The Future is Bright for Latin Studies
By Adam Mize, Holy Trinity Classics Instructor; Department Chair, World Languages; Florida Junior Classical League (FJCL) State Chairman; Florida Foreign Language Association Latin Teacher of the Year, 2017; Classical Association of Florida Teacher of the Year, 2018
Holy Trinity’s Latin program had its most successful year ever, winning first place at the State Latin Forum for the first time in school history last April. Ten HT students qualified for the National Latin Convention in Fargo, North Dakota, this July –the most in Holy Trinity’s history. Each summer, more than 1,200 Latin students travel to a different college campus to bond with one another and compete in various academic and creative events. These competitions drew me into Latin as a student and today, many of our Holy Trinity students are excelling at them as well.
Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, I’ve gotten used to the puzzled or curious looks that follow when I tell them that I teach Latin and ancient history. There are usually a few questions or anecdotes about their experience with Latin in school. People are often surprised, but pleased, that Latin is still going strong and, in fact, growing in our schools in the 21st century. Why is this ancient language still so popular and studied today?
I think the most common reason is that our Western heritage is derived in large part from the Romans and Greeks, so we learn about ourselves even as we learn about them. In Latin, we don’t just learn the language, but we also study the Romans: who they were, what they did every day, what they believed, what their military was like, etc. Studying this culture that dominated the world for over a millennium allows us to better understand human nature and to discuss many topics that are of enduring significance to our civilization. Classical movies, books, and television shows are still popular today (Percy Jackson, Gladiator, and I, Claudius, just to name a few) because the ancient world is such a rich and fascinating topic to explore.
The practical advantages to studying Latin are many. It tends to expand the English vocabulary immensely because over half of our English words are derived from Latin. SAT and ACT scores tend to rise, along with writing skills and eloquence, because of the new vocabulary and grammatical knowledge. Not only that, but colleges value it highly in the admissions process. Students who may be thinking of entering medicine, law, or any scientific field also benefit greatly because so much of the nomenclature in those fields are Latin words and because Latin trains your mind to think logically. Many Latin students also find other languages easy to pick up later in life because many of them, including Spanish, Italian and French, are directly descended from Latin. All Ivy League schools and most major universities in the United States still have thriving Classics departments because it is seen as a valuable field.
The future is bright for the continued growth and achievement of Holy Trinity’s Latin program. As the famous Roman poet Ovid once wrote: Rident stolidi verba Latina (Fools laugh at the Latin language).
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