Latin at Manor Field Primary School

Posted: 24th May 2024

Over the past few weeks Andrew Doe, teacher of Classics and Latin at Burgess Hill Girls, and a team of Lower Sixth Latin and Classical Civilisation students ventured out to Manor Field Primary School to deliver taster lessons to Year 5 students, introducing them to the study of Latin and life in Roman Britain. Amelie and Madison Deluca-Perry report back. 

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We used a textbook called Minimus, which allowed the pupils to see the words in the context through illustrated examples; this enabled the Year 5s to acquire problem-solving skills by learning a new language. In the first lesson, the students learned to introduce themselves in Latin, responding to the question ‘quis es’ (who are you?) with ‘name’ sum (I am ‘name’). As well as teaching them background information about the Roman family in the textbook, the students were taught about singular and plural descriptive words.

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In the second lesson, we focused on masculine and feminine endings, which introduced grammatical aspects of the Latin language. The students really engaged with these activities and learned about the cultural side of the Classical world, particularly how the Romans celebrated birthdays. A Year 5 pupil and one of our Sixth Form team (Martha) were celebrating their birthdays, and the classes thoroughly enjoyed a jovial rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ in Latin. By the end of this lesson, the students could identify the difference between gendered endings, for example, ‘villa’ and ‘servus’.

In the third lesson, the students learned different adjective agreements according to genders: adjectives ending in -a are feminine and -us are masculine. This was introduced through the character names, like Lepidina (the mother in the story) and (the father) Flavius. Then the Year 5s enjoyed an exciting snap exercise. The Year 5 students were absolutely brilliant and enthusiastically worked through each match, exclaiming eheu! (oh no!) when they missed out and euge! (hooray!) when they won.

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These sessions not only benefited the Year 5s at Manor Field School, the Sixth Form students also benefited. We were very grateful for the opportunity to meet these pupils, not only to give the Year 5s an introduction to the Latin language and Roman Britain but also to show our passion for the ancient world. It was a fantastic experience and we hope that this will inspire the next generation of students to study Classics. We are grateful to the Classics department for making this possible and Manor Field School for welcoming us!

Mr Doe, our teacher of Classics said:

“A project like this shows the value of collaborating with schools and students who are keen for additional exposure to the Classical languages. Introducing them via the medium of Latin to important grammatical concepts and vocabulary that are such an integral part of our own language makes for challenging, fun, and lively learning. Without a doubt our own students have also found that their own understanding and enjoyment of the subject has been enhanced by sharing it with such an enthusiastic and lively community of learners as the Year 5 students at Manor Field Primary School.”

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