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Homeschooling And The Argument For Latin
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If you are a parent or someone who is involved in selecting a syllabus to meet a homeschool curriculum requirement, the choice of a language is likely to arise.  What will determine the language that you study?  Often the choice is to pick the “easiest” language.  Sometimes it’s the one a friend speaks.   If you do not have strong feelings about language selection, a cultural need, or a family background that leads you to a certain language, then your choice may be arbitrary.  I’d like to make the argument for considering Latin.

Before setting out some of the advantages of studying Latin, I’d like to discuss a couple of objections people have about the language.  First, one often hears the assertion that Latin is “hard”.  In fact, it is no harder than any other one that you would learn as a second language.  In the homeschool setting, kids often get more focused attention than is available to public/private school children.  Homeschooled children can use this situation to focus on the aspects of language that can make its learning easier.  For example, observing  that the specific word order for subjects (S), verbs (V) and objects(O), in English, is S-V-O, whereas in Latin it varies, with the order most likely being S-O-V.  Focusing on this and other patterns can lead to mastery in Latin, making its learning no more difficult than it would be for the learning of any other second language.

Another objection to learning Latin is that it is a dead language.  While it is true that Latin is not actively spoken as a native language, the fact remains that if is the root of many languages that are native to many countries and societies.  But, more to the point, these days you don’t have to “speak” Latin, you only have to read it and understand its grammar.  It is said of our language, English, that it is the language of international cooperation, of French that it is the language of love, and German is said to be the language of science.  Latin, then, is the language of learning.  For some, this is reason enough to take up its study. 

So, why study Latin?  Not everyone chooses to learn mathematics, but those who do often so for similar reasons for studying Latin, one practical and the other pleasurable.  On the practical side, it may be a career choice, say, in academia.  For the homeschooler it is has been shown that the study of Latin produces higher SAT scores.  On the pleasure front, you may be the kind of person who likes the kind of thinking that the study of Latin requires of its scholars.  Here you would certainly be in the company of some of the greatest thinkers and personalities, such as Sir Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Marin Luther, and one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson.

These broad reasons for studying Latin are fine, but there are some everyday advantages that make the argument for studying Latin even stronger.  One of the biggest everyday advantages is that it can help you better understand English words that have Latin prefixes and suffixes.  Root words preceded by the prefix “ad”, meaning to or toward, such as “adverse” or “”, and root words followed by the suffix “ab” (meaning away from), such as “absent” or “abrupt” can be understood even if you have not seen the words before.  The idea is that if you recognize the parts you’ll understand the whole.  Another everyday advantage is that Latin grammar’s rules help you understand English better by giving you a way to think about how words relate to each other in general.  Latin grammar rules that deal with case and agreement, for example, can make you think about these word relationships in English.

Like homeschooling in general, Latin language study is actually on the rise in the United States.  It is still a great choice for improving scores on standardized tests, enhancing higher order thinking skills and providing exposure to some of the most well-known cultural icons of our past.  For the budding Latin scholar, there is a broad spectrum of Latin resources available, including online dictionaries, tutorials, study communities, translation software, ad finitum.

We hope we have given you a few reasons to consider adding Latin to your Homeschool curriculum.  At Academic Boot Camp Tips, we like to keep abreast of trends on the homeschool front.  In our community you can follow along with these trends and also participate with us as we explore them.


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