Friday, March 09, 2012

Finishing Up Latin

We had our last Latin class on Thursday, and the boys will take the National Latin Exam on Wednesday. I have been thinking over this Latin journey, and I wanted to capture a few thoughts.

First of all, we have done Latin for years. Nathan and Luke started back when Nathan was in 2nd grade, and Luke in kindergarten, using Prima Latina. We finished that book and then spent some time doing Minimus, because I had heard how fun and cute it was. But I didn't want to shell out a ton of money (like $70 or something) for the teacher manual, so we just stumbled through it. I had no idea why the verbs were conjugated differently, for example, and if a noun wasn't a subject, then I had absolutely no idea what to do with it. Still, it was a fun break, although I don't think it actually did anything as far as learning goes.

So after we finished Minimus, we went back to Memoria Press, doing Latina Christiana I and II. We took a few years going through the 2 books. I was frustrated with LCII because there wasn't really much practice at all with the grammar concepts introduced, so every day I would come up with 2 sentences to translate in English, and 2 sentences to translate into Latin.

I was planning on starting Henle I a few years ago, but then MP introduced First Form Latin, so I had the boys go through that book instead. I didn't do it with them, but it introduced more verb tenses, and now MP is recommending doing the First Form series (there will eventually be 4 in the series) instead of LC II.

So then I was once again planning on starting Henle, but we ended up waiting a few more months so that Caleb McC could finish LC II and do the class with us as well. While we were waiting, I went to the HEAV convention, where I talked with Amy Regan from Lukeion. I have heard only great things about Lukeion's Latin classes, and especially about her teaching. Well, she said she would not recommend Henle, and that most people who use it end up stopping after a few units because it just isn't organized very well. She uses Wheelock's, which is a college-level text in her classes. I picked up a cheap used copy of Wheelock's at the used book sale, and I wondered a bit if I was totally off in my plans. But I did think that I usually have a pretty good feel for what works for me, and there have been other times that people have told me that what I was going to do wouldn't work, but it did.

So we went plunged ahead with Henle, using MP's study guides. We discovered right away that the first several units were all complete review, so we blew right through them, and the MP lesson plans really weren't that helpful. But there was a TON of translating, and so using all these grammar concepts that we had spent years memorizing became quite natural. One criticism of Henle is that it has a very limited vocabulary. This was actually a feature for us, LOL. Almost all the vocab were words we already knew from LC, and a limited vocab again made it easy to focus on really using the concepts. Another criticism is that Henle is very preoccupied with Caesar and his Gallic wars. True, but this wasn't really a problem with all boys. Plus, the sentences were easy to mock (the classic "The bodies are in the river", LOL).

I found it was actually really easy to teach Henle, and I didn't think it was laid out weirdly. Maybe it is because we did so many other MP books, but it felt very familiar. I used my Wheelock's book to clarify some concepts, but it moves so much faster and introduces a ton of vocab. I think that someone who really knows Latin could easily teach Wheelock's at a high school level. Unfortunately the boys had me, LOL, so it was much, much better to have a book that actually was supposed to be high school level. Also, Wheelock's doesn't have as much practice and translation--and I don't have an answer key, which is something I would absolutely have to have in order to teach with it!

We've been taking all the past NLE exams (Intro and I) that are posted on their website, so I am hopeful that will help familiarize the boys with the vocab they are lacking. Because they are so familiar with the grammar, they often can figure out the answer by context clues or by the endings on the words. We'll see how it goes.

A lady posted on the Well Trained Mind forums about a website she developed to help review the Roman culture for the test. It was really helpful! There is a list of questions, and there is also a quiz you can take to review. (I'll have to come back later and link it--the computer I'm on isn't letting me copy and paste the link! Technology . . .) Also, I searched on youtube for "Latin 100 commercials". Lone Pine Classical School has their Latin 100 students do travel commercials for ancient Rome--watch a few of those, and you will be well caught up on all your cultural knowledge for ancient Rome!

So we'll see how the test goes. All these years of study, and all I can say is that we are now pretty fluent in what is expected for a first-year high school Latin course. I do think we are much more comfortable and familiar with everything than someone who had ONLY taken one year in high school. That person might have covered the same amount of ground, but we have it ingrained in memory since we've been working with these endings and vocab words for so many years!

And then Caleb and Jonathan (and Daniel and Joel McC) are coming along behind them. Caleb and Jonathan are over halfway through LC I. I know I want them to take the Intro exam. Who knows--maybe we'll even go farther, into Latin II. Maybe my old brain will finally be able to keep the perfect and pluperfect tense endings straight if I go through them again!

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