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A couple of questions regarding languages

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Posted

I hope you may be able to help....My daughter is in the 5th class and has been learning German for the past 16 months having arrived here with no previous German knowledge. My first question is one relating to English and I'm just curious if her English teacher is correct as she lost marks in a recent test and I'm not even sure of the answer. She wrote a sentence "My favourite subjects at school are English and art". Should "art" be capitalized? I thought it was only if it were a specific course title such as Art for Beginners. I wouldn't correct the teacher as he's been brilliant at encouraging my daughter in every way. Just curiosity.

The second question is regarding the impending choice of Latin or French as a second language. I read an interesting older thread on TT as to why Latin is even taught at schools these days. As my daughter has only been learning German for such a short time and is doing very well 3s and 4s in her noten, would Latin be more appropriate and compatible with German? I'm just concerned about throwing confusion into her ongoing German learning. Any opinions would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks

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Posted

Am I right to guess your first language is not English? Otherwise you would not need to ask the 1st question.

Anyway, my first language is not English, just I lived in UK for 11yr now. I think it must be "art", not "Art", so the teacher is right.

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English is my first language though it's sometimes difficult to remember all the rules. It's been a long time since I was at school :D In this case, the teacher said it was Art not art. In respect of Latin, I understand that the teaching is not entirely in the same format as modern languages. I believe alot of history relevance is added so maybe that makes it more interesting?

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Both of my kids picked Latin as their next language. The youngest said he'd heard at school that Latin is easier for kids who don't do as well in German and that the kids diagnosed as dyslexic generally did better in Latin. He's not dyslexic, but his buddy is.

In any event, Latin taught my oldest how to study and learn. He hates it and still gets crappy grades in it, but his other grades have all gone up considerably. The youngest is still scraping by in German, but I think that's due to his general aversion to books more than anything.

However, they do learn a lot of history and culture, and I'm glad in the end that they chose Latin over French. Now, if the schools had offered Spanish or Chinese instead of French then I'd probably feel differently about it ;)

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Posted

My daughter also lost a mark for spelling miaow (she used meow) wrong. Told her to stick to bark in future!

Now THAT is ridiculous. Meow & miaow are both listed as acceptable alternatives in dictionaries, but I personally was always brought up with meow. Don't let her take that one to heart.

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Posted

My daughter also lost a mark for spelling miaow (she used meow) wrong. Told her to stick to bark in future!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with meow. That's the more common spelling, at least from what I've seen. I rarely see it spelled miaow, but that might be a British/American thing. In any case, meow is absolutely correct.

Ok, just did a little digging. Meow is the preferred American spelling, miaow is the preferred British spelling, but in both Webster's and Oxford English dictionary, both spellings are given. So your daughter was correct.

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I learnt Latin at school. I actually quite enjoyed it as we did do a lot of history along with the language and looked at Roman writers and literature and all that. I studied Medieval History so it was also of some practical use to me (in a very limited way, though). I think that Latin helped me to understand the cases when I started to learn German, but given that daughter must already be pretty fluent that's probably not a consideration.

French is undoubtedly of more practical use and I'd say it's a lot easier than Latin, but it really depends on your daughter's interests.

BTW, almost forty four years ago at school, I too was marked down for writing meow instead of miaow. Apparently meow is a noun and miaow is the verb. I've never forgotten that and I can honestly say that it has never been of any use to me! :D

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What the hell use is French? Any Frenchman you would ever want to speak to speaks English. Latin would be more useful, but not much. Why don't they offer useful languages like Chinese or Spanish?

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I loved Latin,because I'm not good at pronounciation but very logical so got good grades. My husband loved it too, but then he's good at all languages.He also loved French and English and Russsian. My son chose Latin as his friends were doing it, which was a disaster as he's not amazingly logical and was a lazy bugger at the time. He managed to scrape through with the help of a tutor and a Latin teacher who liked him. In retrospect, he would have been far better off with French as he's got a good ear and likes talking - on holiday he has a great time trying to speak French or Spanish.My daughter chose French, and then Spanish which were both fine as she's good at languages. When she needed Latin to study medicine she just did a little course which was wuite adequate.

To sum up, i would recommend Latin for a shy, logical, hard-working type. or French for an out-going, musical (tends to go with a good ear)type. The other advantage of French is that you get to take part in school exchanges.

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Posted

The second question is regarding the impending choice of Latin or French as a second language. I read an interesting older thread on TT as to why Latin is even taught at schools these days. As my daughter has only been learning German for such a short time and is doing very well 3s and 4s in her noten, would Latin be more appropriate and compatible with German? I'm just concerned about throwing confusion into her ongoing German learning. Any opinions would be very much appreciated.

Latin, any day! I picked up German after being thrown into the cold water and forced to swim in 1971. In 1974 I started Latin, the first language that I was really taught and that I learned from scratch. The grammar rules helped improve my German and gave me a solid foundation for learning any language I took up after that (I'm on no. 8 at the moment). When I started French in 1976 I had a head start before those who had not chosen Latin in 7th grade.

Not to mention that Latin also comes in handy for the more sophisticated vocabulary (pulchritude, to name one fantastic word).

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My kids (two boys) are not doing latin but one is doing french at the Realschule .From what I gather from all their pals at the surrounding schools or Gymnasiums , latin seems to have become 'Hassfach nummer eins' or hate subject number one.Mostly all the kids (and parents) seem to be spending a huge amount of time learning it and most of the kids I know are sorry that they took it.French for my son who had then four years of german under his belt when he started it, is going quite well.In general french does not seem as difficult for the kids .It seems if a child is good at learning off by heart then Latin is easier .

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Posted

Another more casual approach would be to let your daughter look at each class and decide with which kids she has more in common.

The schools in Berlin make a lot of fuss about the number of foreign languages offered. After speaking to recent grads, i have the impression that most of them slept through any of the foreign language classes except English.

I am still trying to wrap my head around the notion of an 11 year old kid with a strong preference for learning old Greek which judging from the Gymnasium marketing, it holds some appeal. :rolleyes:

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Posted

The second question is regarding the impending choice of Latin or French as a second language. I read an interesting older thread on TT as to why Latin is even taught at schools these days. As my daughter has only been learning German for such a short time and is doing very well 3s and 4s in her noten, would Latin be more appropriate and compatible with German? I'm just concerned about throwing confusion into her ongoing German learning. Any opinions would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks

My kids were not taught Latin and I am very sorry for that. They are teenagers now and often they ask me about the meaning of a German term which would be obvious to them had they been taught Latin as many terms are derived from Latin (this by the way is the case in several other European languages as well). I think knowing the roots of the words you are using gives you a deeper understanding of your language and enhances you ability to express yourself. Also Latin tuition at school is not only about the language. You can also look at it as sort of tuition in history and logics, I would say. Most people will never be able to really speak Latin even if taught, but you learn how to analyse a sentence. And it is useful to see e. g. how little the driving forces in policy have changed between the times of Julius Caesar and today, to see what can be achieved by having rhetorical skills and how a good orator can manipulate his audience when you e. g. read the speeches of Cicero and others in class.

You will always be able to learn French, should you need it further down the line. The same cannot be said for Latin at least it will more difficult and you will probably not have enough motivation to make the effort anyway. So I would probably advise my kids to chose Latin if they had a chance to chose unless there are specific reasons to pick French. Notwithstanding the fact that I hated latin when was at school.

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I think it's typical of the level of German education that you actually get a choice. I had to take Latin, Greek, Dutch, English, German and French for at least part of my time at school, no choice until the time came to specialise in either humanities or sciences, and even the "scientists" had to take 2 modern and 1 classical language.

I might also almost go as far as to suggest that out of all those, Latin was probably the best, purely because there's no immediate point to learning it. It's what Germans call Bildung, and is certainly nothing to do with "preparation for the job market".

And now I am back to my ivory tower to study shit for the pure enjoyment of studying it, far away from the "job market"...

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Posted

Those marks are brilliant, emkay!

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Posted

I had latin from 5th to 10th grade. It's definitely a general "grammar theory" course helping you to understand German grammar. Because our school had early mandatory latin the German teachers could skip large parts of the theoretical parts and move on quicker.

And whoever says latin is dead and french is more important. You can always learn another language, nobody speaks fluent french, because he had it in school.

But learning latin is a chance you only get once. It's too tough and theoretical to do it "by yourself" later in life.

And it is – as others mentiones –  simply improving your general awareness in languages. The methodical ways etc. The transfer to any germanic and romanic language. General education.

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I teach Latin and English =) and from my experience, kids need to work hard for both Latin and French; lots of memorizing of vocabulary etc. so in that respect they're similar. The point that Latin raises one's awareness for languages is definitely true; we spend a lot of time talking about language; on the other hand, if kids struggle with abstract concepts and terms like subject/object/whatnot, they really struggle in Latin class as well. Children with difficulties in spelling (they don't even have to be dyslexic) tend to hate French, too.

In French classes they USE the language more than in Latin classes - obviously the focus in Latin is on translating - although it seems to me that the general approach to teaching French is still a lot more traditional (rules, spelling, theory etc.) than in EFL.

Both Latin and French are a good basis for learning other Romance languages.

English helped me a lot when I studied Latin; by then, my vocabulary in English was fairly complex and I knew lots of words with Latin roots and that helped me to understand Latin words, eg. omittere - to omit - just a thought.

emkay, it's great to hear that your daughter is doing so well at school!

I probably would have accepted your daughter's "meow" because I've never come across "miaow" before. Shame on me. Actually I look things like that up, just in case the student is right. That's why marking takes so long.

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Hiya, I'd certainly write meow too (Irish/British English), and I certainly believe alternative spellings should be permitted, even if the teacher prefers to spell the word differently.

Whether I write that my favourite subjects are English, History, Art and PE, or English, history, art and PE, in my opinion is just a difference in STYLE. As long as you stick to one rule (ie. NOT writing that you like English, History, art and PE), it should be considered correct. Or rather, I believe that the small caps are a little more correct than the capitalisation...

As far as the choice between Latin and French goes... both are romance languages, and in that sense useful to a German native. Your daughter already has lots of romance language words in her native tongue (having English made learning Spanish much much easier for me than it would have been for my German peers). What German natives have to a much larger extent than a native English speaker is an awareness of grammar - e.g. the different cases & how the alter nouns, etc.

Given that, I have the feeling that your daughter might benefit more from the Latin. Also, I'm thinking that she is still struggling (albeit doing very well, it seems!) at the German language - which she actively needs and uses to communicate. You don't COMMUNICATE in Latin. Hence I'm thinking it might be useful to 'just' have the Latin as something providing structure and logic to language in general, and not bother with another 'spoken' foreign language till later.

But in general, with either French or Latin, your daughter would have a headstart (compared to the Germans) as far as vocabulary goes, whereas the Germans would have a headstart as far as grammar is concerned.

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Posted

Just noticed Gambatte getting negged for his post. I'd like to hope that he didn't mean to be offensive? Maybe Italian is far more defined in these matters?

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