Latin is now compulsory for kindergarteners through eighth graders at Mission Dolores Academy, according to principal Meredith Essalat, offering the diverse student body a “unifying” language where no student is at a disadvantage in the development of language skills.
“It’s a new curriculum for everyone,” said Essalat, who introduced the program at the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year with Latin teacher Samantha Alfonso.
Mission Dolores Academy students come from a combination of English, Spanish, Tagalog and Eritrean primary speaking households among others, she said. In Latin, they find common ground.
“We’re finding that Latin really levels the playing field,” she said.
Studies have shown that the study of Latin makes an immediate impact on the development of a student’s vocabulary as well as on reading comprehension, said Essalat. It also has a positive “ripple effect” on performance in the sciences.
Latin is the root of Romance languages such as Spanish, Italian and French. While English is considered a Germanic language, about 80 percent of the entries in any English dictionary are borrowed from Latin.
Many Latin words and phrases such as “per se,” “status quo,” “ad lib” and “verbatim” are commonly used by English speakers, who may not realize the words are actually Latin. Latin is the lexicon of science, law and religion.
MDA Latin teacher Samantha Alfonso was a pre-nursing student struggling with medical terminology, which is overwhelmingly Latin-derived, when she decided to take Latin in her second year of college. It so transformed her learning experience that she switched majors to language arts.
“When I started taking Latin, it all began making sense,” she said. “I could better see how English works.”
Alfonso teaches Latin at three levels, in two weekly sessions for each. Kindergartners and first- and second-graders for 20 minutes; third through fifth graders for 30-40 minutes and sixth through eighth graders for one hour.
To make it fun, she sometimes incorporates popular books with Latin translations into her classes, such as Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling and her personal favorite, “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.
Full story at Catholic San Francisco.
“And in Latin they find common ground”, yes as when ALL Masses were offered in Latin. Language is a unifying force, no diversity needed. Long live “E pluribus unum” :)
I had my 5th, 7th and 8th graders learn Latin, too. That is, until the principal stopped me from doing that, teaching students to altar serve, visiting a local abbey, reading Catholic novels in class, etc. Of course, she also said my classroom was too Catholic, too (she didn’t like my Holy Water font inside the classroom, either).
“Too Catholic ” ???!!!, does this person see the result of too little Catholicism ?, I don’t want to believe this is true , I sadly believe that it is , keep up the good fight , you have and will I hope continue to plant seeds of faith.
She went to LMU – that should explain things
Sic Transit Gloria
– and away in the shiny new ambulance with her.
In the United States English should be the unifying language and the basis for common ground. This silly article is avoiding the real problems caused by wanton immigration without assimilation into American culture.
Furthermore, from a pedagogic standpoint, the books translated into Latin that the teacher uses are novelties for people who already understand Latin; they aren’t good resources for teaching Latin. The books can hardly be intelligible nor useful for students who don’t already understand Latin grammar and vocabulary.
Lastly, why not use parts of the Mass to teach about Latin instead of those novelty books? At a Catholic school the kids should be attending Mass, so why not teach “Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo.”?
As someone who immigrated to this country -lawfully- and learned English in order to be able to participate fully in all aspects of life as a citizen, and as someone who loves Latin, I agree with all my heart that English should be the primary language taught in our schools, as the official language of our land. Teaching Latin is a great idea for reasons already stated, but replacing English with any other language, including Latin is a mistake.
Danielle, no one is proposing that Latin become the chief language of this or any other country. It is taken to help understand English and the Romance (Latin based) languages better. It also helps in theology, law and the sciences as many terms in those fields come directly from Latin. Greek also is used in some of the sciences and Hebrew, Greek and Latin in Biblical studies and theology. I am sure you already know some of this.
Yes, Anne i am well aware of all that and that is why I would love for American students to learn Latin. But the article said that Latin was made mandatory as “unifying language” for the “diverse student body.”
That is the issue, having anything other than English considered unifying language in American schools is a mistake.
Yes, Latin in lieu of English is Greek to me.
I see what you mean if they are not teaching English at all.
The sine qua non of common ground is now English the world over (except maybe in the L.A. diocese). Also, you’d be hard put finding any Ancient Romans to converse with, even legal ones.
But kudos (Greek) to the school on academic grounds.