The class was very quiet but enjoyed the new pronunciation of words were every letter is sounded out. Discussion of who the Romans were, when they were in Britain and that their language helped to form our English today, came as a complete shock to a lot in the class – even the class teacher, who had never thought of the origin of “exit”. Despite the exercise in Minimus were students ask “quis es?” replying with “ … sum” – the idea of learning a language that they won’t be able to speak left a number of the students very bemused.
More and more students were volunteering to read out-loud and even to offer translations of the exercises in Minimus. (Surprising the Yr.6 teacher, who is now becoming less sceptical…) I explained that I like the Romans because they are just like us, and learning Latin is my way of getting nearer to them. We looked carefully at the Birthday Party invitation – this clearly surprised the class! In lesson 4, the Yr.11 students themselves delivered a lesson to the class with the aim of writing their own Latin birthday party invitation (with the help of the worksheet in Minimus teacher’s handbook).
When looking at sentences, pupils could identify nouns and verbs because of their position in a sentence, even identifying “sum” when it isn’t at the end. This in itself felt very successful, especially as they were learning conversations that had previously been unfamiliar to them. The concept of endings is still a mystery to them, so I held off the differences between Subject and Object for now. The Greco-Roman myths are exceptionally popular!
Defining an adjective and knowing what it was took a little longer than expected. The pupils understand what descriptions are, but the abstract title “adjective” took quite a bit of processing. However, using the Minimus exercises, the pattern of nouns and adjectives agreeing because of gender-endings has been something the pupils can recognise, translate and apply quite comfortably. Masculine and feminine endings are very secure in the pupils’ understanding – even raising queries and questions – these are the details the pupils are beginning to look at more and more.
(Homework set for over the half-term: research the motto of Hogwarts school – what it is, possible meaning?)
It is really pleasing that these Yr.6s know to look for patterns, even if they don’t know them yet. When explaining the present tense endings, an overlap with sum could be seen and there was a “light bulb” moment for a number in the class. I was particularly pleased that their recognition of singular and plural endings was clear (one, more than one letter), but only a proportion of the class could see it in words. Daedalus and Icarus is a popular myth – they knew a lot about this story beyond what we read.
A written task was set using facio, specto and intro (for Minimus), but with other person-endings too. A very successful exercise – with the board accessible for reference too. The students’ understanding of grammar is getting there. Our discussion of “slavery” proved to be quite a challenge though!
Considering the success of the project, Cathedral School Year 10 students will teach Latin at the same primary school next year.
Written by Stephen Drury, teacher at Cathedral School, Llandaff