My friend's 14 year old will be starting high school in the fall. He was planning to take Spanish, but now wants to take Latin instead.<br><br>
Good idea or a bad idea?<br>
He's a B student, by the way.<br><br>
Foreign, i mean. oops.
i'd say it really depends on what his future goals are and why he wants to take latin. spanish is obviously the language of choice if he wants to be communicating with people but latin is better as a basis for various areas of study.
it shouldn't really matter what his parents want. it's great that he wants to learn another language at all. there's nothing worse than having to learn a language you have no interest in. i was forced to take french in 7th grade (not by my parents) and hated it. i'd love to speak french now but that experience put me off for life.
Spanish is great if he wants a foreign language to communicate with people; however, I would say that unless you are prepared to stick with it for quite some time, there is a good chance you wont use it anyway. I have 5 school years of French tuition, and 3 of German. I don't really think that either of them were ever really strong enough for me to get by in those countries unless people around me spoke English, and now (admittedly nearly 10 years on) I can barely hold even a basic conversation. I think what I am trying to say is that if you have a use for the language now, then a modern language is great; I am really jealous of my colleagues who put a couple of extra years of languages in at school and worked to build it up so they can now do basic business in foreign. BUT I know for me it would never have been practiced or used. I have a learn Italian CD I have listened to about 6 times, and I would say I am not much more comfortable in French than the Italian, so 5 years at school was a long time to spend on the confidence level that 6 hours can build you up to.<br><br>
On the other hand, I had 3 years of Latin at school. Is it useful as a language in its own right? No. Although many modern languages stem from it, it is not sufficiently closely related to really help you understand any of them. However, what I did get from Latin is a MUCH better grasp of language from a traditional "English lesson" perspective. We did so much about verb tenses and sentence structure, and about the declensions for nouns etc. Best of all, Latin (at all schools I know of) is pretty much taught by reading stories, so it doesnt even really feel like work. What Latin did for me was mainly help my English from a "correct writing" standpoint. I think there are 2 reasons Latin is great for this:<br>
1) it is a dead language, so has a VERY rigid and formal structure, unlike modern languages where colloquialisms and accepted useage can blur the teaching of these rules; and<br>
2) parents don't expect kids to come home and be able to use their Latin on summer vacations, so it can be taught in a more systematic and logical format, with a lot more emphasis on reading correct structure, rather than a whiz through of: how to ask for food, how to ask for directions, the names of various rooms, the basics of conversations etc. like you would tend to get with a modern language.<br><br>
In summary, I think each has its own merits. Certainly as a standalone bit of learning the modern language would be more useful. However, unless the child and family are prepared to back the school work up by going on appropriate holidays to allow use of the language, and actually reading/writing things in the language, I think there is a good chance the child will never have the confidence to use it. The fact that the child isn't keen to take the language now doesn't bode well for him putting in the level of extracurricular work required to really make school language levels useful.<br>
On the other hand, whilst Latin isn't useful on its own, it can do a lot for one's grasp of other subjects (particularly formal English), and therefore you don't require the same level of mastery of the language in order to get something out of the lessons that will last beyond your school years.
Latin is good, but if one wants to know a 'living' language to communicate with people from other places, perhaps he can look at learning some more common languages, such as Spanish as people here have suggested. Any language is good...it really depends on where he intends to use it, and if he lives in a community where there are a lot of Spanish speakers, then perhaps it's better to learn Spanish so he'll have opportunities to practice it. I speak 4 languages, and would like to learn more.
Latin is also helpful if he wants to go into medicine or biology. I took 4 years of high school French and it didn't help me at all. I learned Spanish by living on the US/MX border and doing trips into MX and Central America. For modern languages its best to learn it when you will use it.<br><br>
I'd recommend letting him decide. Its his life and ultimately he will be the one to live with the consequeces of this decision, good, bad or neutral.
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>syzygy</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2837289"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I'd recommend letting him decide. Its his life and ultimately he will be the one to live with the consequeces of this decision, good, bad or neutral.</div>
Absolutely. You can give him info on how his various options may be useful depending on his dreams and plans and abilities, but the decision should be his. As an added bonus, if he "owns" his decision, he's a lot more likely to invest in it than if it's something thrust on him.<br><br>
As a fluent Spanish speaker (by choice, with lots of hard work invested), I can definitely vouch for the usefulness of that language. I never studied Latin or any other languages, so I can only tell you what I've been told there.
Vulcan. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=""><br>
I think it would be more useful for a a U.S. citizen to speak Spanish. Latin seems like a redundant language these days.
I've done Latin for 5 years in school (it's still taught everywhere in Germany) and while I think it's highly interesting from both a linguistical and historical point of view (hey, we read texts written by CAESAR himself!) and you can always look intellectual with Latin quotes, I'd pick a living language if he intends to use it to talk to people. I don't regret those 5 years, but they were mostly a labour of love, not to improve my chances in work or social life.
Foreign languages are taught in US high schools and colleges largely with the idea that people who go on to study in colleges and especially graduate schools will avail themselves of the scholarship in their foreign language of choice in pursuing their graduate and post-graduate studies. For example, I was a history major who studied French. If I had gotten my M.A. or Ph.D. in History, and went on to write scholarly articles about history (say, the history of the American Revolution), I would have been expected to utilize the scholarly writings published in the French language relevant to my articles and/or Ph.D. thesis..<br><br>
As it happened, I took one semester of French in college (after two years of high school French) and then threw in the towel. As a consequence, I did not meet the formal requirements for getting in to Phi Beta Kappa. However, they chose to waive this requirement in my case (since I was my college valedictorian) and I was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa.<br><br>
So, foreign languages are also taught for academic reasons having almost nothing to do with whether you are able to converse with foreign language speakers.
My school taught Latin to all students in 7th and 8th grade. It was incredibly useful when it came to taking standardized tests, and I'm very glad I got the basics down.<br><br>
I took three years of Spanish in high school, and four semesters of Spanish in college. It's a language with a purpose... I can learn it, continue to practice, and communicate with a wider range of people. It helped greatly when the people I worked for as a live-in nanny hired a lady from Mexico to be a live-in cook and maid, and she didn't speak a word of English. (I totally cracked her up one day when I asked her if I could cut up some eyes instead of some garlic, BUT HEY, ajo, ojo, gimmie a break, yo.)<br><br>
My spectacular advice is... I dunno, man. I took both and wouldn't want to give either one up. :/
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