Dr Lorna Robinson: 'Latin inspires and enthuses children'

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The Romans may have sailed from Britain's shores more than 1,500 years ago but Latin is far from a dead language when it comes to teaching and inspiring children in primary schools.

Children have so much to learn and understand in schools today that it can seem unfair to demand even more of them by adding Latin to their workload. But teaching Latin can offer great benefits. Rather than weigh them down, it can serve to enthuse them.

In offering Latin to children in inner London and Oxford the Iris Project has found that one of its main effects was to help considerably with literacy. It fits neatly into Key Stage 2 learning for vocabulary and grammar.

The first thing we did was show children Latin words that have a connection with modern English. Very quickly the children were spotting connections themselves and thoroughly enjoying doing it.

Latin undeniably helps children to learn other languages, especially the modern European languages which evolved from it. It also offers useful cross-curricular links because it is relevant to subjects as diverse as history, geography and the sciences.

There are a lot of preconceptions about Latin and it is seen by many people as an élite subject because it was traditionally taught in private schools. What we found when we introduced it to schools in deprived areas was that the children were proud to be taught it. It meant they were being treated the same as children from more privileged areas.



The author is the director of the Iris Project which promotes classics in schools

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