As a college Latin teacher, I want to add my own two cents to The Other Charlotte’s plea for the return of studying dead languages at tnder ages. (See Is Latin Really Dead? April 1).

Both TOC and I are adult survivors of not only Latin but classical Greek, and we both agree that making your kid learn Latin is not only a great idea on its own (the literature is wonderful) but is the only way, given the current state of English-language education, that he or she is likely to ever learn any rules of grammar in any tongue. When I was growing up, we studied English in grade school as though it were Latin, writing out verb-conjugations, and learning to parse words and diagram sentences. Those days are now as dead as any dead language ever was, so now the only way to learn English grammar is to study Latin. Some of my students are meeting adjectives and adverbs for the first time in their lives. For this reason, Latin is having a huge comeback (it turns out to be useful for the SATs), and my own once-tiny sophomore class now contains a whopping 27 students.

That means that–as TOC and U.K. Spectator writer Harry Mount advise, you (and you children) must at all costs stay away from the trendy Cambridge Latin Series, regarded as a joke at the university where I teach. And while you’re at, also avoid the Oxford Latin Series. Both series, but especially Cambridge, buy into the “living language” theory of teaching languages: that you shouldn’t bore the kids with rules of grammar, and that they’ll somehow “feel their way” into concepts such as the ablative absolute, just as kids learning how to read are supposed to “feel their way” into reading, “See Spot run.” Talk about the decline of two great English universities.

Up till now, that has meant that there has been exactly one decent Latin textbook: Wheelock’s Latin. Yale University has a brand-new Latin series out now that my University plans to use instead of Wheelock. It looks good,although there are a few nods to political correctness–“puellae et pueri” instead of the other way around–that will make classicists smile. Unfortunately, ancient Rome was one of the most sexist societies ever devised. Few “puellae” were taught to read, and for most, “puella”-dom ended abruptly at age 12, when they were married off to an older guy they’d never seen before. There really is something to modernity.