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Ancient Greek in year 9?

(15 Posts)
celestialsquirrelnuts Sun 23-Feb-14 12:20:39

DS1 has to choose options for year 9. Obligatory subjects are Eng, Maths, 3 sciences, French, History, Geog, RS, Art & Design

He has to choose two additional subjects from Latin, Classics, Ancient Greek, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Drama and Music. He currently does Latin and has done since year 5. He is perfectly fine at it but he isn't particularly taken by it.

The school have graded the kids on their ability to do modern languages and their ability to do Latin and Greek - for modern languages DS has scored "should take up an additional language unless there is a good reason for a different choice" (2nd of 5 grades) and for Latin and Greek "average potential - can do Latin and/or Greek; no strong feelings one way or the other" (3rd of 5 grades).

He really wants to do Drama - loves it, is good at it, will probably do it for GCSE. To do it for GCSE he has to choose it as a yr 9 option. He likes and is good at French and is happy to do it for GCSE. He can take or leave Latin. He is attracted to Ancient Greek after a taster lesson - this might be because he is partly greek. I have told him that Ancient Greek is about as useful for modern greek as Latin is to English. If he didn't do Ancient Greek he would probably choose Spanish but I suspect would only do one modern language at GCSE (I could be wrong though).

He is a clever kid whose strengths lie towards History, English literature, creative writing, Drama. Loves language, the past, stories, politics, ethics, things like that.

Is Ancient Greek a good idea or not? Would be v grateful for your thoughts.

VideoEtTaceo Sun 23-Feb-14 14:04:53

I'm a Classics teacher and I teach GCSE short course Greek. It's challenging but knowing Latin will be a huge advantage as the structure of the language is similar. It's an unusual skill and well respected as an academic subject. Universities like it (same with Latin). If he likes it and wants to do it then he should do. The most important factor for achievement in my experience is motivation - if he's driven to learn the vocab and endings he'll be fine. Seems a bit of a shame to leave Latin after doing it for 4 years, especially as it fulfils your list of his interests (the GCSE involves translating mythological stories, historical stories, literature and studying Roman sources to learn about their lives). But Greek is similar, and I can see the attraction in learning more about part of his heritage.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Mon 24-Feb-14 08:17:04

In my head I have carved out an academic career for your DS, based on the philosophy ("stories, politics, ethics") of ancient Greek drama.... (Perhaps an overdone subject, no doubt he could come up with a more original career path...)

Given his interests so far, the combination of Greek and drama does appear to have enormous potential. Usually I would never suggest anyone gives up Latin, but he does now have a basic understanding of that to fall back on - and it might not be easy to fit in Greek at any later stage of his academic life.

Would he have to continue Greek to GCSE if it didn't work out? Would he persevere if it's harder than he anticipates?

wordfactory Mon 24-Feb-14 08:49:41

OP my DC took up Ancient Greek and loves it.

Yes, it is challenging, but for DS that's part of the attraction.

He says the literature and culture parts of it are particularly interesting.

LadyMuck Mon 24-Feb-14 19:44:15

Is it possible to jump one year further and see what options he might have at GCSE? I'm assuming he won't be taking all of these subjects to GCSE, and there may be fewer compulsory subjects, but different types of restrictions for the remaining subjects.

DS has a similar set of options for year nine, but we've already been looking at GCSE options as he is required to take an MFL, and taking Spanish, Latin and Greek seems like an awful lot of languages amidst 10 GCSEs. Your selection seems more balanced, but it is worth checking the compulsory GCSE's carefully I think.

summerends Tue 25-Feb-14 08:19:51

I have a DC who loves both Latin and Greek and tells me that Greek literature is much better but both are enjoyable to translate (from the puzzle/application of logic point of view). Both are great for people who like connections between words and enriching their vocabulary.
However a note of caution, perhaps more than European MFLs, consistent rote learning is a necessary evil for Greek as for Latin to progress to the more advanced interesting stages and therefore would n't suit somebody who leaves learning to the last minute.

wordfactory Tue 25-Feb-14 09:17:31

Very true summerends

DS has tests most weeks. Anyone who fails has to retake the next day (during lunch break grin ).

tryingreallytrying Tue 25-Feb-14 09:20:06

Disagree that Ancient Greek is not helpful if you are interested in a modern Greek heritage. You learn the alphabet, lots of vocab and grammar and, crucially, the culture. All modern Greeks I have taught are hugely proud of their ancient heritage.

drspouse Tue 25-Feb-14 09:34:30

I am ancient myself (though not Greek) and took Latin as your DS and then added in Greek. I liked both but wouldn't have coped as well with Ancient Greek without doing Latin at the same time.

It is a shame he can't take Modern Greek, but I actually did find it helped a little when later I learned some holiday Greek. However, I have (without being in the slightest bit boasty) quite a good facility for learning languages so I tend to see parallels where others don't.

celestialsquirrelnuts Tue 25-Feb-14 12:23:56

Thanks so much for this everyone - hugely helpful. We have worked backwards from a long list of likely A level choices and have worked out that dropping Latin to take up Ancient Greek and sticking with French and Drama will get him where he wants to be and give him options eg to do Greek for GCSE or not.
He is v proud of being 1/4 Greek and I think it is nice he is attracted to Ancient Greek for that reason.
I have bought him a beginners guide to Ancient Greek by Peter Jones (!) to look at for a week or so before choices have to be in - if he is still interested then we will go for it I think.
V exciting!
He is lucky to have all these options. Love the synergy between literature and drama and politics and Greek. He went to a debate at the oxford union last week (his great uncle was speaking on the motion "Margaret Thatcher saved Britain" (!!!) which I was worried he would find too much to deal with at 13, but he loved it. As I said - lucky boy to have such experiences...

celestialsquirrelnuts Tue 25-Feb-14 12:27:09

Trying really trying - he knows his letters which is a good start - and I have warned him that the worst thing about Ancient Greek is the truly appalling RP English mispronunciation that he will be taught is "right". I can hardly bear to listen to it. Such a pity as he has a very good accent in modern Greek! I have already told him how his teacher will pronounce "Agora" and he was gratifyingly horrified!!!

ZeroSomeGameThingy Tue 25-Feb-14 12:32:16

"Synergy" is exactly the word I had mislaid.

How wonderful to have that opportunity - though I hope his great- uncle's motion was thoroughly defeated.

drspouse Tue 25-Feb-14 14:03:31

If he already speaks some Modern Greek through holiday exposure/family could he take GCSE, or just a holiday Modern Greek class at an FE college, along the way?

Not necessarily instead of the Ancient Greek GCSE.

overthemill Tue 25-Feb-14 14:17:01

My DH did classics at Oxford and travelled extensively around Greece getting by on Ancient Greek! He more recently took on a tutor for modern Greek and loves debating the differences. He's taught his tutor lots of Ancient Greek and has a much better time in Greece now with his Greek. Loads of times Greek people have asked if he'd consider moving to Greece to tech 'archaic Greek' as there is a paucity of teachers there now. And loads of people we know have kids doing classics at uni for which of course Ancient Greek is jolly useful . Also, my DH never is short of a word or meaning of a word.

celestialsquirrelnuts Tue 25-Feb-14 15:01:28

Sorry to tell you he won by a long margin .. But Ken Livingston was meant to debate against and failed to show leaving someone else to do the job instead. That was a pity, Ken would have been amusing and no doubt garnered some additional votes.

Dr spouse - yes or he can go and sit in Greece in his gap year and learn it as I did. Overthemill- how wonderful! Your DH sounds ace grin

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