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Should my 8th grader take Latin or Spanish in High School?

MichiganGeorgiaMichiganGeorgia Posts: 2,047Registered User Senior Member
edited March 2013 in Parents Forum
My 8th grader has to decide whether to take Spanish,French,German or Latin.Georgia requires 2 years of the same language. Some colleges require more.So once he chooses he has to stick with that language. My Senior took 4 years of Spanish. However my 8th grader is considering Latin instead. Some of the high school kids are saying that Latin looks better on your college apps..Not sure I believe that.. any thoughts? Which would you recommend?
Post edited by MichiganGeorgia on
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Replies to: Should my 8th grader take Latin or Spanish in High School?

  • CTScoutmomCTScoutmom Posts: 1,315Registered User Senior Member
    I wouldn't say one looks better than the other, but that each may have different value to the student. If he is likely to end up in a field where he is likely to be in contact with customers, and a large part of the customer bases speaks Spanish, it may be more useful. If he is going into medicine or some other field where it would be helpful to understand the latin roots of specialized terminology, Latin may be more useful.

    If he's the kind of kid that doesn't do well with spoken languages, Latin may be the better choice as well - I know of many people who didn't do well in language classes, not because they didn't learn/understand the language, but because they were terrible with the spoken parts. The only place I know of where Latin is regularly spoken is during Latin Mass (like in the Vatican this morning). If he is likely to do better in the Latin classes, than in Spanish, then it will look better on college applications. I wouldn't choose a language based on getting a hand up in admissions - I would base it on a desire to study the langauge, or the utility of the language.
  • moonchildmoonchild Posts: 2,857Registered User Senior Member
    What reason does your 8th grader give for wanting to study Latin? Is he interested in the classics in general, or is he just trying to get through the language requirement?

    Even going into medicine, Spanish would be the most useful in the long run. Colleges do not have a language preference in admissions. My thoughts are if you're going to spend 2-4 years learning a language, it might as well be one that you can use in your daily life. Living in California, knowing some Spanish is extremely helpful. If this country ever has a second national language, it will be Spanish.
  • BeanTownGirlBeanTownGirl Posts: 2,725Registered User Senior Member
    On an admissions interview with a student recently she told me how much she loved studying Latin. But when she started looking at colleges and all the study abroad options they have she thought "Why did I spend 4 years studying a dead language?!"
  • calla1calla1 Posts: 1,653Registered User Senior Member
    Spanish is by far the most useful. Neither looks better on a transcript.

    However, my son took Latin because he is a much stronger visual than auditory learner, and Latin is written rather than spoken in class. Spoken languages sound like gobbledygook to him.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 32,496Registered User Senior Member
    My oldest took Latin in 6th & 7th grades. ( required) She began Spanish in 8th grade and continued through high school.
    Her sister took Latin in 8th gd & started Spanish in 9th gd.
    Latin is mandatory I believe in college if you are studying classics & helpful if you are entering law or the sciences.
    However, it can also be picked up enough to be useful fairly easily on your own.
    Fluency in Spanish on the other hand will be invaluable.
    I agree that many speak it enough for it to be a second language.
    Other languages my kids have considered/ taken include Mandarin & Arabic, either which I would suggest before Latin.

    ( those are traditional offerings! Even at my own high school the languages offered were French,Spanish, Russian or two yrs of German. Now in the high schools it is often Japanese, Spanish, sometimes French & sometimes ASL)
  • mathmommathmom Posts: 22,956Registered User Senior Member
    My younger son (IR major) really regrets taking Latin. He says he's at a real disadvantage never having had to practice speaking and listening to a language. Latin is all about translation. I do think that some admissions officers are a little bit more impressed by Latin, but the difference is probably very, very marginal. (He's learning Arabic now - and is in an Arab speaking country.) One nice thing about Spanish is you don't have to leave the country to get practice!

    I speak French and German fluently and am seriously thinking about adding Spanish to my repertoire - I have so many clients who speak better Spanish than English. (I'm an architect.)
  • beautifulchick95beautifulchick95 Posts: 519Registered User Member
    IF your child want to be a doctor or go into the medical field then Latin would be more useful because most of the medical terms derive from Latin. Other than that there is no benefit
  • arisamparisamp Posts: 981Registered User Member
    S had taken 2 years of French in middle school. He went through the same dilemma last year...everyone he talked to (including a prof who teaches SAT classes) told him that Latin would be much more useful if he were going into medicine and also for SAT vocab prep. He signed up for Latin in high school - H was thrilled :)

    Well, he was scheduled to take Latin in the second semester - at the end of the first semester, he comes home and tells us that he really wants to continue with French - he wants to learn a language that he can "use"! So, he switched to French.

    I don't think one language is "better" than the other - it should really be whatever the child wants to learn. If they have a hard time with languages, then perhaps it's best to take Latin. At S's school, he's required to take the same language for three years in high school.
  • mathmommathmom Posts: 22,956Registered User Senior Member
    ^My dh, PhD works in a med school took Latin through the AP. Doesn't remember a bit of it, and would tell you anything else would have been more useful. I know as many Latin roots as he does, just from experience and learning a romance language.
  • crazy4disneycrazy4disney Posts: 73Registered User Junior Member
    I guess I'll be the dissenting opinion here... While Spanish might be actually spoken more, I took 4 years of Latin myself and at 46 now have never regretted it at all. It still helps me all the time, when I come across a word I don't know, or a legal or medical term. My DS decided to take Latin himself for high school - is on his 3rd year now - and he has really really enjoyed it. (Much to his own surprise!) He even decided to join the Latin Club, and this is Mr. Math-and-Science we're talking about. He said it really helped him on the SAT.

    So, two votes for Latin here. :-)


    -gina-
  • capcap Posts: 540Registered User Member
    My DD took Latin in high school and minored in it in college. However, she picks up languages quite easily; she also took Russian and Hebrew in college. She refused to take Spanish because it was "too easy" and after spent 3 weeks in Peru, was fairly fluent - something she attributed to her Latin background. She also knows Georgian and is learning Turkish since she is now living there.

    My other two both took 4 years of Spanish and one also had two years of French.

    How good is he with languages?
  • ahsmuohahsmuoh Posts: 1,024Registered User Senior Member
    My son is taking Latin. He really has no interest in learning a foreign language (to each his own) and Latin has helped him with roots and vocabulary. He also like history and in his school - they teach more history in Latin than in any other language.

    I really think it should be up to your child - colleges don't care what language. I think it is just about having to learn something that you have to start from scratch.
  • snugapugsnugapug Posts: 517Registered User Member
    You are in Georgia so look ahead at how much FL UGeorgia and Georgia Tech (just as an example) require IN college. If he is likely to need to continue a language in college, maybe better to go with spanish (unless you suspect he will love languages). On a different note - I imagine there are many more spanish teachers at the high school than latin teachers. Not as much opportunity to change teachers if needed.
  • younghossyounghoss Posts: 2,575Registered User Senior Member
    Much depends on the reason for the language.
    Is it to learn a foreign language? To be able to understand some spoken or written? To be helpful later in a career?
    Or is the Op's only real reasoning- what looks good on a college app?
    My S, a finance degree holder now, feels German is most helpful for those in biz, Spanish is best for manging employees.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 34,839Registered User Senior Member
    Something worth considering is to check how large the high school's "bench" is in Spanish and Latin teachers. If there is only one Latin teacher, and that teacher suddenly retires or becomes unavailable to teach, the student may be unable to reach the originally intended higher level Latin courses (there was a thread a while back about a high school's German teacher retiring suddenly, leaving students completing German 2 unable to take German 3).
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