Why Should I Study Latin?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 05 May 2019
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Many high school curricula now require a foreign language component, which means students may have to choose among offerings such as French, Spanish, German, Japanese or Latin. At first glance, studying Latin may not sound as appealing as learning conversational Spanish or French, but it actually offers the most flexibility of all the languages. Students who study original Latin are exposed to the basics of modern Romance languages such as Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Learning Latin vocabulary first often makes Spanish courses much easier to comprehend later.

Studying Latin in high school and college is also recommended for those interested in law, science, medicine or religion as a college major. It is often used as a universal language among scholars working in various countries and various disciplines. For example, a judge in Tokyo, an attorney in Germany and a prosecutor in the United States all understand the legal term habeas corpus. A law student with a background in this language often has an advantage while studying for the all-important bar examination.

Medical students can also benefit from studying Latin. Many of the terms for human anatomy and diseases can be traced directly to roots in this language. Again, Latin is commonly used in the medical community as a universal language. Those studying the effects of germs and other living things on the human body may have to learn scientific names, which are almost always in this language.


Studying Latin, along with Greek and Hebrew, should also serve theology and religion majors very well. Many original religious texts are available only in ancient languages, such as the Latin Vulgate, an early form of the Bible used during Catholic services. Significant portions of modern Catholic services are still performed in this language. Understanding the grammar and vocabulary can offer insight into the original meaning of these passages.

English majors should also consider studying Latin, since much of our current language is based on Latin and Greek roots. While the classes may not be as conversational as French or Spanish, they emphasize the underlying structure of a language. Once an English student can learn to appreciate the ancient grammar and vocabulary, he or she can apply that appreciation towards modern English. Creative writing courses place a great deal of emphasis on vocabulary and mechanics, both of which can be improved greatly by studying Latin along with English literature.


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Discuss this Article

Post 8

Don't forget, though, that you can have a secret conversation with anyone who does speak Latin, e.g., someone in your class.

Post 6

Somehow the article failed to mention that Latin is vitally important for students of ancient and medieval history, particularly of the Roman and Byzantine Empires,the Church, and medieval science and philosophy. Though this may be self-evident, it still needs to be said.

Post 5

I will be going into high school next year and Latin is going to be the foreign language I will be studying. I've read many articles on the benefits of studying Latin, and it seems to be a very good idea. Though Spanish is a more practical and realistic way, Latin shows that you are willing to put yourself above and beyond. It helps you with other languages (like Spanish) and the language you're most familiar with, English. It also helps with the SATs. Overall, Latin has downsides except for the fact that you may never speak a conversation in it.

Post 3

Well, Latin, in fact, is not a dead language. It is as there is no "native speaker" but remember that Latin was the language of universities and scholars until the French revolution.

Nowadays, there are people who, using the methods of modern languages study Latin and Greek so they can speak, and so read easily, with no dictionary. Of course Latin is a great tool to learn English grammar, but to do that it's better to study English, I think.

The most important reason to study (and learn!) Latin is to be able to read the bases of our civilization and his cultural heritage through many centuries of history.

Post 2

I was very excited to see an article supporting the study of the great ancient language, Latin. However, all I see is a few lines with the briefest description of only a few benefits of learning it.

When I began Latin classes at the age of 11 it gave me a great understanding of the structure of our language. Shame you didn't touch on any of that.

Post 1

Since Latin is not a "live" language it is not useful as far as being able to talk to anybody, however, Latin is so very important because it forms the word roots of many languages.

It is much easier to learn many languages if one has had some background in Latin. I think it would be such a good idea to have Latin in high schools as a required course.

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