Foreign Language Studies

One of the strengths of Wyndcroft's academic program is our language study. Besides learning English in their Language Arts classes, our students also have the opportunity to graduate from Wyndcroft with nine years of French and four years of Latin, all before high school. This foundation in foreign languages is unique to Wyndcroft and provides our graduates with many opportunities as they continue their studies in secondary school and beyond.

Why French?

French is the most frequently studied world language after English spoken by more than 175 million people in more than 50 countries. French is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn as approximately 15,000 words in English come from French. The reason there is so much French in our English is because of William the Conqueror who became king of England, but spoke French. Words like restaurant, café, debris, cuisine, début, elite, matinée, naïve, rendez-vous, camouflage, carte blanche, déja-vu, coup d’état, bon appetit, faux pas, à la carte, nonchalant, RSVP and many more come from French. Many other languages take years to learn but French proficiency can be achieved by our students who continue to study through high school.

French is a language associated with medical, scientific, and technological advancements as well as art, literature, food, and fashion. Studying French helps students discover many cultures around the world including Quebec, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe.

Why Latin?

Why Latin?
by, Alex Turock, Wyndcroft Latin Teacher

It is the question I face most as a Latin teacher and while it deserves an answer I think it is important to question the question itself. Why ask, “why Latin?” If the goal of the ever curious learner is to find out everything there is to be learned in this world, why not Latin?

Many people ask the question with a preconceived answer. The most common of those answers are that it helps on the SATs or builds a large vocabulary. While these answers are true (we derive 60% of English words from Latin, and 90% of English words consisting of more than two syllables come from Latin) the real reason for studying Latin goes much deeper than that. At the Wyndcroft School, Latin provides a demand for curious, critical, and independent thinking. Most importantly, the reason anyone started learning Latin was not as a learning exercise at all, but rather to read those authors that wrote the most important documents in history.

The goal of introductory Latin at the Wyndcroft School is to establish the fundamental grammar and reading skills that allow students to reach the level in which they can read Latin written by actual Roman writers. In 8th grade students tackle Pliny’s letter about the eruption of Vesuvius. This provides the base for those who wish to continue their studies in high school. There they will be able to read the works of Vergil, Ovid, Caesar, Cicero, etc. A close understanding of these works, which cannot be achieved by reading them in translation, is the reason to learn Latin.

Lastly, it is the fact that Latin encompasses all typical school subjects which drives students at the Wyndcroft School. Quotes can be found in Latin from Galileo about science, Cicero about politics, Ovid about literature, Caesar about mathematics, the list goes on and on. The answer to the question, “Why Latin?” is that through Latin we study our world, its culture, and its many wonders. Of course, the grammar and vocabulary benefits are great byproducts of that study, but the understanding of our world through the words of the ancients will always be the primary objective of a good Latin classroom.

Many more people have answered this question and you can find links to those answers below as well as a list of people you might be surprised to know have a background in Latin.

Classical Academic Press -

Australian Schools Brought Back Greek and Latin – and Are Seeing Amazing Results! -

Plato for Plumbers -

People who have a background in Greek and Roman Classics

J.K. Rowling - Author of Harry Potter

C.S. Lewis - Author of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Chris Martin - Lead singer in Coldplay

Charles Geschke - Adobe Systems (photoshop)

Teller - of Penn and Teller

Ted Turner - Founder of CNN

Vince Lombardi - Football coach

W.E.B. DuBois - Co-founder NAACP

James Baker, former U.S. Secretary of State

Just to name a few.

Student Latin Blogs

The Importance of Foreign Language Learning in Elementary and Middle School:
A Real-Life Example

Mme Risell received this incredible letter from Abi, a 2010 Wyndcroft graduate who went on to major in Spanish in college. It reads:

“When I️ started French at Wyndcroft, I️ had no idea how impactful foreign language would be on the rest of my life. To be honest, French was my least favorite class. But I️ kept with it, partially because it was required, but also because I️ secretly loved the challenge. I️ never would’ve admitted this back then, but through the years, I’ve come to appreciate opportunities to take risks and venture outside my comfort zone in order to gain new insights and become an even better version of myself.

Becoming familiar with another language and its culture as a child truly shaped the worldview that I️ have today. I️ learned to be open-minded, accepting of things that are different; to have curiosity at exploring world cultures, and I️ developed a passion to understand people on a higher level. I️ am confident that I️ will carry these skills throughout my personal and professional life as a more socially aware, creative, hard working, and kind individual than I️’d be if I️ had not discovered world languages and the lessons they have to offer.

Thank you a million times for everything you taught me. I️ will never be able to express my gratitude in words, but I️ sincerely hope you know that you made a positive difference in my life. Language became a part of me, and I don’t know where I’d be without it. Even though I️ majored in Spanish in the end, French gave me an excellent head start.”