Looking for Latin-upon-Avon: teacher needed

I have been a fierce proponent of training in Latin for men who would be priests of the Latin Church. 

However, over the years I have somewhat modified by views.

I haven’t changed my mind that men in seminary need to study Latin, and intensely.

Rather, by the time they get to major seminary, it may be too late.

Latin must be integrated into our Catholic school curricula from an early age.

So, I perk up my ears when I hear about Latin being taught, whether in Catholic or public schools. 

With a tip of the biretta I share a post I found rather interesting from over at rogueclassicism, which I check daily.

Take a look at this, with my emphases and comments.

From the Enterprise:

The school system will no longer offer courses in Latin, credited with boosting English language mastery and SAT scores, unless the district finds a full-time Latin teacher to hire, school officials said. “We did look for a Latin teacher, but we were unsuccessful,” school Superintendent Margaret Frieswyk told the School Committee Monday. Latin teacher Brendan Jones resigned in June to pursue graduate studies. Avon hired him back as a part-timer to teach second year Latin courses, Frieswyk said. She said the Middle High School would continue to offer Spanish and French [mostly irrelevant] classes, but no first year Latin courses unless the district finds a full-time teacher, preferably someone certified to teach Latin and Spanish. [So, they must be able to teach both.] Students continue to be very interested in Spanish classes, and French holds its own as an academic language, she said. If Avon discontinues Latin, Frieswyk said the school district would consider adding another foreign language, possibly German or Chinese Mandarin, [Excellent!  Kids who get trained up in languages such as Chinese, Arabic or Farsi will have a great advantage in the future.] but not Russian. Students studying Chinese Mandarin in the Whitman-Hanson and Hingham school districts seem to be having a very difficult time learning the language[No…. surely not!] she said. Avon would also consider adding Portuguese or Cape Verdean or Haitian Creole, she said. “We’ll continue to look for a Latin teacher,” Frieswyk said. “Latin is a course I wanted to preserve and I have worked to do that.”

Avon Middle High School’s webpage with info on who to apply to is here


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Scott W. says:

    As one blog commentor put it: “We’ve gone from teaching Latin in high school to teaching remedial English in college.”

  2. Sean says:

    French is irrelevant??

  3. This newspaper article is from my neck of the woods. The Brockton school system (Brockton is the largest city in Plymouth County, MA, whence the story) offers Latin to all advanced students starting in 7th grade. My three children all have had Latin; my son, who went to BC High School, ended up with 6 years, and has gone on to be a classics major, while my two daughters each will have had 6 years via the Brockton school system.

    A problem in our area is that almost all public schools in New England are run by individual towns, so if there’s not enough money in the town (no commercial tax base, for example) then subjects other than reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic (although some schools do lean more to the 3 “S’s” of sex ed, social studies and sensitivity training) get the short end of the stick. There seems to be an abiding sense that Latin’s a good thing to have, but it’s the “practical” stuff that gets counted as core and the “specials” like language, music and art that get jettisoned.

  4. J says:

    Any advice for those who might wish to retrain as Latin teachers, we middle aged folks who are among the last of the Catholic schoolkids to have studied any Latin at all?

  5. R says:

    Relatively irrelevant for American schoolchildren, yes. Latin is an excellent choice, from an academic standpoint. Spanish and Mandarin are good choices, from a practical perspective. French, though fairly widely spoken, isn’t really the best choice. If I were the principal of a school that only had enough resources to offer one language choice, French would not be one I would consider. I speak some French, and I think it’s a fine language to learn – but nonetheless, it’s still fairly irrelevant.

  6. Phil (NL) says:

    Somehow I think Fr. Z. means something else by the ‘French is irrelevant’ phrase (see below why), though I don’t know what exactly.

    More to the point, in my experience there is extensive cross-fertilisation between romanic languages – knowing latin certainly helps in French and Spanish, but the other way around works too. Even German (for a number of grammatical concepts retained in that langauge but lost in French and Spanish) can help. And ofcourse all are major languages, so some exposure to it is a nice thing anyway (‘mastery’ would be much better of course, but somehow I fear writing that would be unduely optimistic)

    Ofcourse, nothing beats teaching latin when the goal is to learn latin, but if a teacher cannot be found, that’s basically it.

  7. Jon says:

    “Kids who get trained up in languages such as Chinese, Arabic or Farsi will have a great advantage in the future.”

    Hmm…Now there’s one to ponder…

  8. Mitch says:

    I took French 20 years ago and have not used it…Even in France I did not retain enough (4 yrs study) to use it. Latin would have been more of a benefit to me and retention would have been better via Church usage. But it was eliminated as a elective a few years before. I hope it makes a comeback and was actually surprised to hear it was offered at the Middle School mentioned above. I thought it was all gone…Maybe the Internet will give it a boost. The problem with finding a teacher is becoming all too common. Soon we will have people with the desire to learn and no one to teach it. That would be sad. Bigger preservation efforts and usage is what is needed. Push it here and there. Perhaps if it can be used mainstream in Mass again students will put pressure on their schools to offer it. 2 people here, 5 over there. Brick by brick.

  9. Sean says:

    I certainly would agree that Latin is far, far more beneficial and relevant than French, but French is still used quite often (though a distant second to English) in international business and diplomacy. I would say French is somewhat irrelevant, but not mostly irrelevant.

    I really do wish all high schools would teach Latin. I only had two years of Latin in college and my verbal GRE score was radically improved over my SAT. I attribute the improvement almost exclusively to my Latin knowledge.

  10. Rachel says:

    I’ve always wanted to study Latin, ever since I first saw a recording of one of the previous Holy Fathers speaking in Rome. And now, I think it would be amazing to learn it.

    Father Z, do you think you could fly out to CA and apply to be a teacher at my school? ;) Lol

  11. Tim H says:

    I speak a language commonly called “Mandarin Chinese”. A “Chinese Mandarin” is a Qing Dynasty governmental official. I wonder if the students will be writing Eight-legged Essays?

  12. Yeah, well, I mean… even the French would agree that French is irrelevant when considering the prophesy of Saint Pius X that France, after dying completely, would resurrect in the faith and bring that faith to the whole world. We now see that happening in its very beginning stages. The operative language in this resurrection is NOT French, but Latin.

    Good one, Fr Z.


  13. Arbiter of Elegance says:

    I am a seminarian who has had the blessing of being able to study Latin for 6 years and Attic Greek for 3 years prior to my entrance to Major Seminary. I heartily agree with Fr. Z that a Latin Rite priest should be able to speak Latin. Honestly it is a birthrite of sorts and I have only found that it has increased my ability to comprehend Theology, philosophy and the Classics. It is the cornerstone of higher learning.

  14. Limbo says:

    there is a world wide shortage of Latin teachers. How about Fr. Z teaching Latin through this blog ?

  15. I’m (ahem) old enough that I took Latin in school decades ago, and remember little other than qui, quae, quo, and Puella agricola amat. And I’m a linguist.

    Excellent blog, father. I found it looking for the Archbishop’s response to Pelosi. You will be linked!

  16. Joan says:

    Avon would also consider adding …. Haitian Creole, she said.

    Haitian Creole (bad French, in other words). Now there’s a valuable language to learn!! Why on earth would they even consider that?

  17. Latin is far, far beyond French (or indeed any “foreign” tongue) on the “necessary/essential/must take” spectrum of languages, but it’s just plain silly to say French is “mostly irrelevant”.

  18. Ave Maria says:

    I had two years of Latin in high school in preparation for a medical career.

    Something about it remains in the soul.

    I was able to quickly re-pick up the Latin in certain parts of the Mass once I heard it again. I can read and pronounce much Latin but I do have a problem when the epistle and gospel are only read in Latin, then I cannot understand it. I can understand most parts of the Mass in Latin as I have been praying with an English/Latin Mass book for a year and a half.

    I think seminary would work to pick up liturgical Latin.

  19. They need to hire Athanasius Contra Mundum.

  20. Thomas says:

    my catholic high school brought back Latin about 15 years ago, but it took away half of the 7 people in French and about one of the 30 people in Spanish. It was canceled the next year.

  21. Joan asked, “Haitian Creole (bad French, in other words)…Why on earth would they even consider that?”

    Because there are a large number of Haitians in Boston and south of Boston where Avon is located. In the neighboring city of Brockton there are many Haitian churches. In fact, the Catholic Church in my neighborhood, Christ the King is home of the Haitian Catholic ministry in the city. Any student who was going to go into nursing, banking, social work or other community work in this area would do well to study Haitian Creole (which is a standardized language); or Cape Verdean Creole, another widely-spoken language in this area (as it has been for a long time…even Melville mentions the many Cape Verdean crew members aboard whaling vessels that were based in New Bedford and Nantucket.

  22. thomas says:

    Suppose one wants a one-year college level introductory Latin textbook, preferably with CD or DVD support for those self-studying.
    What do folks find useful?

    I’m trying “Latin Though Ovid” .. my view is that since I already have liturgical Latin texts, a straight “classical” Latin text is more useful. What do folks here think?

  23. Guy Power says:

    Steve Cavanaugh writes: even Melville mentions the many Cape Verdean crew members aboard whaling vessels that were based in New Bedford and Nantucket.

    Yah….. but I somehow doubt that Capt. Ahab would go so far as to learn Creole in order to talk to those crewmen, or that his old salts learned it in order to teach “the ropes” to the Cape Verdeans.

    … la li vante!

    “Thar she blows!”

  24. Mark says:

    Thomas, I would highly recomment Hans Orberg’s Lingua Latina series. I would purchase the entire first year set from Focus Publishing. You may want to also purchase the College Companion by Jeanne Marie Neumann.


  25. ekurlowa says:

    I started to learn Latin in the age of 10 at home with mother’s highschool grammar. Progress was in the age of 15, when I decided to learn languages sistematically, and Liturgia Horarum was given to me.
    I think Latin at schools is nessesary subject.

  26. Agnes B. Bullock says:

    When I enterd the 7th grade, I yearned to take French. Pater vetoed that and I took latin for five yeard, doubling up in my senior year of high shcool. Never regretted taking it, and while it was classical not ecclesiastical Latin, my life has only been blessed by it.

  27. SJV says:

    St. John Vianney School in Northlake, IL will be teaching Latin in 7th and 8th grade, starting this year. We also have a choir director who will be teaching chant to the children. In addition to regular religion class, our Priests teach religion once a week for each grade level. Masses here are offered in the ordinary and extraordinary form on Sunday. This school offers pre-k through 8th grade. It is a school of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Classes began yesterday, but there is still time to register.

  28. Melody says:

    I’ve recently gone back to school after a few years and was very disappointed to see that Latin is not taught much around here in Orange County.

    I want to understand Latin not only for the mass and the sciences, but also because I believe it helps one speak and understand English that much better.

  29. Raymundus says:

    I was in a parish for six months on an internship, which is a regular part of my seminary training. While there, some of the local homeschooling families caught wind that I am rather familiar with the Latin language. So, they all gathered together and asked me if I would teach their kids – a request to which I gladly assented. I believe they were age 6-8 at the time. Great experience for me and, hopefully, for them.

  30. John Enright says:

    My son attended the Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School in Philadelphia from 5th grade through 12th grade during which he had Latin in every year. Masterman is a Philadelphia, PA public school which was ranked by MSNBC (for what it is worth!) in the top 75 schools in the country. Now, there’s a charter school in Philly devoted to Latin! The Boy’s Latin of Philadelphia Charter School recently opened with the express purpose of educating our youngsters in the classics. Great job!

  31. Joe from Pittsburgh says:

    It is unfortunate that Latin was eliminated in so many schools so many years ago.

    Knowledge of Latin increases one’s understanding of English. Also, it “opens the door” to all romance languages. If you know Latin, I believe you can understand Castillan Spanish (Spain has at least four languages, but Latin America speaks Castellano) as well as Italian.

    I know just a few prayers and some other words in Latin, but with my limited self-taught knowledge of Spanish (my wife is from Colombia – they speak Spanish as well as a madrileño) I can see the thousands of English words that have come from Latin.

    My baby boy will learn Latin when he gets older.

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