Students can use Old English to learn Old English.
Rather than memorizing verb paradigms by rote, students investigate the Old English verb system through immersion. Students read an edited excerpt from Ælfric’s Grammatica, which exists in Old English with interlinear Latin translations. Students use their knowledge of Old English pronunciation, as well as their knowledge of Modern English, to translate the work under the direction of the instructor’s questions.
As students read Ælfric’s primer on grammar, they make observations about how the Old English works, and they note how the Old English differs from the Latin. Students learn about the Old English verb system through first-hand experience, and they learn about cross-cultural contact. Students recognize differences between the two languages and see Ælfric struggling to translate Old English grammar into Latin terms. They see, for example, that Old English lacks a future tense, and they begin to think about how Roman imperialism and Christian conversion shaped the history of English.
After reading Ælfric, the instructor leads the students through an exercise that helps them conjugate the Old English verb bindan. Students view a slideshow that contains illustrated Old English conversations. Students repeat these conversations as the instructor reads them aloud, and students make observations about how the verb functions in each sentence.
Based on their observations, students fill out the conjugation chart attached to the Ælfric reading. Then, as part of their homework, students review the traditional verb paradigms found in Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Primer.