Latin at Bilborough College

I am so pleased. I want to share my delight with colleagues who will appreciate it, because my college has not responded. This is the third year that Latin GCSE has been offered as an additional subject to year 13 A level students at my state sixth form. I make no bones; I love Latin and I am dedicated to state students having the same opportunities as private school students. We have in effect 8 months to prepare for the higher tier GCSE OCR Latin. 31 took the exam this year. 23 achieved A*-C with 2 A*s, 10As 7Bs and 4Cs. I am so proud and if other teachers would like advice regarding introducing GCSE Latin into the curriculum, I would love to talk with them about promoting so important a subject.

Sean Cormac

Languages – Ad hoc Latin club has ‘cult’ appeal

Members achieve impressive results without qualified teacher

Students at an East Dunbartonshire secondary are scoring top grades in Latin – even though the school has no qualified teacher in the subject and no timetabled classes.

Bearsden Academy depute headteacher Annette MacKay said that Latin has become a “cult” favourite among high-achieving students since an after-school club was set up in 2011-12.

Five students sat Intermediate 1 Latin that year, with another five doing so last year – and all achieved the highest award of A at band 1. Both times they were the only Intermediate 1 Latin candidates anywhere in Scotland. One student even took Intermediate 2 last year, also earning an A at band 1.

The club, which meets for about an hour every second week, was set up at the request of a student who wanted to study at Oxbridge. Ms MacKay had told the student, Anna McDonald, that her application could do with “something to make it stand out”, and suggested Latin or Mandarin – although “whether I could find someone to teach it was another matter”.

The club that emerged has proved attractive to aspiring law, medicine and languages students. It is run by Ms MacKay, who read languages at university but whose last sustained experience of Latin was sitting the Higher some years ago. In the first year, a regular group of eight S6 students worked through Cambridge Latin Course textbooks. There were nine regulars last year and Ms MacKay expects a similar number in 2013-14………….

read the rest of the story here

Imperium from Julian Morgan

Julian Morgan is a good friend of ARLT and well known for his resources for Classics. Here is his announcement of a brand new course for teaching Latin:

Dear Friends and Colleagues

I have waited a long time to write this email. In fact, it’s been six years. That’s how long it has taken to write the all-new Imperium Latin course, which I launched on Midsummer’s Day, 2013.
Imperium has run its trials, is now proved and fully resourced, and it’s ready for use in your classroom. I am already receiving strong interest from some schools and it seems that there will soon be more of us teaching the course than has been the case until now.
I hope that you will take a little time to look at the website at and that this material may be of interest to you.
Every part of Imperium is based on downloadable resources and even the four books are being printed on demand. This means that the project will stay dynamic, with continuing input from new users in the future.
Ready for a change? Or unsure about what it would mean for you? Have a look at the document Why Imperium? – at this link:
Have a great summer – and maybe next year will bring some real changes to your Latin teaching…
Julian Morgan

Cicero in Verrem

Of particular and immediate interest to those of us teaching A Level Latin this year is this initiative from Open Book Publishers which, as their Marketing Manager, Gabriele Civiliene explains  is

 ” an innovative, non-profit , Open Access publisher run by academic scholars based at the University of Cambridge. For our website go to 

 We are soon to publish the book that might be of interest to the members of the bloggers of ARLT – that is, Cicero, Against Verres, 2.1.53–86: Latin Text with Introduction, Study Questions, Commentary and English Translation by Prof Ingo Gildenhard from the Department of Classics and Ancient History, Durham University. (For a copy of the PDF flyer featuring this title go to the ARLT website.)  The book will be available in 3 formats – digital, hardback, and paperback. Its complete version will be also available for free access direct from our website on Google Books. Read more about it here:–against-verres–2-1-53-86–latin-text-with-introduction–study-questions–commentary-and-english-translation

Gabriele Civiliene
Marketing Manager
For our latest catalogue :

Hans Orberg and his contribution to Latin pedagogy.

“Orberg is the natural successor to W H D Rouse in that his Lingua Latina per se illustrata is the natural choice for anyone wanting to teach via the Direct Method….”

Here is David Carter’s article, which also appears in the current edition of the JCT.  Orberg’s lecture can be found on the ARLT website

“Ask a sixth-former studying French or Russian to read a random page of Moliere or Tolstoi, and they will probably make a decent fist of it.   Ask a sixth-former studying Latin to read a random page of Caesar or Ovid, and after only a line or two they will come grinding to a halt and have to reach for the dictionary.

Why is the fluency of students of Latin so abysmal when compared with that of students of modern languages?   Latin teachers are fertile with excuses, but an outside observer would conclude that the inferior results are simply down to inferior teaching methods.

Modern Language (MFL) teaching is fast paced, with teachers insisting that the language must be spoken as much as possible during class.  As a result far more of the language goes through the student’s head, which improves their vocabulary; they are forced to develop the ability to handle it at a brisk pace; and they have to process the words in the order they are spoken (what chance does any student have of ever becoming fluent who is taught such barbarisms as “find the verb, the subject and the object?”)

In short, the “direct method” acts as a discipline, which forces the student to develop the skills to read and speak the language quickly.  Students of Latin on the other hand, encouraged to think of Latin as a sort of intellectual word puzzle which they have all the time in the world to translate, simply never read it fast enough to become fluent.

In revolt against the killing slowness of traditional Latin teaching many teachers have thought to apply the direct methods used in MFL.  For such teachers the primary coursebook will usually be Hans Orberg’s Lingua Latina per se illustrata.

Hans Henning Orberg (1920 – Feb 17th 2010) was educated at the University of Copenhagen, and qualified as a teacher of English, French and Latin in 1946.   Orberg records that from the beginning he practised the direct method of teaching in his English and French lessons, but with Latin he found this impossible.  However:

“I could see no reason why Latin should be taught by methods totally different from those used in the teaching of modern languages. I felt that Latin is a foreign language like other foreign languages and should be taught by similar methods. I was inspired by the work of English direct-method pioneers like W. H. D. Rouse and R. B Appleton, and by my compatriot Otto Jespersen and his disciple Arthur M. Jensen, who had launched an English reading course called English by the Nature Method.  His idea was to make every sentence presented to the students immediately intelligible per se, or self-explanatory, by grading and organizing the intro­duction of vocabulary and grammar. That means that there is no need to translate or explain grammatical points in the students’ own language, they are enabled to discover for themselves directly the meaning of the words and sentences and the functioning of the grammatical rules.”

Orberg published his first book, Lingua Latina secundum naturae rationem explicata in 1955. After many years of classroom teaching he revised it in 1990 and changed the title to Lingua Latina per se illustrata (from now on “LL”).    The LL course consists of two parts, Familia Romana and Roma Aeterna, along with a series of classic texts – Caesar, De Bello Gallico;  Plautus Menaechmi, Petronius Cena Trimalchionis, Plautus Amphitryo, Sallustius et Cicero: Catilina.

Because LL is written entirely in Latin it may be used anywhere.  It is popular in Europe, especially Spain and Italy, but also has followers in France, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia and Poland.   In Italy the Lingua Latina system has been recognised this year as the best recommendable alternative to traditional teaching by the Ministry of Education in Rome, largely due to its championship by Luigi Miraglia, one of Italy’s leading Latinists.   In the United States Lingua Latina is quite widely used, especially at college level, and there is an active Orberg List on the teachers’ website

However, in Britain Orberg and LL are practically unknown.  So in the remainder of this article I will describe the first book of the series, Famila Romana, in some detail for UK  readers.

Theory – underlying principles

There are 35 chapters and 328 pages in Familia Romana, all in Latin.   “The object”, says O, “is to accustom the student, from the start, to read and understand the Latin text as Latin without the interference of English, or with a minimum interference of English.”  

To achieve this O. has written an elementary Latin text in which the student can infer the meaning and function of all new words and grammatical forms from the context.   “The text is carefully graded.  The progressive introduction of words, inflections, and struc­tures, with due regard to their frequency in Latin writers, should conform to a well defined pro­gram which not only ensures immediate comprehension, but also assimilation and consolidation owing to the constant recurrence in new surroundings of words and forms already introduced and under­stood.” 

Students “are enabled to work out for themselves, that is to infer or induce, the rules of grammar. No grammatical rule is formulated until the students have seen so many self-evident examples of the phenomenon in context that the rule only states something that they already “feel in their bones”. Such inductive reasoning and learning per exempla is the most effective way to assimilate both vocabulary and grammar.”

Practice – teaching in class

There are 35 stories in LL.   The teacher starts by reading the story aloud, with correct stress and pronunciation of the Latin, while the students follow in their books.  The text runs two-thirds across the page; the remaining third holds notes on any new words or grammar. These take the form of pictures, or simple explanations in Latin.

After the teacher’s reading the students do not have to translate the Latin into English, but individually are asked to read aloud portions of the text.  From their phrasing and pronunciation of the Latin the teacher can usually tell whether they have understood or not.

Each chapter is followed by a section on grammar, Grammatica Latina, and three exercises, Pensum A, B and C.   Pensum A is a grammatical exercise, where the missing endings are to be filled in.   In Pensum B students are asked to fill the blanks with new words introduced in the chapter.   Pensum C consists of questions to be answered with short Latin sentences.

The students are allowed to keep their books open during these exercises and to find the answers in the text.  The fact, says O,  that they are able to go to the correct point in the story to find the answer proves that they have understood the Latin. [Answers to all these exercises are provided within the Teacher’s Materials handbook.]

O. demands that after the story starts only Latin should be used, but he does not prohibit the use of English entirely.  Before starting he is happy for the teacher to discuss the chapter in English.   And if at the end of the story students are still puzzled by a Latin word even after the Latin explanations, a one or two word English equivalent is acceptable.    Grammatical explanations can be in English.

Am I as pretty now as when you married me?

Finally, an extract from one of the stories to give a flavour of Lingua Latina.  O. is emphatic that the stories must be enjoyable in themselves, to hold the students’ attention, and to make them benevoli, attenti, dociles.    Often they are informed with a certain sly humour.   For example in capitulum XIX  Iulius tells his wife Aemilia how he fell in love and married her because she was the most beautiful girl in Rome.   A delicate conversation follows in which a man who doesn’t know num from nonne will find himself in serious trouble:

Aemilia:   Num hodie minus pulchra sum quam tunc eram?

Iulius faciem uxoris intuens, “Certe”, inquit, “matrona tam pulchra es quam virgo eras, mea Aemilia.  Omnes pulchritudinem tuam laudant.”  Tum vero formam eius spectans: “At minus gracilis es quam tunc.  eo enim tempore gracilior eras quam hoc signum Veneris.”

Aemilia signum Veneris aspicit, cuius corpus gracilius ac minus est quam ipsius.  “Certe tam gracilis hodie non sum,”  inquit, “sed quare me crassiorem fieri putas?”

Iulius ridens respondet: “Quia nunc cibum meliorem es quam tunc edebas.”

Aemilia:  “Id quod nunc edo nec melius nec peius est quam quod apud parentes meos edebam.”

Iulius:  “Ergo plus es quam tunc, Aemilia!


A lecture by Hans Orberg describing the ideas behind Lingua Latina per se illustrata may be found on the website of the Association for the Reform of Latin Teaching (   Editions of Lingua Latina per se illustrata are published by Focus Publishing in English-speaking countries, and by Domus Latina in Europe.  “

David Carter

Harry Potter and the Teaching of Latin

 arltblogger is grateful for this piece to David Baker, Professor of Renaissance Literature at Rutgers University, a Latinist, and in his spare time a “humor blogger”. See what you think   

Program aims to make ancient language ‘more accessible’

Video game has a mission for NFA students: Learn Latin
Completing missions means translating and understanding Latin, which directly leads to how and when missions are finished. Each team is a Roman character,

As part of a pilot program for introductory Latin, students like Dombrowski are learning the ancient language in a very hip way: a computer game complete with missions, a special stone and a goal of saving the world….. read more