Katherine Owensby

Latin Immersion by Salvi: The North American Institute of Living Latin Studies


Claymont Mansion in Charles Town, West Virginia: Spring, 2018

From February 23rd to 25th, I attended a spoken Latin immersion weekend run by Salvi: The North American Institute of Living Latin Studies. The focus of the program was to strengthen both confidence and fluency in the Latin language. Also, in attendance were educators, monks, and other students from across the country. Together we participated in classes on vocabulary about daily life, and we drilled grammar constructions. We also read, discussed, and compared ancient texts (primarily excerpts from Ovid’s Metamorphoses) and medieval texts (letters of Poggio Bracchiolini). While it was difficult not to speak in English at all, I found this program incredibly rewarding. Not only did my command of the language improve, I became fascinated with this unique language pedagogy.

As I left on Sunday, I had more questions about Latin than ever before. How does one move from literacy to verbal proficiency? What is the best way to make the jump from textual analysis to creative speech production? I hope to attempt to answer these questions in the future. Attending Salvi’s program inspired me to bring spoken Latin to the Duke community through our Classics Collegium. Using both the program’s pedagogical techniques and tips from spoken Latin educators, I hope to organize an immersion event for other Classics students next year. My goal for this event is to expose my peers to Latin in a new setting, outside the classroom. As one of my instructors at Salvi once said, if we only read from texts, we can only ever be echoes of the past.