Dr. Stephen Berard gives Latin-language tours at Getty Villa
Dr. Stephen Berard, who teaches world languages, has been giving Latin-language tours of the world-famous Getty Villa in Los Angeles, Calif. The villa is a replica of a very large residence overlooking the Mediterranean near the ancient town of Herculaneum, Italy. The original villa and the town were buried in lava during the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E. that also destroyed Pompeii. The Getty Villa, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean near Malibu, belongs to the J. Paul Getty Foundation and now houses nothing but ancient Greek and Roman art both inside its historically accurately decorated rooms and in the surrounding peristyles and gardens.
In April of this year, Stephen was invited to give two tours of the villa for the southern section of the California Classical Association. In June he provided another two tours to interested members of the American Classical Association, whose annual meeting was being held at Loyola Marymount University on the west side of Los Angeles. Stephen’s collaboration with the Getty Villa staff has been so successful that he is planning to conduct more Latin tours of the villa for other groups in the future.
Stephen says that, since more and more people are currently learning and teaching Latin as a spoken language, tours of venues like the Getty Villa provide an ideal starting point for both teachers and students. Those guided are immersed in an environment that can be described by vocabulary with which they are already very familiar. In addition, the villa supplies ‘assistive learning devises’ that make it possible for all participants to hear the guide’s amplified voice directly in their ears, thus facilitating communication and avoiding disturbing the other guests.
“Using Latin as a spoken language,” Stephen says, “has been widely demonstrated to improve the reading and comprehension skills of those involved with this ‘perennial language’ which has been central to Western Civilization for over two millennia.”
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