Our Savior Lutheran School: Discover the Benefits of Learning Latin | Education
At Our Savior Lutheran School, located at 5000 W. Tidwell Rd. Here in Houston, we teach Latin. Learning Latin is essential for giving your child a classical education. The study of Latin improves mental discipline, indirectly improves the vocabulary and use of English and opens the doors to the reading of classical and technical literature.
One of the benefits of studying Latin is that it develops mental discipline. The study of a foreign language involves memorization and application. In Latin, students develop mental discipline by memorizing verbal endings (conjugations), nominal endings (declensions) and vocabulary words. Although our postmodern minds are reluctant to memorize, it is no different than preparing for algebra by memorizing the multiplication tables. We expect our children to train in fine arts or sports, but we are reluctant to drill into academic subjects.
Once children have developed the discipline of memorizing the basics of Latin, they begin to apply what they have learned by conjugating verbs at different tenses, declining nouns, and translating. Translation is the last skill acquired as students assimilate their knowledge of Latin vocabulary and grammar. The process of memorizing and translating Latin develops excellent study habits as students learn to memorize, apply, closely observe details, work carefully, and persevere. Latin offers a daily exercise program for the cerebral “muscle”.
In addition to developing mental discipline, students who study Latin improve their understanding of their native language, English. It has been estimated that 50% of English words have Latin roots. The number increases to about 80% of words of two syllables or more. This means that Latin students have much higher scores on standardized vocabulary tests such as the SAT. Most importantly, Latin students have a larger vocabulary when reading and writing.
Vocabulary is not the only skill in English that is reinforced by Latin studies. When students translate larger sentences and passages from Latin to English, they also receive a comprehensive course in English grammar while learning to consider how the eight parts of speech work in both languages. Latin students also receive an excellent style education. Latin is a more precise and concise language than English. This is why Latin forms the basis of so many inscriptions such as e pluribus unum (over many, one) on American coins and the currencies of states, universities and other institutions. After deliberate studies of Latin, students become better writers in English. Writers throughout history, including such notables as Shakespeare, have attributed their Latin studies to their fluency in English.
If these intellectual riches were not sufficient, students of Latin have an advantage when they proceed to the study of other languages. In his book, The Latin-Centered Curriculum, Andrew Campbell notes that “the major Romance languages - Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese – derive 90% or more of their vocabulary from Latin” (p. 44). Latin students learn other languages much faster, not only because of their grammar and translation training, but also because they have a head start in remembering the meaning of new words that have Latin roots. .
A final consideration is how Latin opens the doors to classical and technical literature. When we teach Latin to our children, we open doors for them — doors to read history, literature, science, medicine, and the scriptures. Imagine your children automatically translating the scientific names of animals and insects, gaining a new perspective on democracy, and reading John 1 in Latin. Students of Latin reconnect not only with the roots of our language, but with the roots of our culture and our Christian faith. To connect with our Christian culture, we need to go back to the beginning which includes a look at Latin, the language written and spoken during the early church.
Sadly, most of us were educated in a system that had neglected or even ridiculed the study of Latin by modern students. Fortunately, we have an abundance of resources at our fingertips to help us learn Latin and teach it to our students.
While Latin can be difficult, the benefits are worth the time and the occasional struggle. Our students will be rewarded with superb study skills to tackle any difficult subject matter, rich vocabulary, and a deep connection to our classical Christian culture.
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