Deprived children in Glasgow to be taught Latin

A LANDMARK educational programme to improve literacy levels in deprived parts of Glasgow through the teaching of Latin has been given the go-ahead.

Latin provides the 'nuts and bolts' of grammar and modern language learning. Picture: John Devlin

Classics students at the University of Glasgow will this year begin teaching Latin to local primary school pupils as part of a programme which aims to use the ancient language to improve pupil literacy rates.

From October, the Literacy through Latin project will involve each student teaching one hour-long class per week throughout the school year.

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Latin is the root of many modern European languages, such as French and Italian and English. Studies have shown that an 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.

A University of Glasgow spokesman 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.”

Schools taking part in the project include Glendale in the Gorbals, Pirie Park in Govan, Sacred Heart in Dalmarnock, St Michael’s and St Anne’s in Parkhead.

Lynda McWaters, P7 class teacher and principal teacher at Sacred Heart Primary School, said: “The Latin project has had a major impact on Primary 7s’ attainment and achievement in all areas of literacy. It has allowed the pupils to transfer their skills in modern foreign languages. It’s an excellent project for senior pupils.”

Glasgow City Council’s member for education, Stephen Curran, added: “It’s a unique project and has sparked a lot of interest. The project is actually twofold, as not only does it help in improving literacy, it offers kids from these areas access to university students who in turn help foster the idea of opportunity.”

The Iris Project’s Literacy through Latin scheme aims to use Latin to boost literacy and linguistics skills in deprived urban regions. This is the first time Literacy through Latin has been integrated into a credit-bearing university course – several non-credit-bearing courses are run south of the Border.

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”.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “Glasgow is sector-leading in language education and we have been very proactive with the 1 + 2 language approach in our primary schools. We will do all that we can to improve and raise attainment and research proves that learning additional languages is helping us in reaching this goal across the city.”


Here are some Glasgow-Latin phrases that may come in handy:

• Patter - Crepito

• Ya beauty - Ya pulchritudinem

• Away ye go - Scitis ire

• Ah huvnae a scooby - Ego dæmonium non scooby

• Ya bampot - Vos bampot

• It’s Baltic in here - Suus‘ Baltic huc

• Steaming - Fumantia soluere

• Lads and lasses - Puerorum mille furores

• Gie it laldy - Dabo laldy

• Greetin’ - Salutem

• Aye right - Lus zelatorem

• Pure dead brilliant - Egregie pura mortuis

• Gaun yersel big man - Gaun yerself magnus homo

• That kilt’s pure gallus, wee man - Quod, ex pura kilt gallus laedamus homo

• Whit’s up with your coupon? - Quid usque cum coupon?

• Tan that drink - Tan bibentibus