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Why Should We Study Latin?

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By Joanne Mueller

study latin

Each winter and spring, I begin to hunt for curriculum for the next year. I look for great deals on new and used books, but my first step is always to decide on what subjects we're going to tackle. Most of us have heard that learning a foreign language is valuable, but why would we choose Latin? Many of us didn't study it when we were young, so why would it be valuable? We decided to study it for the first time this year, and here are a few great reasons to do so:

Latin trains you to think in an orderly manner. Latin is very systematic and requires you to be precise. Your mind gets into the habit of paying attention to detail, and this can help you when you study math and science.

Latin improves your English skills. Half of the English vocabulary and its grammatical structure are based on Latin. Those who study Latin can, based on their knowledge of roots and prefixes, guess at the meaning of new words. Many who master Latin score very highly on standardized tests.

Latin prepares you for learning other foreign languages. French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian and Portuguese are considered the Romance languages and evolved from Latin. 90% of their vocabulary comes from Latin. In addition, the concepts of agreement, inflected nouns, conjugated verbs, and grammatical gender learned in Latin can help you learn non-Latinate languages as well.

Latin helps you see another way of looking at the world. The study of any foreign language, even Latin, helps you to see that your way of expressing yourself in your native language is not the only way. It helps you to see another worldview.

Latin can prepare you to study ‘Latin saturated' professions. Law, medicine, science, music, theology, philosophy, and literature use many Latin words or English words derived from Latin.

Latin fills older literature texts and monuments and art worldwide. Many older pieces of literature include references to Latin. Worldwide, monuments and pieces of art include Latin sayings. The study of Latin gives you greater understanding and appreciation for history, literature, and art. You can even develop the skill to read Latin allowing you access to reading Latin texts in their original form.

How early can your student start learning Latin? Many recommend beginning in the third or fourth grade. This age is a wonderful "window" for beginning a foreign language, and this particular language makes studying other languages easier. Older students will find it very valuable as well. It is a wonderful asset that provides so many benefits in different areas of study. We look forward to continuing our study this year. For me, it's my first time studying this wonderful language.

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