Friday, December 08, 2006


Carol has written such a wonderful article about her experience learning Latin. I especially loved her way of describing the way a Latin-lover looks at words:
"Multiple times daily I look at a word and see the Latin behind it. I feel like I've been given a secret code or a special set of glasses that makes the bright colors pop out. My world has been expanded far beyond my expectations."

I cannot say that this happens to me multiple times daily, but it is happening often enough that I am grateful for the little bit of Latin that I know.

I always felt a bit cheated that Latin was not offered at my small-town high school. So, from the moment I commenced to homeschool my own family, the inclusion of Latin was a given. In a way, that decision is probably a little selfish. I know that it is a great benefit to my students, but I am primarily learning Latin for ME!

It is a tall order, however, to teach Latin when you do not know it yourself. My goal has been simply to stay one step ahead of the students.
How I would love to have a tutor like the one that Carol described!

Here is how I have approached it:
When my oldest was in 4th grade, I purchased an introductory curriculum entitled _Our Roman Roots_. It is billed as a Catholic curriculum, and we are not Catholic, but we found it very suitable for beginning our Latin journey. I taught the curriculum that year in a cottage school setting, with about a dozen students of all ages.

As recommended by the author, we repeated the entire book again when my oldest daughter reached 7th grade (this time at home rather than in a group situation). That gave extra reinforcement to learning the basics and it gave me a little more confidence to move forward.

This year, I have been using an antique book called _Latin Book One_ by Harry Fletcher Scott and Annabel Horn. It is online here, which makes it an economical choice. It is definitely a bare bones curriculum in comparison to the _Roman Roots_ approach. It does not have any stories or chants or cultural tidbits. But it is a solid program, heavy on translation work.
All three of my students, grades 5, 7, and 8 are able to grasp the concepts.
This is not to say it is easy, however!

It is gradually dawning on me that this is a l-o-n-g term pursuit, and that the most good is accomplished in small portions taken consistently. By consistently, I mean DAILY. If that sounds burdensome, it is not. It has proven to be very economical in terms of time, because it incorporates the best elements of English class all under one umbrella.

I think all word lovers would benefit from a bit of Latin; even if it is only learning a few derivatives. My goal for my children is that they would be able to use words accurately, precisely, and beautifully so that they are better equipped to share God's Word with their generation. Accuracy is so important to those who handle scripture, as the apostle Paul affirms in his letter to Timothy: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth."

My prayer is that I may help to develop habits of diligent study in my children so that they will be those unashamed workers of truth. Latin, I believe, is certainly stretching us to be able to achieve that end.


Carol in Oregon said...

Blessings on your efforts. You will be rewarded. One thing my son and I have done for several years now is read through the Psalms in the Latin Vulgate.

We read about 10 verses a day. I usually start and read one verse in English and the same verse in Latin. He takes the next verse, etc. This is not our only approach to Latin but it gets us into it organically, you might say.

I printed the psalms out from the internet. Just google Vulgate psalms (if you are interested in seeing them). The numbering can be different, but it's not too complicated.

Poiema said...

Thank you for the suggestion. Reading the Latin vulgate is definitely one of my goals. I appreciate your stimulating posts, Carol.