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Ecce Romani

By Gilbert Lawall

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: Ecce Romani The 3d Edition, copyright 2000, was reviewed. Published by Prentice Hall Publishing. To order call, 1-800-848-9500. Homeschoolers must fill out a form stating that they are homeschool teachers in order to order tests and teacher materials. Please support by buying this program from our Amazon affiliate link.

Ecce Romani is a public school Latin program for grades 7 to 9. Two versions of student text are available: hardback (levels 1, 2, and 3) and paperback (levels 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B). The paperback versions are less expensive ($24.97 each), but two books are required for each year of study. For example, books 1A and 1B are the equivalent of the hardback level 1 student text ($59.97). An activity workbook, teacher's guide, reproducible test master book, transparencies, and cassette tapes are available to support the program.

Ecce Romani was first published in 1971 in the United Kingdom and has been widely used in the U.K., the U.S.A., and Canada. The stated purposes of Ecce Romani are to get students reading classical authors in Latin as quickly as possible, to teach about the culture and influence of Rome, and to develop general skills having to do with language, reasoning, and analysis.

While the introduction in the teacher's edition refers to the "deductive reading method," the teaching method could be more descriptively called immersion. Each chapter starts with a Latin reading that the students are supposed to figure out based upon their knowledge of English and the vocabulary words shown on the page. The story line of a Roman family and their friends is carried throughout the 54 chapters of levels 1 and 2. Comprehension questions in Latin follow the reading. Charts and narrative explain the grammar concepts and up to eight exercise sections reinforce these concepts. Seven "Word Study" sections in level 1 and six in level 2 cover derivatives and Latin expressions used in English. Cultural information using many primary sources is included in the "Roman Life" and "Frontier Life" sections.

The Ecce Romani student texts are strikingly beautiful. Each chapter begins with an original artwork illustrating the events in the reading. Color photographs of historic sites, reproduction of beautiful art, maps, and line drawings bring the cultural discussions to life. A lovely mosaic pattern is found at the top of many pages.

The black-and-white Teacher's Manual reproduces the student manual in miniature with helpful teaching tips and in-depth explanations. While the introduction of this edition includes many of today's politically correct sentiments, the book is extremely valuable. Supplementary material, a huge bibliography, additional cultural readings (in English) from primary sources, and charts of language origin, Roman government, the clothing of a Roman soldier (level 1), and the bones of the skeleton (level 2) are included. The answers are not in the text, but rather are shown in the back of the book.

Support materials are plentiful. The audio tapes or CD's ($37.97/year) are dramatized with different people playing parts of the family. Pronunciation is classical. The overheads ($32.97/year) reproduce the original artwork at the beginning of each chapter. The Test Masters booklet ($18.47/year) includes a quiz for each chapter, a number of tests, and final exams at the end of each semester. The Activity Book (TM-- $19.47 for each level 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, Student book -- $7.97 for each level) offers mostly fill-in-the-blank exercises to reinforce the grammar and vocabulary of the text. It also includes vocabulary review pages.

Level 1 of Ecce Romani includes study of all five declensions and the active voice of all tenses of all conjugations. Demonstrative adjectives, agreement of adjectives and nouns, cardinal numbers, pronouns, interrogative pronouns, and possessive adjectives are also taught. Level 2 carries on the study of all conjugations of regular and irregular verbs, including the passive voice, and teaches ordinal numbers and adverbs.

Level 3 of Ecce Romani does not continue the story line of levels 1 and 2, but instead, focuses on reading excerpts from Roman writings that progress from the early Republic timeframe through the early Empire. Level 3 has only 14 chapters, but continues with more complex grammar studies, cultural information, and beautiful artwork.

Recommendation: Ecce Romani is immediately appealing with its beauty, and it offers a rigorous study of Latin and Roman culture. Between the story line and the cultural discussions, Ecce Romani is sure to be a hit with students.

Because of the deductive, or immersion, method used, this product is well-suited to children in the logic stage. It would NOT be suitable for younger children. (The editor of this edition recommends First Latin for younger ones.) While it is not written for the novice teacher, a motivated parent could teach herself Latin during preparation for the student's class time. Much study will be required to memorize the paradigms and grammar concepts shown on charts in the text.

The drawback to Ecce Romani is the expense. Unless you are doing a co-op, the overheads would not be needed, but the remaining components would be necessary. Using the paperback student texts, level 1 and level 2 would cost $211.23 each, and level 3, which only includes hardcover student text, teacher's guide, and test masters, would cost $85.41. If you choose to purchase the supplemental texts, The Romans Speak for Themselves, recommended (and authored) by the revision editor, they would cost $61.88.

Additional resource: Ecce Romani Teacher's Corner resources related to this review:

Latin Curricula Comparison Chart to help select an introductory or intensive program.
Review of Horatius at the Bridge
Review of The Romans Speak

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