Frequently Asked Questions: Latin 1
Each year I have found that parents and students ask the same questions, either in class, phone conversations, emails, or conferences. Below you will be able to find the answers to these questions. I have created this document with the hope of helping both parents and students find success in class!
- My student is taking Latin this year? What will s/he do with it? How can it be useful to an 8th grader?
o The idea that Latin is a dead language is fairly prevalent in our society. What can a student learn by reading and translating Latin? Latin’s usefulness is most easily seen for aspiring lawyers, doctors, or Latin teachers, but how can Latin help the student interested in other areas? The simple answer is this: The subject of Latin is an interdisciplinary subject; by studying it, one will immediately develop a stronger knowledge of English grammar and the ability to identify word origins and definitions. This, in turn, will help a student with his/her overall study skills in other classes this year, especially Language Arts, History, Science, and Health. In addition, by studying Roman culture, students will better understand our own Western culture and how much the Romans have influenced the modern world.
- I read your class expectations and grading system, but ultimately what should my student be expected to do on a daily basis?
o First and foremost, students will need to memorize chapter vocabulary, learn Latin grammar, and translate the passages in each chapter. This material is the backbone of the class. Beyond that, students will work with a variety of other elements from the Roman world: history, culture, mythology, and art and archaeology.
- My student wants to take Latin and a modern language. Is this possible?
o ABSOLUTELY! At HMS, there is only room in one’s schedule to take one language in 8th grade. However, at HHS, a student can fit two languages into his schedule. I would recommend talking to your guidance counselor about this when creating the 9th grade schedule. Some students are concerned that studying two languages at once will be confusing. This will not happen. Having Latin first will help a student learn the other Romance languages, due to the relationship between Latin and Spanish, French, and Italian.
o Remember, if your student plans on attending college, most colleges require at least three or four years of the same language.
- My student is struggling? How can I help him/her?
o Whether you know Latin or not, asking your child what s/he learned that day might be enough. To ensure your student’s success, your child should study/review the newly learned material each day for 5 minutes. The constant repetition will help reinforce the new material. When students learn new verb or noun endings, rewriting them from memory without the help of study aides will also help your student. Finally, asking questions in class is a clear way to get instant help. If one student is confused, there are always other students who are also confused.
o Students can also review any handouts and notes that were handed out in class. This will be a quick way to review the information.
o Also, students can practice additional exercises from the textbook. These exercises frequently are different from the content of the handouts that I have created, and they will be quite useful.
o Use our class website for review games on the internet! If you have a tablet, you can use the recommended apps posted on our class website. There are a number of review exercises and games on-line, created by both me and other Latin teachers. These review exercises cater to our textbook, Ecce Romani, but there are also other practice exercises that are beneficial to all beginning Latin students.
o If a student is still struggling, please have him/her make arrangements with me to come in before or after school. Usually one or two help sessions are enough to help a student review and understand the material.
- My student did very well in the first quarter, but is now struggling. What happened?
o There are a number of factors that might be impacting your student’s grade. The first quarter is most concerned with learning new vocabulary. After about chapter 7 students begin to work with new grammatical concepts, some of which do not exist in English. Secondly, students with weak grammar skills or study skills begin to see their grades drop (in any second language) as the year progresses. From the point of view of the student, the material becomes “too difficult” because the student does not have a strong grammatical background. The student then moves through the Latin material, struggling with the information. Due to the cumulative effect of any language, this confusion escalates if the student doesn’t get help when s/he is confused and the grade suffers.
o A student can counteract these events by coming in for extra help and asking questions in class.