I was taught 2 semesters of cold Spanish, but forgot most of it. Does learning Latin first make learning Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, etc. a whole lot faster or easier as some claim. They all stem from latin of course. Any studies on this?
No, not according to this study. I wasn't able to find enough study on this to form a real basis for a literature review, but the outcome of the linked study was that, when teaching speakers of a non-latin based language spanish, those who learnt French first did better than those who learnt latin first.
The outcome is unsurprising in my opinion. Latin is indeed a base point for many languages such as French, Spanish and Portuguese, but none of these languages actually inherited such an extensive grammar, tense-structure or verb transformational system. Latin is complicated, and more complicated than it's 'offspring' in use today.
Although Latin is still taught in many schools, and Universities, this is more an exercise in learning than in language (and IMO is somewhat tradition over education). The University I attended and subsequently worked for is very traditional, and viewed Latin or Classics study as an advantage, not because Latin was particularly useful - one can easily get by without it - but because excelling at Latin shows an ability to study a complicated thing successfully.
To conclude, at least according to the referenced study, learning latin may help learn latin based languages, but learning a latin based language would too - and slightly better as it seems.