All sorts of people study Latin and Classics.  Among others, famous classicists include JK Rowling, who studied it to degree level and who includes many Latin quotations in her Harry Potter books, our current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who studied Classics at Oxford University and Stephen Fry, comedian and actor.

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 as well as giving us some wonderful stories.

At Cumnor House, everyone studies Latin, and we begin in Year 4 with Minimus, a book which introduces us to a real family, based at Vindolanda, near Hadrian’s Wall in 100 AD.  In this way we learn the basics of Latin language as well as studying some myths and Roman history.

From Year 5, we take a more structured approach, learning simple verbs and nouns and having regular vocabulary tests.  During the year we also enjoy the stories of Hercules and the Odyssey.

By the end of year 6, it is hoped that all pupils know how to tackle a Latin passage of several lines, can recognize noun and verb endings, and are cognisant of a variety of myths.

During Years 7 and 8 more emphasis is placed on study for Common Entrance and Scholarship exams. There are regular vocabulary tests and gradual translation of selected passages, using the textbooks, Ab Initio and Latin Prep together with past papers. In addition various computer programmes are used to aid vocabulary revision and gain a more in-depth understanding of myths.

In additon to all of this, it is important to bring Latin alive, so we visit Roman sites and Museums to inspect artefacts, we dress up on Roman Day and act out scenes from the myths we study, and we practise speaking Latin as the Romans would have done.

Latin is a fascinating subject which challenges and engages children of all ages and abilities.

Jane Sykes

Head of Classics

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