If you are interested in the new Cambridge e-learning project and couldn't join the web chat this afternoon, you may be interested in the complete transcript. I have put up 4 photos out of those that were on screen during the chat.
Giles: “I am fascinated by languages and am already studying French, Spanish and German. I would love to learn Latin. Any advice?”
I'd say it sounds like you've got a good understanding of languages already. I'd contact your local library and find out any evening classes in your area. Otherwise log on to our website and sign up as an independent learner http://www.CambridgeSCP.com
Nigel: “I have heard that spoken and written Latin are very different is that true?”
Yes, it's true we don't a lot about spoken Latin but it was definitely different to written Latin.
Becky: “Why is Latin not used in Italy any more?”
It's still taught in Italy, but modern Italian has changed a great deal over the last 2000 years just as English has changed since Shakespeare's time.
Jemima P: “Why is Latin still used for things like mottos and crests?”
A lot of organisations use Latin in their mottos and crests because it sends out an image of durability, strength and tradition.
Harriet: “Do you ever worry that Latin will soon die out as a language due to people no longer taking up the subject?”
Will and Chris: We are constantly looking at new ways to make Latin interesting and relevant to new generations. That's why we've created the E-Learning Resource to make Latin available to everybody of any age in the country. There's already evidence that the resource is helping to increase the number of students studying Latin.
Irene: “How difficult is Latin to learn for an adult? Is it easier or more difficult to learn than other languages? “
Will and Chris: It's no more easy or difficult than any other language, and many people like the fact that you don't need to learn to speak it. If you want to learn it then I'd say go ahead!
Jane: “When I was in school, the International Baccalaureate program didn't count Latin as an option for a language course because it was considered “dead”. What is your response to this?”
Will and Chris: That's unfortunate! Latin is an incredibly useful language for today's students. It's great to learn French if you end up working in France but I believe that it's more useful for most students if they learn Latin, because then they can more easily learn the language of whichever modern European country that they happen to end up working in.
Grant: “Books like Eats, Shoots and Leaves have become very popular recently as many of us have very poor grammar. Do you think the teaching of Latin could improve this failing?”
Will:I've not read Eats, Shoots and Leaves but many of my students do say that Latin really does help then with their English Grammar and with their understanding of languages more generally…
…Chris: I have read Eats, Shoots and Leaves, enjoyed it and it is seriously contributing to my use of grammar, as is my involvement with the Cambridge E-Learning Resource.
Moderator said: Will says that there's a mistake on the cover of Eats, Shoots and Leaves – tell us more . . .
Will: It says it takes a zero tolerance approach to punctuation, what it probably means is a zero tolerance approach to incorrect punctuation!!
David: “The Latin which you heard in Passion of the Christ, was it all correct?”
Will: I've not seen the film yet but I understand that the Latin is all correct. It uses forms from spoken Latin rather than written Latin.
David: “What plans are there to get the DVD into schools that do not at present teach Latin, and how can Latin teachers help get Latin introduced into these schools?”
Moderator said: The answer to David's question is on its way . . .!
Chris: The DfES has funded the development of the DVD which makes it tremendous value for money to schools already…
… Will: The Cambridge School Classics Project is working with many organisations and schools across the UK to help introduce Latin. Last week I visited teachers introducing Latin in schools in Lambeth, Devon and Derbyshire.
Marianne: “How does one goes about enrolling, the cost, etc?”
Will and Chris said: The cost depends whether you are enrolling the entire class or just an individual. All information is available on our website http://www.CambridgeSCP.com
Joan: “What sort of qualifications will I achieve by doing this course?”
Will and Chris said: You can gain certificated qualifications from the University of Cambridge and can progress on to GCSE or even A-level.
David: “Would you care to comment on the remark by Howard Davis head of LSE on Any Questions (Radio 4 17 Sept): “People do a lot of demeaning things like boxing and learning Latin.” ?”
Will: I'd question whether Howard Davis has ever tried boxing or learning Latin! We can help him with the latter.
Joan: “What sort of qualifications will I achieve by doing this course?”
Will and Chris said: … The DVD itself covers Key Stage 3 and we have further online resources and support for the later stages of your learning.
Zed: “When I was in school I had to choose between doing either Latin or German. I'd have liked to have leant a bit of both but in the end decided on German. Do you think schools have a responsibility to make subjects like Latin more readily available? It seemed crazy that a language student couldn't study Latin and German”
Will: Yes, it's important that schools do all they can to meet the learning desires of their students. However this has traditionally been quite difficult because specialist Latin teachers are hard to find. The aim of our project is to help students in exactly your situation study the subject you want to study…
Chris: Our project helps headteachers to allocate their finite resources to meet the personal needs of learners.
Marianne: “What vocational opportunities and university courses would be open to someone doing Latin A Level?”
Will: Classics graduates are the most employable graduates according to recent research. With an A-level in Latin, you could go on to study Classics at university and then take your pick of hundreds of great careers eg banking, law, theatre, journalism, computing, research etc etc…
David: “Is there a list of people in the UK who are willing to help individual learners with the DVD course?”
Will: Yes, the Cambridge School Classics Project is co-ordinating this support. Feel free to contact us at any time.
Andrew: “Why is Latin still used in Religious ceremonies?”
Will: This is just tradition, particularly associated with the Catholic church. The Vatican still treats Latin as a living language and has just released a modern Latin dictionary.
gus : “When did Latin first start being used and by who?”
Will and Chris said: Latin developed as the language of the Romans around the fifth century BC. Because the Romans went on to conquer large parts of Europe Latin started to become part of many modern European languages.
Sue: “What can be done to help to 'modernise' Latin, to make it seem more relevant to students today?”
Will and Chris said: One way, of course, is simply to use our resource which is similar to a soap opera set in the first century AD. This will bring Latin alive to you in a very modern way. You will live and breathe it through the filmed dramas, documentaries and interactive activities…
..Will: It's also important to show how the study of the ancient world informs our understanding of the modern world. Compare Romans watching gladiators fight to their death with students watching films where characters are shot and murdered. Why does death count as entertainment?
on the subject of films using Latin, gavin wants to know: “Do you approve of the way Hollywood uses Latin?”
Will: I think that any method of raising the profile of Latin is good for our subject. Hollywood doesn't always get the facts right but it does reach many millions of people.
Again, keeping the flow of Will and Chris's answers, David wants to know: “Is it true that there is a radio station somewhere in Finland which broadcasts only in Latin?”
Will: Yes, that's true! Maybe do a search on a search engine for news in Latin.
A few people have asked if Chris and Will learnt Latin at school? If not, how much have they learned by working on this project?
Chris: I learned Latin at school for two years. My experience in using the E-Learning Resource to progress my Latin has been far and above more enjoyable and hence more productive. I will continue!
Will: I started learning Latin when I was eleven and have been studying it ever since. I guess I am addicted!
adam : “When is Latin used in modern day speech? Why is it so important to re-introduce it to schools?”
Will and Chris said: Over 50% of English words are derived from Latin, so to understand English properly it's helpful to understand Latin. Over 60% of words in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian are derived from Latin so by learning just one language you can unlock the key to many. But it's also important to remember that learning Latin is also incredibly interesting and enjoyable in it's own right.
Rachael: “Is it true that Latin is being dropped by some examination boards?”
Yes, one examination board is dropping Latin in 2006 but it will still be available at GCSE and A-level beyond that date from another examination board.
gus : “What is your most favourite thing about Latin?”
Will: I love the variety. One minute I'm reading great poetry, the next I'm looking at classical architechture, the next I'm investigating issues of philosophy or history. It's like every subject rolled into one.
Chris: Similarly for me, it enlightens most of life.
Thanks for all your interest, it has been great chatting with you. We look forward to working with you through the E-Learning Resource. Feel free to contact us for help and advice in learning Latin whenever you like. http://www.CambridgeSCP.com
Moderator: Thanks for joining us today – sorry to those whose questions we didn't get the time to answer but we hope you've all enjoyed today's webchat.