Latin at Woodland: Helping Students Think, Reason, and Connect with Intention

Posted by Amy Smythe on 3/19/2019 1:50:00 PM


The benefit of teaching a middle school student Latin can be enormous! Learning Latin is one of the most efficient ways to learn abstract English grammar concepts and skills. It makes those abstract concepts visual and concrete. The nature of the language also encourages the development of precision, organizational skills, study skills, logic, reasoning, and grit. What better time to dive into this ancient language than in Middle School, when the young teenage brain is perfectly ready to and in need of developing those skills!

What about our modern ties to the ancient world? Why are my shoes called Nikes? Why does our government have a Senate? How did J.K. Rowling come up with all of those spells? How do I know what Super Bowl we are on? The questions we could answer in our Latin class could be endless!

Each Latin unit at Woodland consists of Latin vocabulary words and the English words that are derived from them, grammar concepts and how they are used in both Latin and English, and a history or culture lesson. In order to make the grammar concepts visual and concrete, we use a variety of methods to practice the skills. There are times of small group collaboration, as well as individual memory practice on wipe off charts and boards. Translations are sometimes done in one large group, with no hands raised and the freedom to call an answer out even if they are not completely sure that the answer is correct. Being comfortable enough to just try is a vital skill to have! Much of what is gained from this quirky, unique subject is the ability of a student to pull from the variety of study techniques that we learn and use each day, and to transfer them across all other subjects.

From the ways our sewers are built, to the architecture of our buildings, the names of our months, and the way our government is set up, Ancient Roman culture and history is completely intertwined in our modern western lives. It is good for students to know where the things that surround them in their daily lives come from. Latin is the glue that can connect all other subjects for our students. Besides the huge growth in English grammar understanding, over 60% of English words are from Latin roots, so it can be a huge boost to vocabulary and thus reading comprehension. Scientific terms, including many body parts, medical vocabulary, and scientific names for all living organisms are Latin based. Ancient Roman history is an important thread in the history of the world. We even do math with Roman Numerals! All of this encourages intentional thought, reasoning, and the ability to make connections in their learning. We are blessed to have our students not only explore all of these connections but to feel success and gain self-confidence in a brand new, unconventional subject!