23 answers

Latin Vs. Spanish or French for High School Foreign Language

Our two oldest are choosing their courses for Freshman year in high school. My son didn't take a foreign language in middle school because he's on an IEP and in the resource room one period a day. My SD didn't because she moved in halfway through 7th grade.

My SD wants to take Latin as her language. The problem that I have with this is that from what I understand, Latin is pretty tough and dry after the first year, and I want her to take 3 or 4 years of a language to meet the admissions preferences of competitive colleges. It's very hard to switch to a new language after Freshman year due to scheduling constraints at the high school, so if she struggles with this in Sophomore or Junior year, she'll be SOL with switching to French or Spanish. If she did it the other way around, she could take two or three years of French or Spanish first and then do Latin for a year after. I did take Latin and found it very useful, but I also took French before that. I have no idea what her foreign language proficiency would be. She is smart and gets good grades in general, but does struggle with some classes from time to time and hasn't made honor role yet this year, so it's not like she's a kid for whom doing well in school is totally effortless.

So what did you or your kids take? Any regrets or trouble with college admissions? Thank you!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks everyone - we're having her get an appointment with the language department head before deciding and I love the idea of looking at some materials on line. While I think the ideal scenario would be a year of Latin followed by 3 years of a modern language (I think everyone should take Latin, it would be great at the middle school level), the schedule structure at the high school makes it very hard to start a new language after 9th grade (and it's rare to start that late, most 9th grade students have 2 years of French or Spanish already). Unfortunately, she is making her decision right now based on absolutely nothing! I asked why she wanted to take Latin and her answer was "it seems cool." I asked what seemed cool and she said "I don't know." Further in the conversation it became clear that she didn't know it's not a spoken language. Sigh. And they wonder why we sometimes poke and prod and make them defend their knee-jerk decisions...

Anyway...thanks for your feedback and suggestions!

Featured Answers

http://www.fll.vt.edu/French/whyfrench.html

Ultimately, it should be a language that the child wants to learn.

What about Mandarin?

4 moms found this helpful

I took Latin for 2 years in high school. Yeah, it's a dry dead language and for the life of me I would never be able to speak it. However, all romance languages get their roots from Latin. I believe it helped me on the vocabulary portion of my SAT's because I understood many of the roots.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers

http://www.fll.vt.edu/French/whyfrench.html

Ultimately, it should be a language that the child wants to learn.

What about Mandarin?

4 moms found this helpful

I am not the best judge of this but it seems like Spanish would be the most practical. I took French and think I used it once. Spanish is the 2nd most common language in America, so she may find that she will use that more. But I guess it depends on her long term goals.

3 moms found this helpful

Latin is a dead language. She will be much more employable if she takes Spanish. Just my 2 cents.

3 moms found this helpful

I took Latin for 2 years in high school. Yeah, it's a dry dead language and for the life of me I would never be able to speak it. However, all romance languages get their roots from Latin. I believe it helped me on the vocabulary portion of my SAT's because I understood many of the roots.

3 moms found this helpful

Hi, your friendly school counselor here.
I would advise she stick with ONE foreign language. College Admissions boards would rather see she excelled in one language and committed to it for several years, rather than bailed out when it got hard (2 or 3 years of Spanish) and jumped ship to level 1 of Latin. Whatever she starts with, she needs to stick with. She should choose the language she is most interested in, and the one she thinks she may pick up most easily (eg: in SoCal for many kids this is Spanish because we have a lot of pre-exposure to vocab and pronunciation due to the culture around here). It might also depend on the reputations of the programs at your HS. Do people avoid Spanish because the Spanish 3 teacher is tough and impossible? That sort of info you find by asking around your community.
Latin is useful, especially learning Latin roots and all that, but does the school offer 4 years of it?
Bottom line, she has to stick with what she starts with.

2 moms found this helpful

I took Latin, a couple of semesters of Greek, and French and Spanish (and did very well, but wow did I stink at math!). My college major ended up being in elementary education with a minor in English as a Second Language.

Here are some thoughts: Latin gives you a good foundation for learning vocabulary, especially scientific vocabulary, but it isn't fun. If you chooes French or Spanish, you can read a fun French book or watch a Spanish language soap opera, but Latin is a lot of words and sentence composition and declensions and all that. It's a lot of memorization and since it's not used anymore, you can't really put it into practice in conversation.

Spanish is very useful to know here in the US, and in Central and South America. French is useful to know in Europe and Africa.

Certain career choices can benefit from the foreign language choice. Does your SD talk about wanting to become a teacher, or a veterinarian, or an artist? Is she very social or more introspective? If she wants to be a teacher here in the US, knowing Spanish would be very useful. If she wants to be something in the scientific or medical field, Latin would be useful. If she wants to study music or art and travel throughout Europe, French would be useful.

Maybe you could look up some sample lessons online, for all three languages. Let her look at a sample curriculum and pages from the lesson. Or go to a bookstore and go browse in the foreign language section. Look at textbooks, and dictionaries and all the various help products (dictionaries, flash cards, etc). Maybe one will appeal to her more than others.

2 moms found this helpful

I have a 17yr old daughter who carefully planned her curriculum to reflect well to colleges. She started Spanish in the 7th grade and took it through first semester of her Jr year. She was in AP Spanish in 10th grade and 11th grade first semester.

Since she had plenty of credit in a foreign language preferred by good colleges, she opted to take AP Psychology this semester.

A lot of it depends on your child, their study habits and their grades. My daughter is very focused on college and has been for years... it is in her genes. She filled her schedule with mostly Honors and AP classes. It is also very important that colleges see community service, extra curricular activities as well.

So far, Duke and Baylor have been talking to her and according to them, she is right on track to go where ever she wants to go. She has all applications ready to go and all we have to do is wait on the transcript in September to be processed.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi JB-

my oldest three...for whatever reason took german!

I 'encouraged' latin...because I felt it would be more useful...but NO! lol

The next kiddo took french...the next spanish...and the next kiddos french!

***I think they ALL did it to SPITE me!!!***

lol

All the 'olders' have gotten in to and/or completed college...I assume the 'youngers' will as well...

Best Luck!
michele/cat

1 mom found this helpful

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