Why Teach Latin?
Because Latin is not primarily a conversational language, it is often derided as a “dead language.” It has also been called an “eternal language” because of its continuing influence on Western civilization for more than two millennia. Nevertheless, the perennial question remains: “Why study Latin?” Here are just a few advantages of becoming a student of Latin:
Latin provides a key to learning modern languages
Aside from being the universal language of Western civilization, Latin as a mother tongue provides a key to Romance languages: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. About 90 percent of the vocabulary of these languages comes from Latin.
Latin expands English vocabulary
The acquisition of Latin vocabulary provides students access to thousands of words that have rich and nuanced meanings. Sixty percent of English words are derived from Latin, including an estimated eighty-five percent of polysyllabic words. Understanding Latin makes learning these new terms into a shorthand, allowing the student to move quickly to more complex concepts.
Latin introduces the terminology of science
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. Studying each scientific discipline—biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, anatomy, physiology, medicine, etc. means a whole new set of terms derived from Latin. Learning the vocabulary is half the battle.
Latin is the language of law
Fundamental legal principles of American and British law are stated in Latin and relate, often in parallel, with legal precepts in legal systems of other nations. Students who enter law school with a Latin background enjoy an advantageous ability to decode legal terms while their peers struggle to learn and memorize new and what seem to be unintelligible foreign phrases. Such a valuable advantage renders one sui juris.
Latin raises standardized test scores
Numerous studies have shown Latin to be effective in improving SAT and ACT scores. Studies conducted by the Educational Testing Service show that Latin students consistently outperform other students on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). According to The National Jurist (April 2014), law school applicants with the highest grade-point averages and LSAT scores studied Latin.
Latin provides a first-hand view of ancient Rome
Reading Latin texts provides a first-hand view of ancient Roman history. Because our culture is a direct descendant of the ancient world, these stories not only provide priceless insights into the multicultural life of the Roman Empire, they also shed light on two millennia of Western civilization.