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    Educational Philosophy, Home Education

    Preliminary Review: Visual Latin

    November 30, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    Visual Latin[dropcap]S[/dropcap]omeone emailed me asking what I thought about Visual Latin, and then the very next day it came up in the comments. Since I had already written a review in my email, I thought I’d gussy it up a little and post it here.

    But first…


    Disclaimer #1

    I do not have much experience with other curricula to compare it with. I used Song School Latin with my younger students for years {sort of dropped that as we got busier…oops…}, and my two oldest children also use Rosetta Stone Latin when they are at their grandparents’ house.


    Disclaimer #2

    We are only on Lesson Five. This means there is a definite possibility that I don’t know what I’m talking about!


    Short Review

    We like it. Five stars. Hurrah.


    Long Review

    Here are my initial thoughts, including information on why I chose this curriculum in the first place.

    • I wanted something manageable while I’m adding new students. I am not naturally a good juggler, and my three younger children were all born in 3.5 years, which means they will all be starting school in that amount of time as well. I didn’t want to start something that required too much of ME, because I was afraid I couldn’t keep up the momentum over the years. In my mind, it is better to choose something that I can make work over the long haul, whether than choosing something that seems really perfect, but that I can’t maintain over time.
    • I have been highly influenced by a book called Poetic Knowledge by James Taylor. Taylor suggests that the best way to teach Latin in the younger years is conversationally, with a Latin tutor. That shook me up because I was planning on learning alongside my first student, so who was supposed to be the tutor? Visual Latin feels a lot like having a tutor in our house. It is a very conversational style of teaching.
    • Poetic Knowledge also emphasizes the importance of humor as an aspect of the poetic mode of learning–humor is part of taking delight in something. This curriculum is quite funny, with the tutor/teacher making lots of jokes and generally keeping things light {but not silly}. I think the combination of Rosetta Stone and Visual Latin serve {for us} as the best substitute for a Latin tutor.
    • I still think I want to eventually use some of Classical Academic Press’s Latin programs — though we may be beyond Latin for Children by the time we begin with a book-based curriculum.
    • With that said, we may also return to Visual Latin in high school, as it is said to fit nicely with Lingua Latina in the upper grades {Lingua Latina is ALL in Latin — no English}.
    • By the third lesson, we were able to do almost all of our translation without referencing a dictionary, so in that regard I’d say it is effective. I am taking it slow because we haven’t done much grammar, and so too much in a week can get overwhelming. We are using KISS Grammar daily, and this is reinforcing the Latin, and vice versa, conveniently enough.
    • I haven’t noticed a change yet in my son’s writing, but for myself I have noticed that this little bit of Latin study is already helping me pay better attention to my own writing in English. For instance, I find myself mentally self-editing {which I have always done, to some extent} using new tools I have learned from Latin lessons.
    • At the end of the day, this makes my children love Latin {my six-year-old often sits and watches the videos with us}, and at the end of the day I am satisfied with that because it is the love of Latin which will keep us going when the study gets hard.

    When we finish all of the first set, I will try and write another review.

    Oh. And yes, I would recommend Visual Latin even without Rosetta Stone, though the reverse is not true. I just wanted to give a complete picture of what we are doing.


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  • Reply Donna Koch August 10, 2018 at 11:54 am

    I see this was some years back and maybe you wrote a follow up post but I’m wondering what your thoughts are now on Visual Latin. My 12 year old used Getting Started with Latin and this year I purchased Minimus Starting Out in Latin since it had a nice story line and history with it. I am also planning on using it with our 10 year old this year. I’m considering having Visual Latin for next year. Is it thorough and challenging? I just don’t want to overwhelm. I may find that Minimus is not enough for my 12 year old, so I guess I’m just looking for your thoughts/results with it. Thank you!

  • Reply Playing with Puppies — Random Wanderings on Education | Crossing the Brandywine January 21, 2015 at 6:11 am

    […] reviews and clicked on anything bloggy. To my delight some of my favorite blogs topped the list: Afterthoughts and Ordo-Amoris. So I searched them for more posts on Visual Latin at Afterthoughts, and ended up […]

  • Reply Kelly November 30, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Oh, I think it fits well. I was excited when he said it was the best reader he knew of — it was recommended to me by a blogger I’ve followed for several years who is a classicist and the son of a classicist. I love, love, LOVE, the content. You can get a pretty good preview of it at Amazon.

    The publisher’s website has a lot of helpful information, including a discussion group. They helped me a lot when I was first starting with it.

  • Reply Anonymous November 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Thank you!!! We are currently using SS Latin, so perhaps this will be a good step for next year. I would have never known of it, if not for you, so I appreciate your sharing!
    Julie in St. Louis

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm


    Is it true what VL says, that it fits with LL? I was taking their word for it…Does it fit together naturally in your opinion? You are the only person I’ve come across that has experience with it.


    What I liked about Song School Latin is that it was a fun way to introduce some basic Latin words. You could make it more school-y but using the workbook, but all I did was use that as a guide for ME in seeing what the sons were intended to teach. Then I gave a little oral lesson and we learned the song. It has been over a year since we did a lesson, and yet my 4yo STILL sings the songs.

    I chose SS because I wanted something that we could do together as a family. When my son got a little older, he attempted some of the workbook material, but not much.

  • Reply ...they call me mommy... November 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Thanks for the review…Latin is something I haven’t really even begun to touch…I recently heard of the one you mentioned Sing Song Latin? or whatever, but haven’t heard of these. 🙂

  • Reply Kelly November 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    With Lingua Latina, the all-Latin books are the reader, the exercise book, and the grammar book, which is a list of all the forms and their declensions/conjugations. The reader is illustrated so it’s really very easy to learn from.

    There’s also a Latin-English dictionary, and a Student’s Manual, which gives background information, helpful tips, and explanations of the grammar in English.

    I’ve used it some along with my older students, but it requires more of me than I can do now. We’re using Visual Latin, but we’re only on Lesson 2. It’s so good though that my 19yod who told me she would never attempt Latin again is (voluntarily!) doing it along with my 12yod and enjoying it.

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