by Harvey Bluedorn. Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.
Why Study Classical Languages? Test scores indicate that students who learn a foreign language have a much stronger grasp of English language skills. Tests also indicate that studying a foreign language sharpens the mind.
Classical languages may prove the most profitable foreign languages for a student to learn. Consider Latin. Everywhere we turn, we read English words which originally came from Latin words. Over 60% of English words have Latin roots. There is so much Latin in English that learning Latin will help you to better understand English. And if a student ever wanted to learn one of the Romance languages — Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Rumanian — knowing the parent language of Latin will be like having a discount-priced ticket for a much shorter and easier trip to the destination. 80% of the vocabulary of the Romance languages is Latin.
Greek is useful also. While legal vocabulary is all Latin, most medical and scientific words come from Greek. Knowing Greek will give the student a head-start on the terminology of these professions. A large part of the study of these professions is the terminology.
Why learn Classical Languages? For centuries, classical languages have been recognized as an essential part of a good education. Ability to read classical literature written in Latin and Greek is only a subordinate benefit. The primary benefits are the mental discipline and the usefulness for all other studies.