…your little man sprinkles his spelling test with Latin translations of various words just to be amusing.
…your little man sprinkles his spelling test with Latin translations of various words just to be amusing.
Just recently we learned the Latin verb for one person to listen – “audi”.
Over breakfast a light went off in the boys’ brains.
“That’s just like “audio” which mean something you can listen to!!”
(By the way, “audio” in Latin means “to listen”)
So we went on a dictionary hunt to find other words that came from the Latin word to listen. We found stacks and wrote down a couple.
This led us on a hunt for words related to the other Latin vocabulary the boys had already learned. The boys were so excited and coming up with suggestions of their own before I could even find them in the dictionary.
So the next time you are wondering, “Why would you ever teach a dead language like Latin?”, ponder this impromptu English vocabulary lesson.
This past month the boys and I have been using the lessons from Visual Latin in order to review them for you, my dear readers. We’ve been very impressed with this product (and I don’t say stuff I don’t mean!)
Visual Latin is a video-centred program. In choosing a Latin curriculum for my family, an audio-visual component is at the top of my “must have” list of requirements. I do not want to be the person my children learn their Latin pronunciation from! In actual fact I want to be included as one of the students for this subject. I want to be able to learn Latin alongside my children so I prefer having someone else as the teacher. Dwayne Thomas is your teacher on the Visual Latin videos and he’s great!! You couldn’t want for a better, more amusing teacher!
The program is easy to use for both students and teacher. There isn’t a pile of required texts to purchase. There are no fancy bells and whistle to distract you from your goal of learning Latin with your children. In Visual Latin there are three short video components in each lesson and accompanying worksheets for each. The first video teaches an element of grammar, the second video uses that new concept in sentences and the final video in the lesson puts your new learning to use as you read aloud short texts.
When I watched the first few lessons I was worried about the amount of vocabulary that was introduced in such a short period, but after working through a few lessons it wasn’t really an issue at all with my boys. They understood the key focus of the lesson and were not burdened by the introduction of lots of new vocabulary – that was included to create sentences and texts to highlight the grammar concept being taught. The beauty of the short videos and the self-paced nature of the program is that we can watch the videos over and over again until the grammar AND the new vocabulary is second nature to us.
(That’s another appealing feature of videos – kids are happy to watch them repeatedly but ask a child to redo a textbook page and you may as well ask them to tear off a limb as the screams and horror written on their face will be very much the same.)
I personally believe that children (and student Mummies) need to practise and review their Latin every day. Sounds like a tall order, particularly with those bells and whistles programs that’ll take you ten minutes to just locate all the various components. The simplicity of Visual Latin allowed my boys and I to easily fit a lesson in each day. We just pressed play to watch the 5 to 7 minute video and then pressed ‘print’ for the worksheet and set to work on a five minute written task. If you include the time it took me to herd everyone into the study our Visual Latin lessons were no longer than 15 minutes each. No planning, no set up (our computers are always on), no tidy up and no tantrums. What more can a Mumma ask for?!
Oh yes, since a Mumma is always considering her budget and the lack of pennies in her purse to buy all the things she needs and a few of the things that she wants, the price is important. Well Visual Latin is an appealing choice in that department too. Ten lessons (that’s 30 videos and worksheets) will cost you only $25 (U.S.) regardless of whether you chose the DVD or Download option. That’s a bargain in my books and it makes it one of the more affordable Latin curriculums as well.
Being an Aussie homeschooler, I love the download option from overseas curriculum providers. Sure I’d prefer to have a hard copy of program, but with shipping costs as they are, and the fact that I’m convinced some suppliers use row boats to ship things to Australia, downloading is a huge blessing.
Oh and don’t worry if you have a hitch downloading your purchases. The staff at Visual Latin are lovely and very helpful. There were a few technical glitches to overcome in order to download my Visual Latin lessons and I was very impressed with how friendly and obliging the staff were.
I have a confession to make too. I have been sneaking ahead in our Visual Latin lessons, learning when the boys weren’t watching. Hubby has also watched several lessons. The lessons are fun, easy and quick so you can’t blame me entirely. Perhaps I should attach a warning to this review – if you do not wish to learn any Latin alongside your children then beware of this product. It’s enticing and inviting, for children and parents alike.
Another confession, well more of a disclosure, I was given a free download of the first ten lessons of Visual Latin in order to review and share my opinion with my readers. However, I couldn’t help myself, and my children were tugging at my clothing begging me, and we’ve already gone ahead and purchased lessons 11-30!!!
Watch the free sample lesson and I’m sure you’ll understand why the boys and I have enjoyed using Visual Latin and plan to continue using it. If the sample excites you and Visual Latin seem to fit your Latin requirements then I have something very exciting to share. The staff at Visual Latin want to help you access their product and have offered my readers 25% off EVERYTHING in their store until April 22 just by using the coupon code LITTLEMEN when you make your purchases at Visual Latin. Now that’s a great deal on an already great deal.
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. 🙂