Teaching The Latin Language In High School
Latin was the language of the Roman Empire. All of the Romance
languages, including French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian,
are directly descended from this native tongue. Our own English
language is heavily influenced by roots from the Latin Language
(as many as 80 percent of our language can be traced to Latin).
Today, Ecclesiastical Latin is the official language of the
Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican. With so much influence on
our own language coming from Latin, it is surprising that
students are not encouraged to study it in high school and
college. Though considered a "dead language", Latin education
can actually help students improve English grammar, as well as
provide a historical foundation for their educations.
Today, Latin is taught primarily for the purpose of translating
ancient literature. It is not really taught conversationally.
Proficiency in Latin is achieved in reading and translating.
Often, students that study Latin in college are majors in
Classical Studies, wherein they study all aspects of Ancient
Greek and Roman history and Culture, or they are pre-Law or
pre-Medicine students. Having a knowledge of the Latin language
has obvious benefits for Law and Medical students in that they
will be better able to learn technical terminology, most of
which is comprised of Latin words and phrases. Classical studies
majors often go on to earn Master's degrees and Doctoral degrees
either in Art History or Archaeology, where knowledge of the
Latin language helps them in their research, or they often
devote their graduate studies to the language itself, where they
can go on to teach Latin in high schools or earn a place as a
professor of Classics at a college or University.
Teaching the Latin language in high school can be challenging.
Most students take foreign languages to satisfy requirements for
graduation, not for the enjoyment of learning a new language.
And they often take "easier" language such as Spanish or French.
And since Latin is not taught conversationally, learning it can
be considered a boring series of memorization or vocabulary
words and noun and verb endings. It is important for the Latin
teacher to make learning the language for those students that do
decide to tackle it interesting and not just a matter of
memorizing verb conjugations and noun declension charts. There
are several ways in which success in teaching Latin in high
school can be achieved.
Using modern technology to teach an ancient language might seem
unlikely. But, there are many resources available online to
assist the Latin teacher in his or her pursuits. Many websites
offer charts, tutorials, and games to not only help the teacher,
but to help engage the students. Learning Latin can be made
easier using technology, while allowing the students to use the
Internet as a means of education. Students today are all but
required to use the Internet academically, and eventually
professionally. Combining learning Latin with learning Internet
skills is a perfect way to bridge the gap between ancient and
Another way to make learning the Latin language interesting is
by incorporating Roman history and Mythology into the subject.
By bringing history and myth into the study of the Latin
language, students will understand the origins of the language,
as well as understand the impact the language and the history of
Rome has had on our modern world. Games can be played and plays
can be put on, utilizing Roman mythological stories and
literature, and students can learn everything from Roman
military strategy to Roman engineering to Roman cooking to how
Roman people dressed.
As a high school Latin teacher, it can be frustrating that the
language is misunderstood and under-appreciated. But, by using
modern technology and creative teaching methods, The "dead"
Latin language can be brought to life, and students will learn
not only the language, but have a clearer understanding of
English grammar, as well as a foundation that will open up their
options as they enter college.