Beginning Latin

We have wrapped up our first five weeks of Latin using Prima Latina.

I think this is one of the most fun and interesting things we’ve done in school yet, and the children, especially Turkey, seem to agree with that assessment. From a teacher’s standpoint, I can say that they’ve learned more grammar and vocabulary in these five weeks than they have all school year…and maybe in school, period. Given that grammar is one of the things I feel our current curriculum is weak in, I’m grateful to have some instruction and reinforcement, even if I was surprised that came via (look–one of first vocabulary words!) a foreign language, and a dead one at that.

I have now witnessed first hand how true it is that young minds are more receptive to learning a foreign language than adult minds. Turkey and Bunny barely need to see a word and its translation more than once, and they have it memorized–not so much true for me. And over the course of five weeks, they have memorized the whole Sanctus in Latin. I’m still peeking at the words in the teacher’s manual, and they’re saying it rather confidently. They also don’t have the hang-ups about pronunciation that I do. After dealing with English for such a long time, it’s very difficult for me to train myself that vowels are always pronounced one way in Latin, but I guess since they’ve had less time to get used to the oddities of our language, they don’t struggle as much with that as I do.

I think learning other languages is very important (and the lack of that instruction is part of what makes American schools inferior to those in Europe and elsewhere), and Latin is a great place to start. So much of our grammar and vocabulary comes from Latin that even when we’re learning a foreign language, we’re reinforcing our own Language Arts as well. And a foundation in Latin should also make learning some languages much easier for them in the future.

I know there are other Latin curriculum out there, and I’ve heard good things about them, but I really like Prima Latina, and am planning on continuing with Latina Christiana I next year. I’ve never actually studied Latin as a language, and I’ve found that the teacher’s guide is very helpful, and doesn’t require that the instructor be familiar with the language. There are CDs available with the pronunciations that might help me with my mental block regarding them, but I’ve also heard that the Southern accent on the speaker is almost unbearable, so I’m no hurry to go out and buy them. There are also flashcards available, which I may look into getting in the future, but for now, I’m making my own (and hoping my children can read my handwriting!).

The only problem I’ve really had with the program is that when I scheduled it, I included the review “lesson” at the end of the week it immediately follows–I should have provided a full week for each review lesson, as they’re quite in-depth and lengthy. It’s too late to change that now, though, as I’ve scheduled it through the end of the year. That’s my fault, and I know for next year (as long the program is set up in a similar fashion) to reserve those extra weeks–even with the review lessons added, there are fewer weeks of Latin then there are of our school year.

I also really like that the program approaches Latin from a liturgical perspective. Turkey and Bunny have both whispered to me in church that they’ve noticed Latin words in the hymnal/service, (and they’ve also greeted their Sunday school teacher in Latin). It’s exciting to see them making connections from what they’re learning in school to an important part of their everyday life. It may be a “dead language,” but it still has a wealth of practical application for us today!

2 thoughts on “Beginning Latin

  1. I really think it’s the most exciting thing we’ve done so far! Probably not the most practical (although it is practical), but seeing them make the connections between the language we’re learning, and words they use on a daily basis is thrilling! (Even if I was bombarded with whispered comments about words they found in the hymnal all morning in church–sometimes enthusiasm can’t be contained!)

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