Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Latina Christiana

We have enjoyed being able to review for Memoria Press each time in the past, so when the opportunity became available again, I was excited. Memoria Press is known for its easy-to-use classical Christian materials. They believe in the "cultivation of wisdom and virtue through meditation on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful" by training in the liberal arts and studying great books and great thinkers of the Western Tradition. Their products are characterized by 3 things: simplicity, quality, and affordability. They are designed to be used by anyone from an inexperienced homeschool parent to a seasoned classroom teacher. We've used their curricula for various subjects, like phonics, literature, and history; but this is our first experience using one of their Latin products, Latina Christiana Complete Set

I know that some people may think that it is pointless to study Latin as it is no longer a native language and is no longer evolving, but there are still many benefits of learning it: helpful in  learning the Romance languages and also the English language, because it teaches the morphemes (smallest part of a word, i.e. prefixes, roots, suffixes); helpful in teaching proper grammar; and helpful in developing the mind through attention to detail, precision, and work.

My 11-year-old has always been interested in foreign languages. He had tried a Latin curriculum a year ago, but it focused on teaching morphemes and vocabulary, and not the language as a whole. On top of that, we really were lost when it came to pronunciation, even trying to follow the guide. My son quickly lost interest. Honestly, when I saw that we could choose another Latin program, I nearly dismissed it. Then I took the time to really look at all that it had to offer and realized that it was completely different.

The Latina Christiana set, written by Cheryl Lowe, was designed as a beginning Latin course for students of all ages. Its step-by-step approach and clear instructions make it a perfect option for a teacher with no background in Latin. The set contains everything you need for a year's worth of study: Student Book, Teacher Manual, Pronunciation CD, Flashcards, and Instructional DVDs.

The Student Book is the individual workbook for the student. It contains the Latin sayings, vocabulary, grammar forms, and exercises for each of the 25 lessons along with additional pages for 5 review lessons. The exercises include grammar, derivatives, phrases and sayings, translations, and more. The book also contains the pronunciation rules, The Lord's Prayer and a table blessing both shown word-for-word in English and Latin, songs, conversational Latin phrases, grammar forms, and a vocabulary index. There is even a history section that has a map and comprehensive questions that correspond to the Famous Men of Rome set, also offered by Memoria Press.

The detailed weekly lesson plans are found in the Teacher Manual. This book is important to the teacher as it not only includes a complete copy of the Student Book with overlaid answers, but also lists comprehensive teaching instructions for each lessons. Tests, quizzes, answer keys, games, recitations, grammar rules, and historical information are also included.

The Pronunciation CD has 32 tracks of various things in Latin. There is a pronunciation guide, The Lord's Prayer, a table blessing, recitation, drills for each of the lessons, and multiple songs. There are accompanying drill sheets in the Teacher Manual that the student uses to review vocabulary, sayings, and grammar forms.

The Flashcards are used to master vocabulary. There are cards for vocabulary and derivatives, Latin sayings, conjugations, and declensions. The front side of each card shows the Latin version, while the back gives the English equivalent. There is also a tiny number in the top corner of each card that signifies which lesson it is first taught.

The three Instructional DVDs have 5 1/2 hours of teaching. The instructor, Jessica Watson, is a seasoned teacher with over 17 years of experience. She conducts the lessons in a comfortable, easy-to-follow manner. She teaches grammar, explains derivatives, recites prayers, and gives many examples of vocabulary and declensions. There are multiple on-screen notes, illustrations, and diagrams.

Watching the lesson sample video (middle of the page), is what intrigued me about this curriculum. Being able to hear the proper pronunciations and being taught by a real Latin teacher is exactly what we needed. My son has been doing 1-2 lessons a week and has been learning a good amount of Latin in just over a month of instruction. I love the DVD lessons and that everything is written out so clearly in the Teacher Manual. In the past, I had been intimidated in using a Latin curriculum because I have no experience with the language whatsoever. The Latina Christiana Complete Set has removed those hesitations and has given us the confidence to study the language. My son can do the majority of the lessons on his own because the step-by-step approach is designed so well. I'm excited to see how much he'll learn and what benefits he'll gain from using this program.

Latina Christiana is a wonderful Latin curriculum for both a beginning learner and a teacher with no background in it. I highly recommend it.

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