Why Latin?

“[Douglas Wilson] argues that the very process of learning Latin, with its complex conjucations and declensions, requires mental gymnastics that strengthen the mind.”

Gene Edward Veith, Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America


 

Latin is an ancient language on which many other Romantic languages are based.  With 60 percent of English derived from Latin, the language echoes throughout our lives.  It is the basis of much of the vocabulary of science and medicine.

The Association of Christian and Classical Schools explains the value of learning Latin in this way:

 

Is Latin really that valuable? Why does ACCS insist that their schools teach Latin anyway?

ACCS schools score consistently higher (70 to 90 percent in national test scoring) and we believe Latin has much to do with the higher scores, not to mention the general educational benefits. As an example: A small third grade boy was at home putting together a puzzle of the United States. Each state had its capital listed. Mumbling more to himself, he nonchalantly announced, “Here is Texas. Corpus Christi is the capital. (sic–Austin is the capital of Texas) That means ‘body of Christ’.” The mother was notably stunned as she had not yet been convinced that Latin was necessary. From that day on she made an concerted effort to help her children with their Latin vocabulary (we receive a huge percentage of English vocabulary from Latin) and in a very short space of time became totally convinced it was not only necessary, but greatly beneficial.

But here are more concrete facts. The following article is from: The Latin Advantage:

Dorothy Sayers wrote: “Latin is the key to the vocabulary and structure of the Romance languages and to the structure of all the Teutonic languages, as well as to the technical vocabulary of all the sciences and to the literature of the entire Mediterranean civilization, together with all its historical documents.” (The National Review)

1. SAT Scores: Across the nation, studies have shown Latin to be effective in improving SAT scores. Studies conducted by the Educational Testing Service show that Latin students consistently out perform all other students on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT).

2. College GPA: A study of freshman college student performances conducted by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, in 1985, yielded the following results in Language: Latin Students had a GPA of 2.89 overall; Spanish Students had a 2.76 GPA; German Students had a 2.77 GPA; French Students a 2.78 GPA; and students with no foreign language had a GPA of 2.58.

3. Reading: In the District of Columbia, elementary school students who studied Latin developed reading skills that were five months ahead of those who studied no foreign language and four months ahead of those who studied French or Spanish. Two years earlier, the same students had been excluded from foreign language classes because of substandard reading performance.

4.Vocabulary Skills: In Philadelphia, students in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades received 14 to 20 minutes of daily instruction in Latin for one year. The performance of the Latin students was one full  year higher on the Vocabulary Subtest of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS)  than the performance of matched control students who had not studied Latin.

5. Math Problem Solving: Sixth grade students in Indianapolis who studied Latin for 30 minutes each day for five months advanced nine months in their math problem solving abilities. In addition, the students exhibited the following advances in other areas:

  • 8 months in world knowledge
  • 1 year in reading
  • 13 months in language
  • 4 months in spelling
  • 5 months in science
  • 7 months in social studies

 

6. Latin, the basic language and culture bolsters learning:

  • Ability to read classical authors in the original language
  • Ability to access key documents of the Western world
  • Ability to avoid the biases and misconceptions of translators of classical authors
  • Direct contact with the wisdom and thought of the classical and medieval authors

 

7. Learning Latin improves study skills and improves knowledge of ancient history and culture.

The full ACCS page that discusses learning Latin can be found here: ACCS: Why Latin?