Latin is a wonderful language – it unlocks the meaning behind common English phrases such as et cetera and ad hoc and helps develop an excellent basis from which to learn many other languages including French, Spanish and Italian. Latin builds English vocabulary, grammar and usage and helps us to understand medical, mathematical, legal and scientific terminology.
Furthermore, it enhances our understanding of the Romans and their influence on the modern world.
All sorts of people study Latin and Classics. One of the most famous classicists is JK Rowling, who studied it to degree level and includes many Latin quotations in the Harry Potter books. The singer Dido has A-levels in Greek and Latin and our current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, studied Classics at Oxford University.
We at Great Walstead follow in these famous footsteps and all children begin Latin in Year 5. At this stage we learn simple verbs and their endings together with numbers, and some nouns. Interspersed with the language, we listen to the excellent “War with Troy”, an initiative of the Cambridge School Classics Project, which is supported by worksheets and discussion.
From Year 6, a textbook, Latin Prep 1, by Theo Zinn is introduced, and during the year we also study the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece and, sometimes, Hercules.
It is at Year 7 that study begins in earnest for Common Entrance, with regular vocabulary tests and careful translation of selected passages, while continuing to use Latin Prep 1 and 2. At this stage, some children concentrate on Classical Civilization rather than the traditional Latin. This emphasises the Roman history element and includes the study of Roman emperors, daily life, gladiators and a variety of Greek and Roman myths. It is particularly designed to support history and literacy.
As well as our textbooks, we use various computer programmes to aid vocabulary revision and gain a more in-depth understanding of myths.
Also in Year 7, some children will begin Greek, learning the basis of the language and a few will take this at Common Entrance.
Every two years we are visited by Legio Secunda Augusta, a Roman army group based near Portsmouth. They give a morning of demonstrations using replica Roman army equipment including a tent(!) and artefacts from daily life.