plural of practicum

Discussion in 'English Only' started by yuechu, May 21, 2013.

  1. yuechu Senior Member

    Canada, English

    I would like to know what the correct plural of practicum is. Would it be practica or practicums? On the internet, many sources say only one or the other is correct. Would anyone either from the field or from a "latin" point of view know which one is better?

  2. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Well, I've been living in the USA for 65 years, and probably speaking English for 63½ years, and in all that time I have never heard anyone use the work "practicum". Where are you using this word?

    (I had to Google it to see what it meant.)
  3. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    I would use 'practicums'. In my experience, people treat 'practicum' as an English word, and form a plural in the usual way for English. Practica is likely to be seen as pretentious, and I wouldn't use it unless you have seen other people use it in the context you are writing for.

    By the way, what is the context? If you are writing for Latin scholars, they are likely to appreciate your use of a Latin plural, but they are an exception.

  4. Miss Julie

    Miss Julie Senior Member

    Chicago metro area
    Perhaps you didn't go to college then? That word was used quite a bit when I was there (in the 80s). :eek:
  5. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Either practica or practicums is acceptable. I would chose practicums to avoid having to decline it throughout the passage. ;)
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Erm - what's a practicum?:confused:
  7. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    The entry continues, "German Praktikum, from Late Latin practicum, neuter of practicus practical First Known Use: 1904"

    Perhaps the German plural could be used?
  8. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Well, who knew? I certainly didn't....

    I'm overawed by the fact that you lot are familiar with practicum and know what the plural is!:D
  9. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Both undergraduate and graduate programs. Never heard the word used. We had "exams", "tests", and "quizzes", but no "practicums". We had "courses" and "syllabuses" but no practicums.

    I agree with Cagey it usually seems pretentious to use either the Greek or Latin plurals. So "hematoma" is usually "hematomas", but never "hematomae" but sometimes "hematomata".

    You have to be sure which language the word came from before you use the Greek or Latin plural forms. But if you use the English plural form you are usually fine.

    An exception I would make is that "radius" should be pluralized as "radii" and not as "radiuses".
  10. Miss Julie

    Miss Julie Senior Member

    Chicago metro area
    That's why I mentioned I went to college in the 80s. Perhaps it's a generational thing... :eek:
  11. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    So, you're saying, MrP, that you've never heard the word "practicum"?

    If so, I'm with you: I've never heard the word "practicum" either...
  12. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    In this thread, people discuss the specific contexts in which they have used the word: people doing a practicum
    In part, it depends on the field of study.
  13. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I had heard of them - but only because I worked in a lab I in Germany during my undergrad summer vacations:D
    We had "practicals"(playing with frog's legs and test tubes etc) in physiology, chemistry and biology and such when I was a student in the UK.
    It wasn't always so and sometimes the choice has already been made for you - medium became media, but since there's no -s it must be singular and so "The media is ..." "The data is .." so then you get medias, bacterias and criterias :eek: (even the browser accepts bacterias but rejects criterias with the little red underline:( ) If you look you will also see "criterium" as the "obvious" singular from criteria - a little data are a dangerous things.
  14. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Does "practicum" mean something to other speakers of English? If so, what does it mean?

    (Sorry if I'm being dense:()
  15. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    We should get married. We have so much in common.:D
  16. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    I've heard it in German, never in English. I take it to mean a stint of working in industry (using the term loosely) to gather practical experience prior to completing the final chunk of your college education, or possibly just the final exams.
  17. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Me too! I worked alongside a student who was "doing a practicum" in the same lab in Germany. I was a summer student. I also have never heard it outside that country.
  18. mathman Senior Member

    near boston
    English-American/New England
    I am very familiar with the word. At my university, I used to supervise students who were doing their student teaching (where they actually take over several school classrooms for three or four months). The student teaching was listed as a course called the "practicum" for students who wanted to be (elementary, middle, or high school) teachers. Successful completion of the practicum was one of the requirements for someone to be licensed to teach in my state. When all the supervisors met to discuss how their students were doing in their student teaching, the plural was usually "practicums," and when I used "practica," everyone accused me (in a light-hearted way) of being overly fussy. I sort of agree with them.
  19. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Also never heard of it:eek:
  20. yuechu Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Thank you, everyone, for your replies! I apologize for not giving context either--it is, as mathman explained, a course during which a student practises teaching in a classroom (at least, that's the type of practicum that I'm referring to).
    I think I will stick with "practica" despite it being potentially pretentious. :p (assuming it is correct, although I think with this ending there are few possibilities, right? I know that certain Latin "plurals" in English are made incorrectly (cacti/octopi being a few examples if I'm not mistaken?), but I don't think it would be the case here)
  21. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    The German equivalent does form the plural with -a without this being considered pretentious. In English, I would hypothetically say "practica" too, on the grounds that the potentially perceived additional pretentiousness of forming the plural in this way is relatively insignificant over and above that already associated with saying "practicum" in the first place (which I wouldn't, hence "hypothetically").

    I'd just call it a practical (meaning a practical segment of the overall course), and practicals for the plural.

    To say "practicums" would expose me to the risk of double ridicule: to be considered both pretentious (for needlessly borrowing a word from Latin) and ignorant (of how to form the Latin plural). :eek:
  22. silverdaizy

    silverdaizy Senior Member

    Canada- English
    I know this thread is old, but for anyone that may be consulting it now, I just want to point out that "practicum" is in fact a very common word and is often used interchangeably with "work experience" or "internship," depending on the field, etc.

    It is the "practice" (hence "practicum") that someone does after completing their studies to gain more experience in the field.

    I hope this helps to clear up any doubts!

    P.S. It's possible that "practicum" is just not used widely in the USA, but in Canada, it's very common and most people know what it is.
  23. tunaafi Senior Member

    English - British (Southern England)
    It is not common in the UK. Science students have practical lessons, trainee teachers have teaching practice, and many students have work experience (or, more recently, internships) in companies.
  24. boutros55 New Member

    English - Australia
    The impression I get from usage in various documents from the university I am a student at (and for which I am doing a practicum next month) is that a practicum is assessed as part of a unit/course (depending on terminology variation there as well) whereas work experience while having similar requirements for a paper trail to ensure that public liability insurance is in place on both sides, and being work related to the overall nature of the course is not assessed and not necessarily directly related to specific curriculum content. For a practicum the student would not be paid. For work experience, that might depend on the specific arrangements.
  25. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I am familiar with practicum from the context of teacher training (eg post 18) - the teaching practicum is the phrase that I hear. The practicum is when student teachers are sent out to schools to 'practise' their teaching. It is different from science practicals mentioned in some earlier posts (eg post 13). I haven't heard it used in relation to work experience (post 22). I'd give it the English plural.
  26. Dave-56 New Member

    English - United States
    I direct field education at a theological seminary. The use of practicum is common in seminaries as well as numerous other graduate level professional schools for supervised, experiential learning. Both practica and practicums are acceptable plural forms, however, in professional writing practica is the preferred form.
  27. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Three years later and I've still never heard of it:)
  28. velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    I hadn't either, ewie, but I now have it mentally filed it away in a little drawer together with docent and doula. They might come in handy one day. (I hoard elastic bands, too.)
  29. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    It doesn't surprise me that most of the contributors to this thread who are familiar with 'practicum' are in North America, where Latin- and Greek-based names abound in the academic world. It fits well with all the summae cum laude, valedictorians, sophomores, Phi Beta Kappas and the like.;)

    I had also never heard of it before reading this thread. (I might store it away for future reference, though my drawer is already overflowing with elastic bands!:D)

    I guess there's a fair bit of variation in both terminology and practice around the world. What you're calling a practicum was, at my UK university, called a placement. It was assessed as part of the degree course, and the student was paid (at least in my case and many others) by the host company — not a fortune, but better than a kick in the teeth.

  30. dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - America
    Clearly it is a term only used in some colleges, and perhaps only in some fields of study, and used primarily by teachers.

    I have 2 college degrees, both from schools that eschewed using ostentatious latin terms where English words suffice. We had "work-study" programs.

    Not that I'm being an environment where the term is well-defined, it is better to use that rather than more common terms whose meaning may be ambiguous.
  31. Starry4444 New Member

    English - US
    The part that people keep missing about the use of the term "practicum" in the school setting is that it is not a work experience. It is an assignment that is part of a graduate school course. It's not an internship (which is typically optional and on the student's own time), it is not a work-study (which implies some sort of salary), but a class assignment. In other words, we get a grade but we get no money.

    In fact, I'm actually paying money in the form of tuition in order to perform this practicum! I don't think work-study programs typically require the student to pay for the experience.

    So I'm taking a course on Assessment of ESL students. I have a class assignment to find an ESL student in a middle school or high school, and I have assigned activities I have to complete with them in my 15 hour practicum. Then I will write up a case study and report on the student, and I have to turn in a Practicum Log with signatures from the student's "real" teacher verifying that I spent 15 hours practicing administering tests with this student. My grade for the course is, to a large extent, based on this case study, report, and practicum log.

    I hope this clarified for people how a practicum is different than an internship or a work-study program!
  32. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Welcome to the forums, Starry4444!

    It seems that those who are familiar with the term "practicum" use it in several different ways:).

    Going back to baosheng's original question ... what, for you, would be the plural?
  33. MomOf8

    MomOf8 New Member

  34. MomOf8

    MomOf8 New Member

    I assure you it's still used in colleges and universities. I just graduated in December of 16 and had plenty of practicums during my time in college.
  35. Miss Julie

    Miss Julie Senior Member

    Chicago metro area
    Packard went to college before I did; that's what I meant by a "generational thing." :oops:
  36. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English

    What is the Difference Between a Practicum and an Internship?
    Understanding the difference between a practicum and an internship can better prepare students for the curriculum demands of their degree programs.

    Essentially, educational practicums and internships are supervised on-site work experiences that allow students to practice and demonstrate their developing skills and competencies in their chosen career. While these experiences bear some similarities in design, their purpose and scope are quite different.

    The site goes on to explore those differences.
  37. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    However I remain, as ever, a thoroughly modern person.

    I would say that an internship as applied to some fields, is just a way to get cheap or free labor, with no effort made to instruct or guide.

    A friend of mine interned as a photographer. Other than schlepping around lighting equipment and cameras, his "education" included allowing him to use the cameras and lighting equipment after hours as long as no one else needed it. Not much of an education, it seems to me.
  38. DonnyB

    DonnyB Senior Member

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I see that Oxford Dictionaries label it as North American, which could very well account for why I'd never heard of it either, until reading this thread. In one of their 'More example sentences', they use the plural "practicums", incidentally.

    I don't think I'll bother filing it away for future use, though: I'll just stick to elastic bands. :D
  39. kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    I used to save examples of the word overweening. Along with my rubber bands.

    I definitely heard the word practicum in my American college experience but don't think I ever got near one. It doesn't seem like an odd word, just one specific to a certain milieu.:)Autocorrect on my phone recognized the word as I typed it.
  40. ángel oval

    ángel oval New Member

    Spanish-Canary Islands
    Hi everyone, sorry but I am not a english speaker but I will try to answer what we know about "Practium" and "Prácticas". Today, we use practium only for the written thesis of an intership, we have of course the spanish word for that but at the college we keep calling that "practium"...

    A similar word for as is Curriculum (in spanish we have the plural as "curriculums" but at the college they kepp using curricula)...

    <-----Edited by moderator (Florentia52) to remove Spanish text and excess quote----->
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2017

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