Hartismere School

Est. 1451. An outstanding coeducational secondary school & sixth form college and England's first academy

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Latin- Frequently asked Questions


Is there an App that can help me learn Latin?

Hartismere has produced its own App- known simply as 'Latin Learning'. It's easy to find on the i tunes store: simply type 'Latin Learning' and look out for the Hartismere logo.


Is Latin a requirement for Medicine / Law / Oxbridge... ?

Latin is no longer a formal requirement for any course; in fact you can even start Classics at university without A level Latin. This change has only come about because the present rarity of Latin in state schools would have made it impossible for most students even to apply for these courses. However, it is not so long since Latin was a formal requirement for many university courses, including Medicine and Law. The fact is that a knowledge of Latin gives you enormous advantages:

• In Law, Latin helps you to understand legal language and terminology, since our system of law is based on Roman models;

• In Medicine, Latin and Greek provide the roots for terms used in anatomy, pathology, pharmacology and many other areas.

Oxford and Cambridge admissions tutors are constantly looking for ways to distinguish between applicants with straight A passes at A level, and are likely to give greater consideration to those who have Latin and Greek on their CV, since this means that:

1.            they are sufficiently intelligent to handle what are still considered, and indeed proven* to be, some of the most difficult subjects on the school curriculum;

2.            they have knowledge of the classical world, which gives them a broader and more secure context for contemporary studies;

3.            they are the kind of students who seek out challenging and valuable lessons, are independent-minded and prepared to work hard.

*see the latest research from the Curriculum Evaluation and Management Centre, Durham, especially Subject Difficulties at GCSE (31 March 2006).


Isn't Latin a dead language?

Not at all. Latin has been spoken continuously for over 2,500 years and is now the first language of millions of people all over the world - whether we call it French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Romanian. Languages inevitably change over the course of time, but just as modern Greek is clearly recognisable as the same language as Classical Greek, the present-day forms of Latin are not so different from the classical language (especially Romanian!). Latin is still spoken in the Vatican, and there are many places where Latin is used in a modern context - such as the Nuntii Latini news pages (now available as podcasts)!



What is the point of studying Latin?

There are three major reasons:


LATIN ENHANCES YOUR CV (and improves your chances of landing the job or university place you set your heart on)

There is no doubt that Latin is very highly regarded both by employers and by universities. Even though we hope to make the study of Latin as painless as possible, it is still viewed as a 'difficult' subject, which means that those who pursue it are thought to be more capable than most.


Furthermore, its rarity outside the public school system (not even all grammar schools continue to offer Latin) means that it brings extra prestige and distinction to your CV and university application. Of the boys who formed our first A level class in 2005-6, all but one applied to Oxford or Cambridge and at interview most of these were asked specifically about the fact that they were studying Latin. Even though not all of them were actually applying for Classics courses, several of the interviews concentrated on Latin rather than the subject they were applying to read; and in every case they were made offers.


There is also strong evidence to suggest that the study of Latin of itself helps to improve your performance in many other subjects too...



Latin develops your English


Your reading, writing and speaking of English is improved by studying Latin. It enriches your vocabulary, sharpens your grammar and instils a strong sense of organization.


Latin provides a solid foundation for the acquisition of other languages


Greek and Latin equip a person with the strongest single foundation for mastering Romance languages, modern inflected ones such as Russian and German, and even non-related tongues like Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese. Working with Latin and Greek broadens your notion of structures possible in languages other than English. In addition, Latin gives you a grip on about 80% of the vocabulary of the Romance languages — French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish.


Reading, writing, and translating Latin sharpens the mind


On account of their non-English word structure and sentence patterns, the classical languages have for centuries helped to train young people to be observant, accurate, analytical, and logical. They develop the mind in demanding and practical ways. Classics graduates are hired by firms that need people who can define and identify problems, think on their feet, and arrive at sound and creative solutions.


The civilisations of Greece and Rome link us with contemporary cultures around the world


A background in the classical civilisations helps to make you aware of customs, values, and ideas that we have in common with our neighbours in Eastern and Western Europe and with the cultures of North and South America. We share many concepts in government, religion, art, literature, and economic systems.


Acquaintance with ancient cultures promotes tolerance and understanding


A person who is aware of the rich and varied culture of the Greeks and Romans is more likely to accept the differing customs and values of other peoples today. In studying of ancient civilizations, you encounter exotic and extreme customs, which were not static, but evolved over the centuries. If you are familiar with diversity, change, and longevity in your own culture, you will be more inclined to respect the views, ideologies, religions and economic systems of foreign peoples, and to appreciate cultures that differ from your own.


And not least:



• Latin lessons involve very little writing.

• You make progress much faster than in modern languages, because you don't learn to write, listen and speak – only reading is important.

• There is no oral examination.

• There is no coursework requirement at GCSE or A level.

• You will use a huge variety of resources, including video and computer packages. You will also watch some great DVDs in class!