Latin Books and Website

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!

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  1. Reply

    Sue, I was just in the middle of writing a post about Latin! I'm interested in hearing other people's thoughts and experiences.

    God bless:-)

    1. Reply


      I know! That's why I wrote this post, hoping to encourage you to share your thoughts. You're using different books to us, so I am really interested to hear about them and your reasons for studying Latin. I know you will have much better reasons than mine! Can't wait to read your post.

      God bless!

  2. Reply

    I discovered something about the history which I think explains why people often felt drawn to Latin – especially in homeschooling circles. I'm trying to sort my thoughts for an orderly post. I hope to finish it, this evening, Sue.
    God bless:-)

    1. Reply


      History? Yes! We've certainly learnt a lot about the Roman civilisation by studying Latin. I remember you also saying something about the history of the English language – all those words that came from Latin. There's still a lot of Latin used in such areas as medicine and the Law… and on gates: cave canem… et ecetera… et ecetera. Your post will be so interesting!

  3. Reply

    Hi Sue, I've looked at Cambridge on and off – what portions do you have to have? Student text, teacher text and workbook?? The older girls started out with Getting Started with Latin and have mostly worked through that.

    1. Reply


      We bought old editions of the students' books. There seem to be two slightly different Cambridge Latin series. Ours is the UK edition as in the blue cat photo above. There is also the North American edition as in the first red photo. I really don't know what the differences are. Does anyone know? I'll have to do some further research.

      Also, I found the Cambridge Latin Grammar book useful. I borrowed it many times from the library before buying our own copy.

      I didn't bother buying the teacher's books, except for the first one. I didn't feel that was very helpful so not worth the extra money. I haven't seen any of the newer resources so maybe they are better than what we have. The website is great though, as an additional resource.

      If you are interested in trying the course, perhaps you could just buy one copy of the first student's book and use it together with the website. This is all you'll need to get started.

      I haven't seen "Getting Started with Latin." Do you like it?

    2. Reply

      Thanks for the reply Sue 🙂 Maybe I'll try it with the younger set eventually. I do think a bit of Latin is helpful, even if just to decipher science terms. It also helps to think about grammar every once in a while 😉

      Getting Started with Latin is really just vocabulary, but an easy intro. There's a website with it also where the author gives you audio files for pronunciation and some grammar help.

    3. Reply


      Thank you for the link. I will follow it up. Audio files sound useful.

      "Maybe I'll try it with the younger set eventually" That's a bit how I feel. There's no hurry to get them started. Lots of time and opportunity, if Sophie and Gemma-Rose ever show the inclination to want to learn.

  4. Reply

    Between you and Vicky posting about Latin, I'm starting to salivate! Alas, this year I have decided not to take my Latin class again. My 17 now wants to study Spanish. My 13 yo is having a hard time emotionally and my dh and I felt we had to free up time to be available for him. Studying Latin for myself is a real time consumer. I have never been good at being disciplined enough to go far with it on my own. Taking a class and having a real live expert teacher with homework, exams and deadlines really made me dig deep and learn a lot more than I would have on my own. Sigh. I guess it was all that conditioning during my many years at brick and mortar schools. But I do get to review a lot of it with my 13 yo as he studies, so not a total loss. He's going to be doing a course designed for 7th and 8th graders from Wheelock's. I'm looking forward to that!

    1. Reply


      We've never attended proper classes but I can see how beneficial they'd be. Meeting up with people passionate about Latin would be so enjoyable and motivating. And deadlines… Yes, I have trouble working on my own too. It's not the actual learning of the subject but the progress. Other things get in the way,and I put off doing another lesson.

      "But I do get to review a lot of it with my 13 yo" Yes! That's the advantage of having more than one child to help. We get to go back to the beginning and do a refresher course. I am thinking that after doing the Cambridge Course so many times with all my children, I should be an expert by now. But I'm not! I shall have to try harder when (if) the younger girls study Latin, and really conquer the language.

      Thank you for your comment, Faith!

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