Bis repetita placent. That which pleases is twice repeated. It is the case with Latin, which we are pleased to reintroduce as an option in middle school after a year long hiatus. Historically speaking, Latin has occupied an important position in the French education system. Just like maths, it was long considered a highly selective subject – a course of study strictly reserved for the very best students.
In the 70’s that status quo changed, the teaching of Latin was democratised and it became a de facto accessible subject for any middle school student who wanted to study it. We are delighted to find Latin back on our class timetables from 6ème to 3ème thanks to Mme Hua Ngoc. Plenty of families have signed their children up for the option and we understand why.
There are various aims and advantages to studying Latin. On one hand, it involves careful consideration of the language, how it is formed and how closely it is connected to French. On the other, it allows students to discover a civilisation that is at once close to us and in the distant past. Studying Latin also adds meaning to the traces that civilisation has left behind. It forms a bridge between the teaching of history and the teaching of literature, which is especially important at the end of cycle 3 when students discover the Roman empire and its influential founding texts – the Latin option complements the middle school curriculum perfectly.
Stricto sensu, Latin is not compulsory, but we cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a subject that is rich in culture and humanity. Studying it allows us to develop not only technical skills (translation, grammar, vocabulary et cætera) but also enables us to acquire, a fortiori, a deeper cultural understanding – helping us to navigate issues in contemporary society – particularly dialogue between different cultures.
For centuries, Latin was Europe’s lingua franca, a language that enabled people of different mother tongues to communicate. Latin was the language of Europe, before Europe even existed. It is therefore perfectly fitting for it to be taught and learnt at TES. Having a command of Latin culture and understanding what a linguistic hegemony means – how it evolves, transforms, what we borrow from it, what it borrows from us – are ways of helping us to make sense of the world in which we live. Learning Latin doesn’t mean learning a dead language.
On that note, I would like to remind you that thanks to our exchange programme with the Lycée Victor Hugo in Florence, Italy, our secondary students have the opportunity to go and experience the vestiges of the Roman empire in situ. Don’t hesitate to contact my alter ego Mr Lefèvre if you are interested in your child taking part in the programme. Priority will be given to Latin students.
Have an excellent weekend!