Why Study Latin?
- The Romance Languages (inc. French, Spanish & Italian) all come from Latin so studying Latin can often help when studying these languages (vocab etc. becomes much easier, although the word order is different).
- Learning Latin can also enable you to hone your skills in English, particularly in terms of spelling.
- The Roman Empire was, at one point, the most powerful in the world and the Romans were highly advanced in terms of culture etc. so you can pay tribute to it by learning their language.
- It sounds smart - very few people have any knowledge of Latin so even a GCSE in it can make you appealing to universities.
OCR is currently the only British exam board to offer the course. In the full course GCSE, pupils take four exams, two compulsory papers worth 30% each:
- Paper One - Unseen Translation
- Paper Two - Verse Literature
And two further papers from a choice of three worth 20% each:
- Paper Three - Advanced Translation
- Paper Four - Prose Literature
- Paper Five - Roman Life
The best way to learn all the different endings is, from my experience, by chanting them all - crazy as it sounds! After a while "bam bas bat bamus batis bant" just flows off your tongue! As for vocab, try seeing if there are any similar words with the same/a similar meaning in English or another language e.g. 'si' means 'if' in French too and 'fenestra' [window] is like 'fenêtre' [window] in French or 'defenestrate' [to throw out the window] in English.
Why Study Latin?
As with taking any language to a higher level, you will be able to read more sophisticated texts by the end of this course, and not only use your current knowledge more dexterously but also build on it with a wider range of tenses, moods and vocabulary.
The course consists of Language and Literature modules, similar to GCSE. You will study two Roman authors in the first year: one political or historic writer such as Cicero or Tacitus, and one poet such as Virgil or Ovid. This is the same in the second year. The language paper consists of one unseen translation that is adapted from a Roman writer.
Scottish Standard Grade
If not applying for straight Latin courses, there are still many other ways to study the language. You can either study it as part of a Classics/Classical Civilisation course, or you can study it as an elective module while gaining a degree in a totally different subject. Most universities offering the subject will offer it at a range of levels, from beginners to advanced. Popular syllabi used by universities include the Reading Latin course and the Cambridge Latin Course.
Part of the application process is building on your interest incrementally, particularly by extending your interest outside of your course. If you can attend relevant conferences (and there are plenty! There are also relevant services, such as Conference Alerts, that will send emails to your inbox according to your preset criteria of what type of events interest you) or read/study relevant books before and during the application process, this will only serve to strengthen your application and enthusiasm as a whole.
Your personal statement will stand out from the crowd if, as mentioned above, you can show that you have gone above and beyond your curriculum's expectations. If you have undertaken relevant activities, mention them in your PS, and show what you gained from them, in order to further demonstrate your commitment to the course. If seeking to take Latin as an elective at university, this can be summed up in a few lines further down your PS. If applying for Latin or for Classics, you can expand on these activities in more detail.
Useful both for independent learners and for revision: Cambridge School Classical Project