Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Latin Making a Comeback in Schools

There's so much disheartening news about the state of K-12 schooling in this country that it's refreshing whenever I see an article about a positive trend, such as the article in today's New York Times entitled "Latin Returns From Dead in School Languages Curriculum".

Enrollment is booming in Latin courses across the country, with the language expected to surpass German as the 3rd most popular foreign language taught in schools. The number of students taking the Advanced Placement exam has doubled over the past 10 years, and the number taking the National Latin Exam has increased by roughly 1/3.

The president of the American Philological Association, Adam Blistein, told the NYT that studying Latin builds vocabulary and grammar for higher SAT scores, appeals to college admissions officers as a sign of critical-thinking skills and fosters true intellectual passion.

Students who study Latin in high school have average SAT-Verbal scores significantly higher than students who study French, German, or Spanish. Some of this may be due to selection bias, but learning Latin provides a real advantage in figuring out the meaning of unfamiliar English words. 90% of English words over 2 syllables are of Latin derivation.

I have not yet started my DD on the study of Latin but I think I will once we reach Ancient Rome in history (which I'm guessing will most likely be this coming spring). The hard part is choosing from among the many interesting looking programs for elementary Latin instruction. Minimus? Learning Latin Through Mythology? Catholic Heritage Curricula's Little Latin Readers? The American Classical League's Activitates Pro Liberis?

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