The main part of the lesson was introducing the Latin version of the song through pre-reading exercises. The exercises included each student having a worksheet with the song and they had to colour- code the different parts of speech. They also had to write down any words they could work out, but also to identify the subjects and direct objects in the sentences. This exercise allowed the students to show all that they had learnt in Latin so far and they completed it fairly easily. In groups they translated the song and they could link the Latin vocabulary with its English meaning in the song. After discussing the translation as a class, we played Splat using the vocabulary from the song. Splat is one my class's most beloved games. The students really enjoy the competitive element and it is a great way for the students to learn the vocabulary quickly. Since the students completed the worksheet with time to spare, we played charades using the vocabulary from the song. Charades brought a more active aspect to the lesson and the children always enjoy acting out some of the words. It also helped the students learn the vocabulary.
And lastly, of course we sang ‘rudolphus rubrinasus’. We started with a repetition of saying each line to help with their pronunciation and then we moved onto singing. We sang as a class first, practicing a few times and fitting the Latin words in with the rhythm of the music and then we moved on to one group singing the first verse, then the next group singing the second. The class did really well learning the song and they seemed to thoroughly enjoy singing.
Initially I was worried the students may be too shy to sing out loud or would feel embarrassed. But they completely surprised me by really putting in effort and not being apprehensive at all unlike myself when required to sing in front of people. I think because the song is so well known they could immediately connect with it. The students showed confidence in this lesson which was great and they were more willing to ask questions about certain Latin words.
Overall the lesson went very well. I think the pre-reading exercises are essential to learning a text like this because it helped ease them into using Latin. Sometimes when confronted with a hand-out with a fairly long text, they students seem to worry and expect it to be too hard for them to understand. But because the Christmas song is so well known they just took it in their stride and tried their best looking at the Latin text.
If anyone wants to use this lesson, I would suggest introducing some information on Roman religion to build awareness of Roman culture. You could also act out the song as a mini- musical. Cast students as the reindeers, Rudolph, Santa Clause and so on and they could act out the story while others sing the song. You could include arts and crafts by giving the students an opportunity to make costumes or masks, or even musical instruments to use when singing the song.
Written by Natasha Westwood, 24 March 2014