Why Study Latin?

The Romans left a rich body of literature, well worth reading for its own sake and widely influential on European and American literature. Our own culture, including our system of government, architecture, art and religion, shows the heavy influence of Rome. The Latin Program at UIUC prepares you to read the great masterpieces of Roman literature: Virgil, Cicero, Horace, Ovid and more. Not only are these authors fascinating and instructive to read, but there are many incidental benefits to learning Latin.

Students of Latin see immediate benefits to their spoken and written English. More than 65% of English words come from Latin (and more than 90% of those over two syllables).

Latin students gain an expanded vocabulary and an understanding of word formation that can help even with unfamiliar words. These skills are particularly useful for students planning to enter fields with large technical vocabularies. Those of medicine and law, for example, are primarily based on Latin.

The study of an inflected language with a very different sentence structure than English is an excellent introduction to how languages work. Latin students have a huge advantage in learning other inflected languages, such as Russian or German. Conversely, speakers of Romance languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Rumanian) have an edge in studying Latin: Latin is the source of 75-80% of all words in these languages.

The study of Latin also provides training in logical thinking, boosting cognitive processes essential for math, science, and engineering. Latin has been said to ?cultivate such mental processes as alertness, attention to detail, memory, logic, and critical reasoning?. Not surprisingly, Latin boosts SAT and GRE scores (out of 270 fields, Classics scored the highest mean Verbal GRE). Click here for further information.

Last but not least, Latin fulfills your foreign language requirement. LAS students are required to complete four semesters.