My goal for the course was for students to read Old English. I wanted them, if they were faced with a sentence in Old English, to be able to confidently navigate it. This is significant given that this course is typically taught over two semesters: Old English is taught in the first semester, and reading Beowulf in the second. Because these are MIT students, I felt empowered to compress a lot into the first half of the semester, which focused on grammar. Classes began with a vocabulary quiz, followed by questions about the grammatical elements of prose included in our text, Introduction to Old English. We started by identifying the subjects, verbs, nouns, etc., and then worked through passages that became longer and more complex as the semester progressed. Students started reading Old English very early on in the semester—probably the fifth day of class.
During the second half of the semester, we were working with riddles and other passages in Old English, and Beowulf. I had students read out loud as we translated these texts. I offered feedback, students asked questions, and if there were any particularly tricky grammatical or syntactic elements, I recorded these on the board. I also carved out time for literary critical conversations. In fact, in the second half of the semester, I required that students came prepared to share a literary critical comment or appreciation, or a grammatical question, which contributed to their participation grade.