Friday, October 28, 2011

Dead or Alive?

"Latin is not dead, it's immortal!"

These words are found in the introduction of Memoria Press' First Form Latin by Cheryl Lowe.  Ms. Lowe continues:

"It is the most fruitful language in human history.  It is the mother of the five Romance languages, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian.  More than half of English words come from Latin.  It is the language of the classification system for plants and animals.  All of the modern sciences, from psychology to physics, derive most of their specialized vocabularies from Latin.  It is the language of law and theology.  When you learn Latin words you will be preparing yourself for almost any field of study you can imagine.  Even the word computer comes from the Latin word for I think, compute, computo" (page 3, Student Text).
First Form Latin (grades 5-12) is designed to follow Latina Christiana (grades 3-6) and I think that if we had started with the foundation of that earlier program, First Form might not have appeared so intimidating.  As it was, I was graciously provided with 7 items:

  • Teacher's Manual
  • Teacher's Manual Workbook & Test Key
  • Quizzes & Tests Book
  • Student Textbook
  • Student Workbook
  • Flashcards
  • and Instructional DVDs.
Juggling all of these resources was a bit of a struggle for me.  Where to begin?  Especially considering I only know 3 Latin phrases:

  • cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am)
  • veni vidi vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)
  • and cave canum (beware of dog).
My daughter knows much more, so she let me know that First Form uses the ecclesiastical pronunciation rather than the classical pronunciation that she is used to.  The differences are minor in my opinion, but she felt it was awkward to switch over.  I liked that Cheryl Lowe states:  "A fastidious concern about pronunciation is an impediment to learning a language.  Those who will plunge in and speak a modern language learn much more quickly than those who are self-conscious about pronunciation."

We watched the first few lessons on the DVD and found Glen Moore to have a straight-forward, yet sometimes dryly humorous teaching style.  He tries to compact a lot into one lesson which, if you haven't studied a lot of grammar before-hand, could be overwhelming.

First Form is definitely designed with the classroom in mind.  I think it would work great in a homeschool co-op setting, and that is what is recommended by the author.  It can, of course, be adapted for family use, but probably not as well for independent study.  The DVD instruction by Glen Moore is a great idea as it takes some of the burden off Mom.

Completion of First Form Latin is the equivalent of a full-year high school course.  The 34 lessons are nicely laid out.  "A full week's schedule consists of 5 parts:

A) Lesson
B) Workbook
C) Oral Drill
D) Quiz or Test
E) (Optional) Lingua Angelica and/or Famous Men of Rome or other Memoria Press history resources" (page vii, Teacher's Manual).

Each lesson begins with an opening, recitation and review, followed by a Latin saying, vocabulary, grammar "chalk talks" and explanations.

Instructions are scripted for the teacher and sample lesson plans are provided.  Helps (For Your Information) are provided for the teacher/mom, like me, who does not have a Latin background.  For instance, in the opening of the first unit, the idea of voice and mood are explained.

All in all, I think the program is beautifully designed for (again) classroom use.  If you have a few (or a lot of) students you can gather for instruction, then you would find your efforts greatly facilitated with these resources.  However, if you intend only having your one or two children tackle a program, and you don't have prior Latin experience, I'd probably look elsewhere.  If your children are young enough to begin with Latina Christiana (grades 3-6) or even Prima Latina (grades 1-4), then I would highly suggest those programs as preparation for this program later.

The First Form Latin Set (Student Text & Workbook, Teacher Manuals, Quizzes and Tests, and Pronunciation CD) sells for $55.00.  The pieces can be bought individually as well.  You can get the First Form Latin Set plus the DVDs and Flashcards for $115.00.

Memoria Press offers a lot of other homeschool resources including helps for Latin, Greek, French, Literature Guides and more.  You probably have guessed that their materials are geared toward a Classical education (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric).  You can find more about them and what they have to offer here.

As part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I was provided this set of materials  free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  For more TOS reviews, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done! Though I think my original view of whether or not to study Latin will stay the same ;-)