Sunday, 28 April 2013

Go Latino!

A whole day all about languages, a whole day about languages descended from Latin.  This was Go Latino!, a day conference run by ALL (NE) yesterday.

I did Latin O'level back in the day, followed by A'level two years later.  Then some five years after that I needed to call on it again while researching for my M.Phil, as my poem was "borrowed" from one in Maccheronic Latin and called on many of the classical authors.  (Nearly 20 years later, it still bothers me that I never succeeded in tracking down the reference to "Venus y sus ninfas".)

In my Spanish Key Stage 2 scheme of work I have included a bit of Latin, namely in days of the week and parts of the body, inspired by the children's questions.  I'd like to weave in some more (and a bit of Arabic if possible!) and was after some information about how it is taught these days and what resources are available.

The day started with some thought-provoking words from Jim McElwee.  We considered the words of Comenius's Magna Didactica, in which he speaks about effective teaching as well as language teaching.  Some of Jim's points for your consideration:

  • Do we draw attention to cognates or take them for granted?  Are they obvious to all learners?
  • Do we notice things we aren't looking for?  Children often come up with things we aren't expecting, while the teacher tends to have a certain answer in mind.
  • Do we teach about language or help learners to acquire the language?  For example, a young learner might be able to use a present subjunctive clause without knowing or understanding exactly how it works.

Sue Balmer spoke about the Latin teaching that she has been doing at Gosforth Academy.  She and others have found Latin to be a boy-friendly subject, due to its logical and problem-solving nature.  Sue uses the Cambridge Latin Course, which is the course that I learned from at school.  The course has been updated has new resources to go with it.  The Cambridge Latin Online Project was launched in 1999.  Another story-based course is Ecce Romani.  Both are rich in language and culture.  Sue recommends the Minimus series for primary-age learners.  Minimus is particularly apt for north-east learners as Minimus and the other characters are from Vindolanda on Hadrian's Wall, and  he is even on Twitter.

Latin has some advantages over modern languages.  
  • Non-specialist teachers, and students, will not be as worried about the pronunciation.  
  • Latin in Key Stage 2 would solve Transition dilemmas
  • It provides enormous cultural knowledge and there are huge benefits for Literacy and other areas of the curriculum.
Some useful links:

After finding out about using short films in the classroom ( looks like an excellent site and I recommend Chop Chop), dabbling in some Portuguese language and culture and then a quick lunch, it was time to learn about Web 2.0 tools with Joe Dale.  There are some useful links posted on the page for the event, which you will be able to view for the next 29 days!

Many thanks to Claire Dodds and her team for organising such a good day.


  1. This post was very timely for me as I'm about to start teaching Latin GCSE to a student at school. She hopes to go on to study classical music post16 and has an incredible classical singing voice, so Ill be looking into all these great sounding resources. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for posting this, Clare, and we are very glad that you enjoyed the day. We certainly enjoyed seeing you again. I wouldn't be surprised if more language teachers revive their Latin and enjoy it so much that they decide to start up their own Latin classes. It's a lot of fun and there is plenty of support and a wealth of good resources.