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Charleston Latin

General Information

Charleston Latin is an innovative program designed for use in grades four through eight. The program has the following general objectives:

  1. To enhance students' English language skills through the study of Latin root words. Special attention is given to vocabulary acquisition.
  2. To broaden students horizons by introducing them to the culture of the ancient Romans. Students observe, compare and contrast the differences between modern and ancient cultures. In the process they learn how the past and present are linked together in the words we speak, our architecture, governmental institutions and daily customs.
  3. To generate interest in and readiness for the study of other foreign languages. Students experience and become aware of important linguistic phenomena which are very different from those of English.

Although the materials are based on Latin, they are designed to be used by any teacher. After completing a two-day in-service workshop, a regular classroom teacher with no prior knowledge of Latin is able to teach Charleston Latin.

Elementary and middle school programs with the above objectives arose in the 1970's and achieved impressive results:

  1. In Philadelphia fifth grade students scored one year higher in vocabulary on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills than fellow students who did not have it.
  2. In Indianapolis sixth grade students scored eight months higher in word knowledge, one year higher in reading and one year and one month higher in language on the Intermediate Metropolitan achievement Test.
  3. In Los Angeles fifth and sixth grade students generally scoring in the lowest quartile improved their reading, vocabulary and comprehension scores by more than one month for each month of instruction.

The curricular materials used in Los Angeles were an adaptation of those used in Philadelphia and Indianapolis. In 1996 the Los Angeles Unified School District granted the College of Charleston permission to revise its materials. The term, Charleston Latin, is used to distinguish this revision of the materials of the Los Angeles Language Transfer Program from its earlier editions. It is also used to indicate that the source for these materials is currently the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC.


Charleston Latin consists of two sets of instructional materials. For each set teachers receive an instructional kit which contains a Teacher’s Guide, a packet of visual cue cards, a map of the Roman Empire, audio tapes for the teacher, and a teacher’s edition of the Pupil Workbook. Students use only the workbook.


With 20 to 30 minutes of instruction per day each set provides approximately one year of work.