This July, I spent a week at the Conventiculum Dickinsoniense in Carlisle, PA learning to speak Latin. Fellow graduate student Clinton Kinkade and I stayed with the rest of the participants at Dickinson College, where we attended seminars, played games, and had conversations—all in Latin. On the morning of the first day, all the participants took a pledge to speak only in Latin with one another throughout the duration of the program, even at meals and after hours. Though this was tricky at first, we quickly became used to articulating our thoughts in a language most of us had previously encountered only through reading. The program is run by Profs. Terence Tunbergs and Milena Minkova, who were welcoming, encouraging mentors; they enforced a rule that students should not correct one another’s grammar, since the aim of the course was conversational fluency, not perfection. This allowed us the freedom to make mistakes—lots of them!—as we got used to expressing modern thoughts in an ancient language.
A variety of participants attended the Conventiculum: undergrad and grad students, professors, high school teachers, and people who just loved Latin. It was great to see people from a wide variety of backgrounds coming together to speak Latin in a diverse, inclusive, and supportive environment. I’m now able to incorporate some of my spoken Latin skills into teaching my Latin 101 seminar this fall! I would highly recommend the Conventiculum to anyone interested in trying out spoken ancient languages.