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Is there any evidence that learning Latin improves educational outcomes?

(136 Posts)
tethersend Wed 10-Jun-15 22:11:05

...Or is it a case of mistaking correlation for causation?

I've noticed a trend to include Latin on the curriculum amongst some academies and free schools- I wondered if there was a sound evidence base for doing so?

HerBigChance Wed 10-Jun-15 22:19:06

I hadn't heard about it being offered by academies, so can't comment on what their motivation might be, but I studied it at my bog-standard comp in the eighties.

It's very useful for gaining a bit of insight into other Romance languages as well understanding a bit more about the structure of English and cam paring the too. There was some cultural and literary stuff too. I really enjoyed it and got the O Level in it.

HerBigChance Wed 10-Jun-15 22:19:43

.... Comparing the two, obviously

titchy Wed 10-Jun-15 22:19:50

Yes - it makes them appear more like a grammar school and therefore more appealing to the middle classes, thereby keep their league table position with not too much effort. grin

AuditAngel Wed 10-Jun-15 22:21:35

DS starts secondary in September, RC VA school, he will be learning Latin.

jaws5 Wed 10-Jun-15 22:23:13

Well, it improves the educational outcome of.... Latin! �� I think schools probably want to tempt parents with a subject that connotes "quality education" as in a traditional subject offered by private schools. Personally, I consider it a valuable subject in its own right as many languages derive from it and it gives kids an etymological foundation for those languages, including English! I think it's worth doing, for the pure sake of learning.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 10-Jun-15 22:25:50

Middle class parents do love Latin, it's true...

JesseandCeline Wed 10-Jun-15 22:26:33

I have no idea whether it does or not. My younger self would have sworn it was pointless to the face of the oldies that said, "you'll see".
I am now one if these oldies. I second all that herbigchance said and I'd add that gives you all the ligical thinking and analysis skills you need.
I am a bit sad that mine will prob not study it at secondary but they'll probably do other stuff that I have not done.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Wed 10-Jun-15 22:28:50

I'm sure there are snobbish reasons for putting Latin on the curriculum but as HerBigChances says there are excellent educational reasons too. Latin is a very different language from English. Learning to translate Latin (and Classical Greek) is a very good way of developing logical thinking because you have to be very systematic working out how each word relates to the others in the sentence grammatically. It doesn't depend on word order, like English - it's all there in the word endings. Also, as with all decent language learning it helps develop the memory because you have to learn a lot of vocabulary and grammar.

There was a study in the US many years ago that showed that children who learned a bit of Latin benefited enormously by also acquiring a more sophisticated English vocabulary. Lots of the more complex English words use Latin (or Greek) roots.

It's also good for general knowledge and the background to the whole of Western culture and thought in the last two millennia.

I have a Classics degree, so does my husband and so (I hope) will my daughter when her finals papers are marked in the very near future. No regrets about studying Latin from any of us!

museumum Wed 10-Jun-15 22:29:12

I learned more about language from Latin than from English or German but that might be because I was at school in an ear ma when there was little grammar taught in English classes and MFLs were taught in a sort of conversational style rather tha with traditional verb tables etc.

JesseandCeline Wed 10-Jun-15 22:34:57

...let me not start on Classical Greek, which I loved.

ZeroFunDame Wed 10-Jun-15 22:43:08

What are the educational outcomes you're thinking of? GCSEs? A' Levels? University entrance? Ability to pick out the odd word in Cathedral inscriptions? A lifetime of feeling comfortable with the concept of Latin, long after one has forgotten the specifics?

I'm sure correlation comes into it (in a fairly major way.)

But I'd find it hard to believe that even the tiniest amount of Latin was not beneficial (for all the obvious reasons) to any child who didn't actively hate the subject. Whatever the motives of the school offering it.

Kreeshsheesh Wed 10-Jun-15 22:59:24

I teach Latin to primary aged children. They frequently make links to English vocabulary. They particularly enjoy learning about the Romans' way of life and we've had many opportunities to be creative and link Latin to several areas of the curriculum. For example, we made real wax tablets in DT, as well as designing mosaics in Art. I can honestly say that it really helped me in my appreciation of languages in general. I learned Latin and Greek at a normal Scottish secondary school and went on to do a degree in modern langs. Of course this is all just anecdotal, but I would say that nowadays it's actually something different to the norm and there are modern courses which make learning Latin much more fun!

LineRunner Wed 10-Jun-15 23:03:00

I used the word uxorious on here the other day. Case closed.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Wed 10-Jun-15 23:07:10

Kreeshsheesh, do you use Minimus? If so can I pick your brains?

CamelHump Wed 10-Jun-15 23:08:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Justanotherlurker Wed 10-Jun-15 23:10:05

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/09/aspirational-parents-children-elite

HerBigChance Wed 10-Jun-15 23:10:49

Uxorious is a splendid word. I'd like to see it in use more often on the Relationships board.

ZeroFunDame Wed 10-Jun-15 23:38:10

From what I've read there HBG it's unlikely to crop up terribly often.

Myricales Wed 10-Jun-15 23:51:23

Monbiot is being disingenuous, Justanother. He went to Stowe school and then Oxford, and walked into a job as a producer at the BBC straight from university, leveraged by a combination of his Oxford degree and his father being an MP. It's very easy to decry a good education and a well-paid job when you have a good education and a well-paid job and never need to worry about where the next fiver is coming from. Similarly, Polly Toynbee got into Oxford, with only one A Level, probably not harmed by father (Christ Church) and grandfather (Balliol) both being distinguished academics. The Guardian is one of the densest concentrations of the privately educated Oxbridge set, and their protestations about how they'd rather be poor and only have a couple of CSEs are frankly laughable.

TheOldestCat Wed 10-Jun-15 23:59:06

I did Latin for a year at school and can sing the theme tune to Neighbours in it!

And learned the word uxorious from studying Chaucer.

Devora Thu 11-Jun-15 00:05:49

I did Latin O level (yes, I'm that old).

I honestly think I could have better used that time elsewhere. I have never, ever used it in adult life.

Arsenic Thu 11-Jun-15 00:22:25

I "use" Latin A level all the time, despite not remembering much of it. The links to English are very near the surface.

The snob value thing is undoubtedly also a phenomenon but that shouldn't be a reason to pooh-pooh the subject.

TeenAndTween Thu 11-Jun-15 07:12:58

I did Latin O level.

imo The time would have been much better spent learning Spanish or Biology.

(At my school you had to choose between Physics&Chemistry OR Biology. Crazy!)

SonorousBip Thu 11-Jun-15 08:58:17

I'm entirely neutral about it. Entertainingly I went to a bog standard comp and DH went to A School Talked About in Hushed Tones on the Education boards - I have Latin O level and he doesn't. The stream I was in "made" us do Latin whereas he was allowed to give it up. We both ended up in a profession where you would think Latin was important but I don't see him struggling or lamenting his lack of Latin. My Latin O level is probably marginally more useful to me than, say my Chemistry O Level has ever been, but that is not saying much.

Ds is just dropping it as part of his options. I did have a small and silent middle class pang about that but the way the choices fell there were better and more appropriate choices for him, so meh.

Its a middle class magnet/signifier, for sure, although I think Mandarin may be the new Latin.

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