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Latin or modern languages for 4Y olds?

(104 Posts)
Manoxlon Tue 10-Nov-15 07:51:53

I would like my kids to learn an additional language and I'm struggling with whether it should be Latin or a "more useful" (whatever that means) modern language such as Mandarin or Spanish. I am leaning towards Latin for the intellectual rigour and the potential ease with which the kids can pick a Latin-derived language of their choice to learn in their teens. The obvious argument against Latin is that it's dead and nobody speaks it, so ultimately what's the point.

titchy Tue 10-Nov-15 07:55:37

No point whatsoever in Latin at 4. unless you're a private school trying to impress gullible parents

Latin is far better done at secondary when they can understand the context, and recognise the roots of our own language. You can also go from nothing to GCSE in two hours a week for a couple of years.

titchy Tue 10-Nov-15 07:56:20

Oh an four year olds don't need intellectual rigour. They need sandpits.

MummaGiles Tue 10-Nov-15 07:58:05

Don't teach them Latin. It has no practical use. Teach them mandarin or Spanish or Portuguese. They will be just as intellectually rigorous. Maybe stick with an indo-European language so you aren't confusing matters with a second alphabet.

MummaGiles Tue 10-Nov-15 07:58:53

Also agree with pp that a four year old also needs sand pits and fun. Make it fun.

MN164 Tue 10-Nov-15 07:59:08

At that age go for a second language that can most easily be practised and spoken day to day (prob. Spanish) as this helps develop their linguistic engine for learning more languages. Tough achieve with Latin.

BoboChic Tue 10-Nov-15 07:59:03

Any MFL that is meaningful to your family, with plenty of exposure to native speakers, is good at this age. Latin is entirely pointless.

Marmitelover55 Tue 10-Nov-15 07:59:28

Surely even the most pretentious private schools don't start Latin at 4? shock

vvviola Tue 10-Nov-15 07:59:45

And really, I wouldn't go for mandarin either. While it's arguably a useful language, I'm not sure introducing a language with a totally different writing scheme is fair on a young child.

I'd go with Spanish or German (both economically far more useful than French, if that's the way you are thinking). But really at 4, it doesn't matter which language as long as it is done through play - the learning of every language assists with the learning of the next.

Fairylea Tue 10-Nov-15 08:04:10

Only on mumsnet would you hear someone talking about 4 year olds learning Latin....!

Most other developed countries don't even send their children to school until they are 6 or 7 and they end up no worse off academically for it. I think 4 year olds should be playing and making a mess, not doing any sort of structured learning.

Manoxlon Tue 10-Nov-15 09:00:06

I'm surprised there's not more enthusiasm towards learning languages early on the thread. In many continental countries (and I'm not even mentioning so-called "poor" countries) kids finish elementary school fluent in their respective mother tongues as well as a pretty good level of English precisely because they start to learn English in addition to their mother tongue from a very young age!

Contraryish Tue 10-Nov-15 09:04:13

I'm all for early acquisition of languages, but I don't think Latin is something a four year-old would embrace. Learning languages at a young age is about speakng, repetition, songs, videos, games and none of that really works with Latin, which is more of a mathematical exercise requiring in-depth knowledge of grammar. I know, I started learning it at about 9!

Tootsiepops Tue 10-Nov-15 09:08:41

Don't mean to derail, but v interested in the view that Spanish is more useful than French. I took Spanish for the love of the language and found it utterly useless. I regret not learning French at least once a week!

LadyMaryofDownt0n Tue 10-Nov-15 09:12:05

I am fairly certain the OP also plays with her children so I don't get the sand-pit thing. Anyway it's fairly normal for a 4 year old to be learning/ speaking two languages.

I'd go with Modern languages as it's a great start in life to have that. Latin is also wonderful but much more suited to teens, when they are able to grasp the connections.

titchy Tue 10-Nov-15 09:26:35

OP said she was leaning towards Latin rather than something useful because it was intellectually rigorous......

Except it's not intellectually rigorous at all

MummaGiles Tue 10-Nov-15 09:42:17

Tootsie there are over 450m native speakers of Spanish in the world. It is the second most widely spoken language in the world and the official language of 20 countries.

There are 80m native French speakers.

BoboChic Tue 10-Nov-15 09:43:53

The French speakers are richer though - more trade potential than numbers suggest.

Tootsiepops Tue 10-Nov-15 09:47:45

I do speak Spanish. I work in an international field, but I could quite easily get by without it. I know no French at all - I've lost count of the number of books I've read, films I've watched or restaurants I've eaten in where it's assumed there's some basic understanding of the language. Plus, the French are really arsey when I go to Paris and speak English grin

Anyway, don't want to derail any further, but if I had my chance over again, I'd learn French and not Spanish.

lljkk Tue 10-Nov-15 09:49:32

Spanish has stood me in great stead. Sometimes wish I had studied German rather than French though.

Micah Tue 10-Nov-15 09:54:43

Latin definately.

Medical terminology has its roots in Latin- it wasn't so long ago you needed Latin to get into medical school.

Give your child a leg up on their Harley street future.

titchy Tue 10-Nov-15 09:59:04

Micah - a 4 year old doesn't need a leg up for med school. Latin can be learnt from scratch in a couple of years during the teens. It is NOT a difficult language.

Pythonesque Tue 10-Nov-15 10:01:18

I'd find out what modern language you can get involved in group learning activities for, so that your child has a chance to absorb and use a second language. Starting at 4 you have a chance of developing bilingual abilities of which I am a trifle jealous.

Latin is a great language to learn and well worth while - but I would think that 8-10 is the optimal age to start it, off a background of solid English literacy. After that the development of sophisticated English skills can progress very nicely with insights from learning Latin. (I was 12 when I started Latin, would have lapped it up earlier had I had the chance, my daughter was nearly 11 starting it and jealous of her brother getting to start it at 9 in year 5 ...)

Keeptrudging Tue 10-Nov-15 10:01:58

Choose a modern language that you can speak, or that there is some sort of connection with the country (family/holidays). Which language isn't particularly important at this stage, it's the skill of learning a new language. It's developing that part of their brain, and this makes it easier to learn other languages later on. Children generally enjoy learning languages when they're little, but it should be fun for them, with learning through play/songs/chatting/games.

Manoxlon Tue 10-Nov-15 10:07:09

On the point that one language is "more useful" than another... it usually implies one would "use" that language to enhance their careers etc And I wonder in 30 years time whether that will still be relevant. I was sat at lunch y'day next to a couple of Chinese ladies chatting away in Mandarin and it occurred to me that now with people travelling so easily for work companies who need a Mandarin/ French/ Spanish speaker can simply hire somebody who has those as their first language. Imagine what it will be like in 30 years time. Is that an argument in favour of classics over modern?

Manoxlon Tue 10-Nov-15 10:09:28

Pythonesque- great idea on the group thing. Thank you. Latin would be one-on-one, actually a negative in my view as it limits the interaction.

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