M. Hermans, B. October, B. Van Zyl Smit, J. Boughey


At the University of the Western Cape (UWC) there is a large number of students (about
300) who enrol for the introductory Latin course. Most of these students hope to become
lawyers. It is with this in mind that one of the major aims of the UWC Latin course is to
enable students to read with comprehension simple Latin texts e.g. 1he Institutes of Gaius,
(cf. Kriel 1982). The prescribed handbook is Legal Latin - A Basic Course by
Scholtemeijer and Hasse. There are, however, formidable obstacles in the way of enabling
students to achieve the aim of reading Latin with confidence. Some of these are constraints
faced by most universities, such as not more than 26 weeks of actual teaching time per
year, large groups (80-120 students per group), some apathy because Latin is seen as a
compulsory requirement, and often a very genuine fear of Latin as a very difficult subject
to pass. At UWC yet another factor has become increasingly important over the past few
years. A growing percentage of students are studying Latin through the medium of English
while English is not their first language. (At the moment we have one: Afrikaans medium
group, who are not similarly handicapped).
This paper describes how we attempted during 1992 to make learning Latin a meaningful
experience for our students; it also draws some conclusions based on the performance of
the students and on feedback obtained from them by means of questionnaires about the
The first section deals with problems generally experienced by students, the second with
the methodology adopted to deal with these problems and finally there is an evaluation of
the procedure and an indication of the road ahead.
Contact time comprised two eighty minute lectures per week dealing with grammar and
related experiences, and a weekly tutorial of 40 minutes for which students were divided
into groups of approximately 20. There were approximately 15 tutorial groups, and each
group maintained their tutor throughout the year. Students were required to write a weekly
practical test for which they had to study the grammar and vocabulary introduced during
the previous week. They could also practise their vocabulary and paradigms, and later in
the year their setwork comprehension, on the CONSENSUS computer programme.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/38-2-544


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