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.
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.
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.