Every Friday, my entire morning is flat out booked up. There is no point scheduling anything before 1:00, because there is no chance I can make it.
Friday, is Latin day.
We have a group of homeschoolers that all converge on my house at around 9:30, and from that moment until the last one leaves, my house turns into a tornado. I have no idea who is there, my dog is so confused she can’t figure out if she should play or growl, my cats go into hiding, and my normally silent home is penetrated with the squeals and screams that only a flock of seagulls could outdo. It’s my own little, carefully scheduled dose of insanity.
Why does this flock of prepubescent monkeys invade my home? Why of course they are all excited about their weekly Latin class.
Okay, maybe I am overdoing it when I say they are excited. They love the getting together part, but when they hear my big manly voice resound through the halls with the five minute warning, I listen for the clapping and joy, but I usually just get groaning that would make Eeyore blush.
I love my Latin class. They are truly the best group of kids you could ever get into the same room. They are bright, funny, sweet, heck, I like them so much that I wouldn’t mind if they stayed till 1:15.
I love teaching Latin, because to me Latin is of extreme importance, and it was a gift that I was not given in school. Whenever I speak of the importance of Latin, I always get two replies, usually from the same mouth. “Wow, that’s awesome! I bet your girls are so smart” and “Why would you want them to study a dead language?”
So first, yes, my girls are smart, but not because they study Latin. In my opinion, every child can learn Latin, after all, they seemed to do alright with English.
The more important question though, is why. So I want to share a little secret with you. I’m gonna tell you why. I bet you think you know, but I’m guessing you don’t. You might be thinking it’s because I’m way too Catholic, and I think they should be able to pray the Latin Mass. Nope. That’s not it at all. “Well, it’s the language of the Church right? That must be why.” You couldn’t be further from the truth. “Um, then it’s because they will be able to pick up other languages so easily!” Sorry, wrong yet again. “So they can read all the great philosophers and scientists in the tongue they wrote in?” Sigh, you don’t give up do you? “Um, well, cause some of the English technical, legal, and scientific words are Latin?” What? Oh, why actually, you are very close.
I teach Latin, because most of English is made of Latin. All the reasons above are good ones, and any two or three would make me think about it, but the real reason is, that by studying Latin, you are studying English.
This comes as a shock to most people. The truth is, about 85% of the English language is actually Latin. Think way way back to grammar school. (By the way, did you know it’s called grammar school because that was when you used to learn the Latin grammar? Bet you didn’t know that!) Do you remember those early readers with those great stories like, “See Jane run! She Runs Fast. She can catch a ball!”? That’s where you learned all there is to know about English grammar. You learned that to make a word plural, you add an “s”. You learned the difference between “he runs”, and “he ran”. This was really important stuff.
That is all great for English words, but it just didn’t prepare you for bacterium, and bacteria. For the Latin student, this is obvious. Not only that, bbut nearly all our words are built out of Latin. For example, in this paragraph I used many Latin words, but I’ll point out “prepare”. “Pre” means before, “parare” means to jump, so literally it means, “before jumping”. That word suddenly makes more sense doesn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Latin scholar, so if you are and you decide to write me a letter in Latin, you’ll find it will take me a very long time to get back to you. In truth, I’m usually only a few lessons ahead of my students! (Just don’t let them know that, okay?)
One more reason to learn Latin, it just sounds cool!