Latin lovers

25th November 1994 at 00:00
I did four years of Latin, and the admonitory cries of the fearsome Mrs Clay of Ecclesfield School still ring in my ears. "You'll fail, boy!" she used to say. That I did not was because she threw me off the course before the exam. However, I still remember that my textbook had the stern command "Discipuli, picturam spectate!" on every page. Even then, the author realised the value of a picture.

Julian Morgan's HyperCard programs, JProgs, might also begin with the words "Picturam spectate", because they use technology to allow pupils to explore the Greek and Roman worlds, using pictures and text in an interactive way.

His chosen vehicle is HyperCard a Macintosh application which is essentially a souped-up, interactive database, using text, graphics, sound and animation. HyperCard allows prompts, corrections and encouragements, and the interactive feel is excellent.

Only one of the programs (Aeneas Latinus) is in Latin, and is aimed at GCSE Latin students who are working towards reading Virgil's Aeneid in the original. It contains simplified passages based on the Aeneid, using much of its language. Students can use menus to find out about any of the Latin words. There are also quizzes and an index of names and places.

Other JProgs programs the range is growing have considerably wider appeal for both primary and secondary pupils, and include one on the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, and one on the travels of Odysseus. A popular title is Roman Technology, which looks at road building, aqueducts and weapons. This is installed in the Archaeological Resource Centre in York, and at the time of writing was about to go into a new Roman museum in Canterbury. Each program has menus, text, cartoons with bits of movement, quizzes and importantly for motivation a Status Card which lists scores and time taken.

Julian Morgan, the author, is a classics teacher, and his understanding of what keeps pupils interested and learning is very evident in these lively and accessible programs.

JProgs suite of six HyperCard programs for teaching classics, Pounds 35 each. For use on Apple Macs with at least 2 megabytes of memory. Two demo discs available one with key stage 2 and 3 programs, one with Aeneas programs, Pounds 5 each. JProgs, 81 High Street, Pitsford, Northants NN6.

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