When it comes to Latin instruction in the homeschool, there are several programs that have made good names for themselves. Bolchazy-Carducci's Artes Latinae is probably the most famous. But there are others with good credentials.
So why is Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. recommending The LATIN Road to English Grammar? Probably the most important is this: The LATIN Road to English Grammar was designed to be used at home by home schooling parents.
The LATIN Road to English Grammar makes no demands upon you that you know anything about Latin. This is very different from almost all the other programs on the market. If you do not know any Latin, you will be hard-pressed to come up with answers to many of the most basic questions.
The LATIN Road also requires that you know very little grammar beyond the ability to identify nouns and verbs, understand gender and number, etc.
The big-name Latin programs assume the teacher knows the meanings of such words as "case," "mood," "subjunctive," "declension," "conjugation," etc. Those of us who did not study the finer points of Latin-let alone English-need some serious help with these matters.
The LATIN Road to English Grammar provides that help.
Each lesson in The LATIN Road has also been planned around a typical home schooling calendar and with the resource capabilities of the average home schooling mom. In other words, you don't have to adjust to it; the program has been molded for you!
All the key resources you need are in the package: a pronunciation audio CD1, instructional/practice flashcards, student textbook, loose-leaf teacher's guide/answer key with binder, and a set of tests. These resources are intended for the teacher. Mrs. Beers recommends that you get an extra textbook for the student, which includes worksheets and tests, or you can plan on sharing the textbook and simply acquire an extra set of worksheets/tests. (Three things you are expected to provide: paper, 10 tabbed dividers, and a binder for your student's work.)
The program is designed so you can simply pick it up and do it with virtually no preparation.
The whole schedule is laid out for you. The CD is keyed to the teacher's guide/textbook. The answer book is keyed. All the helps you need to learn something from scratch are provided for you right there in the teacher's guide. You, the home schooling parent-teacher, can learn Latin and teach it at the same time!
The teacher's instructions are exceptionally easy to follow and non-confusing. That means there is less time you must spend preparing to teach. It also eliminates frustration.
The flashcards (which, by the way, you won't find in other programs) are color coded according to gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter) which makes mastery that much easier.
Most cards include not only the word-for-word Latin and English equivalents, but, on the English side, closely related English derivatives of the Latin word. Thus, for example, instead of a card for Bellum/War only, you will find the English cognate bellicose; or, on the card for Agricola/Farmer, you will find the English cognate agriculture. These little touches also make learning one's vocabulary easier.
The LATIN Road to English Grammar teaches Latin the same way that a good phonics program teaches English. It begins with the very basics and moves outward and upward from there.
This is very different from most foreign language programs. But it is also different from most Latin programs on the market as well. Rather than learning how to "parrot" what you happen to hear, you and your children will be truly learning the language.
Most traditional Latin texts emphasize Roman culture, including its pagan gods and goddesses in their readings and sample sentences. The LATIN Road readings have to do with Roman history and biblical themes. Practice sentences do not dishonor the God of the Bible by glorifying the gods and goddesses of pagan Rome!
A Few Details
- The program uses "Italian" or "church/ecclesiastical" Latin for pronunciation-the Latin that is used in traditional (American) Catholic masses and old church music.
- Except for some very highly-motivated high schoolers and older students, the program requires significant parental involvement. The LATIN Road to English Grammar will require about 40 to 45 minutes per day of concentrated time if you hope to complete one volume in a single school year. Anything less than about 15 minutes per day is too little to permit reasonable progress.
- Due to the formal grammar work, and the need to avoid confusing younger students with phonetic differences between Latin and English, the publisher does not recommend this program for use by students younger than advanced 5th or average 6th grade.
The author says that though students younger than this may master some Latin roots, and may be able to "chant" declensions and conjugations, her best students have been those who "read well, spell with confidence because they know the spelling rules, and who no longer struggle with handwriting. This is the foundation needed for building grammar, languages, and composition.
"If you feel your student has these skills, then don't let his grade level deter you from beginning my full Latin language program. I, as well as other parents, have successfully taught 4th graders who had a solid phonics foundation with no problem."
- By the time you have completed Volume III, you will have finished well over two years' worth of high school Latin.
1. CD comes standard. Tape is available upon special request.
2. Mrs. Beers has made the program as simple to use as possible. That does not mean it is something you can hand to children and expect them to learn on their own! You will be required to devote time to learn along with your child. Language learning takes a disciplined commitment to spend the time necessary to memorize vocabulary and work through grammar-about 30 minutes a day. If you are unwilling to make such a commitment, you ought to seriously question whether this program is really for you.