The Association for Latin Teaching

respice prospice

Newsletter 21: November 2004

Dear Classical Friend,

Apologies that the November newsletter is being sent on 1st December.


Christmas Rush and Christmas Resources


This is a hectic time of year, and I expect it will get worse before it gets better! I am reading Seneca's letters with my A level student, and we both had a moment of recognition at the opening of the first letter of the A level prescription:

December est mensis: cum maxime civitas sudat. Ius luxuriae publice datum est; ingenti apparatu sonant omnia, tamquam quicquam inter Saturnalia intersit et dies rerum agendarum; adeo nihil interest ut videatur mihi errasse qui dixit olim mensem Decembrem fuisse, nunc annum.

So were there Christmas crackers on sale in August in Seneca's time?

Anyway, I have put up the fairy lights in a new section on the web site ( /home/arltcouk/public_html/christmas.php ) with Christmas teaching resources. There are 17 Latin or macaronic carols - genuine ones, not translations from English - and an account of a Latin Carol Celebration from the USA that might give you some ideas. There are readings from the Vulgate and from Vergil that might come in handy, and there are encyclopedia articles on Saturnalia. I shall not repeat my suggestions from last year, as they are largely superseded by the new website section, but if you want to look at them, they are here: /home/arltcouk/public_html/arlt_db.php?catID=33


A Calendar of Classical Events


I have put a calendar on the website. On it I am entering whatever events I hear of, like Greek plays, training days, summer schools, exam dates and so on. There is a link from the bottom right of each web page to The calendar sometimes takes a few seconds to appear - it is hosted, free, on another server. Let me know if you would like your event to be advertised on the calendar. Anyone who is likely to have a number of events to put on (e.g. the secretary of a local ACT) can get the password from me and enter any events he or she likes.


Unclaimed prize - act now!


Maybe I aimed the competition wrongly, but there have been no applications for a free copy of the new Cambridge Latin DVD, which is coming out, according to the latest e-mail I've received, in 4 weeks.

May I remind you of what is on the Home Page of the website. I am keen that the free copy should go to a school that does not at the moment offer Latin, as an incentive to them to get a course going. Teachers from such schools won't visit the ARLT web site unless you tell them about it. So please, please, tell the good news to a fellow teacher in an at present non-Latin school, and help the DVD find a good home.


Passing on your requests


Two messages, one copied from the Notice Board (where there's also a long list of books for sale, recently posted) and the other sent to me by Litini for sending to you all. Answers to me, if you like, and I'll send them on:

1. Message from Peter Geall: The display of source materials from CLC4 (as opposed to reading list) has had to be taken off the OCR website for copyright reasons (temporarily we are assured!). Does anyone have a copy that they took before this calamity or even simply a list of the source items? Ditto a copy of the 2003 (not 2004) paper. I decided at the last minute to teach this to my current Year 11 and am pretty desperate for these materials.

2. To anyone who might know!

Any experience of interview questions for Oxbridge applicants and if not any suggestions as to what you would ask to prepare someone for it? I have a student who wants a mock interview!

Litini Newcombe


Passing on your school news


Good news from Elizabeth Robinson, Withington Girls' School, Manchester:

Latin and Greek seem to be having a burst this year. I have 10 girls doing Greek GCSE and we have 7 girls doing AS Latin.

And a hopeful message from Jennifer Okerstrom, C.H.O.F., St. Paul, Minnesota.:

Thanks for the new password. And for the interest you express in Latin in the schools.

C.H.O.F. does not have a website. It is a very small parochial school in St. Paul, Minnesota. We are known for our basketball teams, the only true sport we participate in other than Track and Cross Country Running. We also do very well in the Fine Arts. All of the students participate in Speech, Choir, Band.

Our Latin program is not the strongest right now, but I am aiming to fix that. (Good for you, Jennifer!)


Just in case you haven't time to read to the end .....


I shall continue to post any interesting and/or useful items on the Blog. . As a matter of interest, the Blog had over 14,306 page views in November, the most popular items being three diagrams of the toga and how to wear it, and the piece about the OCR GCSE verse prescriptions.

I wish you energy and enthusiasm to reach the end of term intact, and peace, love and joy at Christmas.



British Schools please copy


Two stories from the States, the first about bringing Latin back into the curriculum, and the second about making a splash with a Roman school lunch - note the growing class size.

1. Latin alive and well at middle school

By Rebecca Carlisle/ Correspondent

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The long-dormant language of Caesar, Pliny and Francis of Assisi is finding new life this fall at Littleton Middle School.

Tori Hicks and Beverly Sherman will guide the children through the does and don'ts of the classical language. Although she retired at the end of last school year, Sherman's departure was short-lived and she was eager to return to the Middle School when she heard that Latin would be part of the curriculum.

"When they asked if I would reconsider [coming back] I was like 'Yes!' I had taught Latin previously and I was very excited about it," Sherman said.

This is Hicks' first year teaching in Littleton and she will teach sixth-grade Latin. Sherman will teach Latin, French and Spanish to seventh-graders. To help Sherman and Hicks in the foreign language department, Gustavo Bottan will teach eighth-grade Spanish and French in his first year at the Littleton Middle School.

"I think [the new Latin program] is a wonderful opportunity because the teaching of language involves the whole context of culture and the global aspect of languages," said Bottan.

The foreign language staff would like to incorporate Latin into every subject to demonstrate its cultural and universal context.

Middle students will experience Latin in English class because 65 percent of English words have Latin roots and Latin has been found to improve grammar and writing skills, said Hicks.

The names of body parts and plants have Latin derivatives, making Latin relevant to science class, said Bottan. Students will also study Roman numerals, history, government and geography.

"Latin can be so much fun, there are so many wonderful things you can do, lots of great projects," said Hicks.

Evidently this isn't the first time that the middle school has had a Latin program. Sherman started teaching Latin at the middle school in 1967, but the program was cut due to lack of interest.

"By 1988 it dwindled in this town. We actually had Latin in the middle until 1992 just for the pure benefit of the language," said Sherman.

Sherman and Hicks agreed that Latin is making a comeback across America, and they have high expectations for the benefits of the program.

"First of all, I think it's really going to work because we're staring [to teach it] early" in the sixth grade, said Sherman. > With admittance to colleges and universities getting increasingly competitive, Latin may just be what Littleton needs to help students receive more acceptance letters.

"Verbal SAT scores of students who have studied Latin for at least two years are 160 points higher than average," according to a document from the foreign language department.

Because the middle school adopted the three-term trimester system last year, students will be required to take one term each of French, Spanish and Latin in sixth and seventh grades. At the end of seventh grade students will be given the choice of which language they will pursue in eighth grade and high school.

Sherman predicts that Latin "will filter up as the kids pick it up in middle school, in two years it should be in the high school."

As the basis of the five romance languages, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian, Latin could also help students learn foreign languages.

"I would say if kids learn Latin, throughout their whole life they will have a step forward," said Bottan. "It's as important as learning to count."

With an enthusiastic staff and high expectations, Sherman and Hicks will offer a Latin program that augments student learning. The challenges that the program faces are "finding teachers, developing a rigorous, dynamic and effective curriculum, providing appropriate supports or alternatives for some students with special needs, cost of materials and curriculum development, tight timeframe and politics of starting a 'new program' in tight fiscal circumstances," according to a document from the foreign language department.

Sherman thinks that the students will like Latin, "this is new and they are going to be really excited," she said.

2. Latin II students enjoy traditional Italian feast

By Judy Dunlevy, October 24, 2004

Second-year Latin students got a real taste of the language when they participated in the toga day luncheon at Carlisle High School. Students dressed in togas and authentic gladiator gear to feast on Italian food.

"It's the way we wrap up our toga day," Latin teacher Meg McDermott says. "It lets people know we're here."

Spaghetti, lasagna, baked ziti, pasta salad and tiramasu were among the tasty dishes served up by volunteer parents.

This is the fifth year Latin students have participated in the luncheon. The first year only nine students were in the Latin II class. This year's class has 21 students.

"It's our largest toga day to date," McDermott says.

The event culminates with a young "Roman" student carried on a litter to classrooms, taking food to various teachers who could not come to the luncheon.

The litter was created by 2004 graduate Joseph Dragovich. The litter, along with authentic gladiator leather garments and helmets, were donated to the Latin class.

"It's really fun," says junior Kaitlin Dynarski, who brought lasagna. She says some students enjoy making the food and the chance to socialize more with others.

The Latin II class is a mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors who "help each other through class," she says.

Popularity growing

McDermott credits world language and English as a Second Language chairwoman, Tina Trozzo, for helping to get the program started.

"(Trozzo)'s very supportive of the Latin classes," McDermott says.

Trozzo says the classes bring an ancient language to life.

"Megan has done so much to bring new life to our Latin programs," Trozzo says. "She has done so much to motivate students to take Latin."

With 46 Latin I students this year, a second class had to be added. This year also is the first for the honors Latin course at CHS.

Good eats

Room parent Jude McLean thinks the luncheon is a great idea.

"I love my son taking Latin," she says. "I think it's an extremely interesting language and history."

Her son, Winston, a sophomore, agrees. "It's interesting." He also likes the chance to "get out of class" and enjoy the "great food" served at the lunch.

After a discussion on what to bring, the students prepared and brought in the food.

Asked what the luncheon means to her students, McDermott admits "it probably means to eat."

"The food's good," sophomore Travis Slaysman says, adding he takes Latin because he plans to be in the medical field.

He also liked the idea of "carrying people around on the litter" and his teacher's enthusiasm about the language.

"The class is wonderful," senior Abigail Wenzel says. "It's really nice to have Latin (in school.) It's rare."

She was glad to see so many participants.

"It's a good thing to do," she says. "It gives (us) a better sense of community. It keeps people interested in the program."