Latin Isn't Dead: Four Reasons to Start Learning Today

Apr 29, 2015 3:56:27 PM / by Jillian Rodriguez

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If there’s one thing that really gets us in a tizzy, it’s an under-appreciated language. We’ve heard through the grapevine that some people think that the Latin language is — this is very hard for us to say — dead, and we have to speak up in its defense. With roots as far back as 75 BC, classical Latin birthed the Romance languages and serves as the founding language of science, philosophy, theology, law, logic, and even politics. If that’s not enough for you, Latin is also the base of half of the English language, and learning it has proven to dramatically broaden your vocabulary and deepen your understanding of English grammar.

 If the English language often seems to you like a bunch of random odds and ends from your junk drawer pieced into a behemoth of a language, then Latin is the very glue that holds it together. Learning Latin integrates a logic system into every subject you encounter — suddenly there’s a method to the madness of English, the Romance languages, science, law, and humanities. We’re not alone in our love of the lingua Latina; there’s a slew of savvy homeschool families who’ve embraced Latin in all of its ancient glory. In the name of preserving the founding language of Western Civilization, we’re here to prove why learning Latin is the right move for any smarty-pants-in-training.

1. Latin is the Wheaties of language learning.

The academic advantage of learning Latin is twofold: studies show that it not only strengthens your English skills, but it also fast-tracks learning any other Romance language. Introducing Latin to a young learner informs their English language-learning in a way that traditional phonics and rote memorization simply can’t. When children learn Latin, countless English words borrowed from Latin or with Latin roots suddenly crystallize and have meaning, pattern, and logic. Unsurprisingly, students with some Latin learning enjoy improved SAT scores and larger English vocabularies. In fact, studies show that at least two years of Classical Latin studies increases your English vocabulary by 20,000 words and gives you a deeper understanding of English grammar concepts like spelling, sentence structure, and pronunciation. Simply put, eating a bowl of Wheaties every morning has nothing on a daily dose of Latin studies — but we’re totally in favor of taking advantage of both.

2. Your priest and your teacher both think it’s a good idea.

If there’s two places where Latin still thrives, it’s the Catholic Church and the homeschool community. Latin is traditionally the liturgical language of Catholic Church, and Catholics often learn Ecclesiastical Latin to support their studies, prayer, and worship. Compared with Classical Latin, there are no radical differences between the two and they are mutually intelligible. In fact, many homeschool families use Mango’s Latin course as a study tool to supplement their church's Latin lessons. Students learning Latin for religious reasons are able to read the Bible in its Latin translation, recite Latin prayers (and actually understand them), and authentically explore over two millennia (by the way, that’s a Latin word!) of Christian texts. Even if you yourself don’t know Latin, turning to an outside source like Mango will teach your children the practical skills they need to learn Latin for their religious studies.

Beyond religious motivation, scores of homeschool families subscribe to the Classical Method as a stand-alone or supplemental curriculum. If you’re not familiar with this approach, it’s rooted in ancient Greek tradition and was systematized by the Romans in the Renaissance. This approach essentially aims to teach three core skills: language, thought, and speech. Students work to master the trivium (the intersection of three roads) through the exploration of canonical literature, grammar, rhetoric, logic, and — you guessed it — Classical Latin. Those who follow the Classical Method in education firmly believe that learning Classical Latin as part of this curriculum fosters creative, meaningful learning and produces individuals who will go on to become positive, influential leaders in our society. We can’t say we disagree.

3. Latin creates the next generation of doctors, lawyers, and leaders.

Widely considered to be a universal language, the world opens up to you when you learn Latin. With Latin, you can walk blindly into nearly any field and have a competitive edge. You can use your language skills to decode unfamiliar jargon, quickly grasp new concepts, and study ancient texts. Latin is the Great Integrator across the seemingly isolated fields of law, science, medicine, and Classical Studies. Send your little Latin learner off to shadow someone in one of these fields for a day, and they’re guaranteed to make more connections than their Latin-less counterparts. Learning Latin is inherently a dual lesson in both language and history, and after 1,000 years as the sole language of Western Civilization, there is no shortage of wisdom to be learned from studying Classical Latin.

4. Some things do get lost in translation.

Plain and simple, the real thing is always better. Despite all of the academic benefits of learning Latin, you also want to raise a child who truly knows the power of Catullus’s love poems, and is able to directly interact with Horace’s Odes. The Classics, defined as works of Ancient Greek and Latin, have left behind limited and fragmented remains, yet their influence on Western culture is immeasurable. Reading these great works in their original form ensures that nothing is lost in translation. As much as possible, we want to stay away from reading the SparkNotes edition of some of the greatest and most influential works of Western civilization.

Mango’s Latin course is a great place to start. Learn Latin by reading some of the canonical Latin works like Caesar’s Gallic Wars, Phaedrus’ “The Frog that Burst,” Martial, and Cicero’s Pro Archia. Mango breaks down each reading into easy-to-follow lessons that teach Latin part-by-part through our signature Intuitive Language Construction methodology.

 Sound like the perfect start to your Latin-learning journey? Find Mango in a library near you to sign up and start learning today. Let the Latin revival begin!

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Topics: Public Libraries, Language Learning and Culture, Mango News

Jillian Rodriguez

Written by Jillian Rodriguez

Jillian is a writer and editor out of Detroit, Michigan. She loves connecting people through new ideas, interesting stories, and good conversation. In her free time, Jillian loves to read, write, and listen to podcasts - in Spanish and in English!

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