We started learning Latin last year and have thoroughly enjoyed it.
I’m learning it with the boys and we’ve just been plodding along at our own pace.
For me I see no point in “exposing” the boys to vocabulary. I want them to “know” it. So we don’t move onto a new chapter until the previous vocabulary just rolls off our tongue.
Every morning as I make breakfast each boy runs through all of their Latin vocabulary – everything to date. One boy gets the English words and has to translate them into Latin and the other gets Latin and has to translate it to English.
Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? Surprisingly we’re only talking about a quick five minute task, tops!!
The program I selected to use was Songschool Latin. It seemed like the easiest and gentlest approach for young students and having used it now I totally agree. It’s perfect for a getting your first taste of Latin.
In my case I had to consider that I had two differently-abled students to cater for. Ethan can easily do reading and written work but Brayden’s not an independent reader yet. For me whatever I chose had to work for both learners. Brayden refuses to be left out of anything, particularly something as exciting as learning a new language! So whatever I chose had to be adaptable which Songschool Latin definitely was.
The key components of the program are the student text and the audio cd. There is a teacher’s manual too but you honestly don’t need it. The program is so simple you can easily follow along with just the student text. However there are some nice looking additional worksheets in the teacher’s manual and if you have a soft spot for this sort of thing then you might just be tempted. 🙂
Oh and I loved that the cd comes as part of the student text so you are not forced to purchase the teacher’s manual if you choose not to. I appreciate publishers who do little things like that. It says to me that it’s not about the money it about the customers learning Latin.
There’s also a card game called Latin Monkey Match. I didn’t purchase this either as I felt that it probably wouldn’t be used enough to warrant the additional money. (I didn’t like that they included the translations on the cards. Too easy, no challenge 😦 I’m tough!)
So with just the student text and the audio cd of the songs we set out on our Latin journey.
I was a bit nervous about teaching a foreign language that I did not know myself but so far it’s been a breeze and a delight. Together we always finding English words that derived from Latin and rush to share our discoveries with each other. Poor Daddy is the odd man out. We have to bring him up to speed on our lessons over dinner.
Each chapter of the text is nicely laid out. The vocabulary is presented first – not too much and not too little. And it’s usable vocabulary so the boys can be sprouting what they know as soon as they learn it. In the first few chapters you’ll learn how to say hello and goodbye, ask a person what their name is and how they are doing.
Next on the page you’ll find the songs that teach the vocabulary. Most of each song is in English and only the new vocabulary is in Latin. The tunes are easy to learn as they are simple tunes that you would already know. Children who love to sing will enjoy the songs and I suspect you’d hear them sung all day long. Perhaps there’s the risk of insanity if you choose this program, but if you’re homeschooling, you were probably on the edge already and it wasn’t the publishers fault entirely. Heheheeh.
My boys aren’t singers though (Phew! Hehehe). Rarely will they sing anything so for us the songs were just fun to listen to as we did our lesson and a way for us to learn how to pronounce the Latin. Hey, I sung the songs with the cd…until I was politely asked to stop. Perhaps there was a message in that. ???
The activities in the student text are all fairly simple. Lots of tracing, circling the word, filling in the blanks, matching words to pictures and that sort of thing. There’s not a lot of activities in each chapter so if you feel you need more you might want to look to the teacher manual for the additional worksheets.
These three images show all of Chapter 8 to give you an idea of how much is contained in a chapter.
For us having only a few activities was not a drawback at all as I feel the success of a Latin program is in the memory work that you do in addition to introducing the new vocabulary.
As I was working with a younger student I tweaked our activities a lot to suit both students. Ethan appreciates the tweaking too as it means less writing, and that’s always good in his eyes. 🙂
I went through the text and created my own flashcards for all of the vocabulary that we would learn. For each new lesson the boys are given that chapter’s vocabulary to glue in their Latin notebook. I always cut it up for them and mix it up to create a sorting task. For Brayden I say the Latin word as I hand him the card and he has to tell me the translation. I then give him the card. These vocabulary cards will be more valuable to him in the future but at present he’s being given learning opportunities that look very much like his brother’s tasks. So we’re all happy.
As we’ve chosen to make a Latin notebook we have not written in the Songschool Latin text at all. I use it merely as a sequence of learning, support and inspiration. I know. I always have to make things difficult. Hehehehe. For us this just works better. Everything can be tweaked. I love tweaking. But I also like a little hand holding so I wouldn’t have been able to start our Latin journey without a curriculum of some sort.
The activities I create are often very similar to the text but I frequently personalise them as in the activity below. (For your Latin information: frater means brother; mater means mother; soror means sister; and pater means father. Oh and that’s MY sister in the picture).
With these sorts of activities Ethan does them himself while I work with Brayden reading the Latin to him so he can identify the answers. There’s virtually no writing and the obstacle of reading is eliminated with my help.
Plus cutting and pasting while listening to the Songschool Latin cd is very relaxing and we prefer the pretty colours. Don’t you?
So would I recommend Songschool Latin? Yes, if you have younger students then this is the perfect choice. Most of the other programs are very grammar heavy and just not accessible to the littlies.
Do you need to do what I did and make up your own worksheets? No. That was a personal choice. I could have bought a second student text and just had Brayden work on the activities he could do and leave those that he couldn’t. Ethan could easily have used the student text and enjoyed it. Looking at the Teacher Manual samples I probably would have liked those extra worksheets too although they wouldn’t have been accessible to my non-reader and writer.
To be honest a LOT of our Latin learning happens in the mornings as we review and memorise the vocabulary we learned from the audio cds. We only pull out our notebook and student text when we’re ready to add new vocabulary to our repertoire.
I would also suggest that if you plan on completing a lesson a week and you only review the vocabulary once a week as a result, you probably won’t “learn” much Latin. My advice would be to take your time and let your “pace gauge” be your student’s learning and not “how many chapters you need to complete by the end of the year”. As a tool this curriculum is GREAT! I’m so pleased with our choice.
AND now that we’ve found the colouring pages to go with Songschool Latin, it’s even more accessible for the littlies.
Plus there are quizzes, games and videos for the technology lovers. I’ve scheduled these into school for us tomorrow!
Where to next on our Latin journey? Well I was tossing up between Prima Latina and Latin for Children. Prima Latina seems like a natural next step after Songschool and then Latin for Children after that. But Prima Latina just looks so dry and they use the Ecclesiastical pronunciation rather than Classical. With all the time and money in the world we could have done both but if we keep “strolling” through Latin we’d never get anywhere. At some point we have to get up and run on the journey so I’ve made the decision (and purchased the goodies) to start “Latin for Children“. It was my preference between the two programs and I can’t wait for it to arrive. It’ll be a while before we can start though as we still have to finish off Songschool Latin. I’m just jumping in early while the dollar is so healthy…on our side of the Pacific that is. 🙂