Why teach Latin?

Our Students Study Latin - The Backbone of Language Arts

The study of Latin is the backbone of our language arts curriculum and the critical element that separates Our Savior's language arts mastery from other language arts programs in even Vanguard or GT programs. Latin builds vocabulary, precision, and an eye for detail in every one of our Houston students. It lays a foundation for math and logic skills and prepares our students to encounter and master multiple foreign languages. Latin is part of the core curriculum for grades 3-8. Moreover, our students delight in knowing an Ancient tongue no one is "supposed" to know.

Latin at Our Savior in West Houston begins in Grade 3. Students in grades 3 & 4 study Latin for Children - Primer Series. This is an engaging, incremental, and creative text filled with clear explanations, illustrations, and exercises. There are many songs and chants that enable students to learn vocabulary and grammar with ease and delight. In grades 3 & 4 students focus on the memorization of vocabulary and grammatical charts.

Grades 5-8 use Wheelock's Latin. This famous Latin grammar is exceptional. Our goal is to teach the grammar of Latin through Grade 7 and after focus on actually reading and studying ancient Latin texts from Cicero, Caesar, Horace, and Augustine in their original Latin text. In addition, to Latin grammar, students memorize Latin vocabulary words and famous texts in Latin.

For more information on why we teach Latin, keep reading.

  • Enhanced SAT scores (see chart below),
  • Expanded English vocabulary,
  • Assistance it provides in mastering other foreign languages (including Spanish, French, etc.).

In addition, the very process of learning these classical languages is a sort of "mental gymnastics" program that trains the mind for precision and judgment.

Latin Student Verbal SAT Scores v. All Students

 

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003 

2004

2005

Latin

651

662

665

665

666

672

674

681

All

505

505

505

506

504

507

508

508

However, we believe that the best reason to learn these languages is to give our children the ability to access the best that has been thought, written, and spoken for the last 2500 years.

The sacred scriptures and foundational literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, science, and theology of Western civilization are written in Latin and Greek. So much of the nuance and meaning of these texts (indeed, the reasons they are "classics" in the first place) is lost in translation.

The 20th century was the first century since the dawn of Western Civilization in which a person could be considered "educated" and be incapable of reading Latin and/or Greek. Past generations treasured their inheritance and took great pains to see that it was passed on to their children. Will this tradition die with us? Will we fail to tend to its flame? What are the consequences if we do not?

And let us be sure of this: we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages. The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained. . . If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall not only lose the gospel, but the time will come when we shall be unable either to speak or write a correct Latin or German. - Martin Luther

We believe Luther's words to be prophetic of what has happened today in our culture. By restoring and passing on this birthright to our children we are arming them with the "sheath" of the sword of the spirit. We can provide no better gift to our children. Perhaps, they will agree with Thomas Jefferson when he wrote:

I thank on my knees Him who directed my early education, for having put into my possession this rich source of delight [a classical education in Latin]; and I would not exchange it for anything which I could then have acquired, and have not since acquired.