Benefits of learning Latin
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 14, 2005
Louie Villalobos


Parents: Do you want your children to learn a foreign language that exposes them to the ancient cultures they read about in their history books or see in the movies?

Want them to improve their test scores and make themselves a little more appealing to colleges?

Valley Latin teachers think they have a way for all those wishes to come true.

Have your student take Latin.

Latin is the language of several ancient cultures, including that of the Romans and Greeks. It's the foundation for several languages, such as Spanish, Italian and French. And it's slowly gaining steam in Arizona.

About 25 schools in Arizona offer Latin classes, said Sarah Knapp, a teacher at Desert Vista High School and state chair of the Arizona Junior Classical League.

The problem, she said, is that few of those schools are public. So she's leading an effort to increase Latin offerings in the state and is encouraging parents to take up the cause by contacting local school officials. There has been a slow increase in public-school Latin classes, she said.

"It's not just a private-schools thing anymore," she said. "It's easy to spread the program; we just have to get the districts on board."

For students, studying the language is something off the beaten path.

A lot of people may know how to ask where the library is in Spanish; few know how to do it in Latin.

That's part of the reason why Riley Niles, 14, a student at Desert Vista High School, took the class.

"Spanish is pretty fun, but I wanted to get away from it," he said. "Plus, it (Latin) helps you out with other classes."

Niles, whose sister also studies Latin, said the class is a great way to see the cultures he learns in history class come to life through language. Greek mythology, for example, was much easier to learn because of his Latin class, he said.

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