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Latin Excellence Programme: Should Latin be taught in schools?

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Following the announcement that the government will launch a £4 million scheme to promote Latin and other ancient languages, Daniele Saccardi from online language learning platform, Preply explains why this could reinvigorate the UK’s love for language learning.  

Brits are renowned for not speaking foreign languages, a survey published by the European Commission found that: 

  • 62% of Brits surveyed can’t speak any other language apart from English

  • Just over a third (38%) of Britons can speak at least one foreign language, 18% speak two and only 6% of the population speak three or more

  • European Union average showed that 56% speak at least one foreign language, 28% speak at least two and 11% speak three or more

The Latin Excellence Programme aims to help students with French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, as 90% of their vocabulary is derived from Latin.  

The next phase of the government’s language programme includes a £16.4 million Mandarin Excellence Programme, and a £4.8 million Modern Languages pilot. 

Daniele Saccardi from online language learning platform, Preply, said:

“Studying Latin provides the foundation for learning other modern foreign languages as you become more comfortable with breaking down structures and understanding grammar.

“Latin becomes even more useful if you plan to study Spanish, French or Italian, as these languages take up to 80% of their words from Latin.

“Not only can Latin make language learning easier, it’s a really practical language and can help to develop critical thinking skills and enhance problem-solving abilities, and in the UK students applying for University with a Latin qualification can score more UCAS points as a result. 

The programme has also been backed by broadcaster and historian, Dame Mary Beard, who said on Twitter: “For me, Latin’s exciting, it’s challenging, it introduces children to a whole range of worlds and literatures that are different from their own. So it’s mind-expanding and fun.”

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However, some scholars argue that Latin is a dead language, and our attention should be on modern languages such as Spanish, German and Mandarin, which provide more career opportunities. Currently, Indeed list only 1,046 jobs for Latin speaking roles, compared to over 3,500 for French and over 2,500 for Spanish. 

Yet, all language learning opportunities are useful. The team at Preply have also put together the 10 of the most surprising benefits of learning a second language. 

  1. Improved Memory Function 

Learning a second language can improve memory abilities, as it develops areas in your brain and strengthens the brain’s memory function. Bilinguals are also said to have better concentration than those who only speak one language.  

  1. Boosts Creativity

Bilinguals are said to be more creative, according to a recent study. Those who speak more than one language are said to think more broadly, which allows new though, new visions and new experiences. 

  1. Earn more money

Learning a second language can increase your income by 15%, and there are thousands of career opportunities for second language speakers. Indeed currently having 2,700 job listings advertised for bilinguals in hundreds of different fields. 

  1. Improve your confidence 

All language learners make mistakes when speaking in a new language. However, learning a new language takes many people out of their comfort zone, making them more confident speakers as they grow. 

  1. Improve your English skills

It may sound surprising, but learning a second language can actually improve your English skills. When you learn grammar in a foreign language, you’ll start to understand and challenge the grammar you use in your native language too.

  1. Improve your communication skills

If you’re looking to improve your communication skills, learning a language may be beneficial to you. Bilinguals are said to be better communicators as language learning increases social interaction. 

  1. Understand other cultures

By learning a new language, you’ll also be learning about the cultures surrounding that language. Film, food, and music all play a part in a culture, and by learning a language you’ll open yourself up to a variety of new cultural experiences. 

  1. Surprising health benefits

Studies show that people who utilise their brains more through language learning tend to have lower rates of dementia and memory problems later in their life. The mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4, however, for a bilingual, this increases to 75.5. 

  1. Meet new people

When learning a second language, you’re likely to practice speaking the language with a range of people who you’ll never usually meet. This has many benefits as it allows you to practice your language skills, whilst also making new friends.

  1. Better travelling experiences

There’s nothing more frustrating than visiting a foreign country and not being able to converse in the mother tongue. Language learning will enhance your travelling experiences as you’ll be able to order food in the native language and converse with the locals. 

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