Far from being dead, irrelevant and consigned to the past, Latin and an appreciation of the Classics is very much alive at Salisbury Cathedral School.

Knowledge of Latin lays excellent foundations for future life as few children of prep school age really know where their interests and futures will lie. Scientists, medical professionals and lawyers all routinely use Latin terminology in their everyday work. 

An understanding of Latin grammar and vocabulary is invaluable for the study of many European languages, including our own. We learn to decode meanings of unfamiliar English words by simply breaking them down and looking at their Latin roots. For example, anyone uncertain of the meaning of 'intervene' would be able to split it into 'inter' (among/between) and 'venire' (to come) and they would come up with the solution ie. 'intervene' means to come between something. So many of our English words are derived from Latin and we spend a good deal of time studying etymology.

As a choir school, we are blessed as choristers encounter Latin on a daily basis and are thrilled when they can translate something or bring their specialist knowledge to the classroom. It has an everyday significance for them which enhances our lessons. A quick flick through the Psalter will show that each psalm has a Latin heading. For example, Laudate Dominum (Psalm 147) – ‘Praise the Lord’ can easily be translated by anyone who has covered the imperative and it is very satisfying to watch children realise that they can do this!

Knowledge of Latin adds an extra dimension to one’s understanding of the world and our heritage and there is much pleasure to be derived from studying something for the sheer enjoyment of it. 

Is Latin difficult or the preserve of the brightest?

Certainly not to both! Latin is inherently simple if you stick to the rules. Rather like a jigsaw, or a code, these rules need to be learned and then followed, but once you have mastered them, then anything is possible.

We tell our pupils that they are in possession of a magic toolbox which contains everything they need, so if they can’t do it, it’s because they are using the wrong tool, not because it’s beyond them.

In short, at SCS we see Latin as a valuable key to unlocking a treasure trove of opportunity!



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