The Latin syllabus combines the study of a classical language with the study of history and culture.
The study of Latin is a gateway to the study and understanding of an impressive range of languages and lays excellent foundations for language learning.
Latin is the foundation of most Western European languages, and has direct links with French, Spanish, and Italian. The study of Latin grammar and syntax also has the benefit of encouraging comparisons with other inflected systems, such as Irish and German, and highlights the importance of precision and accuracy in the use of language. The efficacy of Latin in achieving higher levels of literacy has been borne out by countless studies and projects, for instance the Iris and Classics in the Community projects in the UK.
The Latin course provides a high-quality skill set for language literacy, as students practise translation, comprehension, and composition. All of these require creative, analytical, logical, reflective, and independent thinking in addition to knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. Exploring language as a concept enhances use of language in general, and learning about syntax, grammar, and vocabulary encourages students to reflect on their own sentence structure, ability to convey meaning, and overall eloquence. In addition such regular exposure to higher-order processes cultivates problem-solving ability, while students learn how to organise, consolidate, and apply their knowledge and skills as the level of difficulty increases.
While the explicit aims of the syllabus focus chiefly on literacy, the benefits of the study of Latin extend to numeracy. As well as the entry level of helping students decipher mathematical terminology from Latin roots (e.g. minus, infinity), studies within the American school system strongly suggest that the study of Latin improves students’ performance in mathematical computation, mathematical concepts, and mathematical problem solving.
The inflected, synthetic nature of Classical languages provides matrices of information, patterns, rules, and predictable relationships for the students to memorise, then recall and evaluate in a specific context. This supports the objectives of the Leaving Certificate Mathematics syllabus; conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, strategic competence, adaptive reasoning, and a productive disposition. Given the importance of Mathematics within the Leaving Certificate it is very helpful for students to reinforce the required skills in a cross-curricular way. The development of these competencies will not only support Leaving Certificate success but, along with grounding in key terms, will be of great benefit to future pharmacists, doctors, and scientists.
HISTORY & CULTURE
The study of vast, multi-ethnic empires like that of the Romans makes students aware of the diverse values, beliefs, and traditions which contribute to the creation of particular communities and cultures. It also helps them to learn about the difficulty of accommodating very different cultural outlooks in a single political entity. In an increasingly globalised Ireland an understanding of the Romans’ influence on the Western World, and in turn, the influence of the wider world on Rome gives students of Roman history and culture a keen insight into how our society works.
The study of history and culture through literary and architectural artefacts promotes cross-curricular inquisitiveness. The course includes the study of buildings, monuments, and sculpture, and guidance on how to interpret or ‘read’ these images – there are excellent opportunities for visual and artistic students to play to their individual strengths. Latin does not only lay excellent foundations for future students of Humanities but develops the skill-sets of a range of learning types, interests, and future careers. Rhetoric and poetry will appeal to actors and debaters, and the study of political intrigue, empire management, and military strategies will be of great interest to future students of economics, politics, or management. Anyone hoping to study law will benefit greatly not only from a familiarity with key legal terms but also by studying key legal speeches in their original language and context.