Thursday, June 4, 2015

Latina Christiana {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

At various times over our years of homeschooling, my kids and I have studied Latin. I was reminded the other day about a time when Addison was just starting with the Prima Latina program. We were new to a homeschool co-op at our church, and she offered to say a prayer. She then proceeded to say the Latin prayer she had just learned. Even though our church doesn't use Latin, all of our new homeschool friends were still very accepting of the nerdy little girl who wanted to pray in Latin.

Recently Lauren has been using Latina Christiana I Complete Set from Memoria Press. (Coincidentally it's the same company that produces the Prima Latina program Addison used years ago.) It includes the Student Book, Teacher Manual, Pronunciation CD, Instructional DVDs, and Flashcards.

Latina Christiana contains twenty-five lessons (and five additional review lessons). Each lesson would take approximately one week to complete. Lessons generally include a new Latin saying, 10-12 vocabulary words, and a simple grammar concept.

A suggested weekly schedule is outlined in the Teacher Manual. Basically, one day each week is dedicated to presenting the new lesson. I decided to use the Instructional DVDs to present the lesson. The next two days are spent reviewing and drilling the new materials. The written exercises in the Student Book can be completed on the fourth day of the week, and the last day each week can be spent on review, games, and a quiz.

Lauren's favorite part of this program is memorizing new words and phrases. She loves when the instructional video starts and Leigh Lowe (the instructor) tells the class to stand up for the recitation. So far she hasn't ever said, "Salve Magistra" to me, but she loves saying it along with the video.

I was thrilled a few weeks ago when I noticed Lauren applying her Latin knowledge to a new situation. We were visiting a swimming pool, and she noticed that the rock wall in the pool area was labeled, "AquaClimb." She started talking about it and realized that its name must come from combining "aqua" which means water with the word climb because it was for rock climbing.

Unfortunately, the other aspects of the Latina Christiana program are a bit more challenging for Lauren. Latin grammar is quite similar to English grammar, but the concepts are a bit too abstract for her to catch. She can recite the first conjugation of amo, but she's still working on conjugating other Latin verbs.

I've also found that she is struggling with the instructional videos. The video lessons are quite a bit longer than the other videos she watches for schoolwork -- a little more than 30 minutes long as opposed to other video segments that are less than 10 minutes long. It helps if we divide up the lesson among several days. On the first day, she can watch the Opening Recitation, the new Latin Saying, and the vocabulary words.

Her attention really starts to fade as the teacher introduces a list of derivatives that relate to the new vocabulary words. Part of the problem is that the teacher uses a cookie cutter style delivery method. She says nearly the same sentences for each set of derivatives, just substituting in different words. This section of the video also seems like it would work better with students that are capable of taking notes from a lecture. The English derivatives are not listed in the Student Workbook, but I may start preparing a notes sheet for Lauren ahead of time so that she can look at the words and underline the common letters during this segment of the videos. (Ideally a student would write the derivatives from the video screen into their Latin notebook, but I don't think Lauren will deal well with either having to pause the video to write them down herself or stressing that she isn't writing fast enough.)

I already mentioned that Lauren struggles with the Latin grammar. I watch that section of the weekly lessons with her so that I can pause the video when she starts to look confused. I'm learning that I need to have some extra discussions with her about these new concepts and that she will likely need help completing these sections of the workbook.

When we received our Latina Christiana set, I had high hopes that Lauren would be able to use the Instructional videos and work through this program relatively independently. I've found that it works best when I read through all the lesson information in the Teacher Manual, watch the video with Lauren, explain the new concepts, and then help her practice a bit before she attempts the student workbook pages. This program needs a parent who is willing to study and learn with their student.

Latina Christiana I is recommended for beginning Latin students in grades three and up. The complete set costs $98.90, but there is also a smaller set (without the instructional DVDs and flashcards) and individual items available for purchase.

Memoria Press Review

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