Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Learning Latin

I'm doing it!  I'm learning Latin.  And I have to say, it is a total blast.  I'm really excited about it.  I dreamed about it last night, in fact.

Because I plan on following the Classical Education method when homeschooling our girls, I've run into the idea of teaching Latin many times.  At first I thought it seemed pointless.  Why teach a dead language?  Why bother with it when you could teach a useful language.  The more I studied about the benefits of Latin, though, the more convinced I became.  The very fact that it is a dead language means that it is an ideal one to teach in a home environment where the parent is not fluent.  Latin is read and written, but rarely spoken.  It does great things for test scores and it helps children in grammar, vocabulary, and in logic.

Then there is the history associated with it.  Latin was taught in almost every western school for the last several hundred years.  So much of our sciences and histories are in Latin and a knowledge of Latin will open my children's doors to original writings.  One of the biggest things I aim to do in homeschooling is to teach my children in an unfiltered way.  This means no textbooks for content subjects.  We will go straight to living books and original sources for history.  Having a Latin background will help enable them in this endeaver.

I'm sure I have more reasons than what I've listed, but I can't really think of them right now.  Needless to say, I became convinced to teach Latin.  I researched Latin curriculum.  I attended a few lectures at the homeschooling convention on the subject, and I talked to one of the developers of my favorite children's Latin curriculum for 10 minutes or so at his vendor booth.  Latin was on my mind.

But then there was the problem with me.  I have zero Latin experience.  Even my foreign language experience is pretty dismal.  I had two years of French and one year of Japanese in High School, followed by two semesters of German in college.  I remember almost none of it and I didn't feel like I was talented in the foreign language department.  I figured I'd just learn Latin along with my kids.  Maybe I'd even stay a month or so ahead of them so I could help them.

Then the other day I was playing around on the Old Fashioned Education website, which lists tons of free educational resources.  On a whim I clicked on their Latin section.  That's where I first saw it.  My new favorite book: Latin for Beginners by Benjamin D'ooge.  Latin for Beginners was written over a hundred years ago.  My previous experience with old texts was that there was very little hand-holding and a lot of information thrown at you very fast.  But as I started skimming this one, I realized that it was very modern in style.  And most importantly, it explained the grammar as if I had no previous knowledge about grammar terms.  It explains what the cases are, the parts of speach, etc. while teaching about their Latin counterparts.

This is exactly what I needed.  I got all A's in school in English, but I couldn't use a lick of it to save my life (as may be noticed from my poor writing).  After researching, I found that I'm not the only person who loves this text.  There is a whole forum about it, as well as several free resources including virtual vocab flashcards, audio lectures, and a downloadable answer key.  From what I can tell, it is supposed to be comparable to Henle Latin and will prepare the student to read Caesar by the end.

I have completed the first 5 lessons out of 76 and am having a blast.  I can't wait until the girls' bed time so that I can do some more.  It is perfect for me, and I just had to share.  Every time I sit down to work on a lesson, time flies by very fast.  It's like I'm working on a really interesting puzzle.

After working on the first few lessons, I realized that while possible, it would be onconvenient to do the whole book in PDF format on my computer.  I simply need to go back and forth to look things up too much.  So I bought on original copy off Abe Books for $5.  I'm thinking this will be one of the best $5 I've ever spent.

If you are interested, here are some links to the resources I've mentioned:

Latin for Beginners, Benjamin D'Ooge
Latin for Beginners Answer Key
Latin for Beginners Flash Cards (search for DB/LFB/001, changing the last number to represent the lesson you are looking for, so DB/LFB/002 for lesson 2)
Latin for Beginners Forum
Latin for Beginners Audio

(Although I gave up on this a few months ago, I just discovered that there is also an original teacher's manual available for it as well.  It thought that I would link to it with the rest of the resources.)

Latin for Beginners Teacher's Manual

I'm excited to see where this takes me!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I was taken to this site through pinterest, and I am actually a college student who was educated through a Classical school. We used Wheelock's Latin, and I absolutely loved it. The great thing about that book is that it uses original texts. By the end of my second year I was reading Caesar's Gallic Wars, was reading the Orations against Catiline in my 3rd year and Virgil's Aeneid in Latin 4. I absolutely love the language and wish you the best of luck in teaching it! (P.S. I have been in philosophy and science classes and it has helped me IMMENSELY in understanding things. It is worth it.)
    Sorry, I don't mean to type this anonymously; I don't have a blog of any sort though.