In these days where everyone seems to frantically text, browse and communicate using all methods except language, educators find a tremendous difficulty to catch their students’ attention. As even seasoned teachers struggle over and over with the short attention span of their students, who seem to value only immediate results, monosyllabic words, or the use of emoticons instantly available at the tip of their fingers, we could ask: is there any value in learning a language such as Latin? Has not Latin been ‘dead’ for centuries?
Language, the key to education.
The function of education is preparing students to be useful members of society. And one of the definite goals of education is teaching the young to understand the interaction of the fundamental components of society: social, civil, political and religious spheres. These spheres are important because they compose the nature and the character of our culture. As long as ideas are important and as long as we want our young citizens to become part of the larger life of the Nation, understanding these four fundamental elements of society becomes the utmost priority in education.
What is then the key element then, to unable our parents and educators to share a round and wholistic formation with their students and children? Language. “Language is the supreme instrument in education – affirms XIXth Century American classic educator Charles E Bennett,- because language deals with ideas. Language promotes intellectual discipline, brings about intellectual development and power, opens the mind to intellectual concern and”- best of all- “the analysis of language demands precise and refined thinking.”
So why Latin?
“By the study of language, -continues Charles Bennett- is meant the study of one’s own language, but the study of one’s own language is achieved incomparably better by the indirect method of studying another language. Only so can the necessary processes of comparison be effectively instituted. And Latin is of value because it confers a mastery over the resources of one’s mother tongue.”
So, for example, by learning derivatives (English words with Latin roots) and other traditional topics, Latin students acquire a mastery over the resources of their own native language, and – most importantly-, they are able to learn the precise meaning of words. Most likely, many of our youngsters will not reach the degree of proficiency necessary to translate Virgil or Tacitus… but by enjoying an early exposure to Latin, they will be on their way to developing a strong sense of form, style, and- most importantly – they will count on the indispensable and invaluable equipment of a truly educated adult: the capacity of expressing directly, clearly, precisely and with effect.
Where to start?
Many resources online provide an extensive list of Latin resources for teachers, parents and even for the self-taught. But we have to remember that learning Latin can be fun and relaxing. For this purpose, we recommend a very interesting resource: Asterix in Latin, available the indomitable Gaulish hero official website www.asterix.com
The album even provides a Teacher’s guide (in French), a glossary to allow everyone to master etymology and even 27 famous phrases, to help you and your little ones discover a most interesting an unusual way to explore the Latin language, by Toutatis! Enjoy!
by Br. Gustavo Kralj, EP