Haud mea culpa, domina! (As they say in primary school)

Canis studia domestici devoravit. Dog-based excuses for the non-delivery of homework are to become more erudite in state primary schools as Latin makes a comeback.

More than 60 state primaries will teach the classical language as part of a project aimed at making languages compulsory for all children from the age of seven. Those behind it say it is the best way of introducing children to language learning, particularly because it is the root of the five Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Portugese and Romanian).

Peter Downes, a former president of the Association of School and College Leaders, said Latin was "an excellent vehicle for teaching about language structure as well as having obvious cross-curricular links to history and civilisation". He heads a project set up by the headteachers' union and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation which is trying to persuade ministers to introduce children to a broader range of languages in primary schools and help them decide which ones they want to pursue in secondary schools.

It began by piloting its plans in a handful of schools in Cambridgeshire and has just expanded this to about 60. There is a campaign to make languages compulsory for seven to 11-year-olds in 2011, and Mr Downes has written to Sir Jim Rose, who led a government inquiry into the primary- school curriculum, arguing against his recommendation that schools should concentrate on just one or two languages. Under this project's proposals, children learn a range of languages – French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Punjabi and Latin.

In a letter to Sir Jim, Mr Downes argued: "It is strongly recommended that one of the languages is Latin. It may seem the 'odd man out' but it proved to be popular with pupils and teachers and a very good vehicle for teaching aspects of language such as word order, verb patterns, agreements, gender and language evolution.

"Provided there are good teaching materials available, there is no reason why Chinese, Urdu or others should not be included."

Most children learning Latin at primary school do so through the Minimus books, by Barbara Bell. They are a sort of comic-strip Roman soap with the central protagonist Minimus ("smallest"). Other characters include the members of a Roman household and their three slaves. The books aim to give a flavour of Roman life as well as an introduction to the language.

Mary Beard, professor of classics at Cambridge University, applauded the teaching of Latin in state primaries. "It's a wonderful way of being able to see how a language works," she said. "Latin opens up culture to the kids. Even for those who just learn a little and don't go on to read Virgil, I think it offers pleasure and linguistic skills."

She added, however, one cautious note: "My worry is not whether it's worthwhile for primary school children but whether they can go on with it in their next [state] school."

Latin translations:



Canis studia domestici devoravit - The dog ate my homework



Haud mea culpa, domina - It wasn't me, miss



Ita vero sed minime sed ita vero sed minime - Yeah but no but yeah but no



Nonne - Innit



Ubi est latrina? - Where is the toilet?



Stilus amitae meae - The pen of my aunt



Quo usque ludus meus tablulis scolasticis perrexit? - Where does my school come in the league tables?

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

Year 2 Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Bognor Regis!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 2 Teacher currently need...

Primary Supply Teachers needed in Cambridge

£21552 - £22552 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

DT Teacher - Graphics

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Part time Design and Technology...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits