Years ago, I decided to teach my children Latin. Maybe ‘teach’ is the wrong word. I hardly knew a word of Latin myself. I thought I could buy a simple text book and learn Latin one step ahead of my children.
I found a series of books by Martha Wilson: Latin Primer Books1-3. I ordered both the students’ and teacher’s books and we were ready to go. We sat together around the dining room table and our study of Latin began. The text books did prove to be easy to understand. I can remember Imogen, who was only 5 at the time, listening in to her older siblings’ lessons. It wasn’t long before she was shouting out all the answers, much to the frustration of the bigger kids.
But at some point everyone began to get bored with memorising vocabulary and grammar, and filling in the blanks in the workbooks.
Then one day, I found another Latin series in our local second-hand book shop: The Cambrdge Latin Course. We swapped over to the new books and we loved it. (I have to say that this course is much more complicated than the primer, but also much more enjoyable!)
Each book in this series is set in a different town in the Roman Empire, such as Bath and Pompeii. Each chapter has a few short stories to translate, all of which are very amusing. The chapters and books all work together to form one overall story. This course is designed to teach, not only the Latin language, but also the Roman culture. It is a much faster paced course than the simple primer series. I found that we were learning vocabulary through frequent repetition rather than from memorising words on a list, which is a much more interesting way of doing it.
There was only one problem: I had to be one translation ahead of my children, in order to help them with their own work. So while I waited for piano and singing and swimming lessons to finish, I’d sit with my books and spend the time translating. Then one day I found myself getting behind. I thought, “There must be a better way!” I did what I always do when I need help: I searched the Internet. And I hit the jackpot. I found a website called the Cambridge Latin Course, which complements the books of the same name.
Each of the 5 books in the series has its own online activities which will allow you to:
explore stories, test your understanding, test your vocab, use a dictionary, practise the language and follow web links into the cultural life of the Roman World.
Students can check their own translations using the ‘explore the story’ function. “Sorting the words’ gives grammar practise. There is even an online vocabulary tester.
My first 4 children all received a good grounding in Latin, working alongside me.
Charlotte, my fifth child, is working through the last book in the series and she really is teaching herself, using the text books and associated website.
Sophie decided one day she’d like to learn Latin too, and started on the first book by herself. Her interest disappeared though, and she is no longer learning.
I have ‘worked’ my way through the Cambridge Latin course a few times with different children, but I can’t say I ‘know’ Latin. I have been a lazy learner, looking things up that I should commit to memory. But I know I want to conquer the language properly. One day I am going to get out my books and begin again. I can guess what will happen. Sophie and Gemma-Rose will appear. They’ll want to know what I’m doing. Sophie will remember her own Latin exercise book and go looking for it. Gemma-Rose will ask if she can have one too. Before I know it, we’ll be learning together. It quite often happens like that!
But what if Sophie and Gemma-Rose decide Latin is not for them? That’s fine with me. I no longer make the learning plans around here.
So why do people learn Latin?
Because it’s a ‘good idea’?
To better understand the Latin prayers and hymns of the Church?
To understand and learn English grammar?
To increase thinking skills?
To gain a good basis for the study of the Romance languages?
Because it is a challenge?
I’m not really sure. I’d love to hear your reasons for learning this language if you’d like to share.
So what is my own reason for wanting to return to the study of Latin? I think it’s because I love a challenge… Charlotte does too. I know she’s going to feel so satisfied when she gets to the last page of the last book of the whole Cambridge Latin Course. That will be an occasion to celebrate.
Please share your own Latin adventures!
Here’s a great post by Vicky: Reasons to Study Latin in our Homeschool. Enjoy!