This year at St. Benedict’s we have implemented a new Latin curriculum for our 5th and 6th grade students. The new curriculum, Ecce Romani, is a renowned Latin program that aims to teach the language through immersion with numerous grammar and vocabulary lessons. Each chapter begins with a short Latin passage centered around the activities and relationships of a Roman family living in Italy in the first century. Each story builds upon the events of the previous chapters, weaving a narrative that allows the students to become invested in the lives of the characters as the book goes along. In addition to the translation passage, each chapter also contains several exercises that build upon the new grammatical concepts introduced in the passage. The student is thus given the opportunity to encounter new grammar naturally, within the context of the story, and then to reinforce those grammar lessons through structured drills and exercises.
The students have been particularly enjoying the story element of this curriculum. As one might expect, my 5th grade students are far more interested in moving on to the next part of the story than they are in the grammar drills. Still, their enthusiasm for the story gives energy to the sometimes-dreary task of learning the basics of grammatical structure. I have had to make a rule forbidding “spoilers” being shared in class, since the students love to flip forward in the book to figure out what will happen to the characters later on. As we press on with our study of Latin, I am continually struck by the opportunities that I have for relating our Latin grammar lesson back to the topics that we have been studying in our English grammar class. In teaching children the foundational points of Latin grammar, I have come to a new appreciation for the way that the study of another language reinforces and enhances one’s knowledge of English. These lessons, I hope, will lead the students to a deeper understanding of their own language and the rules and structure that govern it.
Author: Gina Thackston, 5th Grade Teacher