Far from being a “dead” language, Latin provides students with an ideal opportunity to learn from an early age tools that will help them with their English vocabulary, their learning of other languages, their ability to communicate with precision, and their understanding and appreciation of Western Civilization’s rich heritage.
Over 50% of our English words come from Latin roots. In particular, Latin terminology abounds in specialized fields of health, science, theology, and law. In fact, the average Verbal SAT scores for 2006 showed students who had studied Latin at 672, Spanish students at 577, German Students at 632, and French students at 637. The average that year for all students combined was 503.
Learning Other Languages
Latin provides an ideal foundation for the study of other languages, which will become increasingly importance in our global society. This Latin foundation is not only true because of the required precision of its word forms and its proximity to English, but in particular because Latin is the root of all Romance languages, such as Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian and Portuguese.
Thinking and Communicating with Precision
Because Latin words take on different forms depending upon how they are used in a sentence, students are forced to think with clarity about how each word contributes to a thought expressed in a sentence. The sharpness of this mental discipline serves them well in all their academic work, but especially in the later stages of classical Christian education as their study of logic and rhetoric depends on their use of words with precision and persuasiveness. Thinking that you can get the same benefits out of studying modern languages as you can Latin, says author R.W. Livingstone, is “like supposing that the muscles can be developed by changing from one chair to the other.”
The Language of Western Civilization
Languages provide windows into the life and thought of cultures which use them. In the case of our Western tradition, Latin was in widespread use for over two thousand years, the language employed in its rich heritage of classic literature. Latin is the language of Caesar, Cicero, and Virgil, and well as the theological and devotional writers of the Western Church such as Augustine, Jerome, Aquinas, and Calvin.
Latin at Cedar Tree
For these reasons, all Cedar Tree students study Latin beginning in 3rd grade. Our Latin teachers capitalize on Cedar Tree’s early introduction to English Grammar (beginning in first grade, using the Shurley materials) to lay this much-needed systematic and analytical foundation for further academic endeavors.
Additional Latin Resources
The Latin Shorter Catechism – Developed in consultation with Caesar Grammaticus for the use by CT students and their parents. (PDF)
The Latin Larger Catechism – expanded version. (PDF)