Posted by Dennis » 4 Comments »
I’m always interested to hear from my colleagues, and I have a question for you (though I confess I already have an answer of my own). Have you any thoughts on the order of the declensions?
Oerberg’s Lingua Latina presents the cases in an order that makes all the songs and jingles students use, well, useless.
It’s an order that has a pedigree of its own, and that I’ve seen advocated here and there as an early pedagogical aid. I’ve always used the traditional order of the cases (I call it the American as opposed to the European order when I wean kids off of Oerberg), and I try to ingrain the uses of the cases by making up sentences in familiar vocabulary that use all five:
fēmina ducis mihi dōnum cum grātiā dedit.
This kind of sentence can be used to reinforce the order of the cases and some of the basic meanings of the cases, including the adjectival sense of the genitive and the adverbial sense of the ablative.
The tendency in Latin syntax is toward SOV (subject, object, verb), and while that oversimplifies the issue, simplification is helpful. We can build on that, and show the importance of the first and last positions, but we can also see a tendency to place indirect objects before direct objects, etc.
This is not to mention the importance of the genitive in recognizing noun stems/declension, and building and recognizing forms. Delaying the genitive can cause problems in recognizing stems, especially with the third declension.
So then what’s the pedagogical advantage of teaching the accusative second in the paradigm? You can still teach the nominative and accusative first, but provide students with a blank chart. They’ll see the blanks for the forms they haven’t learned yet, and will know that they’re coming. Still, in the end, they won’t have the culture shock of encountering a world of grammars, songs, and other resources that present the genitive, and not the accusative, second.