Friday, April 29, 2011

Latin's Not So Tough 3: A review.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool crew, this year I am reviewing many homeschooling products that I have received for free. I am not paid to say nice things about the products, but I am obligated to use the product and share my honest opinions with you. In today's review, Paperboy had the opportunity to try a Latin program, and as we know teenagers cannot be forced to say nice things.

When I learned I would be reviewing Latin Is Not So Tough by Greek and Stuff, I was very excited. I knew I wanted my ninth grader to study Latin, but I was and still am apprehensive because of my limited experience.

What is Latin is Not So Tough?

This is a classical Latin program that includes a teachers book, a student text, and a pronunciation cd. Because my son is in high school, with no Latin background,  the level three seemed like a great the place to start. I understand the first two levels are for elementary students and are quickly covered in the first few lessons of level three. The workbooks have vocabulary, translations, matching and a variety of short exercises to reinforce the previous lessons. 

The cost is $21.95 for the Teacher answer key, $21.95 for the Student text and $10.00 for the cd. You can purchase by individual level or buy a complete kit of level 1 thru 6 for $215 to $320, depending on which answer key you choose. At this price, families have an affordable option to begin the study of Latin or Greek. You can see all of the pricing options here.

How we used it. The first thing I did was load the cd onto Paperboy's Ipod. That was a nice feature for him to have the words and sounds handy to him at all times. Then we created the flash cards from the back of the student book. Each lesson about 4 new words were introduced. Eventually, Random had a whole rack of cards. He was able to memorize these words because he studied them faithfully. We often quizzed each other and invented our own twisted mnemonic devices to remember the words. I enjoyed our time together learning Latin, but I never felt the program ever taught us the why's of Latin. To be fair, those concepts will be introduced that in the later levels. The short lessons explaining a concept seemed to skim the surface. I felt the program assumed I knew things I didn't. 

Eventually, I found myself confused and encouraging Paperboy to keep memorize the words, as I try to figure out what grammar concept they were teaching. This bothered me. The teacher's guide recommended other supplements, like The New Latin of Grammar or Latin Grammar. They were not available at my public library, so I had to resort to Latin for Dummies. I would have preferred a complete teachers guide with an actual script or red letters of explanation. I was thankful for the opportunity to try this, but I have a great need for a complete program to that includes everything needed for the unexperienced teacher in that subject matter. I now see the importance of the classroom experience for learning a language.

After memorizing enough words, my son moved into sentence translations. When my son began to use his vocabulary and translate, he became frustrated. The word combinations were choppy and strange. He started to doubt his answers because the sentences were so odd. Perhaps in my ignorance of Latin, this may be appropriate, but it just didn't feel right.
"We praise the water of the country."
"We seize the woman's forest."
"We love the years of friendliness."
"We please the farmers of the native land."
"I fight the farmers horse."
O.k. is it just me? Why do we fight the farmers horse? Those are questions that students ask when they are given weird examples. Maybe they have soldiers riding on them.

Because this is a gentle introduction to Latin, I don't consider it a complete Latin program. I won't be able to grant a full credit for Latin, but I am thankful that he has a large vocabulary under his belt to begin his Latin studies next year. This program would work well for younger students at the grammar stage. As the lessons are short, simple and contain a variety of exercises that will fit well with younger students. This program was reviewed by other families, stop by the crew blog and see what they had to say about it. Not everyone may be as Latin challenged as myself. I know many other families have had positive experiences with this program.

If you can relate to our struggles with Latin,
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1 comment:

Toyin O. said...

Nice review, it sounds like a great program, thanks for sharing:)