Greek in a Day!

Ambitious project reported by the Cambridge News:

Young pupils at a Cambridge school are to attempt a dramatic world first – learning to speak ancient Greek in a single day, and then performing a Greek play on stage.

The remarkable project will feature 9 and 10-year-olds at St Faith’s School, with the play being put on for parents next Monday.

Linguistic experts from Cambridge University are being drafted in to teach the youngsters the archaic language, spoken more than 2,000 years ago.

Heather Martin, head of modern languages and curriculum coordinator at St Faith’s, said the aim of the classroom project was to “aim high and challenge the children to see what they can achieve”.

She said: “The idea is that 12 children in Years 4 and 5 will learn to write, read, speak and perform a mini-play in ancient Greek in one day.

“They will be taught the language by Prof Patrick Boyde, emeritus professor of Italian at Cambridge University, who will bring a team of students with him.

“For the last seven years, he has been experimenting with the staging of classical drama, in the original Greek, by undergraduates and postgraduates – but this will be the first time he’s tested out his ideas with children of primary age.

“The official title of the event is The Conquering Hero, and the play is based on a fragment of text from a psalm written at least 2,300 years ago.

“The children won’t be in costume, but we will have some images behind them, painted Rolf Harris-style by the university team, and what’s commonly called sur-titles, so the parents can understand what the children are saying.” Recent reports have criticised the lack of language tuition children get in schools, but Dr Martin said St Faith’s was “committed to thinking creatively outside the narrow box of the standard curriculum”.

She said: “The whole thing is helped by the marvellous self-belief that the children have.

“Because they’re so young, if you say they can do something like this, learning ancient Greek, they believe you, and will do it.”

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