Latin may be a dead language, but it is not useless or irrelevant. For years the study of Latin was common practice in schools and colleges for good reason. Though Latin is no longer a requirement in most schools or college majors, the study of Latin still has benefits, no matter what discipline one might be studying. The study of Latin sharpens the mind and enriches a good education in other areas of study.
The study of Latin enriches a student’s education through its deep connections to history, philosophy, and culture. Many great Roman thinkers, scholars, and writers recorded their works in Latin. Roman thinkers had great influence on other peoples, languages, and legal systems, including America’s: “Our own culture, including our system of government, architecture, art and religion, shows the heavy influence of Rome.” Studying Latin gives a student a better appreciation and understanding of these ancient scholars, their works, and their enduring influences in today’s world. As Claude Pauver observes, “You don’t just read about Seneca or Caesar; you read the words of Seneca and Caesar themselves.” The study of Latin gives a student a deeper understanding and appreciation of influential Latin works by enabling him to study works in their original language. Latin’s historical and cultural roots improve a student’s understanding and appreciation of ancient literary works and their influence on world history and culture.
Studying Latin also improves a student’s study of English and foreign languages. An understanding of Latin improves a student’s study of grammar and expands his vocabulary. According to the University of Illinois, “Students of Latin see immediate benefits to their spoken and written English. More than 65% of English words come from Latin.” Studying Latin improves a student’s understanding and use of the English language. Pauver asserts that after studying Latin, “you don’t just speak your own modern language unreflectively, but you learn where much of it came from, after actually seeing the contents and the workings of one of its greatest sources.” These benefits are not only gained by English speakers, but also by speakers and learners of other foreign languages that have Latin roots and influences, such as French and Spanish. An understanding of Latin enhances a student’s study and comprehension of English and other languages that are derived from and influenced by Latin.
In addition to improving a student’s understanding and appreciation of history and languages, the study of Latin also sharpens a student’s mind for better mental performance in general, no matter what he is studying. Latin forces a student to stretch his mind and think in new ways, because it is difficult and takes discipline to learn. The mind is like a muscle: it improves as one uses it and wrestles with new and difficult concepts. With these facts in mind, Sal Khan asserts that “our intelligence is not fixed, and the best way that we can grow our intelligence is to embrace tasks where we might struggle and fail.” Wrestling with a difficult subject like Latin forces a student’s mind to grow and improve for better function in any field of study. By sharpening a student’s mind, studying Latin can enhance performance in all his academic endeavors.
Despite being a dead language, Latin continues to offer multiple benefits. An understanding of Latin improves a student’s understanding and appreciation of many ancient works and other areas of study, and it stretches and sharpens a student’s mind for increased function in any other mental undertaking. Even in the modern world, the study of ancient Latin has limitless benefits.
. Department of the Classics, “Why Study Latin?”, University of Illinois, accessed April 5, 2020, https://classics.illinois.edu/admissions/why-study-latin.
. Claude Pauver, “Some Leading Benefits of Latin (and Classical) Studies, “Saint Louis University, 2009, accessed, April 5, 2020, https://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/languages/classical/latin/tchmat/pedagogy/latinbenefits.html.
. Department of the Classics, “Why Study Latin?”, University of Illinois, accessed March 23, 2017, https://classics.illinois.edu/admissions/why-study-latin.
. Claude Pauver, “Some Leading Benefits of Latin (and Classical) Studies, “Saint Louis University, 2009, accessed, March 23, 2017, http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/languages/classical/latin/tchmat/pedagogy/latinbenefits.html.
. Sal Khan, “The learning myth: Why I’ll never tell my son he’s smart,” Khan Academy, accessed April 5, 2020, https://www.khanacademy.org/talks-and-interviews/conversations-with-sal/a/the-learning-myth-why-ill-never-tell-my-son-hes-smart.