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Learning Latin....

I got onto Twitter this afternoon, and one tweet (twit?) in particular caught my eye:
AtlanticOnline Should children be taught Latin in school?
So I read the blog post (on the Atlantic's Ideas blog). It was actually rather interesting, and advocated teaching Latin to the underprivileged, or whatever you want to call kids who aren't quite literate, to help them build a better English vocabulary and grammar.
By providing a grounding in the prefixes, suffixes, and roots that serve as the building blocks for so many English words, Latin enables these disadvantaged students to catch up. In addition, Latin's grammar, unlike that of English, follows reassuringly predictable rules. Each part of speech is quickly recognizable... even if you don't know what the words mean.

And Latin gives students a conceptual understanding of grammar that can easily be transferred to the study of English; once one understands the difference between, say, a direct and indirect object in Latin, one can understand the distinction in English as well.

Let me tell you, the author is right on that last point there; studying Latin, any foreign language really, will help you with English grammar. The reason I was so bored in my junior-level English grammar class this semester--where most everyone else was struggling, and even my honors-student English-major friend went to the extra study sessions when I could have done the diagramming in my sleep--anyway, my boredom was because I already knew how grammar worked, from studying Spanish.

Another plus to studying Latin.... Anyone learning a second language also sharpens their thinking skills. The effort and thought processes that you must use to learn something like that--Spanish, French, German, whatever--are, by nature, more complicated thinking skills, and to learn those you have to use them. (Practice, practice, practice! Now I really sound like a language teacher....)

Everybody knows English is hard. Teaching kids a second language, one with a regular grammar structure and nice neat little sets of regular endings, might well relieve them of some confusion with English grammar.


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