Why it takes me so long to grade…

Yesterday, I posted on Facebook and on my blog.  I commented on the fact that it takes me so very long to grade.  

At the moment, I have suspended all new grading for the coming year.  I am simply unable to keep up.

Several people wanted to know why.  “Why does it take so long to grade?  Don’t you have answer keys?”

The answer is, “Yes.   Of course, I have answer keys.  Created them myself, in fact.   So far, I have written about 800 pages.  Here is the problem.  Each student needs particular help with each particular sentence.  Some mistakes are common.  Some are quite complicated.  It took me a half hour to respond to this email.  I receive about 100 emails like this every day.”

Take a look (This is from Henle Latin 1, exercise 330, by the way):


1 When each peaceful Gaul is in the protection of Caesar’s winter quarters we will leave and travel into Italy.  Pacata esset = had been pacifiedContendit means, hastened, or hurried.   Also, Caesar is actually leaving the garrison (praesidia) behind in winter quarters.  He himself is hurrying into Italy.  When all of Gaul had been pacified, Caesar left the winter quarters and hastened into Italy.  -4

2 The centurion in the front of the battle line asks for whose plan Caesar approves of.  Ante proelium = before the battle.  He is asking about the plans (consilia).  Probata essent is passiveBefore the battle, the centurion asked which plans had been approved by Caesar.  -3

 3 Do you really know who sent the envoy?  Missi sint is passiveQuo does often a subjunctive clause in Caesar’s Gallic wars. However, the sentences already subjunctive because of the introductory question. Num scis means, “You do not know, do you?”  In this case, quo, is asking the question, “where?”  This changes the sentence to, “You do not know where the envoys were sent, do you?”  -2

4 When you lead a column through a difficult and narrow place, be sharp to suddenly see barbarians.  The column of soldiers (agmen) is the subject of the sentence.  Visa est is passive.  It means was seenDuceretur is passive.  It means was led. This changes the sentence to, “When the column was led through a difficult and narrow place, the battle line of the barbarians was suddenly seen.”  – 3

5 Is it not known if the legion that is in camp is to be left by the envoy?  Scitisne means, “Do you know?”  Relicta sit is passive.  Here it means, was left.  This changes the sentence to, “Do you know if the legion which was in the camp was left by the lieutenant?”  -2

6 When the grain was set fire to by the cavalry, the soldiers in camp always dig to fortify the wall.  There is no semper in this sentence.  Remove “always”.  The soldiers are actually fortifying (muniebant) the camp with a wall and a ditch (vallo fossaque).  -3

7 When Christ of Judea was shown by Pilate to be a Jew a large shout was raised: “We have no king but Caesar. Destroy him! Crucify him!

I think it is the passive verbs that are throwing you off.  Watch this video: https://youtu.be/PaPDBkqqYrQ

Also, you should review the videos in this Lingua Latina lesson: https://dwanethomas.com/module-1/chapter-6-via-latina/

And, finally, review lesson 17 in Henle Latin: https://dwanethomas.com/module-1/lesson-17/


As I have said, I am looking for a solution.  I do not want to leave the work above to mothers who do not know Latin.  At the moment, I cannot afford to “hire” someone.  Besides, if I hired someone, I would likely spend as much time training them as I spend answering emails.  So, I am a bit stumped.  Still looking for a solution.

So, I am a bit stumped.  Still looking for a solution….

Grading is time-consuming

I received this comment:

Please add me to the waiting list.  I think it would be worth triple the money (although I’m not saying j could pay that. Lol). I can imagine it takes forever to grade.

Here is my reply:

Got it!  You are on the list.  Still working on a solution.  And, yes.  You are correct.  It is incredibly time-consuming to grade.  I have hundreds of students emailing me in Latin and Greek.  It’s a lot.  I am ready to be done.  But, my wife reminds me daily that there are many struggling moms out there who have no idea how to grade the work of their children.  She is strongly encouraging me to continue grading.  

I, on the other hand, am wavering.  It is noon here in Athens.   I have been grading since 4 this morning and there is no end in sight.

How can I afford to move my family to Greece?

Yesterday during one of my classes, a student asked, “Mr. Thomas, How can you afford to move your entire family to Greece?”

Good question.  I frequently ask myself the same question.

First, let me start with the “why”.  Why have I moved my entire family to Greece?

It’s simple.  I want to master the Greek language.  Modern, Biblical, and Classical.  By my own estimate, I believe this is going to take about 10 years.

I first decided to master the Greek language about three years ago.  Immediately, I began looking into the academic route.  Since Vanderbilt University is a half-hour from my home in Franklin, Tennessee, I began my search there.  The search ended almost as quickly as it began.  To study the Classics at Vanderbilt would cost about $45,000 a year.

Since Vanderbilt University is a half-hour from my home in Franklin, Tennessee, I began my search there.  The search ended almost as quickly as it began.  To study the Classics at Vanderbilt would cost about $45,000 a year.

$45,000 a year?  “For that price,” I thought, “I could move my family to Greece!  Hey.  Wait a minute.  For that price, I could move my entire family to Greece!”

And, that, my friends, is how this all began.

It turns out, I could move my family to Greece for much, much less.

So, how can I do this?

The story is a long one.

I will start with the short version.  Perhaps later, I will write out the long version.  Right now, I have about 200 emails to respond to.  The short version will have to do.

When moving overseas, the main expenses are food, lodging, and transportation.

First, my family eats food in Tennessee.  I can’t seem to get them to stop.  Now we are in Greece.  They want to eat food here, too.  There really is no cost difference here.  We eat there.  We eat here.   We are not spending any more on food in Greece than we were in Tennessee.  However, my wife does feel that the price of food has gone up in Greece since last year.

Second, we rent out our home in Tennessee.  We live in a condo.  We have lived in condos for 20 years.  Housing is expensive in Franklin, Tennessee.  We bought a condo while we saved for a home.  While we were saving for a home, the prices of homes skyrocketed.  Now, we cannot afford a home.  Oh well.

We live in a condo.  We have lived in condos for 20 years.  Housing is expensive in Franklin, Tennessee.  We bought a condo while we saved for a home.  While we were saving for a home, the prices of homes skyrocketed.  Now, we cannot afford a home.  Oh well.

Last year, we rented our condo.  The rent there paid for our rent here.  This meant that we were really not paying for housing.  This year, we did not have as much luck renting our place in Tennessee.  But, we are still hopeful.  A friend is showing our place while we are here.

We do not have a car over here in Greece.  We use cheap public transportation.  Public transportation here costs much less than gasoline back home.  We are actually saving money on daily transportation.

In the end, airline tickets are the only real expense.  And, they are a real expense.  I wish there were a way to avoid this cost.  There isn’t.  I looked.   We can’t drive to Greece.  I did look into taking a cruise to Greece.  But, cruising cost more than flying.

Life in Greece is not as glamorous as all of my friends think it is, but it is also not as expensive as everyone thinks it is.

It is my goal to blog daily about our time over here, but, for now… back to that overwhelming mountain of emails.

Settling in…

After days of travel, my family and I are settling in at our apartment in Greece.

I am going to begin blogging once more.  It was my goal to blog every day this year.  I lost quite a few days due to travel, but, that’s okay.  I will be picking up the pace again… starting now.

There are many questions to answer.  In class today, one of my students wanted to know, “How can you afford to move your entire family over to Greece?”  Good question.  I intend to blog a response tomorrow.

Another student wanted to know, “How do you stay motivated to learn new things and how can I (the student) keep myself motivated?”  I hope to start a series of responses to that question as well.

As for now, I am dealing with new, unanticipated problems.  Classes today worked.   For that, I am very grateful.  I was able to teach from Greece last year, and I was quite certain I would be able to teach from Greece this year.  Alas, it seems the internet may be a bit slower this year.  Naturally, I am not thrilled about that.  Still, classes worked today, and for the most part, my students reported that the experience was not all that different for them.

Now, I am in the process of uploading the classes from today and I have hit a snag.  I have not decided if it is a major snag.  The upload speed in Athens (in our apartment, at least) is not good at all.  It usually takes me about an hour to upload 3 videos at home.  I have been uploading today’s classes for about an hour now, and I have one video at 15%, with two videos in line.  Not cool.

I am not exactly sure how I am going to solve this problem.  But… that’s okay.  Seems like there is always a solution.  I just have to go hunting for it.

On the bright side, there is a small restaurant around the corner that serves cheap, delicious gyros.

It’s 11 pm here.  Goodnight from Athens.

Begin it.

The famous German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said,

“Whatever you can do or dream you can,
begin it; boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

I love that quote.  My favorite part of the quote lies right in the middle.

“Begin it.”

I believe that is the key.  Start.  Go.  Take action.  Begin.

It is my job to study Latin, to study Greek, and to write.  There are many, many days I don’t feel like doing any of the three.

For example, writing is hard.  Writing is a bit lonely.  It is easy to trick yourself into procrastination.  It is easy to lie to yourself.  “I just don’t feel like writing today.”

It doesn’t matter.  Who cares how I feel?

Some of my friends and some of my students see what I have done.  They want the same results.  They want to be geographically free.  They want to move overseas to study.  They want to provide for themselves by writing.

But, they forget that I spent 20 years in the classroom.  They forget that I spent 10 of those years getting up at 3, or 4 in the morning in order to study Latin.  They forget that for 20 years, I showed up, whether I felt like it or not.

If you want to be a writer, start writing.

Do not wait for inspiration.  Do not wait for motivation.  Do not wait for the muse.  Just start writing.

If it is your job to write, write.  If your job is something else, you do it … whether or not you are motivated.  You show up to work, and you do your job.

Also, don’t worry about the quality of your writing.  Just start writing. Write bad stuff.  Then, edit the bad stuff.

Remember two things.  First, you can’t edit what you haven’t written.  And, second, good writing happens when you edit.

And finally, remember this.  The time is going to pass anyway. I have dreamed of returning to England for a long time.  It took me 32 years.

Today, my family and I fly to Greece.  We are stopping in London for a day.  I never let the dream go.  In part, my writing brought me to this point.

Do you have a dream?  Copy Goethe’s quote.  Carry it around with you.  Read it.  Believe it.

Most of all, begin it.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can,
begin it; boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

Have a happy Saturday!
Dwane Thomas

P.S.  I will not be responding to email, messages, or texts for the next several days.  I will be catching up next week.


I will be on the road, or in the air, from Wednesday, March 22 to Monday, March 27.  I will check email, and I will check my site when I am able.  I apologize for the inconvenience.  

There are NO more scheduled online class breaks.  I AM planning to teach classes on March 28, and on March 29.  If I do not show up to class on Tuesday, I must have missed a flight somewhere.