Monday, March 9, 2009

School Subjects: Latin

( Social Butterfly with one of her Latin flashcards.)
I hear it occasionally - "But Latin is a dead language. Why study it?" My answer is that there are many benefits, despite the fact that nobody is going to have a conversation with my kids in Latin. The main benefit I see is the discipline involved. I feel the same way about making them memorize their math facts even in this day of calculators. It exercises the brain.

Another benefit is the vocabulary. Obviously, Night Owl is relying on some of that for the herpetology exam he'll be taking in the Science Olympiad in a few weeks. But even the younger kids can benefit from knowing Latin. An example is in defining a word, like symphony. If you know Latin, you know the word comes from the Latin syn, which means together and Phone which means sound. So if my children had never heard of a symphony, they would be able to figure out that it has something to do with sounds being played together. Finally, there is the application to grammar. When learning English grammar, knowing Latin grammar helps alot. Latin grammar is actually more simple to learn, and then can be easily applied to English grammar.

I will say Night Owl did not care much for studying Latin. He struggled, whined, and tried all ways to get out of it. It was part of our homeschool day that I dreaded. Social Butterfly, on the other hand, doesn't seem to mind as much. She enjoys reciting the verb conjugations and noun declensions. Jetter hasn't started a formal study of Latin yet, but if I say "Amo" he'll chime in with "Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant". this comes from hearing his big sister over and over again. When he begins Latin next year, he'll find out what all this means and he'll already have it memorized.

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