Latin may rightly be called a dead language – there is nobody left alive to talk to, after all – but it is very far from extinct. Latin shines a light on the way all languages work. Because it is read (not spoken), taught through vocabulary and grammar, students acquire an excellent understanding of the mechanics and structure of languages. This supports their understanding not only of Spanish and French but also English. Latin students tend to be not only more accurate in their English sentence constructions but have a wider, more complex vocabulary.
At Ditcham Park School, all students in Years 7 and 8 study Latin language and Roman Civilisation. All language is taught through story, initially stories of a family who live in Pompeii, but as students become more competent at decoding Latin, we move on to stories from mythology and Roman History. Latin has, as one of our pupils frequently says, all the best stories! At GCSE, pupils have the opportunity to read Roman authors and hear their authentic voices. We might read Pliny’s first-hand account of the eruption of Vesuvius, or Ovid’s chatting up of a pretty girl at the chariot races.
Caecilius and his family live in Pompeii – our students discover what life was like for them from the ruins buried by the volcano Vesuvius in AD 79. Students investigate Caecilius’ house and other locations in the city that the family might have visited – the baths, the forum, the amphitheatre, the harbour. Students enter into a lost world but one that, with imagination, comes vividly back to life.