The most important component to a successful, fulfilling life in the 21st century is having a mastery of the language you speak. In our modern “information world,” successful communication has never been as important as it is today. Being able to relay thoughts and ideas efficiently and accurately has become a foundational necessity for any career path you choose, and without this essential life-skill, most cannot hope to rise to their true potential in our competitive world. However, communication can be a tricky thing. In the English language, we have many words that mean the same thing to varying degrees, which often makes it difficult to remember which word to appropriate to any situation at any given time. Knowing when to use of one word over another is directly beneficial in conveying the true emotions behind any sentence, which makes a person’s use of vocabulary essential to most collaborative efforts in daily life.
There is a common misunderstanding that having a wide vocabulary is linked to memorization—at least; this is certainly how most traditional students approach their elementary, middle school, and high school vocab tests. While this technique might help them receive their desired grade, it does very little to grow their actual vocabularies, which again, has little to do with memorization. It is far more beneficial to understand the true meanings of the components of the words being used, rather than trying to group all of the components together into one “thing.”
Take the word “beneficial” from the previous sentence: knowing that the prefix “bene” means “good” in Latin, and the suffix “ficial” means something along the lines of “the surface,” provides students with a deeper understanding of the components in play in the word, and in-turn, what the word truly means. They can then apply this knowledge to other English words like “benefit,” “benevolent,” “benefactor,” etc., without having to memorize the definitions for each word separately, because they already know what these components mean on their own. This technique has been shown to contribute to vocabulary acquisition, and its daily use.
Roughly 50% of all English words – and a much higher percentage of English prefixes and suffixes—are derived from the Latin language. This has all sorts of societal implications, but where language development and education is concerned, it means that the absence of Latin instruction in a student’s curriculum might produce the unfortunate reality of the student only truly understanding (roughly) half of the words they hear every day. Despite this very real concern, proper Latin instruction is increasingly overlooked in most school curriculums on account of it being a “dead language”. While it is true that no one speaks Latin anymore, it is clear that it is not “dead” at all. Indeed, the entirety of western civilization is built on a Latin framework: not just in its words, but also in its ideas. Latin is the language of Law, Science, Theology, Logic, Government, and so many other essential disciplines of which every person should have a proper understanding.
Knowledge of Latin is an essential building block to learning the English language. Without it, a student simply cannot be prepared to fully interact and participate in the world in which they live—it is fundamental. You wouldn’t teach the history of America while ignoring the Revolutionary War, or the history of the Civil War while omitting the existence Abraham Lincoln, and you simply cannot teach — or speak– English effectively without teaching/learning basic Latin principles first.