Students learn to speak Latin, ‘the un-dead language’

Zoe Greenberg:

The Roman gladiators entered the cafeteria in a single-file line, thumping elongated cardboard tubes against duct-taped cardboard shields. They wore helmets, wrist cuffs, shin protectors.

“Sanguinem!” the eighth-grade spectators chanted from the sidelines, pounding the tables. Blood!

The annual gladiator battle at Ottoson Middle School is not only about whacking enemies with recyclable swords. It’s also about bringing a supposedly dead language to life by doing something unheard-of in Latin classes of the past: Speaking it.

In schools across Massachusetts and the country, teachers are throwing out the memorized charts of verb conjugations and noun declensions that were once essential to a Latin education, and instead emphasizing the spoken word. The goal is to make Latin more inclusive and more engaging for kids in 2019.