We have three main reasons for teaching Latin at Sage:
- To help put students in touch with their roots (the roots of the language they speak, of the culture that shapes them, of the political institutions by which they are governed, etc.);
- To train students to become better listeners and readers (better at attending to verbal detail; willing to take greater pains to hear what another person has to say; less quick to assume that they know what they do not know, etc.);
- To enlarge students’ capacities for disciplined, creative self-expression.
The Latin program at Sage, while helping students understand and value the Latin language in its own right, also serves to strengthen their understanding in other subjects. Grammatical concepts applied to the English language as part of the humanities curriculum and to the Spanish language as part of the Spanish curriculum are reinforced through extensive application to classical Latin. Students’ English vocabulary, reading skills, and historical knowledge are strengthened through further exposure to Greek and Latin roots, ancient Greek and Roman culture, and classical literature in translation. Scientific terms are rendered less mysterious by a deeper understanding of their Greek and Latin origins. Students’ musical talents are exercised by the composition and recitation of Latin verses in ancient poetic meters.
In the Classroom: The Sage Way
A typical Latin class at Sage begins with five minutes of “Questions & Observations,” an open forum in which students help set the agenda for our study of the ancient Greek and Roman world. The teacher may then introduce some new grammatical forms (e.g., future passive verb forms) by modeling and explaining correct usage and calling on students to use the forms in new contexts. The class may then read and discuss a short passage from a work of ancient Greek or Latin literature in translation (e.g., Homer’s Odyssey); or we may read and analyze original Latin sentences that the students themselves have recently composed. In the final part of class, students may begin working on the next homework assignment (e.g., a Latin haiku), individualized help being offered as needed.
Classes meet twice a week for 45 minutes each. Latin is a required Middle School course.
- Ability to mimic simple sounds, words, and phrases
- Ability to apply learned pronunciation rules of the target language to new words
- Ability to retain, recognize, and verbalize vocabulary words that are readily utilized or studied in class
- Ability to recognize, understand, and apply linguistic patterns (e.g., subject-verb agreement)
- Ability to comprehend information in the target language in written and simple verbal formats
- Ability to keep track of and manage classroom materials and homework
- Ability to express independent thoughts in the written target language
- Ability to merge new content with previously learned grammar and vocabulary
- Ability to attend in a focused manner for a longer period of time, showing persistence if faced with language barrier difficulties
- Ability to manage numerous verb tenses and noun cases
- Ability to demonstrate knowledge in lengthier verbal and written formats
Latin instruction at Sage covers most of the grammatical material presented in a standard first-semester college Latin course (e.g., the first half of Wheelock’s Latin, or Level 1 of Milena Minkova and Terence Tunberg’s textbook Latin for the New Millennium). The Latin program as a whole is focused on these three areas:
I. The Latin Language
C. Reading (comprehension and recitation)
D. Composition (prose and poetry)
II. Ancient Greek and Latin Literature (mainly in translation)
III. Ancient Greek and Roman Culture (driven by student interest)