Aug 5, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Visual Latin

I have always felt that it's important to learn Latin. We have dabbled in the language ever since the kids were little, but now that Kaytie is in middle school, I decided it was time for her to take it seriously. She wants to be a missionary when she grows up, which will, no doubt, require her to learn a foreign language. Learning Latin now will make that easier for her. When Roman Roads Media asked us to review Visual Latin I  I was delighted.

We have actually used Visual Latin before, several years ago. My kids were much younger and although we enjoyed it, they were unable to keep up. We only had the first ten lessons, so when we finished them, I didn't buy any more. But now, Kaytie is older, and I thought she would be able to handle the pace better. And maybe even get Dwane's jokes this time!

Visual Latin is a video course taught by Latin teacher Dwane Thomas, a homeschool dad who's goal is to get the student to read Latin. The videos are excellent quality, and Dwane is an engaging teacher. The method is quite simple. Each lesson is divided into three segments. The first section addresses grammar. The second section takes that grammar and shows how it works in actual sentences. In the third section, he reads, in Latin, from a reader that he designed that starts with simple Latin and finishes (at the end of the course) with excerpts from the New Testament. First, he reads a selection, then he re-reads it slowly with the words on the screen so the student can repeat what he reads. This gives the student a chance to speak and use the language.

The other half of the program is the worksheets. There are three worksheets for each lesson. The correspond to the three video sections of the lesson. The idea is to watch a section and then do the worksheet that goes along with it. And there is a quiz for each lesson that tests all previously learned material. The worksheets and quizzes come in PDF form. There are also PDFs with the answers marked for easy grading.

A couple of other things you receive that I didn't really use much was: a 9 page Teacher's Guide that offers some tips, FAQ and schedules; and a vocabulary list of Latin words taught in the thirty lessons along with their definition, dictionary usage, gender, part of speech, and the lesson they were introduced.

Since it was summer, and we are technically out of school, we only worked on Latin three days a week. When she starts back to school, she will do Latin daily. But for the purpose of this review, this is how we used Visual Latin.

On Monday, Kaytie watched the first video of the lesson. Then she filled out the worksheet. This worksheet was always a bit of info and then an exercise. For example, in Lesson Four, she read half a page about singular and plural nouns then she sorted a list of nouns into the correct "box" depending on whether they were singular or plural.

On Wednesday, Kaytie watched the second video and filled out the worksheet. In lesson six, the worksheet consisted of sentences in Latin and required her to circle the adjective that should agree with the noun in each sentence. This sounds difficult, but she breezed right through it because it had been explained so well in the lesson.

On Thursday, she watched the third lesson and did the worksheet. This one has the selection that Dwane read in the lesson and asks the student to translate it into English. There are vocabulary boxes with the English and Latin words because your child is not responsible for any words she hasn't been taught in the lessons. She finished up the day with the quiz for that lesson.

And that is really all there is to it. I love it because it is simple, but effective. Kaytie can do the work on her own and she is really learning Latin without any anguish or drama. It almost doesn't seem "rigorous" enough, but it is effective because she is learning the language by thinking, hearing, seeing, writing, and saying the language. It employs all the different parts of her brain in an enjoyable way. She enjoys watching the videos and often shares the jokes with her siblings.

One of my favorite parts of this program is that it is completely non consumable. The videos can be reused with each child and when I need more worksheets I can just print them off.

Visual Latin is intended for 4th grade and up, and in our experience, eleven years old is the perfect age to start. Although it can be used as a high school credit.

We received a physical copy of the DVD but you can also purchase it by download.  It is on sale right now $85 for the DVD and $70 for the download. Either way, you will need to print the worksheets yourself.

You can check out the first 5 lessons for free and you can read what other Crew Members had to say by clicking on the banner below.

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