Why Learn Latin? 8 Reasons to Learn

Since there are thousands of languages spoken in the world, why would anyone take the time to learn one that isn’t spoken as a native language by anyone? With Latin, it turns out there are plenty of reasons. For starters, a knowledge of this ancient language can provide you with a better understanding of the world and its history.

Let’s take a look at why learning Latin is worth all the effort. Read on to see why this “dead language” is one you should take on next.

So Why Should I Learn Latin?

1. Understand Other Languages

For anyone with a general interest in world languages, this is probably the biggest benefit of learning Latin. Three of the five most spoken languages in the world are heavily influenced by Latin, which goes to show how much of an impact this language has had on the world. 

Learning any language is likely to help you understand related languages, and this is more true with Latin than just about any other. While Latin is often referred to as a “dead language,” it might be more accurate to say that it evolved instead of died. It is anything but irrelevant today.

Latin was the language spoken in the ancient Roman Empire, and it has since transformed into the Romance languages. The five major Romance languages are Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Romanian. An understanding of Latin will help significantly with efforts to learn any of these languages.

Learning Latin can also improve your English, even for native speakers! Although coming up with an exact percentage is difficult, there are estimates that about 60% of all English vocabulary is related to Latin in some way. This percentage is even higher in specialized fields like medicine, science, and law. For this reason, understanding some Latin will give you an advantage when coming across a new word in English or for simply increasing your English vocabulary.

It’s also true that the act of actually learning the language should prove helpful in any future attempts at learning a language. You’ll have a chance to see which learning methods work best for you on your Latin journey, and you’ll be able to use this to work more efficiently with a new language. If you don’t already know whether you’re an aural, visual, or kinesthetic learner, for example, this is a great way to find out.

2. Learn More About History

Few languages play a greater role in European history. It could even be argued that it’s had one of the biggest impacts on world history as well, considering all of the languages it has influenced and the ideas that came from the Roman Empire.

One of the most legendary and impactful civilizations in recorded history is the Roman Empire. There are many aspects of modern-day life that are contributions from the ancient Romans: modern plumbing, concrete, surgical tools, the postal system, and bound books are just a few.

The impact it’s had on history and modern society is one of the reasons the Roman Empire is one of the most studied civilizations on the planet. Learning the language that was spoken by this empire is a great way to get a much better understanding of these people and their story than otherwise possible. 

Not only will you feel closer to the people that made this civilization great by speaking the same language as them, you’ll be able to engage with real texts from the time period written in their original language instead of a translation. This kind of insight into life in the past is invaluable for anyone with an interest.

3. Become More Interesting

What makes a person interesting? Is it the places they’ve been, the way they dress, the things they know, the experiences they’ve had? Speaking more than one language is certainly something that makes for a deeper, more complex person. This is even more true if that language is one not currently spoken by anyone as a native tongue.

By learning a language that few people ever master, you’ll be part of an elite group, and this is something other people will probably find interesting. Learning a language like Latin, with the great influence it’s had on the world, will also increase your knowledge about a variety of different subjects. This broader knowledge can grant you the ability to add meaningfully to many different conversations — there are few better skills at a social event.

4. Appreciate Classical Literature

If literature or history is a passion of yours, Latin can help you enjoy these things on an even deeper level. There’s a clear difference between reading a piece of writing in its original language and reading a translation of it. It is often impossible for a translation, no matter how good, to capture the exact essence of the original. There are often subtleties and nuances that are rooted in the language that just won’t come through in a translation.

If you aren’t already aware of the treasure trove that is Latin literature, consider that it was a lingua franca in Europe for many years, meaning prestigious authors from many different regions wrote in the language. There is an entire world of plays, poems, letters, philosophical works, and much more. They are an excellent gateway into understanding the history of Europe as well as the foundations for many ideas held in modern society.

5. Get a Job You Love

Some of the highest paying professions in modern society involve a good deal of Latin. Fields like law, medicine, and science are overflowing with it, and knowledge of this language will give you a sizable head start in your studies.

Latin can also help you get the job of your dreams if you’re more interested in the arts than in money. It’s used extensively in music, literature, music, and philosophy, for example. This makes Latin a great way to expand your knowledge in almost any field you’re interested in.

Even in industries where Latin isn’t as obviously relevant, it’s a fantastic skill to put on your resume. Showing proficiency in a foreign language can provide you with a serious advantage when applying for a position or for acceptance into a school or program. It shows a level of dedication that most employers are interested in. It can also show that you are a well rounded person, making you more fit for many different positions.

6. Meet New People

The ability to connect with more people is one of the best reasons to learn a new language. You might wonder, then, why Latin is worth learning if no one speaks it as a native language. While this is true, it also means that anyone who studied Latin had to do just that — study it. 

It’s a special kind of person that takes the time to learn a language like Latin and has the interest in doing so. This means that people who learn the language have an excellent chance of having more things in common. Speaking the same rare language as someone else is a sure-fire way to quickly establish a connection with them.

If you’re studying Latin, you’ll need to find someone to speak with. This could be tricky, seeing as there isn’t a country with Latin as its official language that you could travel to. Fortunately, Latin learners are some of the most motivated learners out there, and many of them are seeking speaking practice. Through language exchange apps and communities of Latin learners, you should be able to meet plenty of interested people. It’s also worth noting that the global community of Latin speakers is growing.

7. Latin is Cool

There’s something about speaking a “dead language” that’s just cool. Learning a language like Spanish, French, or Mandarin may be more practical, but you’ll be one of a huge number of people learning those languages. Learning a language that may not have as much obvious practical value is also just a little rebellious. 

Latin is especially cool among polyglots. Meeting someone who speaks a language that lots of people speak just isn’t as exciting as meeting someone who has skills in a language that very few others do. 

The number of Latin speakers is also on the rise — there are more and more people learning the language thanks to the availability of information on the internet, and this is further proof that it’s a cool thing to do.

8. Become Smarter

That’s right, learning Latin has the power to actually make you smarter. The impact that learning a new language has on the brain is something that has been studied extensively, and the results show a clear indication that there are strikingly positive effects.

Some of the many areas in which brain health is improved with foreign language acquisition are memory, concentration, problem solving, and critical-thinking skills. These are all vitally important skills to interacting with the world and performing anything at a high level.

Learning a new language has been shown to actually increase the density of grammar matter in the brain of the learner. This is the sign of a healthier brain because it means there are more neuronal cells, increasing the brain’s ability to perform tasks. It may be helpful to think of learning a language like lifting weights for your brain. Just like weight training can increase the density of your muscles, learning Latin can physically improve your brian.

Latin also has the quality of being a highly organized and logical language. This makes studying its grammar and word systems especially good for the brain, much like solving puzzles or learning math is good for your cognitive abilities.