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Dead Languages Never Truly Die; The Critical Importance of Latin in the Classroom

Updated: Jun 27

To answer the question ‘why Latin?’ we should simply consider our everyday lives.

Latin is woven into our speech every single day because English derives half of its most

common words from Latin. This means that there are endless connections to the Latin

language in the classroom; whether a teacher is giving instruction on prime numbers

(primus, meaning first) or constellations and star (stella, meaning star) patterns, Latin

better enables students to understand the meaning of the English language.

Latin also gives students the ability to better understand English grammar. English is notoriously a difficult language to learn. Many grown adults do not have a basic grasp of English grammar. Latin allows students to lay bare parts and pieces of English grammar to

better understand basic aspects of speech and sentence structure. Learning Latin will

create readers and writers who understand the importance of voice, mood and tense. A student who has greater understanding of the written and spoken word can better

appreciate its inherent beauty and goodness. Latin also provides a structure for students to learn many other languages. Whether they wish to pursue French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese, Latin allows students to seamlessly transition into a study of any romance language.

Latin inspires a love of words and vocabulary. As educators, our goal is to grow and

cultivate a love of learning in our students; to create a natural awe and wonder about

the world around them. Latin does this very simply: A student may read a great book

and notice a word with a Latin root; suddenly, because they know this root, they not only

know what the word means, but they start to think about all the other words that they

know with that same root. For example, the word ‘father’ comes from the Latin pater,

patris. How many English words does a student know that use this Latin root? Paternity, paternal, pattern, patron, patriotic, compatriot, expatriate, this list goes on! All these words contain a variation of the stem, patr-, which comes from the Latin for father. This gives students the ability to have a base of knowledge when approaching the English language and naturally ignites a wonder in them about other words.

To know Latin is to love words and mastery over language. Through this love, a student

will come to better know and understand the world around him; a world that was brought

into existence when God spoke His word. This word, or logos, made flesh in the person

of Jesus Christ walked among us and redeemed mankind through His life, death, and

resurrection. When students gain wisdom in control and mastery of language, they

come to better understand the logos and through this, grow in their restored humanity.

We rejoice at the opportunity to bring students closer to the Holy Trinity through a

rigorous and joyful study of Latin!

Mrs. Ashley Harner

Director of Latin & Humanities

Trinity Classical Academy

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