The philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca complained once that students in ancient Rome learned just for school but not for life. We take up his criticism and rephrase: Non scholae, sed vitae discimus. Even though we rarely speak Latin in class, our students understand how much Latin is still alive today considering its use through other languages or as academic language in many scientific disciplines. We show again and again during instruction how rooted Latin is especially in German and English.
Structure of the JFKS Latin Program
The Latin Department at JFKS is currently expanding, taking into consideration that more and more students choose Latin as their third foreign language. Students start with a Latin Elective taught three hours per week in Grade 8 and continue through Grade 12. The actual language acquisition ends already in Grade 10. Grammar Skills in German are strengthened and the connection of Latin, French, English and German concerning vocabulary and syntax is emphasized. Eventually, in Grades 11 and 12, students are capable of translating, reciting and interpreting original literature (including Caesar or Cicero (Prose / Rhetoric) and Ovid or Catull (Poetry)). A special emphasis is on contemporary references of the classical wisdoms and their critical investigation.
Methods of instruction
Pedagogically, we offer more traditional as well as new methods. The pre-analysis of Latin texts through expanding analytical processes (word and subject fields) enable the students a first access also to more complicated texts. Differentiated types of exercises and grammar practice for different kind of learners are important instructional elements.
Experience Roman Life outside of school
We try to familiarize students with Roman history, the Romans’ every day life as well as mythology through more hands-on materials. The reception of ancient texts in art, music and literature is – especially in Grades 11 and 12 – a subject of instruction. Venues outside of school like the Altes Museum, the Pergamonmusem, the Martin-Gropius-Bau or the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister provide us with the possibility to visualize contents and therefore are visited regularly by our classes
Qualifications and Abitur Exams
After five years of Latin instruction with a minimum grade of 4, students obtain the Latinum, a qualification still required for studying several academic subjects (e.g. Roman languages, history, philosophy, theology, archeology). For medical and law school the latinum is no longer a requirement, however, depending on the university, a knowledge of Latin is welcome or even required. Many bachelor programs don’t require the latinum, for many master programs it is needed for immatriculation.
As a diverse and art-related subject Latin offers many connections with other subjects including art, music, history, philosophy or religion and is therefore a very good option for the MSA exam or the MSA presentation.
Latin at JFKS
Two teachers are currently teaching Latin at JFKS, predominantly in German, in a subject classroom decorated with student work. Because of growing student numbers we sometimes move to bigger rooms as well. The learning atmosphere is one of concentrated studying in small groups with a high level of performance and fun of learning, since voluptas (to speak with Epikur) is just as important.
Vivat, crescat, floreat Lingua Latina!