St. Ambrose Academy requires all students to study Latin as an essential element of their classical education. Because Latin is an inflected language – where not only verbs but nouns have different endings depending upon their function in the sentence – it teaches not only a “foreign” language but teaches students about language itself.
A student who has mastered Latin is well prepared to study any other modern language with ease. Latin is, likewise, the language of many other disciplines – science, medicine, music, the law, etc. Much of the English language is derived from Latin, and students are able to expand their English vocabulary from knowing the Latin roots. Finally, Latin is the language of Mother Church, and over the course of their studies students will commit to memory many of the most traditional prayers of the Church in Latin – Gloria, Ave Maria, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, Sanctus, Tantum ergo, Salve Regina, et cetera! By graduation, they are as comfortable praying in Latin as in English.
Following our patron’s noble advice “when in Rome,” students are taught a classical pronunciation when reading the classical texts and an ecclesial pronunciation when learning prayer or reading Scripture. Our classroom uses the oral method of Hans Ørberg where students are taught and dialogue in the Latin language, just like any other language course. The oral method coincides perfectly with the classical method of questioning and dialogue. Teachers incorporate many other activities from playing “Go Fish” in Latin to putting on puppet show versions of popular films in Latin.
Senior High Latin I-III proceed through the Familia Romana of Hans Ørberg with ample opportunity for cultural studies and diverse oral Latin activities. By the end, students are also prepared to pray the entire rosary, participate in Benediction, and offer the lay portion of the Mass in Latin. By Latin IV, students are able to read primary Latin sources from Ovid, to Livy, and the Vulgate. Students who come from Junior High and enter Senior High in Latin II can take Latin V as a Senior with an intense study of Julius Caesar and Vergil’s Aeneid.