The Latin Advantage

Studying Latin, with its highly organized grammar, makes students coordinate ideas, reflect on the various ways to say the same thing, and thus to write and speak better in English.

Cincinnati Classical Academy’s Latin program officially begins in fourth and fifth grades with the systematic study of Latin and Greek roots. From sixth grade through ninth grade, all students study Latin grammar and literature; they then have the option to continue with a more in-depth study of Latin through their senior year, culminating with the AP Latin course, where they will be reading and translating Vergil, Caesar, Ovid, Martial, Tibullus, and Catullus. Students who enter into CLASSICAL in ninth grade or tenth grade will take three years of Latin during high school.

Because Latin is not primarily a conversational language, it is often derided as a “dead language.” More precisely, writes Jürgen Leonhardt in his book Latin: Story of a World Language, “Latin is a fixed literary language that was used as a universal language or lingua franca in the western Mediterranean and, later, around the world.” It has also been called an “eternal language” because of its continuing influence on western civilization for more than two millennia. Nevertheless, the perennial question remains: “Why study Latin?” Here are just a few advantages of becoming a student of Latin:

Latin provides a key to learning modern languages

Aside from being the universal language of western civilization, Latin as a mother tongue provides a key to Romance languages: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. About 90 percent of the vocabulary of these languages comes from Latin. To learn Latin is therefore to begin a study of six languages at once. Moreover, Latin provides the blueprint for any language we may want to learn.

Latin expands English vocabulary

Studying Latin brings students in contact with word roots, prefixes, and suffixes that constitute more than 60 percent of English words; studying Latin provides invaluable insights into English vocabulary, the structure and meaning of English words, especially longer and more complicated ones. The regular grammar of Latin is also ideal for learning English grammar or the grammar of many other languages. 

Latin improves reading, writing, and speaking skills

Studying Latin, with its highly organized grammar, makes students coordinate ideas, reflect on the various ways to say the same thing, and thus to write and speak better in English (or any other language). Moreover, the increased vocabulary and understanding of grammar gained by studying Latin enables students to read and write in English with greater ease and clarity. 

Latin enhances problem-solving abilities

Studying Latin, a highly organized and logical language, much like studying math, sharpens the mind, cultivates mental alertness, encourages closer attention to detail, develops critical thinking, and enhances problem solving abilities. Incidentally, people who enjoy math and music usually enjoy Latin because it requires some of the same intellectual skills as these disciplines.

Latin aids in mathematical competency

Because Latin grammatical structure has much in common with the structure of mathematical logic, learning Latin has been proven to have benefits in math achievement. For example, sixth grade students in Indianapolis who studied Latin for 30 minutes each day for five months advanced nine months in their math problem-solving abilities. Even many mathematical terms come from Latin. Integer means whole in Latin, and thus, integers are whole numbers.

Latin introduces the terminology of science

All of the modern sciences began their development at the time of the Renaissance (about 500 years ago) when all educated people knew Latin and Greek. Studying each scientific discipline—biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, anatomy, physiology, medicine, etc. means a whole new set of terms derived from Latin. Learning the vocabulary is half the battle. 

Latin raises standardized test scores

Numerous studies have shown Latin to be effective in improving SAT and ACT scores. Studies conducted by the Educational Testing Service show that Latin students consistently out-perform all other students on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). According to The National Jurist (April 2014), law school applicants with the highest grade-point averages and LSAT scores studied Latin.

Latin provides a first-hand view of ancient Rome

Reading Latin texts provides a first-hand view of ancient Roman history. Because our culture is a direct descendant of the ancient world, these stories not only provide priceless insights into the multicultural life of the Roman Empire, they also shed light on two millennia of western civilization. Giving students the opportunity to read world famous authors, leaders, and history-makers in Latin means they’re able to better understand the literature, theatre, art, and music of the western world.