The first installment in the Tressays Virtual Homeschool Convention (VHC)
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…… Well, maybe not in a galaxy far away, but a long time ago I decided that my kids should learn Latin. I read about it in The Well-Trained Mind. My kids would be prolific communicators. They would learn to write well and score several points above their peers on the SAT. My children would love it. They would read Virgil, and they would read it with smiles on their faces.
Yeah. That didn’t happen. Oh, we are studying Latin still, but my reasons have changed. Why don’t we see what others have to say?
Cultivating Realistic Goals for Foreign Language Study by William E. Linney is a good, short article. I think he makes some good points about foreign language study. How many of us remember our foreign language studies from high school? I took 4 years of German, spent 5 weeks in Germany to use that German, and still don’t remember much of it. Let’s face it. Few of us get very little opportunity to practice modern language unless we find a speaker and pay for the privilege. It is one reason that Latin is a good choice for homeschoolers. Reading Latin is the goal. Speaking Latin isn’t really necessary. Well, unless your child wants to go live with that colony on The Island. (haha.)He goes on to say that increased SAT scores is a poor reason to study Latin, and that learning word roots isn’t going to help vocabulary. What? Hey now, he is raining on my parade here. He concludes that a strong mind should be the goal of learning Latin. I can get on board with that.
Latin..Why Study it at all? Yikes. Get a cup of coffee before you read this one. I believed a-f. Yep. I did. But the subjunctive. How I hate the subjunctive. I would love someone to explain this article to me.
This one will lighten things up, and there is no reading involved. It is a YouTube video. I added this one for a laugh. Hilarious! All of this reasons here are all the reasons the others say NOT to study Latin. We study Latin because it’s Latin!
Why Latin is written by Karen Moore. This article is more in line with my thoughts. Plus, I didn’t have to think very hard when I read it (always a bonus!). Her reasons are the same reasons you can find at 100 other places on the internet. Especially from those that are trying to sell their product.
So now that we have all decided that studying Latin is good for you. For whatever reason. How should we then study it? Which books to use? I found this handy-dandy chart comparing some of the Latin curriculums out there. I personally like the Memoria Press early Latin choices. We used Latina Christiana and then moved on to Henle. A pastor told me that reading, reading and more reading from Latin texts is really the way to study Latin. School books teach fake Latin. I can understand that, but I think you need to start somewhere with easy sentences while you learn the grammar. Susan Wise Bauer has a whole chapter dedicated to Latin in The Well-Trained Mind. She talks about parts to whole Latin and whole to parts. It may help you pick a curriculum. Then there is the ecclesiastical vs. classical debate. I can’t help you there. Sorry.
This year my youngest will be starting Latina Christiana 1. My daughter will be working through the remainder of Henle 1 and a little of Henle 2. My son will be reading the Gospel of Mark and some Virgil from a book that Melanie suggested to me but now can’t find. (Melanie? Help, please!) I also like the Bestiaria Latina blog for little latin readings and such.
I should share my current reasons for studying Latin. First of all, I wanted my kids to have a foreign language on their high school transcripts. If I picked a modern language, I would need a tutor for them to speak with. Sure, I could have picked German. It probably would have come back to me eventually, but what if I taught them wrong? Believe me. I was laughed at several times over my pronunciations in Germany. Danke! The chances of me saying it correctly to my kids were pretty slim. I did not want the expense or responsiblity of finding a tutor. Latin fulfills the foreign language requirement for most universities (most not all! Be sure to check with the university!). If they want to learn a modern language, they can learn it in college. Their knowledge of Latin should make it easier for them. Secondly, I think Latin is cool. And it is hard. It is good to learn hard things.
One last thing before I sign off. I think the trick to learning any foreign language is consistency. You have to do it everyday. The best program on the planet is useless if you never use it. If you want to study Latin it has to be one of the priorities of your school day. It can’t be left as an elective. I tried that when we first started Latin. It doesn’t work. We never made any progress. Now, my kids now do their Latin every day after Math (the other subject that has to be done everyday). Oh, and there is always the National Latin Exam. We use it as a goal. It also is a great sense of accomplishment for the kids, a measurement they understand. The great sense of accomplishment comes after the results. The kids couldn’t give two cents about the exam while they are studying for it.
I would love to hear your thoughts and reasons for studying Latin. Which books do you use? Why? How has Latin helped your kids? How many gray hairs do you have from the process? Or do you have any hair left at all? I would also love to hear from anyone who didn’t choose Latin, but chose another language. I would love to hear how you did it and what worked.