February 1, 2012

Latin Class at Smith Middle School

Latin is the language of the great Romans from over a thousand years ago. What’s even more amazing is that it’s available to students at Smith Middle School! This so called “dead-language” isn’t so dead anymore. Students from the Latin class have been reliving the Roman life, participating in traditions such as weddings, funerals, and Saturnalia (the festival for the god, Saturn). I interviewed two 8th graders who have been taking Latin since 6th grade.
I first interviewed Julie who has very positive feelings towards the Latin class. She repeatedly praised Ms. Moseley for the activities that they get to do. She went on to explain that instead of always taking notes or doing textbook work, they also get to sing songs, dance, and play games to help them learn. Instead of having to just memorize the formula for conjugating, you can sing it! It’s a fun and effective way of learning. I asked Julie if she would continue Latin in high school. Without hesitation, she nodded, saying, “It will really help with vocabulary when we do the SAT’s. The roots of Latin words are usually in the English word so it makes it easier to get the general definition of the English word.”

           I then interviewed Izzy, also a 3 year Latin student. She has the same attitude as Julie towards Latin. I ask her how her experiences in Latin class have changed since the 6th grade. She replied, “You have more freedom and independence in 8th grade than in the 6th grade, but I’ll never outgrow the songs. Because it’s not an oral language, or a language you can speak, we focus a lot on translations and their traditions.” Izzy declares. “It’s fun because I’ve become closer with people that have been in my class since the beginning. More people should take Latin. It’s great.”
    While Latin is gaining in popularity, Spanish and French are more prominent choices for students who are choosing a language. Keeping this in mind, I ask both students why Latin is a better choice than the other languages. Izzy tells me, “Latin’s better because you get to sing a lot of songs, play games, and dance to learn things! Also, Ms. Moseley is an awesome teacher. We get to read a lot of mythology and do activities pertaining to the Roman military, geography, and famous heroes.”
           Julie takes a different approach. “Latin roots are in almost every word. We learn a lot of vocabulary each day in Latin, as well as Language Arts. Sometimes I see a Latin root in the vocabulary in Language Arts, and I can already guess the general meaning of the word. It’s really helpful taking Latin, and it’ll be even more helpful when we take the SAT’s.”
          In addition to the help with vocabulary, they both fill me in with the traditions they get to experience. One of the traditions is a Roman wedding, where they walk around the halls, shouting celebratory things (“Huzzah!”) and go through the Roman wedding traditions. Some others are Rome’s birthday where they celebrate by eating cake, and Saturnalia, where they get to sing and eat.
           Latin is very similar, and very different than the other languages. All languages have traditions and fun ways of learning, but in Latin you get to relive the life of the Romans. You learn their language, and and get a taste of how great life was back in Ancient Rome. With hard work comes rewards, and that’s how they do it in not only the Roman times, but also here right at the Latin Class in Smith Middle School.  

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