I first became interested in Latin and Roman culture when my family moved to Italy for six months the summer between my 4th and 5th grade year. My father, a naval officer who coordinated the intelligence unit in determining bomb strikes against Serbia, was quite busy, but my mother took us on trips up and down the “boot” of Italy: Venice, Tuscany, Milan, Rome, Naples, and Pompeii. Who wouldn’t be hooked on Roman culture after that kind of exposure? I studied Latin throughout high school and in college, and am now entering my ninth year in grades 3-6.
We learn Latin at WA by speaking in Latin, reading Latin, listening to Latin, writing in Latin, and acting in Latin. Every Latin class, students are doing Latin. I hope that you will often ask your student what is new in Latin, so that he or she will have the opportunity to show off the latest Latin skill or vocabulary.
By studying Latin, your students are engaging not only the language, but the people, events, and culture which formed the foundations of Western Civilization. Though the Roman Empire fell to the barbarians in the 5th century, one might say that the barbarians fell to Latin. They adopted the language and much of the culture of the Romans. As the Empire broke apart and there was no longer a centralized power, dialects of Latin began to differ more widely in the far-flung reaches of the Empire. In time these dialects became Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian. The invasion of England by the French in 1066 brought Latin-based language to the British isles, so that though English is not derived from Latin, today 60 percent of English vocabulary is derived from Latin.
We use a reading approach to learning Latin, instead of an analytical system. In learning new vocabulary by analogy, pictures, and context, students not only retain the information better, they are better equipped to learn unfamiliar words in the future. Grammar is learned as it is needed to read a passage. In order to gain confidence in their language skills, students are asked to use as many modalities as possible, so they listen to, speak, write, and act out Latin.