Latin is the basis of all the Romance languages such as Italian, French, and Spanish. The Romans took Britain by storm and brute force, subduing all those before them. Despite the Britons’ reluctance to bear the yoke of Roman domination, the Roman language, at very least, ground its way into our very psyche, the upshot of which is that about 65% of our day to day words are directly derived from Latin, including all the months of the year, medical terminology and law, to name but a few. Our military leaders still study Roman and Greek treatises on tactics and strategy. It is very simple in terms of grammar and syntax –no accents, tittles, umlauts, definite and indefinite articles; all the things that drive many children to despair. Looking at the language structure, conjugations and tenses further reinforces language study in English and French.
At St Michael’s we follow the Cambridge Latin Course and offer Latin as a fully interactive experience with lots of online resources to support vocabulary learning and grammar acquisition. Starting in Year 6 our studies include the Roman household, domestic arrangements and daily routines, the business of the forum and the theatre. Your child will delight in finding modern derivations of ancient words, and enjoy the structured discipline of analysing language, translating stories with ease and a sense of fulfilment as enjoying learning about the culture and history of the Romans who lived and died in Pompeii. At school, staff and pupils can access the networked resource comprising videos, tutorials on all material taught and grammar games and exercises.
In Year 7 we finish the first book of Cambridge Latin completing Chapters 6-12 and on the way learn about Roman slavery, food, beliefs about death and the afterlife, gladiators, schooling, and preparations and rituals for adulthood, political life, the Roman Baths and the eruption of Vesuvius. The online course offers a fully interactive experience with lots of resources to support vocabulary learning and grammar acquisition. The pace picks up in Year 7 and pupils are expected to understand and absorb material more quickly. This year the Latin content counts towards the St Michael’s diploma at the end of Year 8 and will not be examined at CE.
The course in Year 8 this year follows the ISEB Level 1 and Level 2 schemes of work and principally uses the ISEB Latin Courses by Bob Bass for Level 1 alongside Cambridge Latin Course for Level 2. In addition to learning a sophisticated range of Latin vocabulary and grammatical rules, pupils study cultural topics and practise the skills of translation, comprehension, grammar manipulation and essay writing in preparation for the CE exam.
Students wishing to offer Scholarship Latin for their Senior School will be coached towards that exam. Students offering this option will be expected to work hard and learn a good deal of extra grammar and vocabulary, retain it well and enjoy the process.
In the summer term we take a trip out to the wonderful Lullingstone Roman villa, one of the most outstanding Roman villas left in Britain. The spectacular mosaics and heated bath-suite installed by the series of wealthy owners give such a clear idea of how the Romans lived. Our children have great fun trying on the Roman costumes and playing traditional board games from Roman times!