A Deeper Understanding Of Language

The ancient Romans conquered the known world over 3000 years ago. During their expansion, the Romans borrowed the best of Greek philosophies and added in uniquely Roman technological and artistic advancements never seen before in the world. As the Romans expanded, they brought their languages which over time morphed into the Romance Languages we speak today. (English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese).

Latin Lives In Sciences

All of the modern sciences were born at the time of the Renaissance (500 years ago). From the Age of the Enlightenment and the Scientific revolution onward, the sciences blossomed.   The explosion of knowledge and the sciences occurred when all educated people knew Latin and Greek.

Latin root words can be found in biology, chemistry, astronomy, psychology, sociology, economics, law and government. The first task in learning a new subject is to learn the vocabulary. Learning the vocabulary is half the battle.  (Latin and Greek in Gross Anatomy Study)

Latin Langauge Benefits and Resurgence

Ethos Logos supported Classical Schools provide Latin instruction, for native English speakers, where a single semester—even a single lesson—carries immediate benefits. This is most obviously demonstrated in the systematic way that Latin builds a student’s vocabulary.

Latin students consistently outperform their peers in language and vocabulary sections on standardized tests. The resurgence in classical education is taking place in low-income and minority neighborhoods in order to boost SAT scores and give students a better chance of getting accepted into a university or to better communicate ideas.

Where Did The Classics Go?

Latin used to be a staple of American education. In 1890, about 35% of students in US public schools took Latin as a foreign language (Marrs, 2007). By 1905, that number had tripled (approximately 56% of American students were learning Latin in public schools). In 1928, about three million students took Latin, and during the Great Depression, that number increased by nearly 70%. However, with the dawn of the Cold War, Latin enrollments plunged dramatically, and no more than about 429,000 high schoolers were taking Latin by 1948. A decade and a half later, that number grew to about ten million students nationwide, but even that figure as a percentage of high school enrollments accounted for just 7.1% of students. (Pegasus Project)

Why Should We Bring Back A Dead Language Like Latin?

(Pegasus Project)

  • Expanded Vocabulary - About 60% of all English words derive from Latin, and 90% of English words with more than two syllables have a Latin root. With just twelve Latin root words and two Greek roots, plus 20 of the most frequently used prefixes, an estimated 100,000 English words could be generated.
  • Speak Romance Languages - Latin is the source of all Romance languages including French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. Studies have shown that learning Latin makes learning one of these languages easier. A study by German researchers in 2000 even indicated that Latin was associated with positive transfer effects on grammar-related activities for Germanic texts.
  • Enhance Analytical Abilities -  Studying Latin improves a student’s capacity for critical thinking. As an ancient inflected language with a relatively limited vocabulary, Latin syntax and semantics follow a complex logic, which requires careful precision on the part of the translator. Incidentally, the best performers on the Law School Admissions Test that assesses for logical reasoning are Classics majors. This group of students on average scores 160 (out of a total score of 180) on the exam, exceeding the performance of the LSAT's average test taker by about 10 points.
  • Score Higher on the SAT/ACT
    High school students learning Latin have consistently earned better SAT scores than their peers studying other foreign languages, and similar trends have been documented for the ACT, too. According to the most recent standardized testing data made available by College Board, for students who took both the general SAT and subject tests, those students who took the Latin subject test on average outperformed their peers on the general SAT by 158 points!
  • Improve Oral and Written CommunicationKnowledge of Latin grammar improves a student’s writing style, and Classical oratory can inform a student's powers of persuasion. Some of the greatest communicators of the English language have emulated Latin and Ancient Greek rhetoric. As the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, one of the world's most famous statesmen and orators of English, once remarked: "I would let the clever [students] learn Latin as an honor, and Greek as a treat.
  • Strengthen Quantitative Reasoning. While modern languages require logical reasoning (Morgan, 1989), they focus on four proficiencies of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding the language. On the other hand, the study of Latin requires that students employ higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation while translating at greater levels of difficulty:

“[I]n that respect, [Latin] represents a verbal analogue to the teaching of mathematics as a cumulatively organized subject area.”  VanTassel-Baska, 1987

Latin for English Language Learner (ELL) Scholars

Research out of Penn State Center for Language Science found that lessons in the Latin roots of words may help Spanish-speaking students who are learning English bridge the gap between the two languages.

In a study, researchers found that teaching English Learners -- students who aren't fluent in English and often come from homes where a language other than English is spoken -- the Latin roots of words helped them problem solve the meaning of unfamiliar words.

"The idea is that Latin roots can be helpful for learning sets of academic words in English," said Amy Crosson, assistant professor of education at Penn State. "Spanish-speakers may also be at an advantage because they can use home language resources to help learn Latin roots and see more cross-linguistic connections."

English Learners make up nearly 10 percent of the school-age population, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The researchers said that while this population is one of the most quickly growing groups in U.S. schools, it's also one of the most vulnerable, with disparities in academic achievement and low graduation rates.

Crosson said that while educators sometimes encourage these students to learn English as quickly as they can, possibly at the risk of losing their native language, emerging research is showing the benefits of bilingualism. She added that teachers should encourage students to develop and build on their home languages while they are developing academic English.

"New research, some coming out of Penn State's Center for Language Science, is looking at the cognitive benefits of bilingualism from a neurological perspective," Crosson said. "One of the things they're finding is that there are benefits around executive function development. And across education research, we are beginning to find that executive function is associated with achievement in mathematics and literacy. Our project makes contact with this exciting line of research."

Crosson said she was interested in finding a way to help English Learners embrace their native languages while also boosting their literacy and academic vocabulary.

(Penn State. "Latin may help students bridge their native language with English." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 2018.)

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