MOOC:  Archaeoschool for the future:
Teaching modern languages on ancient roots

Caterina Carpinato, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, carpinat@unive.its

The proposed Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)* developed by University of Ca'Foscari in Venice to support the purposes of the project.
A massive open online course is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web.[1] In addition to traditional course materials such as filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs provide interactive courses with user forums to support community interactions among students, professors, etc.

Everyone can register and follow this course!


Teaching modern languages on ancient roots

For generations a classical education was considered a privilege for the few, not the many, but now its revival in schools must be under way. Classical subjects equip pupils with grammar, critical thinking and language skills. Our project try to combine Archaeological and Linguistic Heritage with a correct impact of the new generation in front of the past, the present of every day life and the future. We also offer analysis of spoken languages (Italian, Catalan/Spanish, Modern Greek) and a reflection on the role of ancient Greek and Latin as vehicular languages in the past.

Our efforts are connected with:

  • Understanding of language structures of different linguistic levels, environmental impact assessment, examination of the internal elements of the languages, specific lexicology: archaeological context;
  • Evaluation of the use, evolution and transformation of the languages;
  • Proposals for the conscious use and conservation in the context of forced Anglicisation;
  • Understanding the present: archaeological and linguistic terminology;
  • Understanding the past: why and how the past is ideological connected with the present;
  • Building our future on the stones and on the words.

We prepared a specific handbook for the students of our Project and language lessons MOOC.

  • We think that basic knowledge of languages (even ancient Greek and Latin) is necessary:
  • To understand our language and our history;
  • To re-think the importance of studies of the evolutions of the national languages;
  • To understand  other languages and the “others”;
  • To understand why and when “ancient Greek” and “Latin” had the same function of English in ourdays life;
  • To read and understand ancient and modern documents in our country and in the countries of the Partners;
  • To know why the ancient Greeks and the Romans seem just like us, but they were also very different.
  • This help students to reflect about themselves and the lives of others: this is an important quality in our multicultural society.

The MOOC course aims to provide basic elements of four European languages (Italian, Spanish, Catalan and Modern Greek) There are three different steps: a introduction section (with 5 lessons on multilingualism, Ancient Greek and Latin), an intermediate section (in modern Greek, which is the presentation of the hole handbook) and a language section with the same materials in the four different languages (recordered by Italian Ca’ Foscari students on Carpinato’s texts). It aims to enhance European multilingualism and to raise students' awareness of the historical importance of languages and their evolution. The course provides some reflections on the role of the languages and the historical and cultural function of Ancient Greek and Latin in the Mediterranean, which were languages of culture, trade, power and exchanges. The main objective is to determine a conscious linguistic sensitivity: multilingualism is a precious resource rather than a barrier. A conscious linguistic sensitivity allows to develop the ability to analyze our mother tongue; to actively translate other foreign languages; to understand the history of the languages; to reflect on the common linguistic structures among the Indo-European languages; to enhance the dimension of multilingualism; to think about the role of the spoken languages of the present and of the past; to understand the historical-social and political importance of the active use of spoken languages (as an expression tool for civic coexistence).

The handbook Anche le pietre parlano was conceived as a useful teaching and language tool bringing together three different linguistic contexts (Spain, Italy and Greece), and more specifically the cities of Tarragona, Barcelona, Reus, Verona, Venice, Kalamata, Thuria and ancient Messene. This is where the participants in ARCHAEOSCHOOL FOR THE FUTURE live, study and work. This language and teaching tool is intended to help create a dialogue between students, teachers and families, as well as with those coming into contact with the various activities organised in the context of the overall project. During the three-year period, with face to face lessons, with skype contats and with the MOOC lessons the students involved have the opportunity to know a number of archaeological sites in their own cities and in the other cities taking part in the project, studying the monuments from art-historical and archaeological viewpoints and in the same time to learn basic words and structures of the four languages of the project. There will also be supplementary digital and linguistic learning activities.
The project combines the analysis of architectural remains from the past and courses in the languages spoken in the three participating countries in order to:
1. Raise a new awareness of archaeological heritage; make young people more aware of the traces of the past that have reached the present; promote the protection and enhancement of archaeological finds as well as of language tools;
2. teach students how to make active use of their own languages while respecting historical and linguistic traditions; promote knowledge of the basic elements of the languages in the countries involved in the project in order to reflect on the communication, human, historical, ideological and political value of the languages; to respect European multilingualism and languages used as vehicular languages in the past and present. Today we use standard English in order to understand each other but it is important that our students realise that in the past Greek, Latin as well as Italian and Spanish played an important political, cultural and ideological role.
To make the project more uniform we chose to focus on the Roman theatres in the participating cities and decided to offer the opportunity to take part in specific introductory language courses teaching the basics of the four languages spoken in the countries concerned: Italian, Spanish, Catalan and Modern Greek. During the second stage, there was an in-depth language course dedicated to Greek and Latin, the languages that gave rise to the languages currently spoken by the project partners: we used just a few poems (Sappho’s and Catullus’s) to introduce some information about Ancient Greek and Latin World and Languages.

The ultimate aim of this dialogue between the schools is to increase knowledge of the chosen monuments. The project intends to make participants aware of the need to protect the past and the present; and to transmit a perception of continuity to the new generations. A better perception and analysis of the past (and of the present) should help us to live at peace with ourselves and with the heritage that we have inherited from the past. Communication between project participants will of course be partly in English given that it is the lingua franca of the third millennium. However, we also need to foster the respect and promotion of multilingualism among our students, most of whom were born around 2000. So the dialogue between the program participants will also take place in the four languages spoken in the countries of the participants. We will try to reflect, together with the students, on the “historical-linguistic and archaeological chain” joining us to guarantee the protection of continuity with the past, respect for the present and the creation of a new awareness. It is our duty to guarantee a future to the historical-archaeological heritage and languages of the Mediterranean.
Structure of the teaching material: The volume is a multilingual teaching tool designed for this specific European project ARCHAEOSCHOOL FOR THE FUTURE. It represents an experimental teaching approach involving university lecturers and students and high school teachers and students.
The uniform teaching material is built up around a series of guidelines: 1. Knowledge of the basic elements of the project languages; 2. Basic knowledge of the archaeological sites belonging to the cultural, historical and geographical environment of the three areas in which the project is being carried out; 3. Basic knowledge of a number of broader cultural issues. The main aims are to ensure that the young people involved are: 1. Capable of analysing their surroundings in a more in-depth manner, equipping them with a broader linguistic and environmental awareness; 2. Capable of perceiving the traces of a shared linguistic heritage and the role that languages like Greek and Latin have played in the history of the Mediterranean; 3. Capable of reading and speaking a few phrases in the languages of the other project participants; 4. Aware that safeguarding historical and archaeological heritage and environment as well as defending multilingualism play a vital role both in the present and in the future.

The manual is divided into two sections: a beginner section in 4 languages (A1-2 Italian, Catalan, Spanish, and Modern Greek) and a second section for A2-B1 Modern Greek. The first section contains four teaching units dedicated to the cities in which the schools involved in the project are situated: Tarragona, Reus, Kalamata, Thuria and Verona. Each unit contains a brief presentation of the place concerned using dialogues, a number of activities and some basic information. In the final section, after the presentation of Verona, students are given the opportunity to talk about something that involves them directly using a basic glossary on love and falling in love. The first part of the introductory language section ends with Catullus, a first-century Latin poet from Verona. Two poems – Catullus 5 and Catullus 85 – are given in the original and in translation. Sappho’s Ode 31 V together with the Latin translation by Catullus (carmen LI) are presented as examples of a dialogue between different cultures, times and places. The purpose of leaving the texts in the original languages is not to interrupt the learning process but to try and stimulate the intellectual curiosity of the adolescents (some of whom have never studied ancient Greek or Latin) for whom this teaching tool is intended. Catullus and Sappho stand at the end of the path like “tutelary deities” or “fellow travellers” who will help to support students during this multilinguistic, multimedia and multifocal learning process.
We accompanied on our journey through the different languages and countries by six “friends”: Enric, 38-year-old teacher from Tarragona, Maria Josè, 15-year-old student from Tarragona, Paolo, 43-year-old archaeologist from Verona, Carla, 15-year-old student from Verona, Elena, 36-year-old researcher from Kalamata, Kostas, 16-year-old-student from Kalamata. Although our friends don’t really exist, they have a lot in common with the students and teachers participating in the program.