What you need to know about Latin


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Throughout high school, many of us take 32 different courses. Although some classes like English I or Math III are required for high school graduation by the state, we get the opportunity to take electives of our own choice. In this recurring feature, some of the different electives that are offered at Green Level will be discussed so that you can pick classes that you’ll enjoy! Please keep in mind that every course discussed in this series may not be offered and that there are no guarantees that you will get every elective you want or choose. Teachers may not teach the same course next year, so do not choose classes because you think a teacher will teach it.

Today, Ms. Beach will introduce the Latin courses. Being a relatively new elective, Latin classes were first introduced as class options this past year, and are part of the World Languages department. As such, there are multiple different levels of the class depending on skill sets and prerequisites: Latin I, Latin II, Latin III (Honors), Latin IV (Honors), and AP Latin. Although languages are electives and not required core classes, Ms. Beach advised everyone, “UNC schools require two semesters of a foreign language for entry, so make sure you have time to take at least two [semesters of a world language].” Even though Latin is considered to be “dead,” that only means that no new words are being added to the language – it still counts as a world language just as much as Spanish or French. 

So what exactly do you learn in Latin? The first semester you take the class (Latin I), “[the units are] Home & Family, Essentials to Life (colors, body parts, etc.), Leisure Activities, Religion, Geography, and Military,” explained Ms. Beach. However, students are not only educated on Latin vocabulary and grammar. In addition, there are small projects related to the current unit all about the ancient Roman culture during the time when Latin was commonly spoken. Students will learn anything from the layout of a typical Roman home to the different names and abilities of the gods and goddesses worshipped by the ancient Romans. Although there are some negative stereotypes associated with the difficulty of the language, Ms. Beach explained that Latin is not as hard as it seems. “Once [the students] are used to the approach and they’ve acquired the skills they need, it really is a lot easier,” she said. 

Although there are few careers in modern day that are directly associated with Latin, the experience of learning the language in addition to various vocabulary and grammar aspects are useful in fields such as “classics, history, any other language, medicine, law…[and] political science.” Ms. Beach explained that Latin has a very flexible, broad, and sometimes abstract field of applications, and that taking the class is almost guaranteed to help you in some form or another.  “[Students] will learn to think in a way that combines logic and intuition, and [Latin] is a course that bridges the gap between STEM fields and humanities.” Like any language, continuity and continuation is key, so if you do choose to take Latin for more than a year, Ms. Beach said, “I would love to have students sequentially, either semesters back to back, or years back to back.”

If any aspect of this class interests you, consider selecting it as an elective for next year. If you need help with picking classes, set up a meeting with your counselor here. For more information on this or other courses, visit the official WCPSS high school planning guide.