Does a dead language have any place in a 21st century curriculum? Is it useful? Is it relevant? Does it have value as an enrichment to the core curriculum? I think it does and for the following reasons.
1. Latin offers young people a glimpse into the life and times of the ancient Romans.
Yes, they can read about ancient Rome and watch the videos. They can learn about expansion of the Roman Empire under Julius Caesar. All that information is readily available. But it is filtered information. The whole point of learning a language is to be able to read source materials. I don't want somebody telling me what Julius Caesar said. I want to read it for myself. I want to understand what Caesar said, why he said it, how he said it - the works.
With that assumption in mind it makes sense to allow students to experience the language by learning how to speak it. Perhaps Latin may be a dead language in the sense that it is no longer the lingua franca of commerce and world affairs. On the other hand Latin is a beautiful sounding language which will delight young listeners.
I will disclaim that I learned Latin back in the 50s and 60s when it was taught in the rather old-fashioned way languages were taught back then. You learned endless conjugations and declensions. You struggled with Latin's nuanced sense of tense. Et cetera. It would have been rather dry and dull had it not been for...read more