Why Latin?

The study of all languages is ultimately about communication. Latin, though it is now hardly spoken, is still very much a living language. We have thousands of pages of poetry, prose, history, and satire written by the ancient Romans. If we carefully study their language, we can listen to what they whisper though the ages and deepen our understanding of the world into which Christ came.

Enhanced Vocabulary and Mastery of English
Latin is the root of 60% of our English words. It makes sense, then, that Latin is the surest way to gain mastery over the English language. Latin teaches the student the foundation on which English is built. Latin students actually learn English grammar more effectively and comprehensively in Latin than they do in English grammar class.

Foundation of Romance Languages
Latin is the basis of all the Romance languages including: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian.

Greater Thinking and Learning Skills
Studying Latin enhances a student’s overall learning and thinking skills. Latin requires precision of thought and attention to minute detail. The discipline of learning Latin trains students in analytical and logical thinking skills. Each sentence is an intellectual puzzle that can be solved by the analysis and synthesis of many pieces of information.

Higher SAT Scores
Students of Latin have significantly higher SAT scores than students of other foreign languages. The test results for the Verbal portion of the SAT clearly show the Latin advantage.
2003 2004 2005 2006
Students of Latin 672 674 681 672
All students 507 508 508 503
Students of French 638 642 643 637
Students of German 626 627 637 632
Students of Spanish 575 575 573 577
Students of Hebrew 628 630 620 623

Latin in Literature and Historic Documents
The literature and historic documents of Europe and the United States (e.g. Geoffery Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson and John Calvin) contain so many Latin phrases and classical allusions that they often cannot be fully understood and appreciated without a good background in Latin.

Cultural Legacy
Our society’s intellectual infrastructure – its science, philosophy, politics, law, medicine, drama, art – are heavily influenced by the classical world. Reading the classical texts helps us to understand who we are as Americans and members of Western Civilization. Reading the ancient writings of Greece and Rome helps to understand many of the influences that have shaped our culture.

Improved Writing Skills
Latin improves a student’s writing style. Reading and writing Latin is an exercise in brevity, precision and economy. The great classical writers of Greece and Rome (Virgil and Cicero) were incredibly disciplined in their habits of expression. Extensive exposure to them and imitation of their style make students better writers and speakers.


Ad Fontes teacher Bill Carey shared his thoughts on Why Study Latin? with Classical Academic Press.