Why you Need to Attend Non-Latin Specific Language Teacher Workshops

My experience with being taught with comprehensible input was in Denver and the teacher was Katya Paukova. She taught Russian to an enormous room full of mostly Spanish teachers. I had studied Russian in high school, so I had some prior understanding of the language, but most of the language being used was unknown to me. After about an hour and half spread over two days, this room full of teachers was able to read a two page long story entirely in Russian. I had spent nearly a year prior trying to wrap my head around CI through reading blogs, watching videos, chatting with master teachers, but this was the first time I really understood how it happened. Since then I have attended sessions in Romanian, Mandarin, German, Spanish, French and Japanese. Here is why you, Latin teachers, should do the same:

1) You have to experience CI working for yourself. When we attend CI sessions in a language we already know, we have don’t get to really experience the acquisition process. We end up having a great time, we learn some cool techniques, but we don’t get to experience the process of going from zero comprehension to full comprehension as a student.

2) You have to internalize the reality that Latin is a language like any other. I cannot stress this enough. I didn’t fully accept this fact until I experienced CI in Russian. Russian is heavily inflected language just like Latin. There are nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental and prepositional cases in Russian. The majority of people in the room had never even heard of the concept of case, but were able to read and understand the different cases comfortably in context. This experience totally dissolved any lingering suspicions that Latin was somehow different.

3) You have to get out of Latin teacher world and visit language teacher world. For the longest time, Latin has separated itself from other languages. Those days need to be done. It’s easy for CI principles to get lost in the variety of Latin-speaking subcultures that exist in our community. Comprehension-based teaching gets jumbled up with Spoken Latin, Active Latin, Latinitas, Latin Immersion etc., which makes learning to teach with CI difficult to navigate exclusively amongst other Latin teachers. Experience CI in action in a non language specific context allows for the fundamentals to be learned absent from the very emotionally-charged factions that form within each language’s community.





The Rebellion of the 1%

In the past few months, I have heard from teachers around the country that they are starting to get push-back from the top 1% of their students. This is especially the case for teachers who are in the process of transitioning a traditional program into a more inclusive CI model. I’m here to tell you all that you are doing great work.

You have kicked open the doors of a lavish country club and barged in with a mob of common people. You have integrated a swimming pool in an apartheid state. You have gone to a gated community, torn down the gates, and moved yourself into the neighborhood. Do you know who has a problem with that? The members of the country club, the ruling ethnic group in the apartheid state, and the wealthy inhabitants of the gated community.

The whole reason why they chose to occupy those spaces is because they are exclusive. That isn’t an unfortunate side effect, it’s the whole point. The point is to breath rarefied air in choice company. The point is gain entry into elite social circles and surround themselves with an ever shrinking circle of aristocrats. You have stolen that from them and they will not go away peacefully.

Please remember, that literally ALL of us have experienced this kind resistance. There is no way to avoid it. It stings out ego when our students tell us that we are failing them. Just remember that you are not failing the 1% by catering to 99%. The 1% have been failed by those who have lured them to Latin under the pretense that it was privilege for only a choice few. They have been failed by those who expect them to arrive in their classrooms with a skill-set that only 1% possess. They have been failed by those who have taught them that their fellow students are burdens to their individual success.

Keep your heads held high and continue to let the 99% stream into our classes. Continue to make your classes comprehensible for ALL students. Continue follow best practices and do the right thing. You are incredible teachers and you will get through this.

– Magister Bracey

The Real Reason Why I Teach with CI

I was having a conversation with a student on the bus ride back from a field trip. The student asked me why I wanted to be a Latin teacher. I have been asked this question a million times, but for some reason I had a new answer. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I very clearly realized why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place and how that path took my to CI.  Here was my answer…

     I wanted to take something, that had been hoarded by the few, and give it to the many.            That something for me was Latin.

My attraction to Comprehensible Input was not born out of a dispassionate analysis of Second Language Acquisition research, but out of my desire to make Latin for everyone. That desire preceded my interest in learning about SLA.

CI has allowed me to bust down the walls offer Latin to ALL with zero strings attached. I can now offer Latin to anyone who is interested and confidently guarantee that they will experience some kind of success. No one flunks out, no one is discouraged from entry, no one has to prove their worthiness to me.

This is the real reason why I teach with CI and why I am determined to help others who are motivated by the same set of values.

Why do you teach the way that you teach? Is your approach accomplishing your goals? Is what you are doing in the classroom compatible with your reason for becoming a teacher?


My Presentation at CI Midwest

I just gave a presentation this past weekend at Comprehensible Input Midwest in Milwaukee called “I See You! Building Connections with your Students of Color”. The presentation focused on using CI to build lasting connections to our current and future students of color. Here’s a link to the presentation. Please let me know if you have any questions!


– Magister Bracey

Limiting Beliefs to Lose before School Starts

Addition by subtraction is the name of this game. Like most of us, my brain is flooded with ideas and anxieties heading into a new school year. So, as a general practice, I like to start the new year by identifying limiting beliefs that are cluttering my brain space. How do I define limiting beliefs for Latin teachers? I define a limiting belief as any belief that inhibits my ability to make quality decisions for my students and myself. Here are some beliefs that I plan on purging before my first day of classes.

I need to prepare my kids for…

I can honestly say, that I have never made a decision, that I’m proud of, based on the desire to prepare my kids for a standardized assessment, some future class, some future or some future teacher. I am under no pressure other than to be the best possible teacher for my kids, so there is no reason for me to invent inappropriate external benchmarks.

I need to spend lots of time prepping materials to be a good teacher.

I need to show up, be present, and provide meaningful input for my students. They won’t mind if I don’t stay up until 4am re-formatting a document or color-coding their stories by theme.

I must silence the critics.

At this point, anything short of infants translating Tacitus into both literal and lilting English prose will NEVER impress the CI detractors out there, so there is no point in trying.

The purpose of learning Latin is…

There is no need to decide for our students why Latin is worth knowing. Latin is beautiful. My students will come to class with a variety of reasons for wanting access to Latin’s beauty. The class is about the kids and their goals, not mine.

But I want them to do it right!

Take a deep breath. Now take another one. If a student writes ego amat legit, they have clearly expressed IN LATIN that they like to read. Let that sink in. Now take another deep breath. Now smile.

What about Latinity!?

Who’s idea was Latinity anyway? This may not be a popular opinion, but my eyes glaze over as soon as I hear that word. Is the world somehow a worse place if I use the word meus instead of mihi when writing a story? Seriously! I am not going to waste hours of my life engaging in endless conversations about how to express the simplest ideas in Latin. The obsessive-compulsive nitpicking just isn’t worth it.

Comprehensible Input is not enough.

It is 🙂

– Magister Bracey



5 Reasons Why I Use Silly Stories

I have received a lot of questions, from Latin teachers in particular, about the use of silly stories in class. As a huge a proponent of using all kinds of stories in my classes, I feel compelled to explain my reasoning. I am hoping that this post will empower others, who wish to embrace silly stories in their own classes, to give it a try! So without further ado, here are 10 reasons why I use silly stories in my classes:

  1. They are compelling! It is no secret that not all input is created equal. In addition to being comprehensible, it is EQUALLY important that the input be compelling. Stephen Krashen himself often says that input should be compelling enough that the students forget that it’s in another language. Stories that involve students as characters and/or their own creative ideas are instantly compelling to most, if not all.
  2. Repetition without being repetitive. Silly stories are one way of providing lots of repetition of high-frequency vocabulary without having to re-read the same story ad nauseam. For example, instead of re-reading the myth of Narcissus in five different ways, why not read five different stories about characters falling in love with themselves? I have found that students are way more attentive to new stories than they are to new ways of reading the same story over again, even if they love the story.
  3. Low prep, high value. I do not have the executive functioning skills to be a high prep teacher in general, so I am always looking for activities that require minimal preparation and provide high-quality input. Silly stories are incredibly easy to make and kids really enjoy them. I’ll walk you through my process: 1) Pick something I want them to be able to read. 2) Copy and paste the text into a document. 3) Press Command + F and replace all of the character names, locations, and non-essential objects. 4) Repeat the process as many times as I want. That’s literally all I do.
  4. They lower the affective filter. Another essential Krashen theory is that of the affective filter. The idea is that a stressed human acquires less language than a relaxed one. Laughter and silliness are our most potent remedies for the stress and tension that our students bring with them to our classes. These silly stories can help keep the language acquisition process light and pleasurable for everyone involved.
  5. The cultural comparisons strand of our national standards. ACTFL describes cultural comparisons as, “Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.” Seemingly silly stories are a great way to tackle this, at times, difficult standard. Take the Narcissus story again. It is easy to make an alternate version of the story where a student falls in love with their own image on their phone. Students can then compare the ancient and modern American version of the myth.

Obviously, there are other great reasons to use silly stories, but these are my top five. Hopefully, this list will help you justify your practices to yourself and other. Ideally, this list will empower you to let loose and embrace the use of ridiculous stories in your classes.

-Magister Bracey


Welcome! My name is John Bracey and this is my blog about teaching Latin with Comprehensible Input. Follow me as I share my best tips, techniques, triumphs, and failures. Also, check out my musings on Second Language Acquisition, social justice, and inclusivity in the Latin classroom.