As a world language teacher at Harrisburg Academy, I feel that studying a second language, especially Latin, has been and continues to be very helpful to me in several ways. Many of the best words in English are derived from Latin. Also, Latin is the mother language of Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Romanian. The derivative aspect of Latin has helped me to expand my vocabulary in my primary language and in other Romantic languages. I love sharing these opportunities with our students who pursue Latin. I mostly teach Latin to 7th through 10th grade students.
In addition to the component of grasping our language better in terms of vocabulary, Latin has helped me to better understand English grammar. Grammar is a vital part of learning a second language. A Latin-English dictionary can help a student with translating words. A dictionary cannot help a student translate a sentence. Students learn the grammar of a second language best in terms of their primary language; therefore, I stress English grammar in my introductory level course for 7th graders, and I further those lessons as they move on to the next level.
Latin, like other world languages, is most enjoyed when students get to translate and recite material that was originally composed in that language. One thing that makes Latin special from other languages is that the people who originally spoke and wrote in Latin are major contributors to Western thought and tradition. Over the past 25 years, I have translated parts of works by Virgil, Cicero, Catullus, Ovid, Horace, and Julius Caesar. Our students, like me, have found that these are their most satisfying times in studying Latin.
I have studied multiple years of Latin with great teachers in high school and college. While in my junior year of college, I was inducted into Eta Sigma Phi, the Classical Studies academic fraternity. I was also chosen to carry the Latin flag at Gettysburg College’s 1999 Commencement. This is my fifteenth year teaching at Harrisburg Academy and I have taught Latin in ten of those years.
Many parents are interested in their children being able to gain entrance to the college or university that is the natural fit for him or her. It may come as no surprise to you that research shows standardized test scores often are higher for students who have studied Greek and Latin roots. I discuss these derivatives in all of my classes (and at my own dinner table), but it happens most often in Latin classes as we introduce new vocabulary.
The middle years is a great time in a child’s life to begin Latin because it will be a strong foundation for other learning as the student continues his or her own academic career. I can’t wait to begin again with this year’s Latin students.