• Janice Lin

I’ll Take Latin

In Edgemont, there are only two teachers that make up the Latin program: Magister Hansonbrook and Magistra Condos. Ms. Condos teaches Latin 1B, 2, and 3H; Mr. Hansonbrook teaches Latin 1A, 4H, and 5H. Over the course of the years, the teachers get to know each student well, and vice versa. Ms. Condos and Mr. Hansonbrook have a well-developed sense of humor, I think. Even though they both didn’t take Latin until after high school they are still amazing teachers.


The other languages offered are Spanish and French. Latin has a larger focus on reading rather than speaking. Some students find it difficult that in their 3rd or 4th year of taking Spanish or French, the teacher only speaks the studied language. In Latin, Ms. Condos and Mr. Hansonbrook mostly speak English, except when reading the Latin text.


The Latin curriculum is also shaped in a way that allows students to read actual Latin literature after 2 and ½ years, starting with Eutropius. Latin is unique in that there is a focus on learning about history, culture, and mythology in addition to the language itself.


After interviewing both Ms. Condos and Mr. Hansonbrook, I have come to the conclusion that, well, Latin is not dead. The language still exists through modern languages such as French, Spanish, and more. Latin was like the English of its time: the official language for scholars for centuries. When going from country to country, the educated would speak Latin as a common language.


Ms. Condos notes that there is still an incredible amount of Ancient Roman culture in modern times like references to Caesar and the fall of Rome. For the first couple days in 3H, we compared the fall of Rome to the US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan; there are modern day applications to learning a historical language.


Learning Latin gives an incredible understanding of language structure, which makes the student a better writer and speaker. Once you learn Latin, English and Speech are a breeze. Since around 65% of English vocabulary comes from Latin, Ms. Condos gave us English derivatives from our Latin vocabulary to strengthen our English.


Latin can also be treated like a stepping block to help people learn other Romance languages faster. Mr. Hansonbrook actually taught himself how to read and write French in 5 weeks. Both Mr. Hansonbrook and Ms. Condos know French and Spanish, even if they haven’t touched it in a while.


Latin is perfect “for those who want to go to a good college"

To everyone being indecisive about which language to choose because they are scared of going down the wrong path or whatever: Latin is perfect “for those who want to go to a good college,” as Ms. Condos describes. As for those pursuing a medical career, Latin will come in handy in the future. According to Dictionary.com, over 90% of vocabulary from science and technology are derived from Latin. Mr. Hansonbrook would suggest that 6th graders choose a language that they are actually interested in, not because their friends are taking it or it will be an easy A.


“the Romans would do anything to omit words from a sentence to get the same meaning”

It is important to remember that every language is difficult. Yet there is often the perception that Latin is significantly harder or that only smart people can conquer it. That is not particularly true. (Just look at some languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet like Hebrew, Chinese, or Arabic. Those are probably harder for a native English speaker.) Many modern Romance languages actually have more irregular verbs to keep track of, while Latin is more consistent. Ms. Condos also commented that Latin is an economical language, as “the Romans would do anything to omit words from a sentence to get the same meaning.”

Lastly, Latin is fun in general. Many students who take Latin might not be in another class together, so taking this language gives them an opportunity to get to know each other. And then, there are the bagels. I should also mention that Mr. Hansonbrook likes to jump out the window of the second floor D building for effect.


Gracias. Merci. Valete omnes.