Latin has long been considered a dead language because it’s fallen out of everyday use, so why is it a part of the curriculum at Fortis Academy?
The answer lies in the English words we use every day. It’s estimated that about 75 percent of all the words in the English language have Latin roots. When children learn to read, they’re taught letters and sounds and left to determine meaning through either familiarity with the word or through context. When they learn Latin – even just the basics – they are given an extra tool for learning the meaning of words. This skill becomes especially important as children expand their reading to more complicated, multi-syllable words, which usually happens, coincidentally, around the third grade, when Fortis Academy students begin their Latin studies.
Latin is also a common thread throughout academia. Scientific terms, to a great extent, are derived from Latin words. Learning biology? The classification system for all living things is almost entirely Latin. Learning chemistry? Many of the elements on the periodic table have Latin roots, and many mathematical terms are demystified with an understanding of Latin. As science has expanded, scholars have always returned to Latin to develop new terms. Take for example the word “computer.” It’s derived from computo, the Latin word meaning, to sum up.
Latin is central to law, politics, and government as well. All legal terms are Latin, and just as our modern form of democratic government had its beginnings in early Rome, so did the language of government. Religion is another subject that’s steeped with Latin terminology and Latin roots. Again, knowing even the most basic Latin, gives students a faster, clearer understanding of words they don’t know.
Learning Latin can also help children learn other languages. Romance languages, including Spanish, French, and Italian, use Latin roots in the same way they are used in English. Students versed in Latin, pick up the romance languages faster and with greater ease than students who only know English.
Research over the years has also shown that students who study Latin score higher on reading, reading comprehension, writing, and vocabulary tests.
For a language that’s been around for more than 3,000 years, it’s still got plenty to teach us – and we have plenty to learn.