The study of Classical languages allows students to enter and explore ancient worlds that have shaped contemporary life and societies. Authentic engagement with seminal works of great literature and antiquities gives direct access to ancient ways of living in and viewing the world, and an appreciation of the languages, cultures, literatures and traditions that are derived from those of ancient societies.
Studying Classical languages enables students to develop their understanding of how language works as a system, enhances their capability to communicate and extends their literacy repertoires. It acquaints students with basic philological principles, such as consistent sound changes between related languages and the ways in which vowels shift within a language. Students become familiar with many complex linguistic operations and with the metalanguage used to denote different usages and structures. Such principles can be applied to the study of other languages, ancient or modern, related or distant. Students are able to increase their understanding of the workings of languages they seek to learn, and those already in their background.
The study of Classical languages exercises students’ intellectual curiosity; strengthens their cognitive, analytical and reflective capabilities; and enhances creative and critical thinking. Students develop skills in research, communication, self-management and collaboration – skills that are essential in preparing for life at school and beyond. Through their reading, analysis and translation of texts, students of Classical languages develop their thinking processes, such as close attention to detail, precision, accuracy, memory, persistence and logic. When translating, students make sense of ancient ideas, experiences, values and attitudes, giving prominence to shades of meaning, thus increasing their dexterity of thought. Through the focus on analysis and precise translation of texts, students develop their capacity to learn in a systematic and disciplined manner.
Studying Classical languages enhances students’ enjoyment and understanding of their own and other cultures. Students examine the language used to denote values in different cultures, both ancient and modern, and understand the diversity that exists, and has always existed, in cultural values. They gain a deep understanding of literature dealing with enduring moral and social issues, such as the conflict between individual freedom and the common good of society; the role of the family; discrimination based on race, gender or religion; or the causes of revolution. Through critical reflection on and comparisons with the history, culture, values and practices of the ancient world, learning Classical languages contributes to students’ development as responsible citizens, locally and globally.