Once again I'm teaching a Latin class this year, and we had our first meeting yesterday. It went well, although that's probably because what we did was really basic review for most of them. It's for the same kids I taught last year, plus 2 new kids. Last year we made it almost all the way through unit 3 of Henle 1, which was enough to have the kids take the Intro to Latin exam. None of these kids had the foundation that Nathan, Luke, Isaac, and Caleb had when we did this class before, so they wouldn't have done as well on the Latin 1 exam had we tried that.
So then a new family was interested in a Latin 1 course this year, and the younger brother of one of the boys was as well, so I decided to teach Latin this year too. The only problem was what book to use, since we had already done the beginning part of Henle 1 with the other kids, and the new kids really needed to start at the beginning too. I looked around and found Latin Alive 1. It looked a lot more "fun" than Henle, and it incorporates a lot of history and cultural details, so in that it lines up better with the NLE. The scope and sequence also lines up much better with the Level 1 exam.
Henle has a terrible sequence--he introduces all 5 declensions before ever starting with verbs. He gives a very few verbs just as vocab words, not teaching how to conjugate, so he can make sentences to translate. Because he apparently loved Caesar's Gallic Wars, the vocab really comes from that, so the verbs are ones like "they slaughtered" and "they prayed". This means you can translate uplifting sentences like, "The mothers prayed while the soldiers slaughtered the chiefs and leading men of the tribes." Now I don't actually mind the focus on war--the sentences are funny in a ghoulish sort of way, and it keeps boys entertained for sure. And a lot of the vocab is introduced through all the lower levels of the Memoria Press Latin materials, like Prima Latina and Latina Christiana, so it feels very familiar to me. But that kind of vocab is not used on the NLE for sure!
The thing I really do love about Henle is that he has loads of practice exercises. Loads and loads. Too many, probably. We did some in class, and there were still plenty more to assign as homework. If you work diligently through Henle, you should be able to do well on NLEs simply because you so thoroughly know the grammar, and you can guess the answer to the questions even if you don't know the vocab because you recognize the endings. And because I'm not totally confidant about everything, having all these exercises with answers was very helpful to make sure I was on the right track.
Which brings me back to Latin Alive. This curriculum does NOT have too many exercises. It doesn't even have enough exercises, in my opinion! Each chapter has maybe 6 exercises, of which the first one is always to go through the vocab words for the lesson and write out the syllables and accents for them. I could not care any less about that, since the whole reason I love Latin so much is that there are no Romans walking around, seeking conversation and correcting pronunciation. Also, I generally fall back to ecclesiastical pronunciation, since that's what MP uses, while Latin Alive is definitely classical. And finally, I don't think any of these students are going to study Latin 4 or so more years, so be able to get to Latin poetry, and that's where the syllable marks come in. So that leaves 5 exercises or so, with maybe 7 sentences or whatever in each exercise. It's just not enough practice. So I'm making up extra review sheets with other sentences and practice exercises, which is taking up a ton of time. I got through the first 8 lessons pretty quickly, but then it got to areas I'm just not as confidant in, plus with new vocab to master. Gah! Why do I do this to myself?! Juggling this and AP biology, plus just the general teaching of all the little kids, is going to be a challenge this year. I'm staving off Alzheimers--that's what I keep telling myself. Although if I drive myself insane, it's hard to say that is any better!