Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: Roman Roads Media

This year we have really branched out into some new areas of Classical Christian Education, and are enjoying learning new things in unique subject areas. One topic I have always wanted to study with the girls is Latin. All the girls are interested in learning languages, and Latin, being a root language, really helps with making language study easier. When I was a student, way back in the day, I took a year of Latin and still am reaping the benefits of those studies.

Another important aspect of Latin study is the foundation it gives for those who are going into the field of medicine or Sciences. Knowing roots, prefixes, and suffixes helps definitely helps the student to understand all the complex terms. I have looked at many Latin curriculum over the years, and even purchased one, but none of them really worked for our family. So I was thrilled to receive Visual Latin I from Roman Roads Media  to review in our homeschool.

What is Visual Latin? It is a one year program that utilizes video instruction and worksheets to teach Latin roots, words, conjugations and usage, and even teaches how to interpret Latin passages. It takes the student from a very rudimentary beginner level, to being able to read and understand entire passages of Scripture in Latin. It is taught by an instructor named Dwane Thomas, who is a veteran Latin instructor who speaks multiple languages himself.

How is the program set up? Visual Latin has 30 lessons. Each lesson is sub-divided into 3 short video lessons (averaging about 10 minutes each) each followed by a worksheet.  The first section of the lesson teaches grammar. It includes new vocabulary words as well as how those words are used. The second section teaches sentence structure and allows the student to use those new words in sentence forms. The third section teaches reading and translation, and has the student actually re-writing Latin into English/English into Latin in complete sentences.  A student can work at their own pace, and older students could definitely get through this program quicker than middle school students could. I could easily see taking a week per lesson, and stretching this out over 30 weeks, but for high school students, I am sure they could handle doing more than that, and finishing a lesson perhaps over two days.

Here is nice little video that teacher Dwane Thomas put together to give an overview of the program:

Further Study: When Visual Latin I is completed, there is a second course, Visual Latin II, that is set up very similar. (30 lessons, video & worksheet instruction). According to the website, each Latin program could take one year, and there are suggestions to enhance each program to make it worth a full high school credit.

Still wondering if this is right for your students? Visit the Visual Latin website to watch sample lesson videos! Dwane Thomas is fun and engaging, and makes learning Latin seem easy and enjoyable.

Recommended age: Visual Latin is recommended for ages 10 and up. In our home, the 9 yr old, 12 yr old, and the 17 yr old are all watching it, along with myself, the Mom. All of us have found the videos interesting and easy to follow. None of the kids have had any trouble at all with the worksheets. The 17 yr old finds them very easy, but they seem just right for the other two.

More about the videos: Mr Thomas stands by a chalkboard. For the most part he talks and teaches, then writes things on the board. There are also slides inserted into the videos that illustrate the concepts. Here is an example from the very first lesson:

Latin verbs

English translation of previous slide

More about the worksheets: Each lesson has a 3 part worksheet, coinciding with the 3 videos. Each part is 1-2 pages long. There are vocabulary and word charts included, to refer back to what was taught in the video. They charts are very helpful. Here is an example of a partial list of pronouns that are used on the worksheet:

Help for teachers: Whether the teacher watches and learns alongside the student or not, the Latin lessons and worksheets come with a Teacher Key so that the teacher is easily able to correct the work.

How we are using this: We received Latin I in digital download format. After downloading the lessons, we watched the Introductory lessons and then jumped right in. We are fitting the Latin lessons into our summer. Even though we have been busy, it has not been hard to add in these lessons. The videos are short, the worksheets make sense, and the children enjoy watching and listening to Mr. Thomas. When we work on it, we often do more than one video and worksheet set at a time, just because the girls get into it and don't want to stop. If we spend a good hour, they can typically work through an entire lesson (consisting of 3 short videos) and complete the entire worksheet (typically about 5 pages). I am amazed at how quickly the girls pick up the words, and also how much they remember from lesson to lesson.

Some random thoughts: Laura has seriously studied Spanish for 2 years. She was fascinated by how closely related Latin and Spanish were. Much of the beginning Latin she understood easily, and she just flew through the worksheets, because they were very similar to the usage and conjugations that she has already learned for Spanish. Melissa and Kelly are a bit slower at it, mostly because they have limited foreign language training. I am thrilled by how easy and fun this program is. It takes an intimidating subject and puts it right on the bottom shelf where everyone can partake and learn. It keeps feeling like it should be harder, but when the girls are able to complete the worksheets and I see that their answers are all correct, then I know that even though it seems too easy, they really are learning the information!

Final word: I would definitely recommend this program as a great middle school Latin curriculum. To use it as a high school program for credit, I think the parent should follow the recommendations on the website for enhancing the program. I think Visual Latin is a great fit for beginners, or people who want their children to learn Latin but feel intimidated by it. This program is extremely user friendly! I am so glad we had the privilege of using it in our home school!

Cost: The entire Visual Latin I program on DVD, including the worksheets, is currently on sale for $85. Visual Latin II is also on sale for the same price.

Social Media: Follow Roman Roads curriculum at these sites:

Other members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew had the privilege of reviewing several different programs from Roman Roads Media, including their full year program studying Old Western Culture of the Greeks & Romans, as well as Grammar of Poetry, Dave Raymond's American History, and Economics for Everybody. Stop by the other reviews to see what everyone thought!

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