"Latin doesn't help to turn out factory-made mini-consumers fit for a globalised 21st century society. It helps create curious, intellectually rigorous kids with a rich interior world, people who have the tools to see our world as it really is, because they have encountered and imaginatively experienced another that is so like, and so very unlike, our own." Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian, 24.v.2009
Studying Latin provides pupils with the rare opportunity to learn a language which, simultaneously, gives an excellent insight into the workings of English grammar and syntax, and also offers an advantage in studying many modern foreign languages such as French, Spanish and Italian. It is also a subject which helps to make pupils more attractive to universities and, later, to employers – ranging from private sector companies in the City to the Civil Service, as it is viewed as a subject which teaches people how to think and critically assess information.
We follow the popular Cambridge Latin Course (CLC), which encourages pupils to view Latin as the language of Roman Civilisation and at the heart of western European culture. Pupils read Latin stories, recognise English derivations of words, learn how to pronounce Latin and build a vocabulary.
The course is also particularly well-structured to allow pupils to learn about many related aspects of ancient society which form the basis of our own society – which is another major benefit for pupils taking the subject. For example, we discuss political systems, the theatre, together with the beginnings of medicine and science.
The style of the classes also develops other skills, taking part in class and group discussions and in role play and drama. Pupils also undertake research in different topics and make use of IT (especially CLC E-learning resource and Cambridge Schools Classics Project websites).
We also offer a lunchtime Latin Clinic for pupils encountering difficulties with the language.
There are further activities on offer beyond the classroom. Guest speakers are invited to give talks on topics of interest from the classical world. Trips are organised to museums, the theatre and classical sites in the UK. In addition the department runs an overseas trip each year to either Italy or Greece.