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Seventh grade Latin students are portraying what it was like for Roman citizens to interact in foro Romano, or “in the Roman forum.” For the Romans, the town forum was a multi-purpose open space lined with columns, shops, and public buildings where people could gather to buy, sell, or socialize. WSD students have set up their own mock forum and are practicing skits and dialogues entirely in Latin.

This is a really great way to make what students are learning feel authentic, explains Cindy Phillips, Middle School Latin teacher, or magistra. Their dialogues must have a minimum number of lines but students can decide what business they would like to be as well as do in the forum. It’s a project where students can be quite creative in the language.

Role plays include two women at a taberna (shop) discussing the purchase of a toga; the owner of a pistrina (bakery) arguing with another owner over who makes the best bread; three friends meeting at the Nova Diurna (daily news) to talk over the day’s happenings, then heading over to the pistrina for a snack; and two shopkeepers trying to effectively market turtures (turtles) at their taberna. There is also a tonsoria (barber shop), a popina (restaurant), a biblioteca (library), and an argentaria (bank) in the forum, giving students a variety of situations to draw on. The skits range from serious to madcap and show off students’ skill in communicating this classical language. If you ever thought Latin is a “dead” language, think again!