantee a fifth element that is often highly valued by Latin teachers:

5.  The use of authentic classical literary material.

GRASP presents a common-sense, psychologically realistic approach to language-learning: it is apparent that any skilled speaker or reader of a language must develop a very wide and deep "linguistic archive" or "linguistic background" or "history of experiences with phrasal patterns" before attaining the ability to comprehend more complex utterances in an easy and natural way.



Directives for students:

Work your way step-by-step through the substructures and the vocabulary which will make up the larger units of meaning. Read each line aloud until you can do so with immediate comprehension. Do not proceed until you have attained something like that automatic understanding that you have with your own native language. It cannot be exactly the same, of course, since the Latin words and structures will not echo back to your infancy as those of your native language do. But we nevertheless know that it is indeed possible to achieve great proficiency in a foreign language.


The most important thing is that you repeatedly make the right acts of comprehension (i.e., "get the meaning").


It does not matter that the vocabulary is repetitious. The repetition is intended. Spend time with each new expression of meaning as one or two new elements are added, or as the word-order is altered.

Once you have certain basic patterns and words mastered or "interiorized," and after you have experienced an immediacy of meaning encountering the same words within different structures and the same structures with different contents, you will be well on your way toward the mastery of the language.


The Idea of GRASP     GRASP Handout    Go to a sample GRASP text.







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© 1997 - 2009 Claude Pavur, from the Latin Teaching Materials at Saint Louis University website.  This material is being made freely available for non-commercial educational use.