At long last, prompted by the thump of The Journal of Classics Teaching on my doormat, I popped the Cambridge e-learning demo disc into my laptop to check it out.
Yes, it's good. Well, after all the time, effort and money that has gone into it, one would expect no less. Let me get my two niggles out of the way now:
- I use Mozilla as my default browser, and the Cambridge disc opens the default browser but shows a blank screen unless that browser is Bill Gates' Internet Explorer. I had to cut and paste the URL from Mozilla into IE each time, which slowed me up and made me cross.
- The pronunciation of the Latin is not entirely consistent. The excellent e-teacher is not quite as careful about her quantities as the invisible reader is. Yes I know it's Wilf O'Neill and he's in a class of his own, but still …
These niggles aside, I can see an individual learner having a learning experience that is not far behind that of a pupil in the class of an outstanding Latin teacher. Nothing can quite make up for personal interaction, but by using the disc a person can have:
- A clear introduction to each story that whets the appetite for the story itself
- The text of the story presented to eye and ear
- The ability to look up any word in an on-line dictionary with a mouse-click and see the declension or conjugation of the word with another click
- A video version of some stories
- Clear, attractively presented explanations of grammar and syntax on video.
- Background (oh how I dislike the word paralinguistic!) information on video, giving much more information than the mere words in the textbook could convey.
- Varied exercises with instant marking
There's probably a lot more, but that's enough to sell it to me. At £39.95 plus vat it knocks every other e-Latin course into a cocked hat. And that's just Book 1. Wait till Book 2 comes out with
the biggest ham in the game playing Salvius!!!