Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool?

Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

  • the best of the homeschool blogosphere,
  • current happenings in education-land,
  • and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

Yes, I want Thrive Together!

* indicates required

Recent Posts

Some links on this site are affiliate links. A percentage of qualifying purchases support this site. 

HFC is powered by SiteGround.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

Get the news right in your inbox!

Privacy Policy

Why Learn Latin

This is part of the series: Classical Homeschooling

Susan Wise Bauer, in The Well-Trained Mind, notes “As you’ve no doubt noticed, Latin is not the defining element of a classical education” (188).

No, it’s not, but it is a necessary element and here’s why.

There are plenty of other things that could be considered “defining elements” of a classical education, such as it’s aims to cultivate virtue in students, or to help them learn to distinguish between good and bad, true and false, beautiful and mundane, harmony and dischord. A classical education could be defined by its commitment to excellence. A Christian classical education could be defined by its commitment to teaching the faith by recognizing the interrelatedness of all subjects, and their relation to Christ.

In today’s modern neo-classical renewal, however, one element is definitely true of classical education:

A classical education is centered on language.

While schools all around us are spending money up the wazoo on iPads, apps, or a laptop for every student, classical schools are conspicuously committed to paper and pencil. Classical educators read good books with their students. Lots and lots of good books, full of beautiful, complex language.

The first three of the seven traditional liberal arts are committed to words–the proper defining (grammar), ordering (logic), and speaking (rhetoric) of words.

The entire Trivium is all about getting students from a point of no language to a point of thinking, speaking, and writing language that can pursuade others toward Truth.

So how does Latin fit, when we speak English?

Barbara Beers, author of The Phonics Road and  The Latin Road, says Latin is the secret weapon of successful students. She points out1 that:

10% of English vocabulary derives from Greek

30% of English vocabulary derives from Teutonic languages (German, Dutch, Scandanavian)

A whopping 50% of English vocabulary derives from Latin

That’s HALF the words!

It makes more sense to ask, “Why would a school or homeschool NOT want its students to study Latin?” That sounds to me like a recipe for liguistically handicapping students. To my knowledge, no teacher ever said, “Nah, you don’t need that half of the English language,” but that’s what’s happening in effect when students aren’t given the opportunity to study Latin.

That sounds harsh. I get it. It’s a dead language. What could possibly be useful about studying Latin?

How about the fact that those who study Latin statistically do better on the SAT and ACT than those who don’t? I’ve written elsewhere about why that shouldn’t really matter, but it’s true nonetheless. Incidentally, students who study music also tend to do better in other academic subjects. (Hey! That’s another of the liberal arts!)

How about the exponential value of studying the source? One Latin word can be worth many derivative English words.

How about the exposure to specialize vocabulary like law, science, or history.

I could go on about how Latin explains why spelling in English can seem so random, or how Latin prefixes and suffixes give students invaluable clues to decode words they don’t know, or how learning Latin gives students the foundation to study other related languages like Spanish, French, and Italian. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Next up: What I use to study Latin (for myself and my kids).

  1. Latin, The Secret Weapon of Successful Students. Talk by Barbara Beers given June 15, 2013 in Puyallup, WA. 
Rhiannon Kutzer

All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Nice to meet you!

Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rewrite”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of almost 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a monthly newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.


Subscribe & Follow

Popular Links

Let’s Thrive Together!

Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

--the best of the homeschool blogosphere,
--current homeschool news,
--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

Latest Posts


  • Took the crew to the PEZ factory this weekend. So fun! Plus, we got them sugared up enough that nobody cried at IKEA afterward. #winning #didyouknow that PEZ was originally a peppermint meant as an alternative to smoking? The name comes from the German word “pfeffermintz.” #nowyouknow 😘
  • Some days you have to take a picture, it’s so unwieldy. #sahm #homeschoolmomlife
  • I am one to lift the heavy thing all by myself. I’m prone, actually, to attempting to do ALL the things on my own. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this #navylife, it’s that you can’t survive unless you have community. The same goes for being a #homeschoolmom or #sahm (or a human, generally).
So often, I think women think they can go it alone, but we need community more than we know. It’s all too easy to shrivel up inside our own bitter loneliness. We need both the tangible help of others and their intangible fellowship of prayers and council, too.
Today I get to be over at @theglorioustable chatting about community. Check it out (link in profile), and then go call a friend and schedule a coffee date! ☕️☕️
  • Uh Oh. We just discovered the life changing taste that is homemade granola. It’s no doubt a good thing that I hadn’t tried this before, because now the family is going to demand this stays in stock. #soyummy #homemade #sahm #betterthanskittles
  • Happy 119th birthday, U.S. Submarine Force! Y’all know how to party here in the Submarine Capital of the World. Thanks to the lovely and talented @alisanomaly for taming my locks. And thank you to my handsome sailor for a fun night out! #milspouse
  • First attempt at bubbles. Don’t know what I’m doing, but we needed to get laundry little more organized and this was a fun way to do it. #procrastination #watercolor #bravewriterlifestyle #homeschool #chores

Follow @rhikutzer

Twitter Feed