We have always had an interest in learning Latin in our home school, because of the help it is not only in understanding and decoding English words, but the foundation given when learning several different foreign languages.
I have tried several Latin programs but found them all to be too complicated, especially for someone like me who doesn't know a lot of the proper pronunciation. Because I understand the value of learning it, though, I was eager to try the Latina Christiana I Complete Set from Memoria Press when it became available for review.
Who Should Use Latina Christiana? This is a course designed especially for homeschoolers who are just starting on their Latin journey. It teaches "Church" Latin, in the sense that several different prayers, songs, and Christian words are taught right from the start, and some words may vary slightly from the classical pronunciation. Latina Christiana can be taught by a parent or teacher who has no previous Latin experience. Since mine is very slim, I was pretty excited about the course layout. This program is designed for at least a 3rd grade level, but can be used for a beginning Latin course for any age.
What Do The Lessons Cover? There are 25 lessons and 5 review lessons. (Every 5 lessons, there is a review). Each lesson has enough activities and review to last an entire week, making this a course that can be done over an entire school year. Students will learn 10 vocabulary words per lesson, as well as Latin word study, which teaches how the words are used in the language. Also included are grammar forms of the words, conjugations, and derivatives such as roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Each week, students will get a small Roman history lesson, and also learn at least one new Latin saying. (So many Latin sayings in their original form are still used in our culture today - the girls' favorite: Semper Fidelis - the motto of the US Marines!)
How It Worked For Us: I decided to use Latina Christiana I with Melissa, who was finishing up eighth grade as we began this review. While this program could definitely be used with younger students, I felt it would be a good fit for Melissa because she is also learning French, and much of the Latin would be helpful for that. Even though Melissa is much older than the recommended early age of third grade, we felt this program was a very good fit for her age and level of understanding. The Latin words are enough to challenge her without making her feel overwhelmed. We decided to stretch a lesson out over one week as the teacher's guide suggested, even though Melissa probably could have moved through the program a little quicker. From the start, I decided that since I am a Latin 'novice' that I would follow the teacher guide exactly, as there are many helpful tips there to make this course a success even when taught by an inexperienced instructor. The workbook pages were probably too simple for her, but it made for a good experience because she was able to grasp everything without a struggle, which made this a fun program for her to use.
What Is In The Complete Set? Not only did we receive the spiral-bound 157 page teacher guide, as well as the 88 page student workbook, but we also received many helpful aids to our study.
We received a set of DVD's that contain video lessons with teacher Leigh Lowe. Video lessons last about 30-40 minutes and cover everything that is in the lesson for the week.A typical video lesson screen looks like this:
A very helpful tool in the Complete Set is the pronunciation CD. We would hear words or phrases on the DVD lesson, but not want to rewind/fast forward through the entire lesson to try to find it just to hear it again. The pronunciation CD made it easy to navigate through the words and phrases, and hear only the ones we needed repeatedly.
There also is a complete set of sturdy, simple flash cards with all the vocabulary words and phrases to review. The flash cards are numbered, which is such a helpful detail to keep them in order. They can be used for traditional review, or in one of the games that is mentioned in the teacher guide.
What Else? One thing that really rounds this program out is the study of Roman History that is included. There are maps and various tidbits of information included in each lesson. Memoria Press recommends using this program alongside Famous Men of Rome, which was also reviewed by the Crew.
A Bright Spot: I love the lists in these books! There are lists in the back with vocabulary words, word derivatives, English to Latin translations, and charts of verb and word forms. It is so convenient to be able to just flip to the back of the book to look up words and details.
A Word About The Video Lessons: Personally, I love video lessons because they seem to suit my children's learning styles very well. These video lessons move through all the material for each lesson, but they also are not very flashy. The 'lecture style' of the DVD lessons actually works well for us. Melissa had no problem with them, as she is very used to video learning, and enjoys it, but children who are not used to learning this way may have some adjustments to make to sit and watch the videos. We thought the videos were very well made, and it was nice to be able to clearly hear the proper pronunciation as we learned.
Jump Right In: Because of the way the complete set is arranged, we were able to start the program the day after receiving it in the mail. Especially if you are utilizing the video lessons, there is little to no prep work for the teacher. The lesson plans in the teacher guide are nearly foolproof. Everything is laid out in an orderly fashion. Even the review and workbook activities are numbered, so the teacher will know what to do for each of the five days it takes to complete a lesson.
My Final Thoughts: I think this program is very effective and well done. Melissa was reluctant at first when she heard we had a Latin program to review, because she was worried it would be dry and difficult. It was neither. We watch the Latin DVD together, so I can learn alongside her and be able to help her with the workbook or review if she needs it. She fills out the 2 pages of workbook for each lesson, then we take the rest of our time to review, following the instructions in the teacher guide. We found that we could complete an entire lesson in 3-4 days. The amazing thing is that Melissa is retaining almost all the vocabulary words she is learning! She really enjoys picking out words and knowing their meaning, because she recognizes Latin roots in those words. I love that Melissa is learning Latin and loving it!
Latin In Action: Recently we were at an activity that had a vocabulary game, where participants received a page of ten obscure words. They had to write a meaning for any they knew. Melissa started to break the words down and was actually able to figure out what several of them meant, thanks to her training in Latin roots. I'll admit it - I was stunned...and happy!
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