Classics are #cool: why Latin is becoming more popular…

According to a recent article in The Times, the Latin language is ‘showing distinct signs of life’ thanks to Hebdomada Aenigmatum, or Weekly Puzzles, ‘a free online Latin language publication’ that offers everything from Sudoku to dot-to-dot puzzles.

The translation of popular fiction into Latin, such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, has also helped to introduce a new audience to the language. As a result, Latin courses are becoming increasingly popular.

Author of Telling Tales in Latin, Dr Lorna Robinson is the founder of The Iris Project, a charity dedicated to bringing classical culture and languages into the curriculum for all schools, not just those in more privileged areas. For its innovative language teaching projects, The Iris Project won the EU Language Label 2013. In a report by TheSchoolRun.com, figures show that only ‘four per cent of state primary schools offer Latin lessons compared to 40 per cent of independent schools.’ However, with the introduction of the new curriculum in 2014, which requires pupils to study one foreign language, Latin’s popularity amongst primary school children is set to rise.

Telling Tales in Latin

When speaking to TheSchoolRun.com about the importance of learning Latin, Dr Lorna Robinson argues that the language “helps children make connections between Latin and English grammar and vocabulary, and gives them the key to unlock English. It also gives them a deeper cultural heritage, helping them understand common concepts and phrases like ‘et cetera’ and ‘Achilles’ heel’. Indeed, Latin can be useful subject for a wide variety of professions, including medicine and law.

Want to give Latin a go?

Narrated by the chatty and imaginative Roman poet Ovid, Telling Tales in Latin: A New Latin Course and Storybook for Children takes young learners on a journey through some of the tales from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Along the way, they’ll pick up Latin words and grammar, explore the connections between Latin and English and discover how Ovid’s stories still speak to us today. Soham De’s vivid illustrations bring the stories to life, providing a fun introduction to Latin.

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Try Georg Cappellanus’ Latin Can Be Fun, an up-to-date conversational guide full of hundreds of useful expressions and phrases for everyday life. Originally published in Germany, it’s been translated by Peter Needham, former classics master at Eton College and the original translator for the Harry Potter books.

Get your copies of Latin Can Be Fun and Telling Tales in Latin and become an expert in no time!

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Making Mars Speak Latin

If you’ve picked up your copy of Telling Tales in Latin by Lorna Robinson (quick – the ebook’s still only £1.19 until the end of the month!) then you’ll be well equipped to take on the final frontier.

Dr Lorna Robinson, author of Telling Tales in Latin has been working with NASA on their ‘Making Mars Speak Latin’ project. A group of 18 volunteers from across the UK has been working together to translate into Latin captions for photographs taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The project is now live, with Latin-captioned images being shared on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. Read the BBC’s article about the project here.

Dr Lorna Robinson spoke to the BBC about the challenges of the Latin translation, saying:

There has been debate over whether to keep the Latin more simple or make it as close to classical Latin as possible. We reached a compromise – wanted to keep it clear and accessible to outsiders without being wrong.”

Take a look at one of the striking images that has been captioned in Latin, and explore the HiRISE Tumblr site:

http://beautifulmars-latin.tumblr.com/image/59683220460

Friday Freebie!

Well, we told you it was on the way, and now it’s here.

Lorna Robinson has written a teacher’s guide to accompany her new book Telling Tales in Latin, which is now available for you to download for free! The guide contains lesson ideas and activities, translations of all Latin text, running OCR Entry Level Latin vocabulary for each chapter as well as practice sheets which are based on OCR Entry Level requirements.

All through August Telling Tales in Latin is available for the bargain price of £1.19 on Kindle, so why not take advantage of the offer and pick it up, along with a copy of the Teacher’s Guide for free to go with it?

To find out more about Telling Tales in Latin, visit the Souvenir Press website. To download a copy of the Teacher’s Guide, take a look at the Iris Project website.

Telling Tales in Latin

Recent news for Telling Tales in Latin

The Iris Project awarded the EU Language Label 2013

“This project provides an opportunity for young children to be introduced to Latin, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds and who may not have the opportunity to find out about Latin at any other time of their school career.  The teaching I saw was excellent, based on an exciting programme designed by the Iris project.  In my long career (primary) I have not seen children identifying, analysing and discussing grammar at such a high level as I saw at St. Saviours.”

Stephen Addis review in full

“Congratulations to Lorna Robinson who has produced a real masterpiece, which brings the subject to life.”

E-book offer: Telling Tales in Latin

As part of the Amazon Kindle Summer deals, Telling Tales in Latin by Lorna Robinson will be available for the bargain price of £1.19 throughout August.

An exciting new Latin course and storybook for children, it brings Latin to life with its captivating stories taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and narrated by Ovid himself, combined with the lively, fun illustrations by Soham De.

What have the reviews been saying so far?

“Really inviting and engaging, with clear explanations and beautiful and fun illustrations by Soham De… an inviting, absorbing, and embracing learning experience. Young students new to the language will enjoy themselves, and love their learning, both of Latin and classical mythology, and be inspired to learn more. It’s a beautiful beginners’ book, the like of which most of us never had in the past, and I look forward to its success and the love that its students will have for it in years to come.” – The Classics Library

“This would be an excellent choice of text to teach children aged 9 and upwards the rudiments of Latin, and as the book has all the vocabulary needed for the OCR exam, it is a very versatile text indeed.” – The Garden Window blog

“‘Telling Tales in Latin’ will delight all who read it… This little book focuses excellently on the importance of literacy and language and makes it a superb and stimulating introduction to learning Latin… It is one of the best Latin course books currently available and will undoubtedly prove to be a great success, particularly with younger children. Congratulations to Lorna Robinson who has produced a real masterpiece, which brings the subject to life.” – Stephen Addis

And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, Lorna Robinson is in the process of putting together a Teacher’s Guide to Telling Tales in Latin, which will be available for free through the Iris Project website. We’ll be letting you know when the Teacher’s Guide is available, so if you’re interested keep checking back here!

Telling Tales in Latin

Telling Tales in Latin: A Review

Stephen Addis, a retired Classics teacher with 36 years’ experience of teaching Classics in state and independent schools, has recently reviewed Telling Tales in Latin by Lorna Robinson, and has kindly allowed us to reproduce his review in full here on our blog. Stephen taught Classics for 32 years as Head of Department, and since retiring teaches as part of the University of the Third Age. He has a  BA Honours Degree in Classics from Bristol University and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the School of Education, University of Bristol.

Read his review in full below, or on Amazon, where he rated it five stars out of five.

‘Telling Tales in Latin’ by Lorna Robinson is a new and exciting Latin course published by Souvenir Press. The Roman poet Ovid serves as the storyteller and his chatty, lively style will appeal to students of all ages from the outset.

A selection of mythological stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses forms the basis of the Latin text. The grammatical material and vocabulary cover the requirements of the OCR Entry Level qualification in Latin, making this course the only one which currently caters for this prescription.

From Chapter 1, students are encouraged to see and also to work out for themselves the connections between Latin and English derivatives, some of which will prove to be rather thought provoking, but will help to extend pupils’ knowledge and understanding of English vocabulary.

Each chapter follows a similar format, namely a brief introduction, the myth itself with helpful vocabulary, a clear explanation of the new grammatical point being studied and excellent suggestions for further activities.

Pupils are introduced to the most important areas of Latin grammar so that they can see how the structure of the language works. Verb tenses which are covered include the Present, Imperfect and Perfect with clear definitions of each. The four conjugations, termed ‘groups’, with their infinitives, are outlined. If any form of a Perfect tense verb is different, it appears each time in the vocabulary. Two very common irregular verbs (sum and possum) in the Present tense only are given, which Ovid calls ‘wild verbs’. Nouns (Masculine, Feminine and Neuter) in the first three declensions are given which are again referred to as ‘groups’ with explanations of subject and object rather than the use of Nominative and Accusative, although the term the ‘Dative’ is actually used and explained and reference is also made to it being the indirect object in the clause. The agreement of adjectives is covered as are question words including – ne. Imperatives, prepositional uses, phrases of time and superlatives are all glossed in the vocabulary. Every grammatical structure is explained in a concise and lucid way in Ovid’s inimitable style.

The book contains superb colourful illustrations either on every page or double page by Soham De which will help to enhance the students’ appreciation and enjoyment of each mythological tale.

The ‘Activities’ section at the end of all the chapters will provide students and teachers alike with a wealth of opportunities to explore the appeal of mythology in many different ways. Suggestions cover such areas as thinking about how myths might contain morals, personal responses, creative writing, drama activities, artwork and illustrations and reasons why the theme of metamorphosis has captured the imaginations of artists, sculptors and writers. Readers are encouraged to consider the enduring appeal of these tales and how they can relate to important modern ideas including relationships with other people and looking after the planet. Teachers will easily be able to develop cross-curricular links with many other subjects.

There are some errors which need to be corrected before the next print, the most serious being ‘currus’ termed a group 2 noun on page 63, but these can easily be remedied and will not detract from the reader’s enjoyment of the text.

‘Telling Tales in Latin’ will delight all who read it both visually and from its rich selection of tales. This little book focuses excellently on the importance of literacy and language and makes it a superb and stimulating introduction to learning Latin. Students will be inspired to explore more of Ovid’s stories and their enjoyment of Latin will be increased greatly. It is one of the best Latin course books currently available and will undoubtedly prove to be a great success, particularly with younger children. Congratulations to Lorna Robinson who has produced a real masterpiece, which brings the subject to life.

Thank you to Stephen Addis for allowing us to reproduce his review here in full.

Telling Tales in Latin

Reviews round-up

This week has got off to a flying start here at Souvenir Press as we arrived in to the office this gloomy Monday morning to a selection of wonderful reviews of our new and recent titles. Have you written a review of a Souvenir Press title and want it to be included in our next review round-up here on the blog? Send me a message in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, or by email using the address in the Contact Us page.

Telling Tales in Latin by Lorna Robinson

“Each chapter tells a story and draws the reader straight into Latin with stories, exercises and suggestions, cleverly set out to give the reader confidence that he can read and understand Latin. The colourful illustrations add greatly to the enjoyment of the book. It’s a very interesting approach which shows that Latin is still relevant and enjoyable today.” – Parents In Touch (read the full review)

Telling Tales in Latin is an inviting, absorbing, and embracing learning experience. Young students new to the language will enjoy themselves, and love their learning, both of Latin and classical mythology, and be inspired to learn more. It’s a beautiful beginners’ book, the like of which most of us never had in the past, and I look forward to its success and the love that its students will have for it in years to come.” – The Classics Library (read the full review)

Where the Ghosts Walk by Peter Underwood

“‘Where the Ghosts Walk’ is set to become the handbook and must-read for every seasoned and every would-be paranormal investigator. … If I could give this book 12 out of 10 then I would. Excellent work Mr Underwood….excellent, excellent work.” – Ghost Investigators blog (read the full review)

Welcome to Biscuit Land by Jessica Thom

“An honest, moving account… This book is a valuable one for anyone who lives with Tourettes or knows someone who does. …  Jessica Thom is inspirational and her story will help, encourage and amuse millions of people around the globe who understand or want to learn what it’s like living with Tourettes.” – Blogcritics (read the full review)

Code Name Caesar by Jerome Preisler and Kenneth Sewell

“The only submarine in history to sink another submarine in underwater combat.” – Britain at War

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

“The standard work for artists, teachers and millions of students and amateur artists… It should be on every artist’s bookshelf.” – The Artist, June 2013 issue

Tintin in the New World by Frederic Tuten

“A playful and imaginative expansion of the boy reporter’s life experience; he loses his virginity and receives instruction from the main characters in Thomas Mann’s cerebral door-stopper The Magic Mountain.” – Times Literary Supplement (read the full blog)

Author Corner: Discovering Classical Myths by Lorna Robinson

Lorna Robinson is the author of Telling Tales in Latin, a new Latin course and storybook for children. With Ovid as the narrator, this book is an ideal first introduction to Latin, and features some of the most famous classical myths including stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. These stories are vital for capturing children’s imaginations, and colour illustrations throughout by Soham De help bring these magical stories to life. Telling Tales in Latin features all the grammar and vocabulary needed for the OCR entry level Latin qualification.

Lorna Robinson tells us how she discovered the magic of the myths of ancient Greece, stories that sparked her imagination and which she believes are the way to engage children with studying the classics. Here she shares some of her favourite classical myths.

Like many people, I learned about the myths of the Greeks and Romans as a young child, long before I learned any Latin. When I did first learn Latin, it was alongside descriptions of slaves and masters in country villas, remote and staid characters far removed from the weird, dark, colourful, alive stories that had long fascinated me.

My very first encounter was through the “Usbourne Book of Greek myths and Legends”, which had a picture of the Minotaur on the cover – I can still remember the huge curling horns and the terrible, but oddly human, face. Inside its pages, tales spilled out, precious and mysterious and frightening all at once, in a way my other childhood books were not. All these years later, I still carry those stories with me, and they’ve shaped my world and fuelled my imagination.

Here are two of my favourites!

Orpheus and Eurydice

This is my all-time favourite myth, and appears at the end of my book Telling Tales in Latin, a new Latin course and storybook for children, for that very reason.

The story of a man with the unearthly talent of moving all living things with his song. He lost his wife, and then dared to enter the underworld to ask for her back. Orpheus sings a song of grief so beautiful that even the ghosts weep and Hades is moved. Hades agrees to return Eurydice to life, but on one condition: Orpheus must not turn around before they reach the earth’s surface. They make the gloomy, eerie, lonely ascent, Orpheus first, Eurydice behind. Just as they are getting close, his fear overcomes him and he turns to see if she’s actually there. She instantly slips back into the underworld forever.

There are many things about this story which have haunted me. The fact that this man with his superhuman gift has such a human flaw, and lets his fears overwhelm him is very moving. There’s the image of this one man singing his heart out in that dark, foreboding land, and the ghosts being spellbound as his song enchants the underworld. And finally, there is the unanswerable question of why Hades set this rule at all – is it because he knew Orpheus would fail? Why did there have to be a condition? And why did Orpheus give in, so close to the end?

Persephone and Demeter

This is the story of how we came to have seasons. The tale goes that Persephone, daughter of Demeter, the goddess of fertility and plants, was picking flowers in a field, when Hades saw her and seized her away to the underworld to be his wife. Demeter searched high and low but couldn’t find her daughter. She grieved and mourned, and while she did this, the plants and crops all withered and died as she neglected to care for them. Eventually, she discovered that Hades had her daughter and she went to get her back. While Persephone had been in the underworld, she had eaten six pomegranate seeds and so she had to spend six months of every year with Hades, but for the remaining six months, she could return to earth to be with her mother. And so it was forever more, that for the six months that she is in the underworld each year, Demeter grieves and all the crops and plants and trees die – this is our autumn and winter. But when she returns, everything flourishes again and we have our spring and summer.

As with the Orpheus story, part of the fascination for me with this story is the strange and unwritten rule. Why does eating in the underworld invoke this rule – what does it represent about life and death and beliefs surrounding these things? Also, there is the human element within this goddess who is so powerful, that she grieves desperately for her daughter. And finally, for me there is something wonderful about explaining the seasons in such human, emotional terms.

So these are my favourites. What are yours?

Telling Tales in LatinTelling Tales in Latin by Lorna Robinson, illustrated by Soham De, is published May 2013 by Souvenir Press.