An experimental investigation in Winnipeg schools to determine the extent to which the learning of Latin increases the comprehension of English

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Macbride, Mary Dolan
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The purpose was to find out, (1) if, in the Winnipeg High Schools, method and content in Latin instruction succeed in bringing about an increase in English vocabulary knowledge and, if so, (2) to ascertain how many years of Latin training best serve this purpose. Information collected from over a thousand students in Grades nine, ten and eleven matriculation course of six Winnipeg high schools enabled the investigator to match 115 Latin students with an equal number of non-Latin students for age, sex, grade and mental ability. A statistically significant difference in knowledge of English vocabulary, measured by the Cooperative Vocabulary Test, was found in favour of the Latin students. This difference increased in significance with the number of years of Latin training, and a jump in significant gain was found at the completion of third-year Latin. Measures were devised to assess three other factors which are known or suspected to affect English vocabulary knowledge. These factors are: (1) native language; (2) years of training in French; and (3) extent of reading. When the influence of these factors was held constant or eliminated, the gain of the Latin students over the non-Latin students was still significant. It is therefore concluded that some of the superiority in English vocabulary knowledge can be attributed solely to instruction in Latin and that students who persist in taking Latin beyond the second year reap the greatest gain in English word knowledge.