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The Well Trained Mind: Thoughts from Chapter 9

This is a series of posts I am writing about The Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. Although the WTM has a decidedly homeschooling bent, it is an excellent reference book for any parent who is interested in taking an active role in their child’s education.

Over the next few weeks I am reading the WTM again for the second time and blogging about my thoughts chapter by chapter. I want to be conscientious about not violating any copyrights, so I will not be including quotes from the book on my blog. I will however, be referencing specific page numbers from the third edition. I invite you to read along with me, and chime in your own thoughts in the comment section below.

Chapter 9

General Thoughts:

If any of you follow my blog on a regular basis you might already know my thoughts on Latin. You can find them on my Latin page. The only thing I haven’t said, is why not German? If one of the big reasons to learn Latin is so that you can better understand the English Language, then wouldn’t German be an even better choice? My Magister, Mr. Stasel, use to say that the English Language was half Latin, half German. I’ve never studied German myself, but don’t you decline nouns in German? Wouldn’t that help you learn English grammar just as well? Plus, you could actually use German and put it on your resume as a skill future employers might value. German speakers, please let me know what you think!

Here is a recount of trying to teach Bruce Spanish: http://teachingmybabytoread.blog.com/spanish/

Has anyone used any of the other language programs the authors of the WTM recommended?


  1. Claire H. says:

    Sean studied German in high school because his mother’s family was originally from that country (we’re talking a couple of centuries back, though). I don’t recall him ever saying that it helped him with English grammar.

    I do, however, recall him saying that it’s not terribly useful as a 2nd language because the German education system does such an excellent job at teaching its students English. He has found that most Germans he’s ever met speak English far better than he speaks German.

  2. Jean says:

    I studied German! Hm. German doesn’t decline nouns or conjugate verbs in quite the same hideously complex way; the grammar is simpler (though I never could make sense of certain things, and grammar in Danish is simplest of all!). German has 3 genders and 4 cases.

    Here’s the thing about the amount of English words from German vs. Latin: the Latin-based words are nearly all the hard ones, and the German-based words are nearly all the easy ones. “Antebellum” or “benediction” is much harder to figure out than “wife” or “bread.” So while that makes German easier for an English-speaker to learn–between my English and my Danish I could almost understand German without studying it at all–learning German doesn’t actually help you understand English a whole lot better IME.

    Russian, now–Russian grammar has a lot in common with Latin, while the word roots are all different. When I first started studying Latin with my kids, I was quite grateful for all the Russian I studied in college–I understood declensions right away! I’d pick Russian over German for usefulness if I was going for a modern language, and Spanish, Hindi, or Chinese over either of those–but I never did well with usefulness and really wanted to study Czech. We will do a modern language as well, but right now we’ll stick with Latin. 🙂

    • jenbrdsly says:

      Now that is some interesting commentary! We actually have Czech relatives and they speak: Czech, Russian, English, French, German and a little Swedish. None of them like speaking Russian however, because it was forced upon them during communism. They said that since so few people in the world speak Czech you really have to learn to speak a lot of other languages to get by. When my husband and I went to the Czech Republic we felt very ignorant since we only speak English and Spanish.

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