Why Learn Latin
Latin is the language that was spoken by the ancient Romans. As the Romans extended their empire throughout the Mediterranean, the Latin language spread. By the time of Julius Caesar, Latin was spoken in Italy, France, and Spain. Classical Latin—the language spoken by Caesar and Mark Antony—may not be anyone’s native language, but it continues to thrive in the modern world. Many other languages, such as Spanish, Italian, and French, evolved from classical Latin. These languages are called “Romance” languages, precisely because they developed from the language spoken by the Romans.
You should study Latin if:
You Are Interested in Classical Literature
A translation of the Aeneid can give you only a second-hand idea of what Virgil was trying to communicate; to fully appreciate the poem, you must read it in the language in which Virgil wrote it.
You Want to Improve Your English Vocabulary
Although English did not develop directly from Latin, English speakers borrowed many words from Latin. Some of these we use every day (“peninsula,” “university”) while others (“egregious,” “immaculate,” “inference”) are less common but no less integral to a strong vocabulary.
You Are Interested in Medicine, Nursing, or Law
Many medical terms and almost all legal terms are Latin words. Knowing the Latin meaning of “lateral” and non compos mentis will give you a competitive edge in these fields.
The Romance Languages Intrigue You
Many words in these languages are little changed from classical Latin. For example, the Spanish word for “boss” (patrone) is a direct descendant of the Latin word patronus, which roughly translates as “political patron.”
You Want to Know More About Life in Ancient Rome
There is no real English equivalent for Latin words like forum, patronus, and imperator. When you learn these Latin words, you also learn about the Roman political and social realities behind them. Language is an integral part of culture, so by learning Latin, you will learn about Roman culture and society.
You Want a Mental Challenge
Latin grammar is complex, and reading a Latin sentence can be like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together. People who enjoy math and music usually enjoy Latin because it requires some of the same intellectual skills as these disciplines.
You Are Interested in Early Music and Sacred Music
Anyone who has studied two semesters of Latin will be able to understand the Renaissance masses and Gregorian chants sung by groups such as the Tallis Scholars and Anonymous Four.
You Are Considering Pursuing Studies in Ancient or Medieval History
Many prestigious graduate programs in these fields require their students to do research in Latin.
A Liberal Education Is Important to You
Latin and Greek traditionally formed the core of a liberal education, which was so named because only “free” (“liberal” from liber, meaning “free”) people could afford to study disciplines that did not teach them a trade but which enriched their minds.
And if those reasons weren’t enough…
In these practical times, it’s just a little bit rebellious!
Adapted from Illinois Wesleyan University, Greek & Roman Studies
Scholarships and Grants
ACL scholarships are awarded to League members and may be applied to expenses incurred for summer Latin study, participation at the ACL Institute, Latin Certification classes, or purchases at the ACL Teaching Materials and Resource Center.
The NJCL offers multiple funding opportunities to student members pursuing classical studies; students must be present at the annual convention to win.
High-school seniors who win Gold Medals on the Exam and intend to study Latin or Greek in college are eligible to apply for monetary awards.
The Society for Classical Studies offers an annual scholarship to minority undergraduates for study abroad, field training abroad, or domestic language courses taking place during the summer months.
Looking for a Latin Program?
While initially developed to report language enrollment figures, the MLA database provides a comprehensive listing of postsecondary language programs, allowing you to refine your results by language, geographic area, and/or type of institution. The data is based on MLA’s most 2013 survey.
To Get Started:
- Select your language(s), up to eight
- Narrow your search, as desired, and click “search now”
- Expand your findings to reveal specific schools offering programs in your language by clicking on the small triangles on your results page