Accademia Vivarium Novum - Latin Summer School in Rome

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bosch105
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Heyy to all you Classicists,
Okay, so I'm interested in signing up to attend the 'Accademia Vivarium Novum' in Rome this summer. According to the website it's an intensive Latin summer school which is either 4 or 8 weeks, depending on your starting ability (I do A-Level Latin, so I'd just do the last 4 weeks I think). It looks *amazing* but at quite a steep price I don't want to be blindly signing up for it, especially since there are other British courses which offer a similar experience. Also, their rules at times look pretty draconian, like not letting you leave campus and making you speak in Latin all the time??

Anyway, I have no clue. Has anyone been? How was it?
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abitmiffed
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I spent a very long time composing a long overdue answer to this question (I went on the course this summer and I regard it in retrospect as a colossal waste of time and money, and I really feel I must provide a corrective to the sense of amazement that both bosch105 and I garnered from the Accademia website). But the TSR Moderation Team didn't let it through, and I honestly can't understand why.
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Lucilou101
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(Original post by abitmiffed)
I spent a very long time composing a long overdue answer to this question (I went on the course this summer and I regard it in retrospect as a colossal waste of time and money, and I really feel I must provide a corrective to the sense of amazement that both bosch105 and I garnered from the Accademia website). But the TSR Moderation Team didn't let it through, and I honestly can't understand why.
Sorry to hear you had issues with the Mod queue, most likely it wasn't put through because all new member's posts are checked and it may have contained a link which might have been viewed as spam - if you give me the link to the original post, I can get this looked at

It sounds like you have useful information that would be great for the OP to hear, so it would be good if we can sort the post out.

To the OP - I would highly recommend the JACT courses, namely Wells for Latin. The teaching quality is of a very high standard and everyone I know has enjoyed it and developed their language skills immensely
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abitmiffed
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I can't find a link to the thing I wrote yesterday, but that's probably for the best because it was much too long. As I said, it's probably much too late for the original poster, but still a question very much in need of an answer for anyone who consults TSR in the future.

I went on the second month of this course this summer, and ended up deciding to leave a week early because it was so disappointing. The most crucial problem is the very impersonal way that they teach: there were about fifty people on the course, with a preposterous degree of variation in age and ability (they advertise it, so far as I can see, to seem attractive to both beginners and very experienced classicists); this group of fifty was simply divided into two classes, both moving at the same rate through the same textbook, with two teachers at the front of each class. The teachers are excellent, but because of the way in which they are deployed the teaching is not. The techniques very often felt patronizing and infantile, and whilst the website boasts an attractive array of authors that one would read, it turned out to be predominantly a prose version of the Aeneid and some slightly simplified Livy. I already have a reasonable proficiency at reading Latin, so I was hoping, as well as reading an interesting array of new texts, to have an opportunity to practise conversation (something, after all, that's just not done in Britain). Others were hoping to learn the rudiments of the language ab initio. All were taught at the same rate, some bored, some struggling. Most people made a valiant attempt at speaking Latin permanently, but there was not nearly enough intervention for this to be a worthwhile exercise, and there was no particular assistance in expressing modern concepts, which just made everything deeply impractical.

There was little to redeem the deficiencies of the teaching. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that the principal of the Accademia is ideologically opposed to fun. When I declared my resolve to leave and explained some of my reasons, one of the most solid things that I could point to was that there was no water in the swimming pool, something that had been explicitly promised. I don't even particularly care for swimming, but his response - that we were there to learn Latin and not the art of swimming - really made me cross, because the dichotomy between the two activities is unsound and ugly. In fact, when I said that I was bored at the Accademia, he insisted in a highly patronizing way that it was just taedium vitae, and despite knowing absolutely nothing about me shifted the blame from the deficiencies of his course to my own moral failings. After an incredibly successful and happy first year at Cambridge I was rather taken aback by the absurdity of the suggestion. But that was not all: I was told by one of the equally bored British students that after I left he discussed the reasons for my leaving with some of the others, and concluded that it must be my mother's fault.

They do openly state that any profits from the course will go to funding the school that they hold for young men (apparently the only demographic capable of changing the world) throughout the year, but the degree of disparity between the course fees and the course is really rather alarming.
Having gone in previous years to the JACT Greek course at Bryanston, I must say that I thoroughly recommend it and the no doubt similar one at Wells - close interaction with teachers (many of whom are university academics), a general sense of intellectual dignity, and the inclusion of fun. And cheaper, too.
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Hesperian
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I would agree with abitmiffed. I had the misfortune of attending the Accademia Vivarium Novum's full eight-week session this summer and also found it to be a colossal waste of time and money. Why is it so bad? All the reasons abitmiffed pointed out and then more. It is really a program intended for Italian high school students. If you read the founders book on Latin pedagogy you will find that it has really little to do with pedagogy as such and a whole lot about how to keep bored, disinterested teenagers entertained so that they will be more or less paying attention.

This is a very different demographic from your typical graduate student (of which there were a substantial number in attendance). Basically all the Accademia's method boils down to is reading the text aloud in class, acting out the reading as a comic skit, and evening sing-along sessions. They make even the most inappropriate historical episodes into comic skits, including the Rape of Lucretia which they insisted on acting out using their beloved "full body response" method. Needless to say, this resulted in one of the most inappropriate moments I have ever witnessed inside a classroom-- or really anywhere.

And as abitmiffed more or less pointed out, they do not actually teach you to speak Latin, they just tell you to speak Latin when you arrive and then leave your to your own resources. This leads to an educational situation which is very much the blind leading the blind among the students. Why isn't the Accademia frank about the kind of program that it offers? Because there are not enough Italian high schools students interested in paying 5,000 euros for the Accademia's Latin Summer Camp and so they have crafted a fly-trap of a website to lure in the broadest possible demographic to fill all those extra seats. And while the money may not go for "profit," the founder does have bold ambitions of living in a Renaissance palazzo in Frascati where he will run his school (he even took us there on a field trip to see the opulence our tuition money was subsidizing). That sort of ambition is expensive and that money has to come from somewhere--- it could be you! For my part, I feel truly cheated, robbed even. But there is no chance getting your money back.

One of the students had an immediate family member die during the program and they even refused to refund his money for his remaining time there. The Accademia is ran by those kind of people. They are also extraordinary arrogant people. Staggeringly so. Over the course of the program they amazingly proceeded to ignore more and more students, any students they did not like, both inside and outside of class, so that by the end of the program they were only ever calling upon the same 5 or so students in a class of 35. And abitmiffed, I would recommend you share your experience on other forums as well. There is a yelp and google page for the Accademia and there might be a trip adviser page as well. It is an expensive program and people deserve to know what they are really getting for their quid. This is the era of social media. It is time the Accademia understood what that means. PS Truly terrible food and rooms too. Really really bad.
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abitmiffed
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Thank you for backing me up - it's difficult to be a lone voice crying out in the wilderness, but I'm very sure our experiences were representative of most people there. Despite not recovering any of the course fees and being in the very awkward position of having to explain it to the college authorities who gave me a grant specifically to fund them, leaving early was one of the most relieving things I've ever done, and I know others who would have done it if their finances had permitted it. I'm really at a loss to understand why nobody's posted any negative testimonials on the internet before, but I don't want anyone else in my position to make the same mistake.
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MarcosTindo
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Frankly, I could not disagree more with what has been said here. I am a classicist, a PhD student, I am not Italian and I had a wonderful experience at the Academia this year. It is completely untrue that we only read some adapted Virgil and Livy. There were several unadapted texts even in the first month (maybe you should have noticed that the "sing-along lessons" were actual classical poems being sung).
I also do not know of any situation when the staff and the teachers were in any way rude, disrespectful or even patronising towards me or any of my fellow students who have since become my friends. I am sure that, if it ever really happened to any of you, it is not how they generally treat students. Amongst those I'm still in touch with, I know for certain that two of them were unable to speak a single sentence in Latin on the first day and now we only talk in Latin. I cannot see how this could have been achieved if there was no support to spoken fluency during the Summer course. But I know that some of the English-speaking students took a while longer to be able to speak in Latin because they kept speaking English all the time (which is obviously not the school's fault).
And about the palazzo, maybe you missed the explanation they gave us, but the Academia is not buying it: it belongs to the Italian government and they are just letting the Academia use it because they're a registered non-profit organisation. You should check your facts before accusing someone like that.
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Sappho19
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I am going to back Mark Tindo. I do not speak any Italian (or any other Romance languages for that matter). I have benefitted from the course; it has made me more confident about a language that I did not study in high school but only started about a year back. Latin (whether anyone likes it or not) is indeed closer to Italian and it is not the fault of Italian speakers! None of the teachers, however, spoke Italian in the academy.
The methods they use in Accademia Vivarium novum is similar to those that are used to teach modern languages: to make students speak the language right from the beginning even with limited vocabulary and grammar. If you join any respectable summer schools in any of the modern languages, you will see a similar approach.
Regarding the teachers, they were very helpful every time I approached them. Whenever I voiced concerns about anything in the academy, it was dealt with pretty swiftly. Some students just did not make the effort to ask for help; they expected the teachers and the teaching assistants to come to them to solve their problems. Maybe it is a case of being shy but it is hard for the teachers and teaching assistants to follow the students around to check if anyone needed help. In fact, there was always someone in the classrooms to help students with assignments after classes. We also had optional evening sessions where we read Lucretius and Virgil. The academy tried their best to cater to the needs of the students.
Mark Tindo and I were in the same class and I would say I learnt more by being in a class with someone like him, who has better Latin than I do. It certainly pushed me harder. After all, the language school is meant to be demanding. The website states this pretty clearly and also that students need to devote time to self-study between classes. Some students preferred to while away their time complaining and malign the academy and the teachers, and I strongly feel that they really could have saved their money and time by staying away from the summer school.
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ndelwic
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While I believe the post directly above gives a wholly satisfying as well as thorough and accurate account of the summer program at the Accademia Vivarium Novum, I should express that these opinions are not unique. I likewise am a student at Harvard University (in fact the brother of the above poster) who completed the two month long summer program at the Accademia Vivarium Novum.

To put my experience simply, I was thoroughly amazed at what a difference two months in this program makes. While I had studied Latin in high school for several years, by the time I arrived in Rome this summer, it had been an almost full two years since I had even glanced at forms, let alone original Latin texts. My Latin comprehension was sorely lacking, and I struggled in the beginning to form basic two-word sentences. Only because of Accademia Vivarium Novum’s unique teaching method, however, was I able to make tremendous progress in reading, writing, speaking, and, perhaps most of all, appreciating ancient texts in their original language. ‘Trdelwic’ has already adequately described the teaching method, but I should reiterate that the method is, in no uncertain terms, profound. By speaking and hearing Latin throughout the day—in classes, meals,games, and even bathrooms—you begin to understand the language both more rapidly and thoroughly than ever before. To be clear, the summer program iscertainly not easy. Much throughout the first week, I struggled to acclimate tothe learning environment, and mostly remained silent. Quickly, however things changed, as we gradually learned more sophisticated structures to express our ideas and read those of poets and Roman historians. Now, I stay in touch with manystudents I met this summer, communicating exclusively in Latin.

Fundamentally, the culture the academy cultivates towards academic and humanist pursuits leaves it uniquely positioned to offer an unparalleled grasp of the Latin language. In place of pedantic quizzes and hand wrangling over obscure grammatical forms, the living Latin approach organically introduces students not to some ancient puzzle, but rather to, perhaps unsurprisingly, an actual language. Those who arrive at theacademy expecting the same teaching styles as American high schools and someuniversities will likely face disappoint. But until you experience how theacademy functions, you cannot fully appreciate its true uniqueness. Where else in the world will professors teach Latin in Latin, Ancient Greek in Ancient Greek? In which other university do students sing original Latin poems and read original texts for hours a day, truly appreciating their emotive and aesthetic elements? And most of all, unless you transport yourself back a few centuries,I doubt you will find a community where students from all across the world useLatin as their communal language.
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username638250
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(Original post by MarcosTindo)
Frankly, I could not disagree more with what has been said here. I am a classicist, a PhD student, I am not Italian and I had a wonderful experience at the Academia this year. It is completely untrue that we only read some adapted Virgil and Livy. There were several unadapted texts even in the first month (maybe you should have noticed that the "sing-along lessons" were actual classical poems being sung).
I also do not know of any situation when the staff and the teachers were in any way rude, disrespectful or even patronising towards me or any of my fellow students who have since become my friends. I am sure that, if it ever really happened to any of you, it is not how they generally treat students. Amongst those I'm still in touch with, I know for certain that two of them were unable to speak a single sentence in Latin on the first day and now we only talk in Latin. I cannot see how this could have been achieved if there was no support to spoken fluency during the Summer course. But I know that some of the English-speaking students took a while longer to be able to speak in Latin because they kept speaking English all the time (which is obviously not the school's fault).
And about the palazzo, maybe you missed the explanation they gave us, but the Academia is not buying it: it belongs to the Italian government and they are just letting the Academia use it because they're a registered non-profit organisation. You should check your facts before accusing someone like that.
(Original post by Sappho19)
I am going to back Mark Tindo. I do not speak any Italian (or any other Romance languages for that matter). I have benefitted from the course; it has made me more confident about a language that I did not study in high school but only started about a year back. Latin (whether anyone likes it or not) is indeed closer to Italian and it is not the fault of Italian speakers! None of the teachers, however, spoke Italian in the academy.
The methods they use in Accademia Vivarium novum is similar to those that are used to teach modern languages: to make students speak the language right from the beginning even with limited vocabulary and grammar. If you join any respectable summer schools in any of the modern languages, you will see a similar approach.
Regarding the teachers, they were very helpful every time I approached them. Whenever I voiced concerns about anything in the academy, it was dealt with pretty swiftly. Some students just did not make the effort to ask for help; they expected the teachers and the teaching assistants to come to them to solve their problems. Maybe it is a case of being shy but it is hard for the teachers and teaching assistants to follow the students around to check if anyone needed help. In fact, there was always someone in the classrooms to help students with assignments after classes. We also had optional evening sessions where we read Lucretius and Virgil. The academy tried their best to cater to the needs of the students.
Mark Tindo and I were in the same class and I would say I learnt more by being in a class with someone like him, who has better Latin than I do. It certainly pushed me harder. After all, the language school is meant to be demanding. The website states this pretty clearly and also that students need to devote time to self-study between classes. Some students preferred to while away their time complaining and malign the academy and the teachers, and I strongly feel that they really could have saved their money and time by staying away from the summer school.
(Original post by trdelwic)
While we are on the topic of discussing the Accademia Vivarium Novum, I thought I would share my own experience. First off, I am Theodore Delwiche and I recently studied at the academy during the two month long summer program.

I am a classics major at Harvard University and have been fortunate enough to study Latin for a number of years under quite good instructors. Even so, I always did find it peculiar that friends studying modern languages could become fluent in a matter of years, or months if they visited a modern country, while the dwindling pack of classicists could never do anything similar. One can take Latin for 6 years and still not be able to enjoy a verse from Virgil without a dusty lexicon nearby. Latin is often taught as an artifact, an incredibly dense relic, menacing to the mind of the modern student. I sought out the Accademia Vivarium Novum to fundamentally change my understanding and appreciation for Latin as an actual language. And in just one summer, I was able to do that, to now read Cicero or Livy or Horace and not toil over what use of the subjunctive that may be, to now write emails in Latin and have seamless conversations with friends from the academy in Latin.

The teachers at the academy are, with no degree of hyperbole, world class. Here are people who have been speaking Latin for 10, 20, or 30 years. What’s more, they know how to teach :atin in an engaging and lively manner. It is true that the method employed at the academy is different from most students are used to. I, for one, had never been accustomed to skits and performances during class, but I quickly understood the utility of them. By acting out scenes in either Familia Romana or Roma Aeterna, students are able to at once comprehend the plot of the passage, so that when we reread through it again to learn new grammar points, we are not struggling with basic questions of what’s happening. Moreover, there was often time room for improvisation or exercises in the skit (e.g. convert what is written in the book as an indirect statement, into a direct statement. or, let’s think of different ways of expressing this sentiment). Finally, the skits were very helpful when it came to retaining vocabulary. I found that when I was doing exercises (the academy provides you with 2 books in the first month of exercises, and one in the second), there wasn’t ever a need for flashcards because I had almost unknowingly committed to memory so many of the new vocabulary words during class. The exercises, thus, were great for fine tuning the usage of those new words, going over new grammar points, and writing out your own sentences in Latin.

There were not any formal tests or examinations during the summer, a refreshing twist for me that enabled a certain zeal for learning for learning’s sake, not merely for receiving a high mark (however enticing, but often deceptive those are…). The exercises, though, were great metrics to measure your progress or how well you were grasping the new material. And when you had difficulty, the teachers as well as students who had studied for an entire previous year in the academy were always able to provide help. Throughout the summer, I must have asked all the teachers questions at some point, and probably ten different of the students who studied there for an entire year (I also still regularly keep in contact with some students from the academy). For some students who were having more difficulty with the Latin, many of the teachers and students provided private, additional tutoring/instructional sessions.

Besides Latin classes, there were also ancient Greek classes and classes for Latin instructors. Additionally, we had games and songs every night, in which we read quite a number of poems from Catullus, Horace, Ovid, and Virgil (additionally in class and on field trips, we read Cicero, Sallust, Livy, and numerous other authors— all more or less original texts aside from the Livy in the Roma Aeterna book which started off with a few omissions and changes here and there, but after not a long time, was pure and unchanged).

On Sundays, we would routinely make trips around Italy to visit ancient ruins and sites. These were of great value for me, someone who is studied classics for many years but never actually visited Rome.

In terms of the accommodations of the academy, I found them very reasonable. Yes, Italy was quite hot and humid, but the academy did provide fans for all students. What’s more, our laundry was done for us close to twice a week, and our towels and sheets in our room changed, as well as our bathrooms routinely cleaned. The library and both classrooms were air conditioned, so that when you were studying you did have any trouble concentrating. While the pool did not have water during the summer, there was a full size basketball court students often made use of (my brother and I, of course, every day).

In terms of the food, I was quite pleased and impressed. Breakfast consists of yogurt, granola, tea, coffee, cereal, fruit, and pastries. Lunch always had some pasta or rice dish at the start, then some type of vegetable, a meat dish, and a dish for vegetarians (which I am, and never was I disappointed with the vegetarian options). Dinner was set up in the same way (but also had wine for those who wished), and fruit always followed lunch and dinner. Furthermore, the academy always celebrated student’s birthdays with cake, and students were given the opportunity to deliver Latin (and for those bold, ancient Greek) speeches. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the dinner at the conclusion of the first and second month, which had very nice cheeses, meats, seafood, and vegetables.

At the end of the program, we received quite a number of additional Latin books (Caesar, Sallust, Cicero) so that we could continue to fine tune and expand our Latin knowledge. In my Latin coursework at Harvard in recent weeks, I have found myself turning to my collection of books from the academy. Many students also exchanged their email and other contact information so that we may all continue to communicate with another in Latin (in fact, just the other week I received an email from a 13 year old American kid half away across the country who never before studied Latin, but now is able to write messages in Latin easily enough).

[if anyone would like to discuss the academy more, simply send me a message]
Seems very fishy how three people managed to respond defending the place with a few claiming to be at Harvard with one post each and two of you claiming to be brothers. Who at Harvard goes on TSR anyway?
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Doones
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(Original post by yl95)
Seems very fishy how three people managed to respond defending the place with a few claiming to be at Harvard with one post each and two of you claiming to be brothers. Who at Harvard goes on TSR anyway?
Indeed.

(And when I posted in this thread earlier, raising a similar concern, it was deleted.)
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I too have answered to this post, but for some reason my response hasn't appeared yet. Theodore and Noah are twin brothers and Marcos is a Brazilian studient. They were all with me and many other people in the academy this summer. You can easily spot me in the Facebook pictures that are on the net. In the front page you can see me squatting, I'm the guy with beard and wearing a blue T-shirt. Noah and Theodore are avobe me wearing glasses. That day we went to the via Apia. All the people who are there in the picture, as far as I know, and almost every one I talked To during those two months, were extremely happy with the academy and, before leaving, expresed their gratitude to the teachers for their exceptional attention and the enormous quality of the lessons they received.
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(Original post by igescobar)
I too have answered to this post, but for some reason my response hasn't appeared yet. Theodore and Noah are twin brothers and Marcos is a Brazilian studient. They were all with me and many other people in the academy this summer. You can easily spot me in the Facebook pictures that are on the net. In the front page you can see me squatting, I'm the guy with beard and wearing a blue T-shirt. Noah and Theodore are avobe me wearing glasses. That day we went to the via Apia. All the people who are there in the picture, as far as I know, and almost every one I talked To during those two months, were extremely happy with the academy and, before leaving, expresed their gratitude to the teachers for their exceptional attention and the enormous quality of the lessons they received.
Interesting. So what drew your attention to this thread and encouraged you to create an account yesterday on a site you haven't been active on until now?

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(Original post by jneill)
Interesting. So what drew your attention to this thread and encouraged you to create an account yesterday on a site you haven't been active on until now?

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Ah just noticed that the people criticising it only have a few posts each.

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Doones
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(Original post by yl95)
Ah just noticed that the people criticising it only have a few posts each.

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Yup. And the Academy "supporters" too. That was my concern...
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igescobar
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[QUOTE=jneill;59536715]Interesting. So what drew your attention to this thread and encouraged you to create an account yesterday on a site you haven't been active on until now?


Jneill, I may be new on this forum, but so are Hesperian and Abitmefedd. Pm me if you want. I can give you all the proofs you want me to convince you I was there, and that it was my first time. I may understand Hesperian and Abitmefedd are not happy with the academy. After all it is their opinion and they are entitled to have it. But what they say about the teachers is, to put it simply, a lie, and they know it. These teachers are good honest people who have dedicated their whole life to the job they are doing, have an enormous talent, and are eager to help their students. The only reason I can imagine that Hesperian and Abitmefedd have for describing them as a kind of fraud is their intention to harm them and the academia. Why they want to do this is something I honestly don't know.
Recently the teachers of the academy imparted a course in Madrid: Caelum, III cursus aestivus latinitatis vivae martinets. If anyone here speaks or reads Spanish just google it and you will see how serous, well organised and intense it was.
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igescobar
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I understand that the answer I wrote yesterday is being checked because I leaved a link:
I shall try for the third time to rewrite it here and let the people who read this forum have their own conclusions (moderators, please feel free to delete my previous attempts):

I agree with every word Theodore, Marcos and Sapho19 have stated here. I am Ignacio Escobar and spent two months this summer in the Academia with them. Although I had previously read and done most of the exercises of Familia Romana I am one of those who had never spoken a single word of Latin before I arrived in Vivarium Novum. Now I can easily talk, read and write in Latin and, although I still am a beginner compared to the teachers and yearly students of the Academia, I can proudly say that I've been admitted in the highest group of students in another academia here in Madrid, 'Latín vivo en Madrid' related to the highly prestigious Circulus Latinus Matritensis. None of these would have ever been possible without the fantastic lessons and continuous help I received in the Academia Vivarium Novum. Without any hesitation, those have been the best classes I have ever attended in my life. Perhaps not everyone shares my good feelings about the Academia, but I regard what Hesperian has stated about the teacher's character and disposition as a slander, and feel absolutely outraged by this. It is simply untrue that we had no one to help us while we spoke latin. To begin with, there were the teachers, who lived with us, ate with us and talked with us every single time we wanted them to. I have spent many dinners with Eusebius talking (in Latin, of course) about art and music and listened to the fantastic tales and highly entertaining experiences that Gerardus used to tell us while we were eating with him. In addition, more than ten students who had already studied there (and who spoke latin better than any latin teacher I had ever seen before) were constantly with us after the classes, also living in the Academia, and always eager to lend us a helping hand. It may have happened that Abidmiffed and Hesperian experiences weren't as good as they expected, which is something that regrettably happens many times (as nothing in this world can be expected to be liked by everyone), but their experiences are not representative of most of those who were there: actually theirs are such an exception that no one I've met and talked with in the Academia (almost everyone) ever noticed. Speak for yourself Hesperian, if you didn't like the Academia, but you are simply lying when you pretend to be the voice of the rest of the group. No one was bored there, no one disappointed. Look at the faces in the pictures on the Academia’s Facebook. There you can find Agustinus, Ludmila, Spe, Ana, Clara, Theodorus and many others. Do we look like we were sad or bored? We were constantly laughing and learning in class. Those 'theatrical representations' done in them were crucial for understanding the texts we were facing and, what is most important, they were absolutely fun. I myself (with my beard and hairy legs) played the role of Lucretia, which was one of the things that we constantly joked about (once again, in Latin of course). Let me insist on this: when you pretend to suggest everybody was bored and disappointed you are simply being untrue. May I add something else? Faciam libenter: if someone doesn’t end up speaking Latin there, it is because they never tried it (actually they may have even tried to avoid it). After two months in the Academia, it is almost imposible not to have learnt at least the most rudimentary things anyone needs to speak latin. I have seen children of ten and youngsters of sixteen years old end up this summer speaking latin fairly good, even better than some of the mates I am right now studying with in Madrid, in the academy I have just mentioned before.Many of us who were this summer in Rome are now friends of the teachers and students who were there with us: hodie ego fuit *** Alphonso hic Madriti, uno ex illis discipulis qui erant in Academia, et qui nos cotidie adiuvare solebant. Tempus trivimus per tres longas horas sine pausa de multis rebus loquendo latine, et iam habemus diem statutum ad magis magisque exercendum. (I was today here in Madrid with Alfonsus, one of those students who were in the academy and who used to help us daily. We spent the time talking Latin for three hours in a row about many different things, and we have already set a day in order to exercise more and more). Now, these words I have just written may be not those of Cicero, not even those of Luigi Miraglia. They may even have faults because, still, there is a lot ahead for me to learn. But they are certainly those of someone who wouldn't even had been able to elaborate one simple Latin sentence before summer, and who now, thanks to Luigi Miraglia and the rest of the wonderful team of teachers the Academia has, has started speaking Latin, is already able to read (slowly but effectively) Cicero, Cesar and Sallustius, and won't stop until he finishes acquiring the level of knowledge he found in every single one of those students who had already studied there for just nine months.
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(Original post by igescobar)
I understand that the answer I wrote yesterday is being checked because I leaved a link:
I shall try for the third time to rewrite it here and let the people who read this forum have their own conclusions (moderators, please feel free to delete my previous attempts):

I agree with every word Theodore, Marcos and Sapho19 have stated here. I am Ignacio Escobar and spent two months this summer in the Academia with them. Although I had previously read and done most of the exercises of Familia Romana I am one of those who had never spoken a single word of Latin before I arrived in Vivarium Novum. Now I can easily talk, read and write in Latin and, although I still am a beginner compared to the teachers and yearly students of the Academia, I can proudly say that I've been admitted in the highest group of students in another academia here in Madrid, 'Latín vivo en Madrid' related to the highly prestigious Circulus Latinus Matritensis. None of these would have ever been possible without the fantastic lessons and continuous help I received in the Academia Vivarium Novum. Without any hesitation, those have been the best classes I have ever attended in my life. Perhaps not everyone shares my good feelings about the Academia, but I regard what Hesperian has stated about the teacher's character and disposition as a slander, and feel absolutely outraged by this. It is simply untrue that we had no one to help us while we spoke latin. To begin with, there were the teachers, who lived with us, ate with us and talked with us every single time we wanted them to. I have spent many dinners with Eusebius talking (in Latin, of course) about art and music and listened to the fantastic tales and highly entertaining experiences that Gerardus used to tell us while we were eating with him. In addition, more than ten students who had already studied there (and who spoke latin better than any latin teacher I had ever seen before) were constantly with us after the classes, also living in the Academia, and always eager to lend us a helping hand. It may have happened that Abidmiffed and Hesperian experiences weren't as good as they expected, which is something that regrettably happens many times (as nothing in this world can be expected to be liked by everyone), but their experiences are not representative of most of those who were there: actually theirs are such an exception that no one I've met and talked with in the Academia (almost everyone) ever noticed. Speak for yourself Hesperian, if you didn't like the Academia, but you are simply lying when you pretend to be the voice of the rest of the group. No one was bored there, no one disappointed. Look at the faces in the pictures on the Academia’s Facebook. There you can find Agustinus, Ludmila, Spe, Ana, Clara, Theodorus and many others. Do we look like we were sad or bored? We were constantly laughing and learning in class. Those 'theatrical representations' done in them were crucial for understanding the texts we were facing and, what is most important, they were absolutely fun. I myself (with my beard and hairy legs) played the role of Lucretia, which was one of the things that we constantly joked about (once again, in Latin of course). Let me insist on this: when you pretend to suggest everybody was bored and disappointed you are simply being untrue. May I add something else? Faciam libenter: if someone doesn’t end up speaking Latin there, it is because they never tried it (actually they may have even tried to avoid it). After two months in the Academia, it is almost imposible not to have learnt at least the most rudimentary things anyone needs to speak latin. I have seen children of ten and youngsters of sixteen years old end up this summer speaking latin fairly good, even better than some of the mates I am right now studying with in Madrid, in the academy I have just mentioned before.Many of us who were this summer in Rome are now friends of the teachers and students who were there with us: hodie ego fuit *** Alphonso hic Madriti, uno ex illis discipulis qui erant in Academia, et qui nos cotidie adiuvare solebant. Tempus trivimus per tres longas horas sine pausa de multis rebus loquendo latine, et iam habemus diem statutum ad magis magisque exercendum. (I was today here in Madrid with Alfonsus, one of those students who were in the academy and who used to help us daily. We spent the time talking Latin for three hours in a row about many different things, and we have already set a day in order to exercise more and more). Now, these words I have just written may be not those of Cicero, not even those of Luigi Miraglia. They may even have faults because, still, there is a lot ahead for me to learn. But they are certainly those of someone who wouldn't even had been able to elaborate one simple Latin sentence before summer, and who now, thanks to Luigi Miraglia and the rest of the wonderful team of teachers the Academia has, has started speaking Latin, is already able to read (slowly but effectively) Cicero, Cesar and Sallustius, and won't stop until he finishes acquiring the level of knowledge he found in every single one of those students who had already studied there for just nine months.
Do you really refer to each other as the 'Latinised' names?...
Also that is a long ass paragraph!

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Doones
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(Original post by yl95)
Do you really refer to each other as the 'Latinised' names?...
Also that is a long ass paragraph!

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Yup, it seems classicists don't do paragraphs.

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My name is Fernando de Morais,a.k.a Ferdinandus, and I too attended the Summer School program at Vivarium Novum this year. I’d like to briefly summarize my experience there by adressing some specific points raised by abitmiffed and Hesperian.

Abitmiffed said:

1. “the website boasts an attractive array of authors that one would read, it turned out to be predominantly a prose version of the Aeneid andsome slightly simplified Livy.”

R. That’s simply not true. We read original texts from thevery first week. Of course you wouldn’t know it, because you were not there by that time. But a lot of students just missed these texts because they consistently skipped the classes in which we would have them read and explained.

2. “Most peoplemade a valiant attempt at speaking Latin permanently”,

R. Exactly. And some did not. Guess who benefited from the course.

3. “but there was not nearly enough intervention for this to bea worthwhile exercise, and there was no particular assistance in expressingmodern concepts, which just made everything deeply impractical”

R. As for me, I had every help I asked for in expressing whatever concept I wanted, from day-to-day objects and activities to some more complex Ideas. One of the tutors and I, for instance, used to exercise by translating modern songs into Latin. So I don’t understand what you mean by “no assistance”. All you had to do to get some assistance was to ask for it.

If you meant, though, that having talked more Latin in class would have helped us, then I would totally agree. But bear in mind that our classes already had a lot of conversation implied, e. g. when teachers would pose questions to us and anyone willing to do so could answer. They used to do this all the time while reading the texts. Unfortunately some students would never try answering those questions and just kept silent during the entire class.

4. “When I declared my resolve toleave and explained some of my reasons, one of the most solid things that Icould point to was that there was no water in the swimming pool, something thathad been explicitly promised.”

R. Quite the contrary, I believe the lack of water in the swimming pool is one of the most liquid points of yours. You are absolutely right,of course. The swimming pool was dry as a desert. But it is quite telling that most solid (let’s say it is, since the water was lacking) and only undisputable point you made has nothing to do with teaching or anything relevant for the matter.

5. “I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that theprincipal of the Accademia is ideologically opposed to fun”

R. Really? Ok, so just to prove how seriously I take this assertion I will examine it on the light of what Hesperian has to say. Wait a little bit, please.

Hesperian said:

1. “It is really a program intended for Italian high school students”.

R. I am neither Italian nor highschooler and I pretty much enjoyed the program.

2. “If you read the founders book on Latin pedagogy you will find that it has really little to do with pedagogy as such and a whole lot about how to keep bored, disinterested teenagers entertained”

R. I am sorry, Hesperian, but this cannot be. Entertaining teens would dangerously lead to some kind of fun, and the principal of the Accademia, as we learned from our friend above, is ideologically opposed to fun.

So, since you and abitmiffed cannot both be right on this, I would invite you guys to consider the possibility of you being both wrong. It is clear to me that you analyze this – either the principal’s ideology or the school’s pedagogy – under a rather subjective, distorted perspective. Your complaints may look sound and fair to you because they somehow express your frustration,but they simply cannot correspond to same object, or any object at all.

3. “Basically all the Accademia's method boils down to is reading the textaloud in class, acting out the reading as a comic skit, and evening sing-alongsessions”.

R. You obviously have not been able to realize how much thought and preparation are put even in the most modest procedure you so contemptuously described.

4.“They make even the most inappropriate historical episodes into comic skits, including the Rape of Lucretia which they insisted on actingout using their beloved "full body response" method. Needless to say,this resulted in one of the most inappropriate moments I have ever witnessedinside a classroom-- or really anywhere.”

R. Well, I was there too, and I saw nothing inappropriate about it. We had two men performing the scene in which Tarquinius enters Lucretia’s bedroom and, showing his sword, tells her to shut up. And that wasall. The rest was of course not performed but read from the textbook. The funny moment was provided by a bearded guy trying to look convincing as beatiful Lucretia.But the funniest scene I saw much later, during dinner, whena guy who had not even attended class that day wouldn’t stop complaining about how inappropriate and misogynist the scene was.

5. “And as abitmiffed more or less pointed out, they do not actually teachyou to speak Latin, they just tell you to speak Latin when you arrive and thenleave your to your own resources”.

R. Nine and a half hours of classes every day (or just sixand a half for those not attending greek and teaching classes), plus tutoring sessions, exercises, extra night classes and even private classes for anyone requiring it are really nothing?

6. “ the founder does have bold ambitions of living in a Renaissancepalazzo in Frascati where he will run his school (...)That sort of ambition isexpensive and that money has to come from somewhere--- it could be you!”

R. This is just a vacuous, malicious comment.

7. “They are also extraordinary arrogant people”.

R. And all those arrogant people, the founder included, would serve the tables for lunch and dinner every day, while the students would humbly sit and be served, as it seems, in deep humiliation.

8. “Truly terrible food and rooms too”

R. The food is not very varied but is good, well-prepared and delicious. As about the rooms, the only serious issue is that most of them get really, really hot during summer. The reason is rather obvious. The school tried its best to minimize the discomfort (e.g providing fans), but the summer proved to be invincible.

Of course Hesperian would never consider the possibility that the founder’s ambition of moving to Villa Falconieri may have actually nothing to do with living as a Renaissance prince but with providing better facilities to students.
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