A Student’s Perspective on Why to Study Latin

My son has fallen in love with Latin. Although he's just a Sophomore this year, he's inspired all of my Latin resources. I've asked him to write a student's perspective on why the study of Latin is valuable.

When I first began my adventures in Latin in 7th grade I had no idea what I was getting into. At first, Latin was daunting.  The memorization was difficult to keep up with, and the grammar was hard to remember. As I progressed, Latin began to intrigue me. Finding a beautiful passage in what seems like a jumble of letters sparked Latin enthusiasm. By 8th grade, Latin became my favorite subject, and it is an enjoyable part of my daily activity. Some say that learning Latin is time consuming, frustrating, and unnecessary.  Believe it or not, Latin is extremely useful and should be studied. Three factors make Latin learning a goal everyone should pursue. Latin improves English grammar, develops lasting diligence, and provides foundational understanding of how language works.

Latin Improves Your English Grammar

Despite some unbelief, Latin immensely improves your English grammar. Since English uses the same alphabet and basic grammar of Latin, jumping into learning a new language was easier than I expected. Since I began learning Latin, I have also pursued Greek. I found that a foreign alphabet added extra challenges to learning the language that Latin doesn't have.

As you delve into Latin, you will also learn the value and purpose of every word put into a sentence. Interestingly, the subjects, verbs, and direct objects you find in Latin will become much easier to point out in English. A student will then learn Latin words like nauta (sailor) and diligens (careful, exact) and begin using words like nautical and diligent in their everyday speech. Even if you don't plan on continuing your Latin studies, your English grammar will definitely improve. 

Latin Develops Lasting Diligence

Along with the improvement of English grammar, this language develops a lasting diligence in anyone who desires to learn it.  A language cannot be learned in a day.  Anything challenging that requires effort and planning will require diligence and time, but will be worthwhile.  Latin is challenging.  Thus, Latin will require diligence and time, but will be worthwhile.

To translate a sentence, one must apply critical thinking skills and extreme precision. Because Latin is a dead language, it doesn't continue to mutate over time as other spoken language do. Thankfully, this makes it a fairly regular language. The precision used 2000 years ago is still applied today. If one works hard at learning this language, soon it will become easy and a fun part of their schoolwork activity.  Not only will their English grammar improve, but lasting diligence in any activity will come naturally.

How Language Works

To top it off, Latin provides foundational understanding of how language works. A student will learn declensions, conjugations, exceptions, and vocabulary. Eventually, this student will begin to see all of these pieces connect in any other language they study. If the student later desires to learn Greek for example, they will notice that the basic endings of verbs in that language are conjugated in a similar fashion. The same goes for nearly every language out there.  Thankfully, Latin uses a recognizable alphabet, and provides a base understanding of the language realm.  Because of it’s extreme versatility, Latin is a beneficial tool for understanding how language works.

Naturally, There Are Skeptics

Latin should be studied.  Unfortunately, many are skeptical to devoting time to learning Latin. They say that Latin is time consuming, draining of the mind, and is not worth the task. They say that the amount of time it takes to memorize vocabulary and the hard work it takes to learn the language will take up too much of the little time they have. While it is true that Latin will take time, it is not true that time has been wasted. Everyone who speaks English is still learning English. If Latin is studied at a pace fitting to the individual, learning Latin will be rewarding.

Additionally, some say that Latin is not worth studying because it is a dead language. When will anyone ever use it? With all the diversity of language in America, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to learn Spanish, or German, or Russian? Actually, Latin will be used almost everyday—especially when learning a new language.  Latin is everywhere! Every time a music piece is played by Beethoven, the words “Solia Deo Gloria” (Glory to God alone) are inscribed at the bottom of the sheet. All the great scholars and scientists knew Latin. Newton’s Principia, and the Vulgate (the Latin Bible) are completely Latin. When a student takes on another language after studying Latin, the similarities between the two languages will be abundant. While learning Latin can be difficult and tiring, any other language that one would attempt to learn would be just as difficult, if not much more.  Latin is great for the beginner.

A Future With Latin

Why should Latin be studied?  It improves English grammar, develops a lasting diligence, and provides foundational understanding of how language works.  Latin is an extremely beneficial language to learn. Because of Latin, I have achieved a “Summa cum Laude” (Gold) twice in the national Latin exam.  My interest in Latin has also inspired me to become a linguist.  I want to venture out into the world and translate the Bible for those with an uncommon language.  Since Latin is a solid foundation for exploring the realm of language, I can approach a new language with confidence.  Because of Latin, I have a tool that will aid me in achieving my goals.  

2 Comments

  1. Dee Dee on January 12, 2017 at 1:01 am

    What a wonderful commentary! Thank you for the effort to compose this article.

    • Betsy on January 12, 2017 at 7:39 am

      He did work hard on it! I’ll let him know you enjoyed it!

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