Thursday, July 7, 2016

Once Upon a Time in Latin

My kids are fascinated with foreign languages. It had been a while since we formally studied one, so I was pleased when a review for Laurelwood Books became an option. The idea of speaking and understanding a language not common in our area is especially appealing to my oldest (10 yr). While he has dreams of learning the Elvish language (yes, seriously), he was equally excited about studying Latin. He's pleased because it's a dead language; I'm pleased because of the benefits that stem from it.

Latin may not be one's native language any longer or be continually evolving, but its influence can be found all over. Not only will understanding Latin be beneficial for learning the Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian), but it will give a better understanding of English, as well. I have fond memories of learning morphemes (the smallest part with meaning of a word). We'd sit around the table making up our own words by combining prefixes, suffixes, and roots.  Throughout the years, he taught me that I could have a basic understanding of almost any word (and could even understand many foreign words), as long as I had a grasp of the individual parts. Many of our morphemes stem from Latin and can be found in various areas of study, like medicine, astronomy biology, history, dentistry, law, and mathematics, to name just a few. It's because of this connection to our own language that I was excited to use Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I.

Derivatives I focuses on studying Latin words and the English words we derive from them. It can be used as a stand-alone vocabulary builder or as a complimentary resource to any Latin program. In fact, the words used in this curriculum are pulled directly from the first three volumes of Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin reader series by the same author.

A two-week schedule is recommended for each lesson of 10 vocabulary words.

Week 1
Day 1: Trace Latin and English Words
Day 2: Exercise I: Fill in the Blank
Day 3: Exercise II: Matching
Day 4: Exercise III: Story with Blanks

Week 2
Day 5: Exercise IV: Multiple Choice
Day 6: Exercise V: Write Your Own Story
Day 7: Crossword or Word Search Puzzle
Extras: Write Derivatives (every 5 lessons)

There is a detailed pronunciation guide in the beginning of the book. It breaks down each letter and its sound, explains double letters, and lists rules for accents and syllables. It also describes macrons, the diacritical mark indicating a long vowel.

The Latin vocabulary words in the book fall into 3 categories: verbs, nouns, and adjectives. For each word, the book lists the Latin word(s), the meaning, and the English derivatives.

1. dicere, dīcit, dīxit (v)                  to say, (he) says, (he) said           diction, dictionary
2. prīmus, prīma, prīmum (adj)       first                                             primary, premier
3. exīre (v)                                    to go out, exit                              exit

The exercises are fairly simple. My son completes them in 5-10 minutes each day. He's a little disappointed as he thought he'd be learning to speak Latin, rather than just learning random words. We did look up some videos so we could hear how it's spoken. The pronunciation guide is helpful, but he needed to hear it to fully understand. He doesn't appreciate the benefits of what he is learning just yet. I've tried explaining that this book is truly helpful in understanding English and decoding words he doesn't know. He just gives me one of those looks in return. I know, I know, one day he'll appreciate it, ha. Until then, I will have him continue to complete the exercises, if for nothing other than the English vocabulary he's studying. He is still interested in speaking Latin. I think this book would be a wonderful resource to use alongside an actual Latin curriculum.  

If you're looking for a good way to learn some Latin words and see how they've influenced the English language, Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I is a good option.


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You can read more reviews of this book or of one of the many other resources reviewed by other homeschoolers on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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