Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: Latin for Children, Primer A

Several people have mentioned they'd like to know how our experience with the Latin curriculum is going.  Instead of trying to email or message everyone, I'm just going to review this curriculum and refer people here.

To be clear,  I selected this curriculum for Amber after a lot of research.  I was not solicited to do this review nor do they probably even know or care that I am doing this review.

We have been using Latin for Children, Primer A for almost 2 months.  We both really enjoy using it and are learning a lot very quickly.  I don't know Latin, so I've been learning along with Amber.

The curriculum is setup where each chapter is it's own lesson and it is designed so that each chapter should take 5 days or one week.  Each chapter has a specific verb (class of verbs) to conjugate or a noun declension, a vocabulary list, and a grammar lesson.  Our schedule would only allow for Latin 3 days a week, so it takes us a bit longer to go through the chapters.  On the positive side, this also means that Amber has extra time to learn the vocabulary compared to if we did a chapter per week, as suggested. I have found that it might be a little fast at this age (4th grade) to rush through a lesson per week. I fear that she would not grasp everything as well as she needs to progress to the next chapter. Each chapter very much builds on the previous.

The curriculum set came with a DVD that goes over the verb conjugation or noun declension, vocabulary and grammar for each chapter in a nice, easy to understand discussion.  We view the video on day one of each chapter and then review the lesson book for the remaining days. The curriculum also came with a CD of chants to help the kids remember their verb conjugation or noun declension and vocabulary for each chapter. I put the whole thing on Amber's iPod and she has been diligently listening to it each week.  The curriculum lets you select between the Classical or Ecclesiastical pronunciation for Latin. We have chosen the Classical, so those are the DVD and CD tracks that we use.

There is also an Activity book, separate from the Lesson book, that has entertaining mazes, word searches, crossword puzzles and other activities for each chapter.  These are fun ways to enforce the vocabulary without the dullness of regurgitation style worksheets (which they also have in the lesson book, if that's your thing).   A Latin reader is included in the kit as well, but it is recommended for use AFTER half of the lessons have been completed. Until that time the student will not have enough vocabulary to translate the reader.

We have found that some of the grammar, like the infinitive & perfect tenses, is a bit over Amber's head.  It can be difficult to learn grammar in a foreign language when you haven't learned that part of grammar in your own language yet.  However, the curriculum does it in easy steps and doesn't expect the student to fully understand the grammar usage yet.  Some of the advanced grammar is more informational so that the student has an idea of why they are memorizing all the forms of the verbs and nouns.

I find that it does help that I've studied foreign languages before. I do have a good grasp on all the grammar and am basically just learning Latin vocabulary.  Amber has many questions about why we need to know specific things about the grammar and why there aren't pronouns in Latin.  We've had many discussions about the origins and ages of the various languages.

In our experience, with a 4th grader, this is not the type of curriculum where you can sit your child in front of the computer or hand them a workbook and expect them to learn the language.  It will require parent interaction and assistance.   We were not necessarily looking for independent learning curriculum, so this suits us just fine.  We enjoy spending time together working on our Latin lessons. 

Overall, we are very happy with this curriculum.  It goes at a good pace that makes us feel like we are making progress but not so fast as we can not remember what we just learned.  We plan to continue to use this curriculum through all three levels.

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