Latin lives on

The Oxford Times:

THE language of Latin could be resurrected as a mainstream subject at primary schools throughout Oxfordshire.

Latin courses are taking place at schools across the county as part of the curriculum thanks to the Iris Project, a Classics outreach programme run by Oxford University graduate Dr Lorna Robinson.

Children are taking part in activity-based Latin lessons for one or two hours a week, aimed at developing literacy.

Dr Robinson hopes the year-long pilot project could culminate in Latin having a permanent place on the primary school curriculum.

She said: "If the courses continue to go well in the schools we think this is a realistic target.

"If we have evidence of how Latin is helping to improve children's literacy, and helping them to pick up other languages, then it has to be the first step towards Latin moving on to the curriculum full-time.

"Primary schools will soon be required to teach foreign languages, and Latin certainly helps youngsters pick up other languages."

She said the Latin courses involved a series of activity-based lessons in which children learn about language, how it is put together, how it evolves and how different languages connect. There is also a myth and storytelling aspect to each lesson.

She said: "The children absolutely love it. It is something new and fresh and quite unusual, which they like. They enjoy unlocking bits of the English language and discovering where words come from. They also love the weird and wonderful nature of the myths."

Primary schools that have so far run the mixed ability group lessons include East Oxford, Pegasus and St Joseph's in Oxford and St Thomas More in Kidlington.

For information about the Iris Project, see www.irismagazine.org. To arrange a workshop at a school, email Dr Robinson on lornarobinson @irismagazine.org

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