Latin at St. Peter
“In principium, verbum erat…” (John 1:1); “In the beginning, was the word…” Why Study Latin? There are many reasons, but the short answer is that it tends to produce superior academic results- if the program is given serious attention.
At St. Peter School, all students grades 2-8 receive some level of Latin instruction. Additionally, students in grades Pre-K through 1 receive Spanish instruction. St. Peter is one of the few local Catholic schools with a fully developed language program of any kind, but especially one that features the intensive study of a classical language. As the English language derives roughly 60% of its words from Latin, its study is very useful to the acquisition of broader ELA skills. Additionally, the orderly study of classical languages is an excellent preparation the acquisition of multiple modern, living languages in the present age. The study of Latin is one of the distinguishing features of St. Peter as a liberal arts elementary school.
Grade two receives two days of Latin instruction per week, focusing primarily on the foundational studies of Latin word roots and Latin prayers. Grade 3 receives two days of instruction per week; grade 4 three days of instruction per week. This two grade levels focus on expansion of Latin vocabulary and word roots and the foundational concepts of noun and verb attributes. Grades 5-8 receive four days of Latin instruction per week using a grammar-based method. This method should culminate in basic reading proficiencies using simple texts by the end of 8th grade.
There are five key objectives of this program, all consistent with Diocesan guidelines, as well as state and national standards.
Why Study Latin? How does it help improve academic success?
Enhance mastery of English grammar conventions by contrasting English with an inflected language (Latin is based on stems and endings rather than word order). Contextualized approaches to grammar are very effective in improving reading and writing outcomes. Students of Latin generally outperform non-Latin students in English grammar. St. Peter features an outstanding reading and writing program, and our students are easily recognizable when the enter high school.
Cultivate a more rapid acquisition of English vocabulary. One Latin root word can easily have five or more English derivatives, making it a highly efficient way of acquiring English vocabulary. Simply put, a great vocabulary leads to strong reading comprehension. Additionally, a strong working knowledge of Latin roots leads to a great English vocabulary!
Enhance learning for English-Second Language Students. The emphasis on English grammar by contrast and English vocabulary acquisition greatly accelerates the rate at which Latino students can master the English language. It also helps English students better understand Spanish vocabulary. There is evidence to suggest that the study of Latin can be of assistance to English-Second Language students, especially if the primary language is Spanish.
Lay a solid foundation for learning multiple languages; students who gain mastery of Latin will have easier access to several world languages through the study of only one language. This will help them master world languages more quickly in high school and college.
Orient our curriculum to the liturgical life of the school; students will learn hymns and prayers in Latin, often in conjunction with music class, and so will develop a better appreciation of the Mass, its history, and will apply what they learn in the school Masses.