From one of the authors, Katharine Radice…
In celebration of KS3 Classics!
Over the past two years it’s become really clear that KS3 Classics is thriving in many schools. The recent literacy drive has played to one of our strongest cards, and Latin is well placed to take centre stage as a lynchpin in the process of developing key literacy skills. Latin helps students understand parts of speech, and how units of a sentence fit together; this in turn helps with English punctuation and boosts students’ confidence in understanding how their own language works. Derivation games offer an exciting way for students to see how languages evolve over time.
Literacy, however, is just one of the many advantages Latin can bring to a KS3 curriculum. When teachers use Latin as a springboard to connect with wider Classical culture, students have the chance to engage with a thrilling range of material. Classics offers a rich selection board for students who are looking for bloodthirsty stories of brutal ambition, or great speeches to showcase rhetoric, or dazzling myths containing the weird and the wonderful, or the beauty of the graceful forms within Classical art and architecture, or a set of religious and cultural values which are an interesting counterpoint to our own. Stretching out further to the world of the Ancient Greeks brings with it the big ideas of ancient philosophy, the haunting power of ancient tragic drama, or the crowd appeal of fairly ribald comedy.
What’s more, Latin is in many ways the perfect entry language for students who find it difficult to get to grips with a modern foreign language. In Latin there are principles and forms which repeat in every passage a student reads, and – as a read rather than a spoken language – there is often more time to think and work things out. Judicious teaching can help build students’ confidence by focussing on a suitably-sized body of core material: English helps with much of the vocabulary, and many of the most important endings are easily recognisable, both by sight and by sound. This means that there is always room for teachers to make use of regularly appearing core content to give weaker students the positive experience of recognising familiar material. At any level, students are motivated by getting things right: it is possible to build simple technical exercises into any piece of translation, and use these to help enable students across the ability range.
As teachers, we need to make the most of all that KS3 Classics can offer: if we choose materials which are structured in order to appeal to a broad range of ability, and if we aim to engage with wider appeal of the broader Classics curriculum we can make Latin a really positive part of any KS3 curriculum.
Katharine Radice is co-author of a new KS3 Latin course, de Romanis. Further details are available at www.bloomsbury.co.uk/deromanis and teachers can sign up via this website for pre-release samples.