One of the fundamental aspects of Classical Christian education is the study of Latin. Latin was regularly taught in American high schools as late as the 1940s. It was considered essential to a fundamental understanding of English, the history and writings of Western Civilization, and the understanding of Romance languages. However, like many traditional particulars of good education lost in the name of "modern" or "progressive" education, Latin's advantages have been neglected and forgotten in recent times.
Students at Covenant begin their study of Latin in third grade. The primary benefits of the study of Latin include:
- Latin is a very systematic language, and trains the mind to think in an orderly fashion. Students of Latin are trained in a method of rigorous analysis, and the ability that is acquired is not limited to Latin. The study of Latin equips young minds to encounter unfamiliar material in a disciplined way.
- Latin is not a "dead language", but rather a language that lives on in almost all major western languages, including English. The study of Latin improves English vocabulary since approximately 65% of English words have Latin roots.
- Inflective languages, those languages such as Latin that have case endings which require memorization and analysis, are superior for improving language skills. The study of Latin greatly improves students' understanding of the nature of grammar and languages in general, improving English skills and overall understanding of languages and communication.
- The study of Latin lays an excellent foundation for subsequent study of any of the Romance languages, including Spanish, French, and Italian, since they are based on Latin, as well as the study of law, medicine, and other professional disciplines.
- The study of Latin greatly enhances the understanding of the history and writings of Western Civilization, and the impact the classical cultures have had on our modern culture. Rhetoric School students who have completed extensive Latin studies are able to delight in reading ancient texts in the original language.