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Classical Languages

All students should be offered the opportunity to study classical languages.

Since the classical languages, Greek and Latin, offer unique contributions to the learner, it is imperative that classical Greek and/or Latin be part of every school district's curriculum.

Students will have the opportunity to elect classical Greek and/or Latin to meet the foreign language requirement.

Classical languages and the cultures they represent have had a significant influence on European, American, and English literature and culture.  The study of classical languages affords the learner historical, philosophical, political, linguistic and literary benefits.

Research has shown that Latin provides a strong vocabulary base for many modern languages and that the derivational properties of Latin influence over sixty-five percent of the English language.  Classical Greek introduces the learner to a different graphic system, paving the way for learning those languages not presented in the Roman alphabet.

Classical Greek and Latin have a rich history and have had a vital part in the development of Western civilization.  Until recently, Latin, the common core of the educational process for western civilization, was one of the required languages for advanced work at the university level.  Today, Latin is still the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.  While the study of classical languages brings to mind the memorization of declensions and conjugations, it is today more than just a study in syntax and grammar.

There are new approaches to the teaching of Latin that correlate to the movement toward developing students' proficiency in modern languages.  In the "reading" methods, students hear the Latin and are encouraged to use the language to respond to questions. At the elementary and middle school levels, there are exciting initiatives that enable school districts to develop a well-articulated Latin program for K-12 students. The study of the classics includes ancient and enduring stories which tell us about ourselves in ages past and offer moral values that can be instilled in today's students.  From the study of the classics we receive a timeless gift. While syntax ebbs into to recesses of our memory, verse, however, like fragments of a haunting dream, remains.  To quote the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, "We study Latin because without it we cannot know our history and our heritage. And without that knowledge we cannot know ourselves."

The Board of Directors of the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers recommends to the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Connecticut Commissioner of Education, and leaders at the district level, that all students have the opportunity to elect a classical language to meet the second language requirement.

The general wording of the recommendation allows individual districts to design and implement a program that reflects local needs and constraints.


Elizabeth K. Lapman
President, CT COLT
Lewis S. Mills High School
26 Lyon Road
Burlington, CT 06013

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The Connecticut Council of Language Teachers (CT COLT) promotes, advocates for and fosters the teaching and learning of World Languages and Cultures. We support, guide and connect educators, students, policy makers and the public through professional development, scholarship and collaborative initiatives.

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