The majority of English words containing three syllables or more come from Latin and Greek roots. In short, Latin (and Greek, too) helps build vocabulary for the advanced study of English, science, math, history, languages, medicine, law, philosophy, and more.
English is a Germanic language, and most every-day English words are two syllables or less. Simple words like friend, hand, book, eye, and heart.
It is easy to teach and learn these few words in Latin, and the derivatives they yield are invaluable. They tend to be at least three syllables, and they tend to show up across the curriculum from the early grades through graduate school.
The Latin word amicus (friend) is the root of amiable, amicable, inimical, amorous, amatory. Words every middle school student should know.
The Latin manus (hand) gives us manufacture, manumit, manumission, emancipation, manacles, manuscript, and, believe it or not, manure.
The Latin liber (book) produces library. The Latin oculus (eye) yields ocular, binocular, monocle, and oculist. Cor (heart) gives us cordial, coronary, accord, and discord.
Recommended Website for Home School Lesson Plans:
The Home School
Free online magazine for home educating families to exchange information, to give advice and swap learning ideas, to recommend fun days out and healthy recipes and to input their comments on all aspects of home school life and education.
The Latin noun scientia means knowledge, while the verb scire means to know. The very name of science has Latin roots.
While the word science comes from Latin, with many derivatives such as conscientious and conscience, most scientific disciplines include a Greek root word: Logos, which means word or reason.
Biology is the study of life forms; geology is the study of the earth; theology the study of the divine. Logos also gives us eulogy, prologue, logic, dialogue, and logistics.
The concepts of mathematics taught in school we owe in large part to the Greeks. Geometry especially, which comes from Greek roots meaning earth measurement, comes straight form ancient Greek thinkers.
This connection between ancient languages and modern subjects can and should be exploited to create the best home school lesson plans. Such strategies encourage interdisciplinary perspectives and independence of thought.
In schools today it is often taught that history is “his story”, an unfortunate and partial interpretation of world events by European males. Put this dangerous piece of misinformation to rest by teaching the Greek root historia.
Historia means an inquiry, an investigation, a rigorous and demanding search for facts. The word has existed for 3000 years. The whole subject of history was invented and passed down to us by Greek writers such as Herodotus and Thucydides.
The knowledge obtained through Latin and Greek roots gives your students the power to think, investigate, and decide for themselves what is true.
The word language comes from the Latin lingua, meaning tongue. And learning a few Latin roots will help in the study of many languages other than English.
Latin helps especially the major romance languages, such as Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian.
Just like the word science, the word medicine comes directly from a Latin noun. Medicus means doctor.
From organic chemistry to anatomy and physiology, a knowledge of the basics of Latin will prove instrumental in the preparation of top performing students.
Students who will one day become innovative doctors themselves.
Legal terms and legal maxims are often in Latin, and every student of the law must learn at least the rudiments of Latin language.
For your home school lesson plans, include as many basic derivatives as possible to prepare the young student for a career in law.
The Latin word lex, legis, meaning law, yields dozens of root words.
A paralegal works beside a lawyer, just as a paramedic works with doctors. Drinking and driving is illegal because legislators listened to the legitimate complaints from citizens who demanded new legislation.
Philosophy, also stemming from Greek intellectual traditions, means love of wisdom. Every student’s introduction to this subject should include the basics of Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Ethics. Why not also include at least a few morsels of the language those great thinkers used?
Building the roots of ancient language into the study of every subject will put the love of wisdom into your students and make your home school lesson plans vibrant, engaging, and effective.
The home school parent or teacher is particularly well positioned to deliver to students the interdisciplinary power of Latin and Greek.
Read these pages, and as they grow and expand, come back often to compile your own materials for teaching vocabulary in the best possible way – through Latin!