There is a correlation between second language learning and other standardized test scores?

In BOE, foreign language, Ridgewood Schools on March 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm

“Calling for an increase in students taking Latin to raise SAT scores and student achievement reveals a profound misunderstanding about correlation and causation.”

Simply because we can draw a correlation between taking Latin and higher SAT scores does not prove that taking Latin caused the scores. High correlations exist between SAT scores and IQ, between SAT scores and the socioeconomic status, between SAT scores and the education level of students’ parents.

All of these correlations are markers for many diverse and complex factors that actually cause the scores. For example, Latin is a rigorous elective course taken by students who fall into many of the other categories that we know are highly correlated with high SAT scores”

There is a correlation between second language learning and other standardized test scores, but not any data that shows that Latin is better than other languages in this area. Latin teachers perpetuate the SAT myth and Ridgewood parents think that they are getting a foreign language and test prep in one place. It is all about job security for the Latin teacher.

There is a very high correlation between reading and high English test scores.


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  1. And the schools that offer Latin would also have higher income students and better educated parents.

  2. 8:44 – Yes, that would be us.

    Latin alone is not pulling up anyone’s scores. We have an affluent district and that correlates to high scores. Throw in the highly educated parents and highly motivated students (and the possibility that some students actually have a high IQ) and you have a great chance of having very good test scores. Students who study a second language also do well on standardized tests, but that can be any language, not just Latin.

    If you want to learn Latin then go ahead, but do it because you want to become fluent in Latin.

  3. I have stated that second language learning helped achievement, and never stated that it was ONLY Latin. It has always been, and will always be, learning any 2nd language. It’s a mental exercise and seems to work many areas of the brain all at once, all the while supporting and enriching the English language (or whatever the 1st language is) and it’s grammar, vocabulary and structure.

  4. I see that Boris Johnson, the new London Mayor wants Latin and Greek to be taught in all London schools. However I would prefer Esperanto on the basis that it helps all language learning.

    Five British schools have introduced Esperanto in order to test its propaedeutic values. The pilot project is being monitored by the University of Manchester and the initial encouraging results can be seen at http://www.springboard2languages.org/Summary%20of%20evaluation,%20S2L%20Phase%201.pdf
    You might also like to see http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670

    Pope Benedict also used this language this year in his Urbi et Orbi address from the Vatican, at Christmas.

    If you have time can I ask you to visit http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU or http://www.lernu.net Professor Piron was a translator for the United Nations in Geneva.

  5. Language is a dicipline and mental exercise. It is like learning a musical instrument – another high correlation for success.

  6. And P.S. Latin is a root language. Science and medicine are steeped in it. Unlike, say, French or Spanish.

  7. Well, since Latin is the root language (basis) you can follow that logic and say that French and Spanish also assist with disciplines like science and medicine since French and Spanish (along with Rumanian, Portugese and Italian) are Romance Languages, which, of course, are based on Latin. In other words, it’s ALL good!

  8. Yes, but one is better. Why not the best instead of settling for the mere “good?”

  9. Because, 8:51, part of what makes the language programs successful is the choice that is involved. Why limit student choice? If you told me that I had to study Latin, I would poke my eyes out with a red hot poker. I speak 2 languages already, and would love to learn a 3rd, but not Latin.

  10. I have to agree that Latin is superior. More importantly, it’s also a “dead” language and that means phony doctorate educationists can’t mess with it.

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