The Teacher’s Guide for the CLC 4th edition opened by stating “it is more than 25 years since the Cambridge Latin Course was first published.” The fact that I now need to recognise another 25 years in the preface to the 5th edition is testament both to the CLC’s enduring popularity and its long overdue need for revision.

The Cambridge School Classics Project (CSCP) has spent those 50 plus years fulfilling their original mandate of researching and developing “materials and techniques which will accelerate and improve pupils’ ability to read classical Latin literature and widen their knowledge of classical civilisation.” These goals may not have changed, but the world has.

The 4th edition was created in the late 1990s under the watchful eye of Director Bob Lister. While the line drawings were still black and white, colour photographs were introduced. In 2015 under Bob’s successor, Will Griffths, North America received a 5th edition with carefully researched coloured line drawings and better female representation; Caecilius was given a daughter, Lucia, and Celer the pictor was replaced by Clara the artifex.

In the years since the creation of the North American 5th Edition the social and therefore educational landscape has changed at speed. Movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have highlighted the need to ensure that educational materials promote values of inclusion and accessibility. All students and teachers should feel that they have a place in the Classics community and that their contribution is appreciated. It is these values which have been at the heart of the creation of this new UK and International 5th edition.

Our aims in this work were shaped by our community. We engaged with teachers as well as their students and developed our principles of change, affectionately known as the res gerendae Caecilii:

  • Preserve the integration of culture, stories and language learning
  • Maintain the narrative strength of ongoing storylines and characters
  • Ensure suitability and accessibility for all classrooms, with special focus on funding, time and exam pressures
  • Improve representation of different sectors of society
  • Update the course to reflect current views on sensitive issues and associated language
  • Ensure cultural background and stories are in line with latest research.

Every preface to CLC a teacher guide notes that the course needs to be shorter, to take account of reductions in teaching time, and its layout improved. This edition is no different. We have taken to heart the principle that ‘accessible design is good design’ and every aspect – from page width to font choice to colour contrasts – has been selected to maximise accessibility. Huge thanks to the dyslexic student in one of our trial classrooms who made all the prevaricating worthwhile when she exclaimed (unprompted) “Wow! I can read this textbook easily, that never happens!”

Shortening the course is, however, much harder. The reading methodology relies upon students having sufficient material to read in the target language and significant reductions in this are likely to undermine its efficacy. Despite this, we have tried to reduce the length of some stories, remove others, and smooth out pacing peaks and troughs. Rather than five books, there will now be four with the material for GCSE foregrounded as much as possible.

Practising the language is now based on short, tightly engineered stories focused on the language point introduced in About the language, while Reviewing the language offers consolidation exercises for students who need them. The culture sections contain more information which can be investigated using the range of Thinking points and Enquiries. This all provides teachers with an increased choice of approaches and content. We may not be able to give you more classroom time, but we can try to help you make the most of what you have.

As any long-term user of the CLC will notice, both the student books and this guide draw heavily on those that have gone before. The work of the first two Directors David Morton and Pat Story, as well as the talents of Clarence Greig, Jill Dalladay, Roger Dalladay and Robin Griffin, still sit at the heart of the CLC. That will never change. The full list of people who have contributed to this and previous editions is too long for this preface, but an attempt to acknowledge those who have given of their time and expertise has been made at the back of the student textbooks.

We began the process of writing this edition in March 2020. I thought that this would be the most memorable thing about that time. I was wrong. I am deeply grateful for the support of my team over what has been a tumultuous and occasionally traumatic time. The years of experience offered by Elizabeth Mozzillo-Howell and Ian Colvin; the historical insight and organisational skills of Caroline Musgrove; the many talents of Timothy Waghorn (practically a team all by himself!); the reliable technical knowledge of John O’Leary; and the calm adaptability of Andrew Kightley have all made the work of CSCP possible. As Director I have been lucky to have the warm wisdom of my right-hand-woman Mair Lloyd, and the CLC itself could have no better custodian and champion than Lisa Hay.

Education is a difficult field in which to work even when times are good. I would like to end this note in humble acknowledgement of the teachers who offer their students not only knowledge and skills but also compassion and support, no matter what the world throws at them.

Caroline Bristow, Director of the Cambridge School Classics Project

Scope and sequence

Stage Name Cultural context Main language features
1 Caecilius The Roman familia; Caecilius and Metella’s household; houses in Pompeii. Word order in sentences with est
Word order in sentences without est.
Nominative singular.
2 in vīllā Pompeian daily life; clothing; food and dinner parties. Nominative and accusative singular. 
Sentence pattern nominative + accusative + verb.
3 negōtium The town of Pompeii: layout and buildings; daily life; business and trade Nominative and accusative singular of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd declensions.
4 in forō The forum at Pompeii: buildings, uses and importance.  1st and 2nd persons singular present, including sum, es.
Different ways of asking questions.
5 in theātrō The theatre: actors and performances; pantomime, comedy. Nominative plural.
3rd person plural present.
6 Fēlīx Enslaved people; freedmen and freedwomen.

Imperfect and perfect (v-stems) in 3rd person singular and plural.
erat and erant.

7 cēna Burial customs; beliefs about life after death. Perfect tense (other than v-stems).
Sentence pattern accusative + verb.
8 gladiātōrēs The amphitheatre and gladiatorial shows. Accusative plural. 
Superlative adjectives.
9 thermae The Roman baths. Dative singular and plural.
ego, tū: nominative, accusative, and dative.
Sentence pattern nominative + dative + accusative + verb.
10 rhētor The Roman education system; writing materials; scientific and technical subjects; girls’ education. 1st and 2nd persons plural present including esse.
Comparative adjectives.
11 candidātī Pompeii: elections and local government. Intransitive verbs with dative.
nōs, vōs: nominative, accusative, and dative.
Sentence pattern nominative + dative + verb.
Prepositional phrases
12 Vesuvius The eruption of Vesuvius; excavation of Pompeii and Herculaneum. 1st and 2nd persons (singular and plural) imperfect and perfect.
1st and 2nd persons (singular and plural) imperfect of esse.

Understanding the Cambridge Latin Course

This section introduces the aims and principles underlying the CLC to help educators make best use of the Course. It is also important for students to understand how their textbook works and what principles are guiding their learning. For this reason, a student-facing version of some of this information is presented in the Introduction to the textbook, pages iv and v.


The CLC presents language not as an end in and of itself but a means of gaining access to literature and to the culture from which it springs. Its major objectives are:

  1. To teach comprehension of the Latin language so that students can read with confidence and fluency.
  2. To develop an understanding of the historical context of the Latin language and the people who used it, with special reference to the first century AD.

Principles of design

Underlying the CLC are several guiding principles. The list below attempts to summarise these. 

  1. The Course attempts to present students with material that will engage and maintain their interest. It is hoped that the desire to find out ‘what happens next’ in the storyline or the curiosity sparked by evidence about Roman life will motivate students in their attempts to master the language and gain more knowledge and understanding of Roman culture and literature.
  2. Language and culture are integrated from the very outset by using as much authentic Roman subject matter as possible. The Course is set firmly in the context of the Roman empire and frequently introduces historical characters and events. As well as reviewing the cultural background material academic experts also review the storylines and characters to reduce anachronisms or inaccuracies. This presentation of Roman culture is both a valuable part of general education and essential preparation for the reading of Roman authors.
  3. Information about Roman culture is conveyed not only in the text of the Latin stories and the cultural background sections in English but also by the large number of pictures in the books. These provide the student with visual evidence of the Roman world and are meant to be studied and discussed in conjunction with the text. To this end, illustrations are evidence based and drawn in accordance with detailed, historically sound briefs, and photographs are captioned with details about provenance, location and historical interpretations.
  4. The Course draws a distinction between knowledge about language and skill in using language. Research has shown that many students who appear to understand linguistic information presented in isolation – for example those who rote learn tables of accidence – find it hard to apply that information in their reading (for more on this please see ‘Theoretical basis’ below). In the CLC, reading experience should precede discussion and analysis. Students see linguistic features in context before being asked to learn about their use and meaning. Comments on the language should be elicited from students as their understanding develops rather than presented to them.
  5. Students are introduced from the beginning to common phrase and sentence patterns of the language which are systematically developed throughout the Course. Inflections and constructions are presented within these patterns in a controlled and gradual sequence. It is important that the students should understand the form and function of the words that make up a sentence or phrase, but equally important that they should develop the habit of grouping words together and treating the phrase or sentence as a single unit. Language learning consists of habit-forming as well as problem-solving.
  6. The development of reading skill requires appropriate teaching methods:
    1. Comprehension and literary analysis questions are used widely to assist and test understanding, paving the way for the later approach to literature.
    2. Translation (here meaning the act of converting a Latin text largely word-for-word into another language) is a most useful learning and testing device, but it is not all-important and is sometimes unnecessary. Sometimes it is enough to ‘read for meaning’ rather than parsing every word. Translation should be used only when it contributes to an intelligent understanding of what is read; it is one available tool of many.
    3. Vocabulary is best acquired through attentive reading and oral work in class, reinforced by review of selected common words in checklists. When testing students’ vocabulary knowledge, words should be presented in the context of a simple sentence so that they can be read and understood rather than simply memorized and recalled. 
    4. Similarly, memorization of the paradigm of a verb or noun should not be undertaken in isolation. It cannot contribute to reading skill unless students also learn to recognize the function of inflections in the context of a Latin text. Students should always be thinking about what words mean not just what they look like.

Benefits to students

One of the greatest benefits of reading methodologies like that of the CLC is their suitability for use with a wide range of students. Differentiation by outcome is a natural product of tackling stories and exercises which are designed to encourage students to develop their understanding in an individualised way; there is never any single ‘correct’ answer which must simply be committed to memory, instead students prioritise personal understanding of meaning over rote learning and recall. Those who acquire language readily can be constantly challenged and engaged by reading full passages of Latin containing new linguistic features and vocabulary, while those who might find it more difficult can read the same passages whilst focusing on basic comprehension and consolidation of previously taught concepts.

Understanding texts in context is a crucial element of their study and the CLC supports this by integrating Latin language learning with the historical context from Stage 1. This integration combined with the many opportunities for literary criticism equips students with the necessary skills to successfully read and interrogate Latin literature and authors later in their studies and provides an excellent foundation for examination success.

Not all students will go on to study Latin in an examination context; for those who do not, the CLC provides a satisfying experience in which students feel they have learned about the Roman world as well as about its language. The historical skills developed as part of the course are also useful and transferable to other school subjects, both classical and not.

Theoretical basis

The Cambridge Latin Course was instrumental in the development of the ‘Reading Method’ as an approach to the teaching of Latin. Previous materials largely focussed on the ‘Grammar-Translation’ method which emphasises memorising linguistic features and using them to enable 'decoding' and 'translation' of Latin passages.

In contrast with the drill-based teaching of behaviourists such as Skinner (1957), prevalent in the 1960s, the Cambridge Latin Course adopted at its outset an innovative approach developed by Dr John B Wilkins, the linguistic consultant who guided design of the first edition. His insights drew on emerging modern language theories, adapting them to the differing aspirations and circumstances of ancient languages (Wilkins, 1969).

One of Wilkins’ great breakthroughs was the recognition of the interconnectedness of the three skills he considered it desirable for Latin students to attain:

  • the ability to process the information conveyed in unseen texts suitable to their level
  • an awareness of the cultural context of the use of the language
  • appreciation of the literary conventions characteristic of the literature

(Wilkins, 1969).

These skills were not to be taught separately, but through a coherent approach where the CLC ‘texts’ (including model sentences and stories) provided not only a means of learning to comprehend the language, but also of accessing the literature and the culture in which it was originally situated.

These skills were not to be taught separately, but through a coherent approach where the CLC ‘texts’ (including model sentences and stories) provided not only a means of learning to comprehend the language, but also of accessing the literature and the culture in which it was originally situated.

Recognition of the importance of integrating culture and literature with language learning is now evident in MFL scholarship and in the development of school and university level courses (e.g. Nutall, 2005; Lloyd & Robson, 2019; Paran, 2008).

These principles have continued to guide subsequent publications and culture and stories are even more intimately enmeshed in the latest edition through allowing the characters to speak with English as well as Latin voices.

A key insight of Wilkins’ work, inspired by the success of children learning their first language, was that it is better to let students develop their own ‘personal grammar’ (or way to competence) rather than imposing a pre-analysed ‘pure grammar’ on them. He claimed that mastery grew from encountering gradually more complex texts that facilitated continual refinement of an initial ‘tentative grammar’ (Wilkins, 1969). In some ways, this idea pre-empted Krashen’s insights about the ‘acquisition’ (as opposed to formal ‘learning’) of language through the processing of ‘comprehensible input’ that increases in difficulty in manageable steps (Krashen, 1981) and subsequent editions of the CLC have maintained careful sequencing of language features, introducing first those that will be most readily understood by English speakers and progressing gradually to less familiar constructions. This means that, as well as constituting an ideal reading course, the CLC materials can readily adapted to support those teaching Latin using Comprehensible Input principles (see for example Toda, 2018; Ramahlo, 2019).

The carefully designed linguistic progression of the CLC enables students to focus on the use of grammar within a meaningful sentence rather than rote learning of paradigms in isolation. This promotes linguistic competence in reading and understanding the meaning of the Latin. The processes involved in developing comprehension skills are met, nurtured, and practiced in a careful and controlled manner, and over a period of time become automatic:

  • Each Stage begins with the key linguistic feature being encountered in a carefully constructed and illustrated sequence of sentences. The illustrations help students to understand the meaning of the sentences, so (with teacher support) students can subsequently identify for themselves how the new language feature might work; ‘I know this sentence must say… how is the language conveying this?’
  • The initial story in the Stage then expands upon this, including examples of the new feature but embedded in an extended text of a suitable level for the student. At this point the new feature may be analysed and consolidated.
  • The subsequent narrative increases in linguistic complexity across the Stage with the new feature being used regularly so that it becomes familiar and meaningful.
  • The feature will then recur regularly across subsequent Stages.

Linguistic features may be met in the context of a story long before they are targeted as a ‘key’ piece of linguistic learning in a stage, perhaps the most famous example being the ablative of Caecilius est in horto which opens the first story in Stage 1, despite the ablative not being formally taught until Stage 11. Some will not be explicitly targeted at all, instead students will become used to seeing them in context and understanding their meaning; for example causal clauses with quod.

These varied encounters with vocabulary and language features will lead to a growing ‘recognition vocabulary’ and an understanding of grammar as a system that signals that convey ‘how the text is to be understood more precisely’ rather than as a ‘set of arbitrary rules and structures to be learned’ (see Grabe, 2008, Chapter 2). The introduction of linguistic features with decreasing levels of comprehension support through images and glossed vocabulary is consistent with sociocultural MFL theories such as Vygotsky’s ideas of ‘scaffolding’ and the ‘zone of proximal development’ as applied to language learning by, for example, Lantolf, Thorne, and Van Patten.

Another theoretical consideration that underpins each new edition of the CLC is the role of intrinsic motivation (that is motivation through the ‘inherent enjoyment’ of the learning experience itself (Ryan & Deci, 2000). The importance of this has been form of motivation in language learning has been highlighted by, among others, Gardener (1985) and Gambrell (2011), although the latter is in reference to learning a first rather than a second language. In designing each edition of the CLC reading course, it has been considered essential to present students with the intrinsic motivation of a well-written and engaging narrative. Student production of online memes and fan fiction expressing their continuing enjoyment of CLC characters and plot is testament to the success of this aim.

More recently, with the growing adoption of communicative approaches to support ancient language learning (Lloyd & Hunt, 2021), the early introduction of question phrases and character dialogue in the CLC, along with the emphasis on hearing Latin through audio and video materials, can support teachers wanting to supplement their teaching with some interaction in Latin (see Hunt et al, 2018).

In the latest edition, CLC designers have continued to rely on pedagogical research from both ancient and modern language specialists to inform continuity and innovation in all aspects of this well-loved course.


Gambrell, L. B. (2011) ‘Seven Rules of Engagement: What's Most Important to Know About Motivation to Read’, The Reading Teacher, 65(3), 172-178

Gardner, R. C., (1985) Social psychology and second language learning: The role of attitudes and motivation, Hodder Arnold

Grabe, W., (2008) Reading in a Second Language: Moving from Theory to Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Hunt, S., Letchford, C., Lloyd, M., Manning, L. and Plummer, R., (2018) ‘The Virtue of Variety’, Journal of Classics Teaching, 19(38) pp. 53–60

Krashen, S., (1981) Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning, Oxford: Pergamon Press

Lloyd, M. and Hunt, S., (2021) Communicative Approaches for Ancient Languages, London: Bloomsbury

Lloyd, M. & Robson, J., (2019) ‘Staying the distance: transforming Latin pedagogy at the Open University’, Journal of Latin Linguistics

Nutall, C., (2005) Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language (3rd edition), Macmillan Education

Paran, A., (2008) ‘The Role of Literature in Instructed Foreign Language Learning and Teaching: An Evidence-based Survey’, Language Teaching

Ramahlo, M. (2019) ‘On starting to teach using CI’ Journal of Classics Teaching

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000) ‘Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being’, American Psychologist

Toda, K., (2018) How to CI a Latin Textbook Chapter Reading, Available at: (Accessed 20/07/2023)

Skinner, B. F., (1957) Verbal Behaviour, B. F Skinner Foundation

Wilkins, J. B., (1969) ‘Teaching the Classical languages: towards a theory I’, Didaskalos

Structure of the course

The story

The course comprises four books divided into Stages (chapters) each of which acts as an installment in the main storyline. This continuous narrative is key to the success of the CLC and is at the heart of the course.

Book 1, set in Pompeii in the first century AD, is based on the familia of Lucius Caecilius Iucundus. By beginning in Pompeii, students are introduced to Roman Italy, with a wealth of archaeological evidence to explore, such as the house and business records of Caecilius himself. There are many opportunities to develop skills of historical investigation as well as a sense of investment in the familia of Caecilius, members of which act as the lead characters in subsequent books.

In Books 2 and 3 Caecilius’s son Quintus visits two very different provinces of the Roman empire, Britain and Egypt (specifically Alexandria). In Egypt he is joined by other characters familiar from Book 1: his sister Lucia; Clemens, a man previously enslaved in Caecilius’ household; and Caecilius’s friend Barbillus. These books introduce our villain, the Roman politician Salvius, as well as a host other characters, including Togidubnus, the British king who falls victim to Salvius’s schemes, and his wife Catia.

Basing Books 2 and 3 in the provinces of Britain and Egypt introduces students to the vast geographical and cultural range of the empire, as well as the different methods of conquest and subjugation employed by the Romans. At the time of the stories Britain is a relatively new province in which military conquest ongoing. The political and social landscape is very different in Alexandria, as it had been a Roman province for longer, and before that it was subject to Greek rule. The city of Alexandria also provides students with their first example of a large, prosperous, cultural centre. Therefore when they come to study Rome, they have a relevant point of comparison. That the first such city to be studied in depth is in North Africa also challenges Eurocentric views and encourages acknowledgement of the myriad of deeply complex and interwoven cultures of the ancient world.
Book 4 brings the series to Rome for its conclusion and the comeuppance of Salvius. Lucia re-enters the narrative, and the political and social machinations of Rome and the imperial court take centre stage. Rome was deliberately made the final location of the story: we finish in the seat of imperial power having first seen how that power affects the lives of people all over the empire. Students will have developed the skills of critical analysis necessary to engage with the sources and evidence from ancient Rome to draw nuanced and complex conclusions. This setting also provides a natural ‘jumping off point’ to move onto authentic classical Latin literature. In acknowledgement of this, Book 4 contains more Latin sources in translation as part of the cultural background material and students are asked more challenging questions when it comes to analysis and literary criticism.

Content of a Stage

Chapters in the CLC are referred to as Stages. Each Stage contains new language features and deals with a particular aspect of Roman culture; there is, in most cases, a standard format. A student-facing version of the below can be found in the Introduction to the textbook pages v-vi.

Model sentences. New language features are presented in a coherent context of whole sentences or short paragraphs. These are accompanied by illustrations which should be used to support students in working out the meaning of the sentences.

Latin stories. Narrative and dramatic passages form the core of each Stage and are the main means of consolidating language learning. These have a developing story line and a context related to the aspect of Roman culture featured in the Stage. They increase in length and complexity as students progress through the Course. New vocabulary is given to the right of each passage, in the form in which it appears in the text. The translation given is that which is relevant for its meaning in the story context, alternative translations are not offered at this point (although they might be listed in the main vocabulary list at the back of the book). It is not the intention that every word of every story be translated, more often students will read for meaning and enjoyment while teachers select key material to support student understanding of linguistic features.

About the language. An explanation is provided of language features that have been introduced or have occurred frequently in the Stage. This section usually appears some way into the Stage. It is designed to be studied after students have become familiar with the language features through the reading and investigation of the stories.

Practicing the language. This contains another, shorter story intended to consolidate the language features introduced in the Stage. The story is accompanied by three types of question designed to check understanding and encourage critical engagement with the story and the language:

  • Explore the story contains comprehension questions
  • Explore the language targets student understanding of grammar and linguistic features
  • Explore further invites students to offer critical analysis of the story, building skills of literary criticism. 

This section also contains clear instructions directing students where they can find more information or extra exercises targeting the language points.

Cultural context material. This provides an explanation of the aspect of Roman culture featured in the Stage and forms the context or subject matter of the Latin stories. Focus is on evidence and its interpretation, and information is supported by both written (translated) sources and pictures of archaeological finds.

Some sections make use of ‘talking heads’ to lead students through the material. These figures – some well-known characters from the stories, others more background voices – provide different views on the content, taking advantage of the fact that the cultural background sections are in English to offer more nuance and subtle commentary.

These sections also contain Enquiries and Thinking Points designed to develop skills of historical investigation and wider knowledge:

  • The Enquiry opens the cultural background section and offers a potential question for students to consider as they read the material. It appears again at the end of the section with bullet points highlighting how the material they have studied might relate to the question. These might be used as the basis for larger projects or pieces of assessed work.
  • Thinking points are questions, activities and discussion ideas called which are scattered throughout the material. There are usually between four and nine of these depending on the material.  These are likely to be used as shorter class activities or perhaps several might be considered as a homework task. Some have sufficient potential scope to work well as the focus of a whole lesson or larger piece of work.

There is no expectation that all available Enquiries and Thinking points are used. Which a teacher wishes to spend time on will depend on their interests and needs as well as those of their students. There is no single way to engage with these activities, they are intended to act as catalysts for classroom discussion and historical investigation.

Vocabulary checklist. At the end of each Stage there is a list of common words which have occurred several times in the text and should now be known. In the early Stages, nouns and adjectives are presented in the nominative singular, and verbs in the 3rd person singular of the present tense. The Course gradually brings in the traditional key grammatical forms until finally the principal parts of verbs, the three genders of adjectives, and the genitive and gender of nouns are listed. Students are thus equipped to use a Latin dictionary.

Language information

This material is at the back of each book and is divided into three parts.

  1. About the language. This segment summarises the language content of the book (and in Books II–IV the language features from previous books). It contains grammatical tables, notes and additional exercises.
  2. Reviewing the language. This section contains additional exercises for each Stage in the book. These have been designed to support consolidation of language information with clearly labelled and numbered exercises for ease of navigation. There are links to the places in the textbook where you can find additional information.
  3. Vocabulary. The complete vocabulary for the whole book.

Planning and teaching the CLC

Curriculum planning

It is important to plan your approach to the whole Course in advance to ensure you cover all necessary material to meet your students’ goals. A single approach to course planning to support students from beginner to, for example, GCSE standard would not be appropriate. Students will receive very different amounts of classroom time and teacher support over the course of their studies. The following suggestions should be considered carefully, and modifications made to suit your particular context and aims.

The grammatical gradient of the Course is spread over all four Books, with the material for the UK GCSE specifications (both Eduqas and OCR) being completed by approximately midway through Book 4.

In schools where Latin is begun at KS3 before some students opt to continue for GCSE, or schools looking to give students a foundation in Latin but not looking to reach GCSE standard, it is possible to plan a coherent course based on Book I, or Books I and II or Books I, II and III depending on requirements and constraints. Each book forms a coherent program of study with a satisfying story-arc, so students who stop ‘early’ should still find the experience worthwhile.

By early in Book 2 (Stage 14) students have sufficient knowledge of Latin language to enter for the OCR Entry Level qualification in Latin, although some additional vocabulary will need to be learned. By the end of Book 2 (Stage 20) students have met all necessary language features for the WJEC Level 1 certificate in Latin, however in some cases the accidence they will have encountered in context might be slightly restricted (full accidence lists can be found in the back of the book).

For those beginning Latin in Year 7 with a view to taking GCSE in Year 11, one might use one book per year for Books I, II and III (in Years 7, 8 and 9 respectively) with Book IV being covered alongside GCSE preparation in Years 10 and 11.

Those beginning in Year 8 may wish to use one book a year for the whole course, starting Book IV in Year 11. GCSE language requirements are covered before the end of Book IV, so stories from the latter Stages of the book might be used with increased glossing as reading practice and consolidation material.

For those starting in Year 9, Book I and Stages 13-16 of Book II might be covered in the first year of study, Stages 17-20 and Book III in the second and Book IV (using the approach described above) plus GCSE preparation in the third.

Attempting to take students from complete beginners to sitting GCSE in fewer than three years will be challenging regardless of the chosen textbook. Students need to be very motivated and prepared to complete some learning independently, even if they have a generous weekly contact-time allowance.

If you are teaching on a very restricted timetable the following advice may help in covering all necessary material:

  • Keep the pace up. Do not be tempted to dwell on stories or stages longer than is necessary. Reading a story quickly, with simple comprehension questions to check student understanding and succinct explanation of relevant language features will often be sufficient.
  • Do not read every story. Some stories can be omitted with the teacher filling in the gaps in both language and story line. For example, the teacher might verbally translate the whole story to the class, keeping them involved by giving them the occasional word or phrase to translate or by asking them comprehension questions. Below is a list of stories which we suggest may be omitted by those short of time. These are also marked with ** before their title in this guide.
    • Stage 3    tōnsor (page 39)
    • Stage 7    Melissa trīstis (page 109)
    • Stage 8    Quīntus audāx (page 127) 
    • Stage 9    in apodytēriō (page 147)
    • Stage 10    Lūcia et Alexander (page 165)
    • Stage 11    Lūcius Spurius Pompōniānus (pages 181-184)
  • Use Practising the language to quickly consolidate learning. These stories and accompanying questions have been designed to support students in acquiring the key language features in a given Stage. Those who find themselves very short on time or with students needing to catch up due to absence can therefore focus their teaching on these sections. If this approach is taken it is advisable to provide translations or summaries of the other stories to the students so that the storyline can be picked back up in full when appropriate.
  • Stick to your timetable. Avoid spending more time on early material while intending to ‘make up the time’ later; in reality you are unlikely to do so. The reading method is a very flexible approach to teaching and learning language, and can be used successfully in a variety of ways. Do not be scared to make cuts and adapt the course to your situation: focus on language learning, not textbook completion and teach in a way that suits your context. You may wish to give students their own copy of the overall timetable for the course and perhaps a detailed breakdown for each term so that they can be partners in keeping up the pace, and gain motivation from noting their progress.

How to teach with the CLC

Whatever the length and aims of your course, successful teaching of the CLC will include elements of story line, linguistic material, cultural and historical content, teacher-aided reading with discussion, and independent reading of the simpler stories. Exercises in translation or comprehension should be used regularly as classwork or homework, and time should be made for both formative and summative assessment.

The suggestions below are based on the principles of the Course and offer a starting point from which you can develop strategies of your own. More detailed guidance for teaching specific material can be found in the stage commentaries.

Model sentences

A sequence for handling the model sentences might be:

Set the scene so that the students begin to understand the cultural context of the new Stage. This can be done by:

  • a brief discussion of the picture on the title page
  • quick reference to the line drawings
  • introducing the cultural context material during a previous lesson or assigning it as homework.

Read aloud a group of sentences in Latin, slowly enough to be clear and distinct, and give students time to understand them.

Ask questions in English which will elicit unambiguous, concrete answers, in the order of the information in the Latin sentence, e.g. spectātōrēs in theātrō sedent (page 70):

Q. Who are in the picture?

A. Spectators.

Q. Where are they?

A. In the theatre.

Q. Are they standing, walking, or sitting?

A. Sitting.

Q. So what does the whole sentence mean?

A. The spectators are sitting in the theatre.

Pass quickly on to the next sentence or group of sentences. Allow the students to work out the sense of the new feature for themselves. The linguistic context and the line drawings usually provide sufficiently strong clues so that the students often arrive at the right meaning after the first or second example. Use of the inductive method outlined here means that students will have often formulated an understanding of the new phenomenon before reading the About the language section.

If a sentence has proved confusing, repeat it before moving on. Otherwise, sustain momentum with a quick pace of question and answer, and a swift transition from one sentence to the next.

A second run-through of all the sentences is advisable, perhaps at the beginning of the next lesson or after reading About the language.

The Latin stories

These form a large part of each Stage and variety of approach is essential.


Divide a story into sections to be handled one at a time. Make sure the divisions are not arbitrary, but that each section makes sense in itself. Occasionally the class may be divided into groups, each of which (given a rough idea of the story line) prepares a different section of the story for the rest of the class.

Different parts of a story may present varying levels of challenge, and so need varying treatment, e.g.:

  • Simpler paragraphs: Read aloud in Latin, ask students to study the paragraph in pairs or groups, and check their understanding by asking comprehension questions; or ask students to explore individually, and then translate orally.
  • More complex paragraphs: Read aloud in smaller sections. Ask the whole group to suggest the meaning of individual words or phrases, gradually building up collectively the meaning of sentences and eventually the paragraph. Alternatively, read aloud with pauses to ask for the meaning of key words or phrases. Groups then explore the passage. Use comprehension questions to advance the groups’ understanding; follow up with translation. Similarly, in reading simpler stories, students can work independently, whereas more guidance will be needed with more complex stories.
Introducing a story

Possible strategies include:

  • Looking back. Reviewing a previous story, possibly anticipating how particular characters may react, or highlighting elements of the plot that are left unresolved.
  • Visual stimulus. Discussing illustrations or showing images to present the visual setting.
  • Aural stimulus. Reading the story aloud in a lively and dramatic manner (or playing a recorded reading) while students follow the text, gleaning some hints of the plot.
  • Looking forward. Raising questions to which the students will discover answers.
The first reading

Here the aim is to establish the general sense.

Read the first section of the story aloud in Latin, with the students following the text. It is essential that students are introduced to a passage by hearing it read aloud; when they hear the words organized into phrases or clauses, and the characters differentiated, they glean some clues to the meaning. They should regularly read the Latin aloud themselves, observing phrase and clause boundaries.

Give the students time to study the text for themselves, using the vocabulary and any other help available. When possible organise the students in groups or pairs so that they can discuss the material with each other. The teacher can circulate, giving help and noting on the board any points that will later need clarification.

With straightforward passages, students may be briefed from the outset to demonstrate their understanding in different ways by producing, e.g.:

  • A summary of the main points (written or oral).
  • A chart, map, or drawing for a topographical passage.
  • A mime or a play of the incident described.
  • An oral or written translation.
  • A sequence of drawings to illustrate the sequence of events.

Check students’ understanding by asking for feedback from the groups or by conducting a question and answer session. For example, questions on the first paragraph of ‘Fēlīx’ (Stage 6, page 86) might include:

  • Where were the Pompeians? What were they doing?
  • Were there many or few Pompeians in the inn? What did Clemens do?
  • Whom did Clemens see? How did he greet him? What does this suggest about their relationship?
  • Fēlīx erat lībertus. What does lībertus mean? What does it tell us about Felix?

Diagnose the source of any difficulties by taking the class slowly through problem sentences. Distinguish between uncertainty caused by forgetting the meaning of words, and failure to understand a relatively new language feature.

The purpose of the first reading is to understand the meaning of the Latin, not to analyse the language. Two techniques are especially useful:

  • Rephrasing or expanding questions to enable students to understand the Latin for themselves, e.g. (for the first paragraph of Fēlīx): Who were the people in the inn? Who came into the inn?
  • Taking the students back to a model sentence with a familiar feature. Students recognise the model sentences and will quickly work out the similarity of the new context.

Oral or written translation can be useful to the teacher in checking and enhancing students’ understanding of what has been read. It is best used after several sentences, or a whole paragraph, have been explored. It can be omitted for stories which the class have readily understood or explored intensively in other ways.

Initially, students may find it helpful to use a literal translation or a formula, e.g. using “was/were -ing” to translate the imperfect. The students themselves usually discover quite soon that, rather than a word-for-word process, translation involves rendering Latin into good English, in the appropriate register, so as to convey fully the original writer’s meaning. They should be encouraged toward flexibility and the appropriate use of idiomatic phrases. There are a variety of methods that can be used in classroom translation, e.g.:

  • Each sentence is translated by a different student.
  • One student translates a paragraph, others suggest improvements.
  • Students work in pairs or groups.
  • Students contribute suggestions for a collective class translation.


A follow-up is essential to strengthen and maintain the students’ grasp of story, language, and cultural context, and to develop confidence and fluency in reading.

Opportunities should also be taken to critically engage with the content. Where a story raises difficult or problematic material this should be interrogated, for example details of Melissa’s kidnap and enslavement in ‘Melissa trīstis’ (Stage 7 page 109). Such discussion is inevitable and an important part of students’ learning, so time to address these matters should be factored in. For example, in stories such as ‘Melissa trīstis’ and those in Stage 6 involving Felix students may be encouraged to consider the likely reality of relationships between enslaved people and those who enslaved them; for example, even having been freed, is Felix truly independent of Caecilius?

Some stories, such as ‘Melissa trīstis’, contain sensitive material which could be upsetting to some students. Discussion of difficult topics is important but should be handled carefully. Advice specific to individual stories and topics can be found throughout the Teacher Guidance, however the following principles may provide a sensible framework for engaging with such material:

  • Safe environment. This is the most important factor for teaching difficult material successfully. This may include a clear class code of conduct which emphasises the need to respect the views of others, as well as a clear way for students to indicate to the teacher that they are uncomfortable or in need of support.
  • Never aim to shock. Upsetting or sensitive material should never be presented with the aim of shocking or surprising students. This is important for all learners but especially for those who have suffered past trauma. Keep the ‘temperature’ in the room down and try to present things calmly. This does not mean glossing over or eliding violence, but instead thinking about how to present it in a way that does not increase the emotional load placed on students. This also applies to content warnings which should be given in a calm, neutral manner rather than as a dramatic announcement. Warnings might be incorporated into the introduction to a story or the aims of a lesson and should convey the nature of the material to be studied but not assume any specific emotional reaction. For example, “in this story Melissa talks about how she was kidnapped and enslaved” rather than “in this story we hear the very upsetting story of Melissa’s kidnap and enslavement, which some of you may find very difficult to handle.”
  • Individualised approach. Different students will be able to engage with traumatic or sensitive material to different degrees and will prefer to do so in different ways. Avoid activities which put students on the ‘spot’, for example rather than targeting specific students with questions, instead ask questions to the whole room and allow students to volunteer answers.  When students do offer their thoughts, allow sufficient time for them to be expressed and fully discussed. Activities such as free writing can be very useful, as can allowing a range of ways in which students can express their thoughts (for example accepting oral responses or drawings rather than only written work).
  • Create distance. Do not force students to imagine the mindset of a victim of violence or oppressed person. For example, avoid questions such as “how might Melissa be feeling?” and perhaps instead ask “why does Melissa say she is sad?” The former asks students to imagine being in Melissa’s situation, whereas the latter looks for a factual answer based on the text. Emotional insights might be offered by students when they learn of Melissa’s kidnap, but they should not be directly sought. Allowing students to maintain emotional distance should they need to makes for safer exploration of these topics. 

Re-reading should be as varied as possible and might include activities such as:

  • Listening and understanding. Listen, with the book closed, to a reading by the teacher or an audio recording. Pause at strategic points to check understanding of the passage. Alternatively, students may mime to a Latin reading.
  • Latin reading. Read the story aloud in Latin, with individuals or groups taking different parts or paragraphs. This could be presented to the class or recorded. Choral reading (the class together or in groups) encourages the less confident.
  • Discussion. Bring out and interrogate character, situation, and cultural context. Special consideration should be given to issues which marginalise people and voices either in the ancient world, or in the modern classroom (e.g. matters of race, gender, slavery etc).
  • Character analysis. Foretell the actions or responses of certain characters in certain situations or “hot-seat” a main character. A well-informed student, or another teacher, takes on a character and sits in the centre of the group to be questioned intensively about his or her motivation and feelings in a given situation. This exercise should not be used to explore emotionally charged or sensitive topics however and students should not be asked to ‘be’ enslaved characters or victims of violence.
  • Language practice. Ask ten quick language questions at the end of a story (ten vocabulary items on a particular theme, for example). Alternatively, isolate key phrases or sentences illustrating a new language feature; ask for meaning or ask students to copy them out, translate them, and keep for reference.
  • Retelling the story. Tell the story from the viewpoint of one of the characters, taking care to bring out the personality and background details in the narrative (again giving careful consideration to sensitive issues or characters with difficult circumstances such as enslaved people); or tell it for a particular audience, e.g. for a seven-year-old, selecting appropriate vocabulary for the target audience.
  • Plot analysis. Search for clues about how the story will continue next time. Speculate about the subsequent episode(s). Students enjoy outguessing the authors of the stories.
  • Cultural research. Find out more about the most important places or processes contained in the story. This can lead to a retelling of the story with fuller descriptions and explanations.
  • Illustration. Produce a picture which shows accurately the characters and their status, with details to establish their locations and the event(s) described. A correct comprehension of the language and the cultural context, rather than skill in drawing, is what matters here.
  • Games. Conduct class competitions where students identify characters via Latin clues, arrange Latin story events in the correct sequence, etc.
  • Drama. Act, read, or record in Latin, or by using an idiomatic translation.
  • Creative writing. Retell the story from the viewpoint of one of the characters (if appropriate), continue the story, produce a diary entry or a journalistic article, write limericks or evocative poetry, etc.
  • Worksheets. Indicate comprehension by answering true/false questions, doing multiple choice exercises, filling in blanks from a word bank, completing cloze exercises, etc.
  • Translation. Formal translation of a prepared passage might be done in class or for homework. Students, individually or in groups, attempt to achieve the closest and most natural English version, perhaps of a dramatic scene for acting. Occasionally ask students to review a story carefully at home; tell them that you will give them three or four sentences from the story to translate in class without any help. This is a very precise check on understanding and is easy to set up and assess.

Working on the language

The Course is designed with built-in consolidation and students will always meet further examples of a linguistic feature in later reading passages and exercises. However, teachers can easily give supplementary language practice, using recently read stories to reviewing a language feature or range of features. This ensures that students study words and inflections in the context of a coherent narrative or conversation. Possible techniques include:

  • Search-and-find. Have students identify examples of, for instance, the perfect and imperfect tenses or nominative and accusative noun forms, etc.
  • Oral substitution. From portābant ask for the meanings of portābat, portābam, progressing to portāvērunt, portant, then to portāvit, portō, etc. The progression from simpler to more complex questions should be a gradual one. In the example given, first the person is changed, then the tense, then both variables.
  • Line-by-line questions, sometimes followed up by a question designed to stress the link between form and function, e.g.:
    • In line 1, how is ambulābant translated? (And what tense is this?)
    • In line 2, is dominō singular or plural? (How does this affect translation?)
    • In line 3, find an accusative. (Why is the accusative being used?)
  • Listening to a brief passage read in Latin with the textbook closed. Students may answer comprehension questions, translate sentence by sentence, or explain selected phrases. This should be done only with a story they have just studied or a simple story read previously.

Students can gain considerable linguistic understanding from the stories, but the Course also provides reinforcement in other ways.

About the language
  • Use the examples the students have already met in the model sentences and reading passages to organise and consolidate the ideas they are already forming.
  • If students need to revisit relevant prior learning, colour-coded textboxes show where this information can be found.
  • Elicit comments on the language feature from the students themselves, rather than presenting the teacher’s comment and explanation.
  • Use the practice examples in the About the language section to make sure that students have understood the explanation. If necessary, supplement these examples with others from the text.
  • Resist the temptation to take the discussion further than is necessary. Considerable experience in reading is necessary for students to reach a fuller understanding and this will develop as they progress through the course.

A possible discussion for the dative case (Stage 9, pages 144-145) might go as follows.

Start by putting the example sentence Metella fīliae cibum offerēbat on the board.

Q. What is the English meaning for this sentence?

A. Metella was offering food to her daughter.

Q. Who did the offering?

A. Metella.

Q. So what case is the Latin noun Metella?

A. Nominative.

Q. And what was Metella offering?

A. Food.

Q. So what case is the Latin noun cibum?

A. Accusative.

Q. To whom did Metella offer the food?

A. Her daughter.

Q. Where is the word for “to” in the Latin sentence?

A. There isn’t one.

At this point, some students may be able to suggest that this new form fīliae handles the idea of “to.” Or the translation “Metella was offering her daughter food” may have been given, without the “to.” Either way, try to elicit from the students their understanding of “what is new” in Stage 9 before you give them the label “dative.” You should give other examples, including those with the English equivalent “for,” to build up students’ concept of how English translations handle the Latin dative.

Practising the language

The narrative section of each Stage ends with a standalone story, accompanied by a series of activities. The level of complexity is slightly below that of the other stories in the Stage. These stories can be used or omitted as teachers see fit. The activities are arranged under three headings:

  1. Explore the story comprises a series of comprehension questions covering the main events in the story. They should be addressed only once the story has been read through in its entirety at least once. These questions can be used in a variety of ways, such as to provide structure to a small group discussion of the text; to establish the outline of a story before undertaking translation or analysis work; to structure summaries to demonstrate understanding (cartoon strips, reports, etc); as a homework task to assess comprehension; as an assessment (mark schemes are available from CSCP if required).
  2. Explore the language is a short activity which, in Book I, asks the students to articulate their understanding of a feature of Latin language. There are a variety of ways to approach this, and opportunities should be given to students to explain and develop their personal understanding rather than rely on terminology which may not be fully understood. This could be carried out as a ‘think-pair-share’ discussion, for example. 
  3. Explore further requires students to reflect on the story within the context of their wider understanding of the narratives and the ancient world, working towards becoming critical readers of ancient texts. This will involve considering the information about the ancient world conveyed in the story, possible differing interpretations of events, and how the style of writing relates to the content. These questions are open and can be pitched by the teacher at different levels appropriate to their students. Specific evidence should be required to support any opinions offered, and an opportunity to share and discuss various ideas should be given.
Reviewing the language

These activities are linked to a Stage and a language feature, and textbook support is clearly signposted. These links enable teachers and students to judge when to use these activities most effectively to support language learning and give the students the tools needed to complete the tasks.

Each activity has also been given a number to show how it relates to other work on the same topic. If a student is finding, for example, ‘Nominatives and accusatives 3’ slightly beyond their current understanding, they should be encouraged to revisit ‘Nominatives and accusatives 2’ to consolidate prior learning and build confidence. Most of the exercises require students to complete sentences from a pool of words or phrases and are suitable for both oral and written work. In oral practice, students should respond with the complete Latin sentence, demonstrating their understanding by translating it or answering a question about its meaning.

Language information

The explanations and exercises in this section are best used for review and consolidation after students have had considerable experience of all aspects of a feature, e.g. all functions of the dative case. They are not suitable for work on language features which have only recently been introduced. From Stage 8 onwards, teachers will find the charts and exercises helpful in planning additional language practice. Detailed suggestions are made in the Stage commentaries.

Vocabulary checklists

The words in these lists should already be familiar to students and have been selected due to their usefulness both for those aiming for GCSE and in tackling Latin literature in the future.

These words should be reviewed and understanding checked. Frequent short vocabulary quizzes may help more than long ones at greater intervals. If you quiz or test students on their knowledge vocabulary it is best to do so with the word presented in context rather than as an isolated item. You may vary the form of the word you present, but we would suggest that you require only the basic meaning when aiming to test vocabulary knowledge. Recognition of a verb form as present or perfect, for example, is a grammar skill rather than a vocabulary skill, and should be quizzed or tested when grammar, rather than vocabulary, is the focus. Similarly, when testing grammar consider giving students relevant vocabulary as a reference. Well targeted assessment makes it far easier to diagnose problems in student understanding and address them effectively.

Acquisition and retention of vocabulary depend largely upon the level of interest a story evokes and the frequency and variety of reinforcement activities, some examples include:

  • With books open and glossary covered, ask students to give the meaning of individual words, or short phrases, from a story they have just read.
  • With books shut, ask a series of questions about the story, setting selected words in a helpful context:
    • The citizens were laetī. What mood were they in? 
    • Each supporter received a fūstis. What was that?
    • Who can show the class the difference between sollicitus and perterritus?
  • Summarize the events of a story by calling for key words from the story in Latin and writing them on the board. Basic words can be tested simply: What does scrībit mean? What is a nāvis?
  • Ask students to suggest Latin words on a specific topic, e.g. “Ten words related to the forum before the bell goes—any offers?” or “Ten pairs of opposites...” 
  • Make flashcards for a fast-paced review requiring only minutes. Batches of cards of different levels of difficulty can be made and students might be asked to self-select their level depending on how confident they feel. 
  • Because it is easier to remember the meaning of words in context, encourage students to review by rereading the stories themselves.
  • Discuss Latin derivatives in English, Spanish, French, or Italian (perhaps using the “derive” function on Story Explorers available via

The cultural context material

This generally comes at the end of a Stage – although in the later Books shorter sections are also interspersed among the stories – but this does not mean that it should always be taught after students have tackled the stories and language learning. It is wise to vary treatment of this material, according to the contribution it makes to each Stage, for example it can be used to:

  • introduce a Stage or a story, where the content may need to be explored in advance e.g. Stage 9 (before in palaestrā or in apodytēriō).
  • follow up the Latin stories, where it extends the content of the stories, e.g. Stages 3, 6, and 10.
  • accompany the stories, to help students visualize more clearly the setting for the scenes they are reading, e.g. Stages 4 and 11.

The cultural context material can be studied very briefly simply to provide context for the stories, or in more depth if time allows. Each section has an overarching ‘Enquiry Question’ which can form the basis of a larger project or assessment, and several ‘Thinking Points’ which act as smaller activities. There is no expectation that teachers will use every Enquiry and Thinking Point; use only those which support the goals you have for your students.

When undertaking historical investigation with students it might be useful to consider which of the key second order concepts are relevant so that understanding of these can be targeted by the chosen activities. The following table (based on advice from the Historical Association) provides a list of the key second order concepts and explanations of what the study of these entail in practice.

  Understanding of...

… how different types of sources are used to make historical claims.

… how to create an historical account which is evidentially supported.


… how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed.

… who constructs these accounts of the past.


… reasons for and results of historical events, situations, and changes.


… how to identify change (and continuity) both within and across periods.


… the diverse experiences an ideas for example the beliefs and ideas of men, women and children in past societies.


… the significance of events, people and developments both in their historical context and in the present day.

Enquiries can form the basis of independent work or research, but this should be clearly and comprehensively scaffolded by the teacher. The Enquiry Questions in the textbook are broad enough that they can be used as wider projects involving reading other sources – an opportunity to introduce students to academic use of the internet or the relevant section of the school library if there is one – but can also be tackled successfully with just close reading of the overview of relevant knowledge provided in the textbook.

Communication of ideas is a crucial part of an historical enquiry and students should learn how to structure their ideas around the available evidence and convey their thoughts coherently to others. While teachers may wish to use a traditional essay style method of assessment and communication, varying the final outcome will keep material fresh and accessible. You may wish to consider using more imaginative or dynamic approaches for some topics such as:

  • Writing a piece of historical fiction. Maybe have students write an extra story (in English) or an additional ‘Talking Head’ for the stage which addresses the issues raised in the question.
  • Oral presentation. This might be done in front of the class to practice public speaking skills, or simple audio recording software (even that found on a mobile phone or other personal device like an iPad) might be used to create an alternative method of submission.
  • Create a documentary. Students might plan and script a documentary that addresses the enquiry. If resources and time allow they could also film this as part of the assessment. Extra interpretations work can be embedded by discussing who the intended audience are (Adults? Children? Classics students? The general public?) and how this may influence the content and tone of their work.
  • (Draw and) label an illustration or picture. Students might be given a picture or set of pictures and asked to label or caption them with ideas based on the enquiry. For example the enquiry in Stage 3 looks at what it would be like to walk around Pompeii in the first century AD. Students might be asked to label a set of pictures showing different streets and locations in Pompeii and offer descriptions of what they might expect to see, hear, smell and feel in those locations. They may also make comparisons, such as between a major street and a quieter side one. Alternatively, you may show them a picture of a street in Pompeii now and ask students to create an illustration showing what it may have been like in Roman times: the artwork does not need to be high quality, stick figures and basic line drawings with labels would do!

For information on best practice in the teaching of historical enquiries please do visit the resource section of the Historical Association website ( One particularly useful resource is What’s the wisdom on … enquiry questions found here:

The Thinking Points offered in the textbooks are varied and cover a range of activities and material. They are usually tightly tied to the material around them and ask students to consider a small amount of information to investigate a question/task with a relatively narrow scope. Some of these may naturally lend themselves to written tasks or note taking, others may facilitate a lively classroom conversation. They do not all need to be used, a range is provided to enable teachers to select a suitable focus for their classroom. They vary both in level of challenge and content. Some of them ask students to recall knowledge from previous Stages or make comparisons and connections with past material. Others ask for deeper analysis of a particular source or issue.

There is no correct way to teach these activities, they are supposed to support the goals of the individual teacher rather than dictate a teaching approach. You may, for example, ask the class to study the cultural background material for homework and take notes on a selection of the Thinking Points, review of which might open the next lesson, perhaps as preparation to read one of the Stage’s stories. The Thinking Points are designed in many cases to open up debate and promote critical thinking. Where time is short, the Thinking Points might help to focus a quick class discussion of the cultural material with a natural focus on analysis and critical thinking. Listening to the different perceptions of their peers and testing their own observations in debate, students can develop their powers of observation and their appreciation of different points of view; leading to better constructed and supported judgments.

Even when time is tight, it is important to build in time for discussion of sensitive or problematic material such as slavery. Such material should be treated with due care and attention, and time should be taken to develop student understanding and to challenge assumptions or troublesome ideas. Some of the Thinking Points are designed precisely for this and they provide openings and prompts for more thought-provoking and challenging discussions. It is hoped that this will help teachers to navigate this material with their students, something which can feel daunting. The following Thinking Points from Stage 6’s material on slavery are examples of this:

  • Thinking Point 2 – asks students to consider issues of translation and language choice. This is a very complex issue and one which many teachers and students might struggle, the intention with this question is to provoke thought and open-minded discussion of how language shapes and reflects perceptions. This is also a useful exercise for those looking to develop their students’ translation skills; early in the course we are opening the door to discussions of nuance and choice in the translation process.
  • Thinking Point 3 – this focuses on a single source and what it shows about attitudes to enslaved people. This is an effective way to discuss Roman attitudes and the position of enslaved and captured people without employing shock tactics or inappropriately emotionally charged material.
  • Thinking Point 5 – asks students to consider different perspectives on ‘fugitives’. Focusing on the language used rather than “what these people may have felt” enables this discussion to be conducted in a safe way while still promoting understanding and empathy.

Throughout the cultural background material it is important to remember that it might be better for students to study a few topics in depth, rather than to attempt to cover absolutely everything in brief. Perhaps consider allowing them to choose an Enquiry to offer a personal project about. Independent study need not be restricted to written work; art work, audio or video recording, drama, and modelmaking are all effective ways of exploring and expressing knowledge. Even when time is short, students may enjoy being given the opportunity to develop their knowledge of a theme on their own, and it is a good way of encouraging independent learning.


The illustrations throughout the Books enable students to envisage the setting and to discover for themselves by observation and deduction more information about the ancient world. In the Stage commentaries teachers have been given additional information to assist interpretation of the pictures. This information should be transmitted to the students if it seems necessary to aid their understanding and appreciation.

Illustrations can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Those on the opening pages of the Stages might be used as a way to set the scene for the rest of the Stage. Students might be asked to describe what they see and where they think the story in the coming Stage might take place.
  • Individual photographs can help students set the scene accurately for a story to be read or acted, e.g. the image of the forum which sits above the story Hermogenēs (page 55).
  • Clues to the content of a story might be found by studying the pictures which accompany it, for example fābula mīrābilis (page 104) with its spooky image complete with werewolf.
  • Images, especially in the cultural background sections, might offer students more information about the evidence or a way to develop their understanding further.
  • Students could be asked to enact what would take place in locations illustrated, e.g. throughout Stage 9, as a way to test their recall or understanding.

Assessing student progress

Informal assessment by the teacher is a continuous part of classroom management and lesson planning. It is also essential that formally assessed work be regularly given in class or for homework to provide evidence of individual students’ understanding and retention. Students should be fully aware of the criteria for assessment.

All assessment should emphasise the comprehension of a continuous Latin passage rather than just memorisation and recall. As has been mentioned above, it is also important to consider what you wish to target with an assessment, and what you do not. Test one thing at a time. If you wish to assess accidence knowledge, consider giving vocabulary notes so that poor vocabulary knowledge is not a barrier. If you are testing vocabulary, keep syntax and accidence complexity to a minimum and consider supporting guidance. If you assess more than one thing at once it becomes very difficult to tell where students are struggling and what to target in order to help them improve.

Lesson planning

There is no ‘correct’ way to teach the course. Different teachers will take different approaches and may even choose to include and omit different material. The following principles may, however, be useful to all:

  • Learning is the aim. All students should be making progress in their learning, not just moving through the Book. Careful monitoring and support will be needed to enable all students to access the stories and improve their reading skills. 
  • Keep moving. This is true both in individual lessons and across the course. A sense of progress and achievement is the single most motivating factor for students. The course is built on an assumption that teachers move relatively quickly through the Stages so that students remain engaged with the storyline and read plenty of Latin. 
  • Develop independence. Having students work individually or in groups for short periods, encouraging them to seek help as required, is a good way to foster independence in students; the reading method works best when students feel empowered and confident to ‘have a go’ and suggest their own understanding of the language features rather than waiting to be told the ‘correct’ answer. 
  • Integration. The Latin stories are not only a medium for acquiring language but also the basis for exploring plot, character, and the Roman world in which the narrative is set. This coherence should constantly be reflected in the work undertaken in class.
  • Variety. Although reading Latin will form the major part of most lessons, and each Stage has a the same overall structure, this does not mean that lessons have to follow the same pattern. Varying approaches to stories, cultural material and language consolidation will help to sustain momentum.