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British GCSE and A level Latin

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British GCSE and A level Latin

Postby Jacobus » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:30 pm

Salvete omnes,

I am learning Latin with Lingua Latina - I am working through it really slowly and enjoying it very much. Here are my questions:

I hope to do a Latin GCSE or A level one day. I had heard, though, that they would be discontinuing the Latin (and Ancient Greek?) A level at some point. Have they got round to that yet? I can't believe I don't even know that, but I haven't had time to look into it properly.

My question is whether Lingua Latina will be enough practise for me to be able to take a GCSE or A level? I am aware that a lot of Latin students memorise the passages they have to translate in the exam; I don't find this a good way to learn - is it practical to approach Latin translation in the same way as we would French or German, in that we'd just translate an "unseen text" or so, or is it too difficult with Latin? Is their wanting to memorise the text just an indicator of their poor knowledge of Latin and a poor level of translating ability?

Does anyone know what standard Lingua Latina would take you to? Both Familia Romana and Roma Aeterna separately?

I assume, before taking the exam, that it would be sensible to read some of the orginal texts, or at least part of them. After reading Lingua Latina, I assume it's the usual authors that they'd include... Virgil, Cicero, Ovid.. anyone else? Anything in particular? I have heard that the Aeneid comes a lot, which particular book, I don't know... my knowledge on actual examinations is very sketchy.

I recognise this was a bit of a sketchy message with questions everywhere. Thanks for reading and I look forward to reading your answers. If you need any clarification, just ask, as I'm sure some of what I've said could be seen as unclear.

Jack
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Re: British GCSE and A level Latin

Postby medbh4805 » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:51 pm

Jacobus wrote:
I hope to do a Latin GCSE or A level one day. I had heard, though, that they would be discontinuing the Latin (and Ancient Greek?) A level at some point. Have they got round to that yet? I can't believe I don't even know that, but I haven't had time to look into it properly.


They haven't discontinued it yet, but OCR is now the only exam board which does it.
Jacobus wrote:My question is whether Lingua Latina will be enough practise for me to be able to take a GCSE or A level? I am aware that a lot of Latin students memorise the passages they have to translate in the exam; I don't find this a good way to learn - is it practical to approach Latin translation in the same way as we would French or German, in that we'd just translate an "unseen text" or so, or is it too difficult with Latin? Is their wanting to memorise the text just an indicator of their poor knowledge of Latin and a poor level of translating ability?


tbh I don't know what the standard level is of Lingua Latina books, but I am doing GCSE latin next year, and I don't see any problem with the prose/poetry tests, and after reading the exams I was astounded that they feel they have to learn the texts off by heart. If you are worried you can go to the OCR website and have a look at some past papers.

Jacobus wrote:I assume, before taking the exam, that it would be sensible to read some of the orginal texts, or at least part of them. After reading Lingua Latina, I assume it's the usual authors that they'd include... Virgil, Cicero, Ovid.. anyone else? Anything in particular? I have heard that the Aeneid comes a lot, which particular book, I don't know... my knowledge on actual examinations is very sketchy.


If you go to the OCR website you can find the exact text which is coming up on the exam, right down to line numbers, though they have perscribed editions. I don't know what textbook is used in schools, but if you learn all the grammatical forms listed in the specification along with all the vocabulary. What makes Latin harder is the range of tenses (6 + subjuctive in Latin, compare 4 in French), but the vocab is considerably smaller (about 500 words for Latin, maybe 2000 for French), you would be okay. But as I said read the past papers and se ehow you find the language.
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Re: British GCSE and A level Latin

Postby spiphany » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:27 pm

Is the GCSE exam is anything like American AP exams? That is, are there also questions expecting you to identify grammatical forms and constructions, or do you only have to translate?
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: British GCSE and A level Latin

Postby medbh4805 » Thu Mar 12, 2009 6:30 pm

Not in GCSE. I hear the AP exam is roughly equivalent to AS level though.
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Re: British GCSE and A level Latin

Postby Jacobus » Thu Mar 12, 2009 6:56 pm

I don't think the British GCSE exam requires us to write out declinations and conjugations. Friends of mine who have done GCSE Latin always said it was largely based on translation from Latin into English. I do regret that approach, though; I think they should include questions on writing out declinations and conjugations. Looking through the GCSE papers, I seem to be able to answer many of the questions on the text and translate much of what they set, even though my Latin is very far from where I'd like it to be. What are the American Latin exams like? I get the impression they may be slightly more grammar orientated than their British equivalents?

Thanks
Jack
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Re: British GCSE and A level Latin

Postby spiphany » Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:45 pm

What are the American Latin exams like? I get the impression they may be slightly more grammar orientated than their British equivalents?

There's a mix of translation, general comprehension questions, and questions asking you to identify case or tense, fill in the correct form, etc. All AP exams are set up so they're about half multiple choice, with a couple of short answer and essay sections, so they can't just have you translate.
For this I think a text like Lingua Latina would be insufficient, unless you supplement it with more traditional grammar; you might know the correct forms to use in a particular situation, but not be able to explain it using the terminology they expect.
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: British GCSE and A level Latin

Postby Jacobus » Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:29 am

Right, that's interesting. As far as I can see, the British GCSE does not include questions asking to identify case or declination. However, I know nothing about our A level - I am about to have a look into that. What's the American equivalent of A level like? Only one of the three main exam boards offers Latin here now; it seems that Latin and I would guess Ancient Greek, too, is falling out of favour. It's a great shame, and I wish I had gone ahead and taken the plunge into the Classics years before I have. From what I can see of the British GCSE, or what's left of it, I think I'd have a fair chance of doing well - but the A level, if other languages is anything to go by at all, would be a huge step up, and probably would involve some original composition in Latin.

Thanks
Jack
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Re: British GCSE and A level Latin

Postby ptolemyauletes » Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:44 pm

I hope they don't get rid of Latin A levels and GCSE soon, or I'll be out of a job!
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Re: British GCSE and A level Latin

Postby Jacobus » Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:22 pm

I hope they don't get rid of either of them, as I intend to take one, if not both of them, eventually. I think it's a shame to study a language, or anything else for that matter, without proving through some sort of qualification that you're competent in it.

Jack
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