Go-ahead given for educational programme to improve literacy through Latin

Published: 26 May 2015

Classics students at the University of Glasgow will this year begin a new credit-bearing university course to teach Latin to local school pupils.

Classics students at the University of Glasgow will this year begin a new credit-bearing university course to teach Latin to local school pupils as part of a programme which aims to use the ancient language to improve pupil literacy rates.

This formalises the existing ‘Literacy through Latin’ programme, which has been running at the University for two years. Previously open to volunteers only, now it is being recognised as an official part of the university curriculum.

From October undergraduate students from the University of Glasgow’s Classics course will be working in local schools as part of an innovative programme to introduce pupils to Latin language, grammar and culture.

The development is part of the Iris Project’s Literacy through Latin scheme, which aims to use Latin to boost literacy and linguistics skills in deprived urban regions around the UK. It represents a milestone for the Iris Project as it is the first time that the Literacy through Latin has been integrated into a credit-bearing university course.

The Literacy through Latin project runs non-credit-bearing courses in London, Oxford, Manchester, Reading, Swansea and Fife. The Glasgow arm is coordinated by PhD students at the University of Glasgow and, uniquely, it forms an optional one year course for Classics Honours students at the University and an optional part of the curriculum chosen by the schools involved. In practice, the project will involve each student teaching one hour-long class per week throughout the school year.

Latin is the root of many modern European languages, such as French and Italian and English. Studies have shown that introduction to Latin can improve children’s ability to learn foreign languages, as well as improve literacy levels in English. Literacy through Latin uses storytelling, games and activities to introduce the nuts and bolts of Latin grammar, demonstrating the deep connections between Latin and English.

Sarah Graham, PhD student and coordinator of Literacy thorugh Latin at the University of Glasgow, said: “This new course shows our commitment to working with schools and communicating our knowledge to a wider audience. By making the voluntary programme into a credit-bearing course, we are also giving students the opportunity to gain new skills and experiences with increased support and feedback from staff. We hope that more school pupils will benefit from this fantastic project as a result.

Dr Lorna Robinson, Director of The Iris Project, said: "I am delighted about this exciting new development, which has come about through the inspiration and hard work of the University of Glasgow Classics department. Embedding it as a credit-bearing course will strengthen the programme enormously and help involve more students and enable more pupils to benefit".

Literacy through Latin has recently been awarded the EU Language Label 2013 for innovative language teaching projects. It is hoped that this development will provide a model for the rollout of similar partnerships across the UK.

Media enquiries: nick.wade@glasgow.ac.uk / 01413307126


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First published: 26 May 2015

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