Sunday, June 16, 2013

TOS Review: Prima Latina by Memoria Press

There comes a time in every homeschooler’s journey when we are going to need teach something that we have no skill/knowledge/background to teach. Probably most of the time. That’s just the honest truth. In my case, there are many things I have no skill/knowledge/background to teach. I am not a scientist so I rely on those who have studied and researched the idea that Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system. I also listen to the history experts when they tell me that, in fact, there is no map written on the back of The Declaration of Independence (contrary to movie lore). There simply a notation to label the document for filing. I wouldn’t know all this unless I utilized the expertise and knowledge of those who have made these things their life’s work. 

I need a little more help with some things than others. For example, learning a language isn’t something I have devoted my life to. I barely learned how to ask for directions to the bathroom during my 2 years of High School Spanish. Latin is one of those languages that has gained a resurgence in popularity over the past several years.  I admit to being a bit frightened of Latin when I first received notice that I was going to be one of the reviewers of Prima Latina by Memoria Press.  After all, Josiah is dyslexic and my only experience with Latin has been to sing it. And while I can certainly emote great feeling and have fairly good pronunciation while warbling to Pie Jesu or Gloria in Excelsius Deo…I admit to having only a limited knowledge of what I’m actually singing about. 

I say all this because I understand the fear of teaching something that you might feel completely inadequate in teaching. I think Memoria Press has done a good job of alleviating my fear of Latin instruction. 

What I Received 
Prima Latina (The Complete Set) -  $90.90
It includes:
Teacher Manual
Student workbook
Pronunciation CD (audio)
3-Instructional DVD's

How It Works

Prima Latina is a complete Latin course for students grades 2-4. It is intended to move directly into Latina Christiana. The goals for the student throughout the course are that:

  • The student will learn the basic Latin alphabet. (plus basic grammar)

  • Pronounce, spell, and translate approximately 125 Latin words.

  • Learn 25 practical Latin expressions and 4 prayers in full.

  • Learn numbers 1 through 10 and more!

The workbook comprises 25 lessons with a review lesson every 5 lessons. Within those lessons are a review, vocabulary words, a Latin prayer to learn and written assignments. There is also a handy dandy Appendix in the back. 

The Teachers Manual contains the answers for the student questions, a simple grammar overview, a section of general teaching guidelines and a Sample Lesson Plan. There is also an area for tests. Each lesson is expected to take a week. 

I also received the Pronunciation CD. This is a handy way for students learn by listening during the lesson or as you go about your day. Anybody else love listening to CD's during car rides?  The flashcards are small cards with perforated edges that contain a word, phrase, etc. on one side in Latin and its English translation on the other side.

The 3-set Instructional DVD’s are taught by a professional Latin teacher. She was delightful and easy to watch and to listen to. There are 9 hours of instruction. That’s a lot of instruction. 

You can check out a sample of the Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 1 and the Table of Contents for yourself on the Prima Latina webpage.

How We Used It

Josiah is 11 and dyslexic.  He has difficulty enough reading his native tongue, let alone adding another to the mix. However, I have heard so many great things about the study of Latin that I thought it was worth the effort to try. You can read this article on the Memoria Press website on the many benefits of Latin instruction.  And his reading progress over the past year has been significant. I hoped that learning this foundation language would prove to be beneficial. 

For our lessons, I used the Sample Lesson Plan found in the back of the Teacher’s Manual.
I wanted to give you just a little sample of a typical lesson. 

Because I had the benefit of the Instructional DVDs, we watched the day’s lesson before we started in the workbook. Sometimes we watched it several times. I’m all about repetition. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition!  
We were taught in Lesson 1 to use a greeting. Salve! (Practice amongst yourselves). “Mom,” said Josiah. “Do you know that Salve looks like Solve except it has an’a’ instead of an’ o’?” Sometimes we take rabbit trails. 

Then we reviewed the previous lesson. I liked this a lot. We were able to review orally and in Josiah’s case I think it helped tremendously. Because we had the DVDs to rely on I wasn’t left out to dry. Josiah and I had both already heard the material. What I did was simply reinforce it. 

We reviewed the vocabulary words with the flashcards. They are sturdy little cards. Unfortunately, they are a bit tedious to punch out. Make sure you sit down with a cup of tea and something to watch! Or get your kiddos involved. You can have a Perforated Flash Card Punching Party! 

The following cards are not necessarily ones that we learned within the lessons we have completed. Josiah picked them out of the pile and deemed them “interesting.” Some of the flashcards are intended to be used in  Memoria Press’ next Latin course, Latina Christiana.

Okay. So maybe this was my favorite. Josiah wanted to know exactly who Brutus was and who really cared. I had to dust off my Shakespeare.

He had heard this one...though don't tell his Daddy. He's an Air Force Vet.

From Lesson 1. Josiah wanted to know why the word that looked like ambulance was walking anywhere. He had never seen an ambulance walk. Oh youth today!

Of course, this was a favorite. He was pretty proud of himself when he guessed the root.

The Latin Prayers lessons builds upon each other every week. The student learns a line to a prayer weekly. I thought that this was also a very effective method of instruction. Having the DVD and pronunciation CD was very handy for pronunciation purposes as well. We were able to drill with the CD exercises. After that, Josiah completed the Questions and Translation part before heading into a Review.

 The Fun Exercises at the end of the lessons varied. For example, in Lesson 4 the student is asked to pick out their favorite storybook. They are then instructed to find 6 invisible verbs within that book. Josiah thoughts immediately turned to one of his best loved books of boyhood, “No, David.” I put up a fuss just for a minute, but Prima Latina has a handy little tool called the Verb-Finder Sentence. The Verb-Finder Sentence was just perfect for Josiah use to find his invisible verbs. 

Another activity he enjoyed was the Speaking Latin section.  It uses the audio CD and then gives a list of things for the student to do during the week. Here is one such activity. “Every time you stand up today, practice saying “Surge.” Now that’s fun no matter how you look at it. I invite anyone to start that one tomorrow. It’s even better when Josiah uses his most impressive accents. A Superhero in training!

My Thoughts

I think that Prima Latina is very easy course to use. It was comforting to know that my minimal knowledge of Latin (thanks to my High School choral teachers) wasn’t going to work against me. I actually learned a lot myself. I loved that there was plenty of review. 

Now I worked with Josiah throughout the Lessons. I believe that an older student and confident readers would be able to handle the course by his or herself. He was less of a fan of the written exercises. He always thinks he’s ready to give it a go, but then gets frustrated. Thankfully, the workbook was not too overwhelming and I was able to adapt some of the more lengthy writing exercises. It was also easy for him to read. It was clearly divided into sections and gave clear instructions.
Josiah loves words. He loves to know what they mean. It was fun for him to go through the vocabulary cards and try and come up with words with similar roots.
Here are just a few more thoughts (in a nutshell).

  • I think this a good start for any student wanting to learn Latin. Don’t rely on the grade/age recommendations too much. As in our case, I had to consider Josiah’s particular needs.

  • If you can swing it, I recommend purchasing the whole kit and caboodle. I love the Instructional DVDs and am considering recording my own instructional DVDs for a tasks, such as, how to make your bed, putting your dirty clothes in the laundry basket, and more. I’m wondering if it would help. I probably should consider asking Leigh Lowe (the teacher on the DVD) to record them for me. Josiah was appropriately smitten.

  • I personally liked having the answers in the Teacher’s Manual. I don’t know about you, but somebody needs to hold my hand.

  • We are a Christian family, so I loved the Christian focus.Not to mention I love Memoria Press' little tagline. "Saving Western Civilization One Student at a Time." Priceless! I felt like I was contributing to the furtherance of sophisticated culture everywhere.

I feel that we now have a Latin curriculum that Josiah and I can both handle. It is my plan to use it in depth as a full course. Members of the TOS Crew also reviewed Geography I by Memoria Press. You can check reviews on this product and the Geography I course at the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.


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