Let’s just admit right now that the word “teach” is a misnomer. I do not “teach” Latin; I facilitate. I buy the curriculum. I set up the schedule. I make sure questions are answered. But I do not teach. Why? Because I don’t know Latin.
I want to learn. I hope that someday, I will be able to say that I do know it. Already, I know much more of it than I knew four or five years ago when we first started.
But I’m not fluent, and I’m not qualified to teach my high schooler.
Before I go on, I think it’d be good to mention that I think the work we are doing is generational work. We have to make our peace with that and know we’re not going to hit all our ideals in the first generation, and that’s okay.
When it comes to Latin, the ideal is that I’d already know Latin and be able to walk my children through the Latin grammar and Caesar and the Vulgate and All The Rest with the ease of a well-worn path.
The truth is that Latin wasn’t on my radar until a couple years before I needed to teach it. Before that, I didn’t even know what an inflected language was, how it was different, or why it mattered.
So in this generation — the one we’re in right now — I facilitate Latin. My children will know much more Latin if and when they begin to teach their own children. It’s possible that, for them, the path really will be well worn. And if that’s the case, it will have only taken one generation to get there.
But even if the path feels a bit bumpy and they still need a map, they’ll do a far better job than I did. And that is entirely the point.
With that said, my older son is getting to where he can actually read in Latin. I mean, without having to look stuff up all the time. In fact, I’ve decided we’re going to do for him what we did when he was little and first became literate in English: we’re going to buy him a Latin Bible.
Q-Age-Ten, on the other hand, is flying through her first year of Latin at greater speed than her brother before her. I think I see another Latin Bible on the horizon in a few years!
The way we’re doing Latin isn’t the only way, of course. But it’s a path that seems to work. I’m becoming more confident in recommending it as time goes on.
Here’s what we do:
- Start Visual Latin 1 in fourth grade (ish).
- I say “ish” because some children aren’t quite ready. With my oldest, I needed to do a term or two of grammar first and then start Latin near the end of fourth grade.
- With my second child, I gave her permission to watch the videos more than once. So the first day, she’d watch the video and think about it and narrate it. The next time, she’d re-watch the video (if she felt she needed to) and then do the worksheet. This means that each lesson took two weeks instead of one.
- Hit a wall.
- This is an oft overlooked part of the process. At some point, Visual Latin gets hard. In my experience, it’s between Lesson 10 and 20.
- If it’s the end of the year, we persevere. If it’s mid-year, we go ahead and move on to the next step in the process.
- Start Henle and use Visual Latin videos for support.
- Here is a free guide that shows how Henle and Visual Latin match up.
- Please note that we did NOT finish Visual Latin,
- Yes, you have to buy all three if you’re going to do this: Henle Latin 1, Henle Latin Grammar, and the Henle First Year Answer Key.
- Henle offers a more mechanical approach to Latin. I find that helpful at this point. We spend a year (or two) going slowly through Henle — only level 1.
- I hope that Q-Age-Ten will only spend a year on this. We hit the wall this week, but since it’s the end of the year, we won’t switch to step 3 until the beginning of our next school year.
- We do not finish Henle. It is not the point to finish anything. The point is to learn Latin, right? So as long as we keep moving in the right direction, we’re good. A year or two in Henle gives the proper grammar foundation, and the Visual Latin videos make it more pleasant.
- We do not do many of the Visual Latin worksheets during this time.
- Switch to online Latin class with Dwane Thomas.
- My oldest just finished his second year of this. He has just about completed Lingua Latina I (it takes two years to get through all of it). Beause Mr. Thomas’ classes focus on reading — and because Mr. Thomas has a good sense of humor — learning Latin has been a delight.
- At this point, I’m not really facilitating at all — Mr. Thomas is. He sets the pace. He gives out quizzes and assignments. I just make sure there is time in the schedule to complete the assignments and attend class.
- When the child shows evidence of literacy, buy him a Latin Bible.
- Continue with online Latin class.
- Roma Aeterna looks perfect for next year.
So … can we learn Latin in our homeschools, even though Mom has no clue? YES! Praise the Lord, yes we can. You’ll have to be something of a colearner, of course, but it’s totally worth the adventure. It’s a beautiful road to travel.
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