The Direct Method, the Natural Method: Latin teachers have been trying to move away from grammar-based teaching for a very long time. Hans Ørberg and contemporaries like the Polis Institute had many antecedents. One of these was the group of teachers inspired by WHD Rouse, who taught spoken Latin and Greek at the Perse School from around 1900.
Rouse is best known now for being one of the leading writers and editors of the Loeb Classical Library. However, he should also be known as a forerunner of today’s Living Latin movement.
WHD Rouse and his contemporaries gained quite a following, especially among women teachers, who gathered together annually as the Association for the Reform of Latin Teaching (ARLT). Summer schools were held at Bangor and elsewhere, where people began to learn how to teach Latin as a living language.
Books and materials began to appear, many of which you may know, if you are learning Latin today. RB Appleton published Fabulae Faciles, which can now be found at Gutenberg. There are also plays, including the Effie Ryle’s Olim, which we digitised at Latin Wikisource, alongside Cothvrnvlvs by Edward Vernon Arnold. There are course books explaining how to teach Latin through Latin, many of which you can find at the ARLT’s website.
Many of these books were published by G Bell & Sons. Catalogues appear at the start of each, which include references to a series of 16 colour Picture Cards, with excercises by Frank S Granger. Intrigued by this, I hunted down a set through eBay. You can see two examples on this blog.
The Latin on the reverse is at an intermediate level, and would certainly be challenging as a first attempt at spoken Latin. Nevertheless it would be interesting to see how these work in a classroom setting, if anyone wants to have a go, once we publish them!
Thankfully, the cards are out of copyright in the USA, so we will be able to publish them through Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource to make them more widely available. The copyright status of the images in the UK and Europe is less clear, as it does not seem possible to find out when the illustrator, John Williamson died, nor if the copyrights were held by his estate, or by Bell & Sons, although we attempted to get information from the successor companies who might have acquired the rights. Do get in touch if you have any information about this.
If you want to support us in our work hunting down and digitising public domain Latin learning materials, and creating new ones like our Latin World Map, please do support us on Patreon.com. Next we will be explaining our plan to produce a series of high quality Latin short videos by redubbing clips released by the German ZDF TV channel.