The Classics

A subject at the heart of our culture; Classics remains a relevant and vital subject and an important part of the education of boys at The Hall. The aim of the department is to encourage an interest in and an enthusiasm for the Ancient World, through both the study of the languages and the myths and culture of both the Greeks and Romans. Along with this is the fact that learning Latin and Greek is a good way to learn about the grammatical and syntactical structure of our own language, with the additional benefit of learning the ways of an inflected language. If through our work we can encourage a clear, logical way of thinking and a deeper understanding of the roots of our language and culture, then we have gone some way to achieving our aims.

The core skills that we aim to develop from Year 5 upwards are to be able to translate accurately and naturally and to analyse the language in a careful and logical way, primarily from Latin to English and to a lesser extent from English to Latin. To achieve this we establish a good knowledge of vocabulary and grammar through learning along with translation and grammar analysis. All these skills apply equally to the teaching of Greek.

Year 5; the language is introduced gradually with the Cambridge Latin Course, interspersed with Greek Myths and Roman Life Topics. The boys develop their skills in translation through reading and start to acquire the skills necessary for effective vocabulary learning. They also begin to get used to the variables of endings and word order. In short; to start to understand the differences that an inflected language presents.

Year 6; in this year we move to the Ab Initio or Practice Exercises textbooks. The boys begin to analyse the endings and forms of words much more thoroughly, and how they fit into the sentence-structure. During the year we start to look at the type of questions that Common Entrance uses, not just translation but also comprehension and grammar questions, where we start to look deeper at why cases are used and to start to recognise other grammatical and syntactical details. The Trojan War, Pompeii and Roman Domestic Life make up the core of the non-linguistic topics to be studied.

Year 7; in this year we begin working through the ISEB Common Entrance textbooks and the boys begin to work with Common Entrance papers, reaching level 1 or level 2 by Christmas according to which set they are in, and continuing, as appropriate, to either Level 2 of 3 by the end of the year. The Roman Army and the invasion and settlement of Britain are the main topics for their non-linguistic studies, although topics previously covered will be revised.

Year 8; the priority for the boys, whether they are Scholarship candidates or Level 2 or 3 Common Entrance candidates, is to have a very thorough knowledge of the relevant vocabulary and endings. These are essential parts of good translation and the analysis of grammar. Level 1 Common Entrance Greek is taken by all the boys in the top set as part of their class work in the Spring and Summer terms, although level 2 might be attempted by boys who have started the subject in Year 7 through the before-school activity. Scholarship Greek  s also offered to the scholars who have both timetabled lessons and an after-school activity. CE Greek uses Waite & Pragnell’s An Introduction to Classical Greek as its textbook. The scholarship form and Year 7 also use this textbook and other books such as Athenaze and Taylor’s Greek to GCSE to support their studies.

As well as the language and non-linguistic topics specified in the curriculum the importance of Latin in English and how it can help with vocabulary and spelling is emphasised at every opportunity. Relevant websites such as the Cambridge Latin Course, the GCSE and AS vocabulary testers and sites such as Quizlet are used to enhance the boys’ learning and the boys are encouraged to use these outside of lessons too. In addition, extra-curricular background topics can be covered as they arise in order to broaden the boys’ knowledge of the Greek and Roman world. Educational visits to sites and Museums are always part of our curriculum. In the past we have visited Verulamium Museum and other related sites.