For at least a century Latin has come under withering attack for irrelevance to the modern world. As most embarking on study of the language are primary school children, the most devastating have been those addressing the child's point of view, perhaps best encapsulated in the film Young Winston, where the eight-year-old future Prime Minister is sternly ordered by his new headmaster to learn the declension of Mensa. His curiosity is momentarily piqued by the vocative case ("But why would I want to talk to a table?" he reasonably asks), and is immediately crushed by the furious and totally unsatisfying reaction.
If you are open to considering the value of Latin for its beauty, its grammatical discipline, the insights it offers into English and other modern European languages, its power to put you in touch with centuries of Europeans for whom it was the lingua franca and to permit you to hear without interpretation the voices of yet earlier fascinating people, then Minimus is the perfect antidote to the preceding critique for your child.
The most powerful testimony I can offer to the magical ability of Minimus to bring Latin to life for children is to point out that I used it to introduce my home-schooled sons to the language before sending them around the age of eleven to preparatory schools where I knew their peers would have some knowledge of it. In all three cases, Minimus's trick of bringing Latin to life with its colloquialism, wit and fascinatingly honest and unpatronising insights into a very different world captivated my children to the extent that they entered enthusiastically into the hard slog that then followed from more traditional primers and went on to make Latin for many years their top subject by far outshining their classmates in it. Thank you, Barbara Bell!
Edmind Marlowe, author of Alexander's Choice, a novel about a boy enthused by the classics, amazon.co.uk/dp/1481222112
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As a classically-educated semi-retired non-teacher, with a strong interest in education, I have been teaching Minimus over the last six months to a smallish class of 5th and 6th year boys and girls in a local Primary School. They have thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly with the wide variety of aspects(from historical to culinary) at which the course pointed; and the charm of the Minimus text has made it a pleasant as well as interesting task to teach. It has also provided the children with a fun opportunity to perform a play in Latin (they used scripts - Latin by heart would have been a step too far), to explore Latin roots in the English Language, and even to have a look at an easier Winnie ille Pu passage. (Beware: Winnie ille Pu Latin is not easy at all.) My only niggle- I think that the course could have been just a little more ambitious in the level of grammar that it offered. As well as re-starting the basic Minimus course, I am looking forward in the Autumn to taking some of the children for the Minimus Secundus course (for the first time); it's significantly more challenging in terms of language-learning, but should be a good choice for keen 6th-year pupils (even without having done the basic Minimus course).
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