Lingua Latina

Students slowly strode into Room 413, chatting amongst themselves and settling in at their desks. They each pulled out thick binders, filled with folders and stacks of paper, along with colorful, unique pencil cases. “Please pull out all project related documents,” began Alice McIntyre, Class 7 Latin teacher, directing the students’ attention towards the lesson.

Once the students had collected themselves, Ms. McIntyre began with a brief overview of the project they had begun the week prior. The young linguists were tasked with creating their own story based on a series of pictures that had no particular order. Students were required to caption the photos with 1-2 sentences, in Latin, detailing the scene before them. The only specifics given with the pictures were characters’ names, including “Scintilla,” the main character; “Haratia,” her son; and the dog “Argus.” Despite all students being provided the same pictures, each will create their own unique story. 

Although Latin may be a “dead language” (no longer spoken natively), learning it provides a deeper understanding of the multilingual world today. Languages, such as French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian, which are coined “Romance languages” because of their Roman origins, derive from Latin and are, therefore, quite similar. In addition, over 60-percent of words in the English language originate from Latin. 

Following their written work, students were required to record themselves reading their story aloud, using the webcam feature on their laptops. “We’ve done a lot of listening until this point, so we’ve been talking about the distinct sounds in Latin,” Ms. McIntyre explained, detailing how the language can be tricky to master. English speakers would pronounce Latin ‘C’ sounds, for example, as they would a hard ‘K’ sound and V sounds as they would pronounce a W. 

“Use as much of the vocabulary as you’re comfortable with,” she gently reminded students, circling the room and glancing at different projects. Each student sat at her desk, fully engaged in the activity, quietly penciling in final details. Students were able to use a variety of vocabulary including “sum” (I am), “laborat” (is working), “fabula” (story) and “subitō" (suddenly). 


Soon, the class size began to dwindle, as students finished their captions and headed to the library to record the oral rendition of their work. Ms. McIntyre noted that having the students read their projects aloud helps them with their memorization and pronunciation skills. 

Although Latin is a required course for Class 7, the students’ enthusiasm for learning the language is apparent. “They’re really independent, they jump right in,” commented Ms. McIntyre, affectionately gushing over her hard-working class. One student remarked that she really enjoys Latin because of the “connections you can make to English and other languages. I take French now and I took Spanish until 5th grade. Latin helps!”