A new addition to the languages curriculum at Queen Elizabeth's School as of September 2012, Latin is compulsory for all new boys from Year 7 to Year 9, at which point they may opt to continue the subject to GCSE. Initially pupils are taught in their form groups and sets are introduced by the end of the first term.
In contrast to the study of a modern foreign language, where listening and speaking skills are of central importance, in Latin we focus on developing the skills required to read passages of written text, answer comprehension questions and translate passages into English. As they acquire linguistic competence in the language of Ancient Rome, pupils also learn about Roman history, society and culture.
Effective techniques for learning new vocabulary and grammatical structures are key to developing confidence in the language. Of equal importance is learning how to draw on pre-existing knowledge when tackling an unfamiliar (‘unseen’) text. Pupils are taught how to make good use of reference materials as well as to make educated guesses when meeting new words, phrases and concepts. These ‘transferable skills’ can be directly applied to any other area of study and, later in life, these are the abilities most highly sought after by employers.
Along with a sound knowledge of the Latin language, pupils are also encouraged to build up their knowledge of general language principles. This includes identifying similarities between words in English (or other languages) that have been inherited from Latin (‘derivations’). Crucial to mastering all of these skills is the application of logical thought processes, which the study of Latin – with its grammatical rigour and long history of scholarship – is second-to-none in providing.
We will follow the Cambridge Latin Course (CLC) through Key Stages 3 and 4, supplementing the material presented in the course textbook with other resources. The CLC, widely recognised as the leading beginners’ course for Latin, has been extensively developed and revised throughout its 45 year history of use in schools.
As well as traditional printed material, the course features a wealth of electronic resources for both teachers and students. The material presented in the first two books (to be covered in Years 7 and 8) is supported by a superb interactive E-Learning Resource containing 1,000 electronic activities and specially commissioned videos. The Department has interactive whiteboards in every classroom and a state-of-the-art computer suite to make full use of these facilities available to all learners.
On the CLC website, boys will find plenty of material to support their independent learning. There are interactive tools for practising and testing vocabulary, and to consolidate classroom language work. There are also extensive bibliographical references for pupils wishing to learn more about the cultural topics covered throughout the course. The Department provides additional support through our weekly Latin clinic, although boys may ask for help at any time.