Why does BFHS require Latin?
There are many reasons to study Latin, so in the interests of brevity here are but a few:
- Studying Latin serves as an in depth study of the English language. Over 50% of our language can be traced to Latin and the precise nature of Latin lends to a deeper understanding of English grammar.
- Latin is the scholarly language of the sciences, law, history, etc. To understand Latin is to have a very big head start in many academic areas.
- Those with a foundation in Latin score significantly higher on the SAT and ACT test. As a college-prep school, this is a fact that cannot be ignored.
- Even more than the improvement in vocabulary which most students experience, the best reason for studying Latin and the Romans is that you will enter a new and different world which can tell you much about your own and will help to educate you, for understanding the past is a major part of being educated. As the famous Roman orator Cicero said, "Not to know what happened before you were born is to be forever a child." By observing Roman values, attitudes, and behavior and by comparing them to our own, you can come to know another way of seeing reality and can broaden your experience.
Across the nation, studies have shown Latin to be effective in improving SAT scores.
Studies conducted by the Educational Testing Service show that Latin students consistently outperform all other students on the verbal portion of the SAT.
In the District of Columbia, elementary school students who studied Latin developed reading skills that were five months ahead of those who studied no foreign language and four months ahead of those who studied French or Spanish. Two years earlier, the same students had been excluded from foreign language classes because of substandard reading performance.
In Philadelphia, students in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades received 15 to 20 minutes of daily instruction in Latin for one year. The performance of the Latin students was one full year higher on the Vocabulary Subtest of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) than the performance of matched control students who had not studied Latin.
Math Problem Solving
Sixth-grade students in Indianapolis who studied Latin for 30 minutes each day for five months advanced nine months in their math problem solving abilities. In addition, the students exhibited the following advances in other areas:
- Eight months in world knowledge
- One year in reading
- Thirteen months in language
- Four months in spelling
- Five months in science
- Seven months in social studies
Latin is the key to the vocabulary and structure of the Romance languages and to the structure of all the Teutonic languages, as well as to the technical vocabulary of all the sciences and to the literature of the entire Mediterranean civilization, together with all its historical documents.
Dorthy Sayers, The National Review