I had just headed over to Perseus to look up a Greek verb (I thought it looked like a 3rd s. pres. ind. m/p contract verb, but I wanted to double check because verbs are definitely a weak point for me). Since Perseus parses things for me, I use it as a crutch all the time (horrible of me, I know). On the home page, there was a link to this article. It doesn’t say anything most of us who use Perseus don’t already know, but it does make some valid points about the pedagogical aspects of letting Latin students use it. I know when I was learning Latin, I produced horrible horrible word salad largely because when I was in a rush, I would use the click and scribble method to get my translations done on time. Actually, it wasn’t until I started using Hans Orberg’s Lingua Latina as a summer study tool in college that I started producing anything coherent and started reading Latin in any sort of natural way (that being said, my high school Latin teacher was an absolute star and deserves every teaching award they give).
Anyway, two years ago I started tutoring (insert shameless plug for Elite Tutors Online, Inc.) and I was introduced to No Dictionaries. It does face some of the same problems as Perseus as far as short definitions go, but I like it because it encourages you to read the Latin more naturally, and it requires you to think about the grammar (i.e. I wouldn’t be able to cheat on the verb form I was looking up with Perseus). However, whenever I’m stuck on a bit of Latin, I still find myself running back to Perseus so I can see what the ‘answer’ is, even though it might be incorrect; at least it would be a plausible mistake I wouldn’t be ashamed to make in class.
Though this blog normally has a somewhat linguistics bent to it, I have to admit that I’m really more interested in Second Language Acquisition and the teaching of non-spoken languages. I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on the pedagogical merits/faults of either of these two online tools and what they think might offer a better solution.