9 Reasons to Study Latin
Latin is a key to unlocking the past.
Through the writings of Cicero, Caesar, Livy, and others we learn so much about the world of ancient Rome and Greece, a world which has greatly affected our own. The list of Greco-Roman influences on modern America could go on indefinitely, but must include art, architecture, music, and literature among government and politics. The ancient past is not far removed from our modern lives, but instead is quite close and relevant.
Latin is the next step after phonics.
Here’s the problem. The child has learned the English word for father, but then as he progresses through school he meets a whole new set of words: 3-5 syllable, difficult, abstract words that come from the Latin word for father: pater, patris. Students today are not prepared for these abstract words. Latin continues the systematic study of English throughout elementary school, right when children need it, right when they are encountering thousands of new words and building their vocabulary and reading skills. Latin continues the study of the Latin half of English vocabulary in an orderly way and teaches the children the history of words.
Latin greatly improves one's understanding of the English language.
English derives 60% of its words, and 90% of those words consisting of more than two syllables, from Latin. Also, many students find it easier to learn more complex grammatical concepts in Latin and then apply them to English.
Five modern Romance languages call Latin their parent language.
Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, and Portuguese derive more than 80% of the words which make up their vocabulary from Latin. Their grammatical structure is also much more similar to Latin than English. Consider the number of nations who claim one of these as their official language: French – 27; Spanish – 20; Italian, Portuguese, Romanian – 10.
Latin provides the root words for all of the modern sciences.
All of the modern sciences began their development at the time of the Renaissance (about 500 years ago) when all educated people knew Latin and Greek. All scientific terms came from the ancient classical languages. Latin is the best preparation for students to help them master the tremendous demands of learning the specialized vocabularies of the sciences in high school and college.
Latin is the language of law, government, and logic.
While a large number of words in science come from Greek, all legal terms are Latin. The Romans excelled in the practical arts of law and government, and it is from them that we derive our legal and political language. Although logic was first explained by Aristotle in Greek, it was really developed and systematized by the Schoolmen in the Middle Ages in Latin.
Latin significantly increases verbal scores on standardized tests.
The analytical and problem solving scores, often associated closely with math skills, also increase significantly among Latin students.
Universities value Latin students among applicants.
See what gatekeepers to top colleges say about the benefits of Latin:
“There are so few students learning Latin these days that it can help college applicants. We definitely pay attention…Latin can end up tipping the student into the class.”
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions & Financial Aid
“A background in Latin provides students with a stronger English vocabulary. Open any SAT prep book and you will see a crash course in Latin in the vocab section.”
Assistant Dean of Admission
“The study of Roman culture which typically accompanies Latin study informs the study of any Western literature, art, or culture as well…If Latin were dead, every Western culture and language would be also bereft of life.”
“We consider students who study Latin seriously (with strong, steady performance) to be excellent candidates for Bryn Mawr.”
Acting Director of Admissions
“Latin trains abstract thinking, provides a key to all modern Romance languages, is a model for interdisciplinary study (language, history, culture) and can be a lot of fun.”
Michael C. Behnke
Vice President for Enrollment
“We value the study of Latin very highly, at least on par with other languages.”
Director of Admission
& Associate Dean
People who influence the world today have studied Latin.
"...to read the Latin authors in their original is a sublime luxury...I thank on my knees him who directed my early education for having put into my possession this rich source of delight: and I would not exchange it for any thing which I could then have acquired and have not since acquired."
— Thomas Jefferson
US President, Founding Father, and author of The Declaration of Independence
Ralph Waldo Emerson
American essayist, poet, and founder of the literary movement called Transcendentalism
German philosopher, philologist, cultural critic, and father of postmodernism
German philosopher, political revolutionary, and founder of Communism
Austrian psychoanalyst, doctor, and father of psychology
1st female recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and advocate for the poor
English novelist, poet, playwright, translator, and advocate of classical languages
English philosopher, professor, and writer best known for The Chronicles of Narnia
English professor and author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Leader of the Conservative Party
English author of the Harry Potter series
Graduate of Philips Exeter, student at Harvard, and founder of Facebook
American businessman and founder of CNN
English actor, recipient of the Golden Globe Award, and Cambridge graduate of Classics
American novelist, professor, and recipient of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes
English singer, songwriter, and co-founder of the multiple Grammy-winning band Coldplay
Theodor Seuss Geisel
American author of books for children