I decided to publish my Visual Latin review sooner rather than later because I just found out they are running a big sale (the first 30 lessons for $60, normally $90), but the sale ends at the end of this week!
If anyone is looking for a Latin program and interested, check this one out while the sale is running! Note that Visual Latin makes six free lessons available for download on their website. If you’re on the fence, go check it out and see if it looks like it would mesh with what you’re looking for!
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If you are into the classical Christian education scene, then you’ve undoubtedly considered teaching Latin to your children. I rebelled at this idea at first, primarily because I remembered how difficult those two semesters of college French were. But, alas, after much reading and debating with myself, the logic of teaching and learning Latin alongside my son prevailed.
Guess what? It’s been much more fun and painless than I imagined. I think that is partly because I don’t have the stress of being in a graded college course, but more because I’ve found a curriculum that I enjoy and is easy to implement for a mom with no Latin background.
This program is available on DVD or as downloads. I chose DVDs, but wish I would have downloaded the program because little boy fingers are apt to muck up the DVD over time.
Each lesson is made up of three parts and each part contains a short (around seven-minute) video and a worksheet:
- The first part of each lesson is the grammar section. This section introduces the new concept for the lesson. The worksheet is usually just reading about the concept and sometimes there is a short exercise to reinforce the concept introduced.
- During the second part of each lesson Mr. Thomas uses sentences in the video to demonstrate the new concept. The worksheet contains exercises where students put into practice what they’re learning about.
- The final section is reading and translation. During the video portion Mr. Thomas reads through a passage of Latin that is based on Scripture while we listen. He then reads through the passage slowly, giving us time to repeat after him, allowing us to practice our Latin pronunciation. Finally, we spend time translating the passage into English on paper. This is my favorite part because after I’ve completed it, I really feel like I’m making progress on learning this language!
We usually take about one week to go through the lesson. We spend a day on each of the three parts and sometimes a fourth day to review concepts and/or make flash cards of the new words presented in the translation segment. We have also taken specific weeks along the way to review a particularly challenging concept, sometimes repeating a lesson through a second time.
The Visual Latin blog and website is a veritable treasure trove for those of us using this curriculum:
- All of the lesson worksheets, as well as a short dictionary of words used is available as a free download on the Visual Latin website.
- The folks over at Visual Latin also put up links to other helpful Latin tools and resources. Mr Thomas recommends using the book Lingua Latina as a supplement alongside Visual Latin starting after lesson 15. On the Visual Latin website is a schedule of when to complete the Lingua Latina reading passages and how the concepts taught in Lingua Latina correlate with the lessons in Visual Latin.
- Of course, there is Mr. Thomas’ blog which has many helpful posts on how to learn Latin. I really appreciate that new resources are offered on the website as they’re developed free of charge.
Mr Thomas isn’t stuffy, geeky, and rigid as I’d expect a Latin instructor to be, but rather laid back, engaging, and funny (in a cheesy sort of way). He is able to explain difficult grammatical concepts in a very understandable way, even for my seven-year-old son, Bradley!
I should probably note that Visual Latin is not marketed as being recommended for seven-year-olds, but my son Bradley has done great with the program and has learned a ton. The FAQ on their website recommends the curriculum for students nine and older and says students should be able to read already.
Bradley has really enjoyed this program. Last year we completed Prima Latina, and while it was a nice gentle introduction to Latin, he is much more engaged in this curriculum despite the fact that it’s much more challenging. Bradley has had so much fun with the course he keeps asking me when we get to meet Mr. Thomas!
I think one of the main things that we like about this curriculum, versus some others that I had been considering, is that it isn’t just simply rote memorization and lots of drills. It appears that a lot of the introductory Latin curriculums focus on this. While certainly memorization is part of this curriculum, it is focused heavily on experiential learning. On his blog, Mr. Thomas often talks about the value of immersing yourself in the language via reading, listening, and translating, and this is certainly the natural outcome of his theory of teaching. It’s a style that works very well for both my son and me!
We’ve currently completed up through lesson 20, and I plan to take the remainder of the school year reviewing concepts we’ve already completed. Probably my only complaint about Visual Latin is that it would be nice if there was a bit more review. In one sense the review is built in as the language builds upon itself, but it would be nice to see more supplemental worksheets to grill the student on certain concepts. With that said, we do get some review now by incorporating Lingua Latina and we also use flash cards for our Latin vocabulary during our “memory time” in the morning. I’ve also been using I speak Latin as a supplement and will be reviewing it at a later date.
But, for now, I’ll say “Vale amica!”