The Association for Latin Teaching

respice prospice

ARLT Newsletter 34; September 2006

Dear Classical friend,

I hope the summer holidays gave you much-needed time to unwind and gain new energy, enthusiasm and ideas for the new school year.

My own summer trip, after the ARLT Summer School in Durham, was to Germany, retracing the footsteps of Ausonius from Bingen to Neumagen on the Moselle, and then visiting rivers mentioned in Ausonius' poem Mosella. I am slowly organising photos on line into categories so that they may be useful in teaching Roman civilisation. As a taster you might like to check out a page about Xanten here: (For the technically minded, it plays around with the possibilities of PhotoBucket, and has a 15 minute video which is being hosted by Google.) I have not yet provided a link to this page on the site menu, so if you visit it you will be the first to see it.

Now to other matters, including the sad deaths of two of our ARLT vice-presidents; some news from individual teachers, very welcome; the latest on IRIS, the Classical magazine that will be going into state schools from tomorrow; an excellent-sounding 9 days of Latin speaking in the USA; and this vital matter:


The survival/revival of Classics in the UK


Numbers taking Classical GCSE and A level exams rose slightly this year. This is an encouragement, a stimulus for us to do more in promoting the Classics.

Work goes on in preparing our Latin and Greek stand at The Language Show. After the first excitement of getting the idea accepted, and meeting representatives of the Classical bodies who have agreed to take part, comes the work of arranging insurance, agreeing on lighting, writing a summary for the exhibition programme, getting permission for vehicles to unload exhibition materials and so on. If you are a praying person, you might spare one prayer that we get everything done, and that we continue to work as happily together as we have up till now! The Language Show is at Olympia, November 3-5. You can get free tickets from the show organisers or from JACT (I think).

This is just one small effort in the whole campaign to revive Classics teaching in the UK.

The USA has shown us the way. To repeat a recent blog entry, with apologies to those who have already read it:

The JACT/ARLT publication The Journal of Classics Teaching smiled up at me from my doormat this morning - four comic masks decorate the front cover.

But what's inside is serious and important.

The theme of The Classics in the USA has turned out to be just what we in the UK need desperately. They have worked their caligae off over there and the number of students learning Latin is increasing. Now some of the teachers are sharing their experience with us.

Kenneth F. Kitchell Jr entitles his article: Hands across the Water - Proposed international co-operation to promote the Classics. He quotes the story of the man in the hole whose friend jumps down with him.

"Our guy says, 'Are you stupid? Now we're both down here.' The friend says, 'Yeah, but I've been down before and I know the way out.'"

They've been down in the depths, and they've found strategies that have worked to get them out.

Regular readers of the ARLT blog (if there are any) will be familiar with several of these - the National Latin Exam, which I have commended to the Classical community here, and which generates a huge amount of good publicity; the Junior Classical League with its local Chapters in each school and its huge annual get-together; getting senior students to share the secret with juniors that Latin can be fun.

And lots more wisdom.

If you are a member of JACT/ARLT and have received your JCT, do, I beg, read and act. If you aren't a member, then delay no longer. Go to the JACT website here (scroll to the bottom of the page) and open the application form here

So far the blog.

'Atriades' asked, in response to this, how much I know about the National Latin Exam, and about using it on this side of the pond. I don't know, but I know a website that does: You can find past papers, application forms, a telephone number and email address, all you need. I leave it to others to decide whether the American exam can be used as it is, or whether, with our different teaching methods and very restricted syllabus we need to produce our own version.

I may have gone on about all this at too great a length, but I believe it to be of the utmost importance.


From the chalk face


1. From Judy Nesbit at Alice Ottley, Worcester:

"I used the ARLT blog when I was teaching in Singapore - it was an excellent way to keep in touch with Classics in the UK! Once I have broadband up and running, I shall register for it on my UK email address.

"I have just discovered that I am to teach Year 12 and Year 13 Latin students together for the whole week, not just their set text. Do you happen to know of anyone else who does this and might be willing to share ideas?"

A later message: "I now discover that there will be between not more than four students altogether, so it should be possible to work something out."

If you have experience of this problem that you can share with Judy, email

2. From Megan Ashby in California:

Thank you so much for getting back to me and for all the awesome information! [on the ARLT website] My classes begin tomorrow, and being a first year teacher I need all the help I can get. I am teaching what is left of the Latin program at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, CA. Two classes remain, Latin II and III, of the original four. As I understand it, teachers in this department do not last long. I am hoping to change that and to revive this program and gain more enrollment in these classes.

I also teach freshmen English, which is when mythology is first introduced. Most of my fellow English teachers know little about mythology and spend little time on it. Again, I'm hoping to change that and give my students a firm foundation on the subject.. perhaps one day I will be able to create a classics class as an elective to further this foundation.

So, that is my school stands as far as classics goes.


Iris magazine


I have already noted this on the blog, but include it here also because it seems to me an excellent initiative that deserves our support. The first issue is out tomorrow:

From Lorna Robinson:

"A little while ago you interviewed me for the ARLT newsletter regarding iris, a new Classics magazine. Well, I'm delighted to say that the first issue will be out this September as is available to order at

"The magazine is part of a wider project to promote access to Classics in state schools, and half of all copies we print are being sent free to state schools across the country. If you could do anything to advertise that the magazine is out on 18th September, this would be wonderful.

"The more support we get, the more free copies we can send to state schools, put simply! It's a very exciting time for the project, and there are some wonderfully exciting initiatives state schools are embarking on this academic year with the iris project, some details of which can be found on"

Please also read what the Oxford Mail had to say, at


A Latin-speaking week+


I received this email recently. If you've already read it on the blog, skip this section

Further to Brian Bishop’s piece on speaking Latin, I thought I should send you some details of the Conventiculum Latinum, Annual Workshop for Spoken Latin, which was held in Lexington at the University Of Kentucky, from 14 to 23 July, 2006

The ‘conventiculum’ lasts nine days and takes place in Lexington, Kentucky. The campus is beautiful and the temperature at the time of the conventiculum is pretty hot and very humid. The accommodation on campus is basic but it is not too big a problem given that the seminars last from 9.30 – 6.00 every day (with breaks!) and then you reconvene for a barbeque/restaurant trip at 7.30 so are hardly in the room except to sleep-there is air conditioning. The campus is fairly empty apart from those attending the ‘conventiculum’ so the hall of residence is almost exclusively for the Latinists.

The first meeting is a dinner at which you can talk in Latin or English (or any other language) and get to know the other participants. We were 55 in total and I would estimate that about 30 had attended before. Most were either professors or school teachers and there were a few university students and self-taught enthusiasts. There were also three young children who attended and had their own mini-sessions!

There is a book by J.C.Traupman, ‘Conversational Latin for oral proficiency’ which proved very useful for learning some ‘modern’ vocabulary and conversational phrases.

The first session of the day is for beginners only (you are kept in beginners only groups for the first four days) and involved reading passages, asking questions to write biographies and answering questions about yourself. This session was attended by 15-25 students. Thereafter the other three sessions in the day involve you being placed into ‘greges’ of 3-6 students supervised by a ‘dux’ and you undertake one of the following:

describing and discussing a picture

reading and discussing a text

reading and paraphrasing a text (you receive the texts in advance)

writing & performing a play

The ‘duces’ are the most experienced Latin speakers and were all excellent and extremely patient. The evening barbeque allows you to chat in a slightly more relaxed manner and with the advantage of being able to drink wine/beer to aid the process! The barbeque is optional so you can have the odd evening off if you want. I should add that you sign a contract at the beginning promising to speak only Latin at all the sessions and barbeques and it was adhered to by everyone. There are also optional trips to restaurants and a baseball game and there are three bars opposite the hall of residence where many went after the barbeque for yet more Latin chat. A Roman banquet is held on one night and a concert/singing session on another.

On the final day, a discussion is held about methods of teaching Latin in schools and universities. There was also a demonstration by one primary school teacher who is using the direct method to teach.

Overall it is an amazing experience and I would thoroughly recommend it to all. It is good fun as the small class sizes allow you to participate fully and the atmosphere is very friendly and encouraging. The mix of people allows you to compare teaching methods and generally see some other approaches to Latin.

The price of the course was $75 and the accommodation is $20 per night so the whole thing comes to $275 before flights.

One other benefit is that emails of all members are distributed so you can keep practising by writing to others – some are also keen to write in ancient Greek if you desire to do so!

Finally, teachers have in the past taken groups of high school students to the course. All the contact information and general stuff is on the University of Kentucky website along with some good later Latin reading materials. You need to apply before April and preferably earlier to ensure a place.

Keith Rogers


Charles Craddock RIP


I shall let Charles Craddock's son Charlie make the sad announcement:

I wanted to let you know that my father Charles Craddock, one of your vice-presidents, passed away on Sept 11 after a long illness. He loved latin and was a great admirer and supporter of your society. I am asking that donations at the funeral are made to ARLT.

Best wishes

Charlie Craddock

In reply to my email asking about the funeral, Charlie wrote:

Thank you so much for your email. We have decided to have a very small family funeral next week but will be holding a memorial service, probably in Beaconsfield, in late Nov/early Dec. It would be marvellous if someone from the ARLT/Classical Assoc could pay a tribute to him. I am aware he was a very gifted scholar as well as a wonderfully witty, loving father.

It would be a great help if you could advertise the memorial service when we have a date.

Very best wishes


Re speaking a tribute:

Did you know Charles Craddock? Can you recommend someone who did? It is a privilege to be asked to do this. I hope we can rise to the occasion.


Louie Gravett RIP


Louie was a vice-president of ARLT who died on 9th September. I regret that I made an error in the announcement on the blog, and was corrected by a friend, Daphne Stevenson (nee Dennis), who wrote:

She fought for many years with great courage the Parkinson's disease which finally caused her death. I write as her very close friend since our student days at Manchester University and as an ex-member of JACT and ARLT myself.




I wish you a happy and productive school year. May your students increase in numbers and enthusiasm, and your head teacher be supportive.

Best wishes