Junior Luke Coffman Takes Latin Classes Online

Credit to Sky Hebisen

By Ashlynn Perez

Junior Luke Coffman took a different route than most to the required foreign language credits. Instead of registering for Spanish, French or German, he took a course not offered at FHN, studying a language not commonly practiced or used: the dead language of Latin.

“I’ve always liked Latin since a young age- the ancient languages sort of idea- and then it was also a sort of frustration with how languages are taught in school,” Coffman said. “If you talk to someone in French 3 or 4 or Spanish, they don’t actually have an understanding of what they’re doing, because you memorize for the test, and after you’ve taken the test, you forget what you’ve actually done.”

Coffman started taking Latin online halfway through his sophomore year. He takes the course through Brigham Young University, where he studies for about an hour a day. The class is flexible, allowing students to move at their own pace and take tests at the end of the unit so he can choose when he studies. Because of this format, the class is entirely reliant on the student, and requires a hard drive and steady work ethic to complete the course effectively.

“I was like, ‘Well, if I do it myself, the only person that’s holding me accountable is myself, so I sort of have to learn the language,’” Coffman said.

Learning Latin has benefitted Coffman in multiple ways. He has struggled with English in the past, and Latin has allowed him to understand English grammar and pronunciation better, since English is heavily based off of Latin. It has helped him with the reading and grammar portion of the ACT and SAT, and the dead language will give him a strong foundation for the other romantic languages he hopes to learn in the future.

Coffman hopes to continue his studies in Latin until the end of his senior year, and then return to learn the other, school-taught languages he passed over.

“I would say that Latin is a useful language that helps with other Latin-based languages like Spanish and French and Portuguese,” Spanish teacher Brian Santos said. “But more than that, Latin would be useful because, if in the future a student pursues medicine or law, those words will come up again and again, and it’ll be super useful for them.”