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Latin in the Christian Trivium

by Gail Busby and Mary Harrington

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: Latin in the Christian Trivium by Gail Busby and Mary Harrington. Spiral bound, published by XL Group. Prices included below. Available from Latin in the Christian Trivium.

Latin in the Christian Trivium bills itself as "the most comprehensive Latin text book to be produced using the Bible in Latin as the primary reading source." The four-volume program is still under development with Volumes I, II, and III being complete. Latin in the Christian Trivium is recommended for students as young as sixth grade if they have a basic grammar background. After years of experience in teaching Latin to their own children and in co-op and classroom situations, Mrs. Busby and Mrs. Harrington bring a wealth of knowledge into this thoroughly Christian program.

A class session of Latin in the Christian Trivium has a teacher-led lecture time in which the student copies information from the text into a notebook and then completes study and drill sheets. This notebook is the method used to help students organize and remember Latin concepts. A fairly complex color-coding system for flashcards and notebook paper is laid out at the beginning of Volume I. The notebook itself is divided into thirteen sections with tabs for every aspect of Latin study. While making both flashcards and a notebook section for vocabulary is recommended, some families may choose to do one or the other.

The components of Latin in the Christian Trivium are the textbooks, teacher's guides, study, drill, and test sheets booklets, audios, an activity book, and overhead map sheets.

Volume I ($29.95) contains fifteen chapters which could each be done in a week or spread out over a longer period depending on the students' needs and capabilities. It begins gently with an overview of English grammar terms, Latin pronunciation, notebook set-up, the Roman alphabet, and a basic timeline. Then the Fidelius family, headed by a Roman centurion, is introduced. We follow this family in Latin readings throughout Volumes I, II, and III while they travel from Gaul to Judea where they ultimately meet Christ, see His resurrection, and become Christians. Basic Roman cultural information that usually relates in some way to the reading is shared in each lesson and is illustrated with line drawings, black and white pictures, and lovely old maps. The approximately 350 vocabulary words introduced in the story line and for grammar exercises build the background required for reading selections from the Vulgate. Derivatives are introduced with the vocabulary. All cases for the first three declensions, present, imperfect, and future tenses of the first conjugation, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, personal pronouns, and cardinal numbers are taught in Volume I. A Latin/English glossary is included in the back.

Volume II ($42.95) includes eighteen chapters and has an appearance consistent with Volume I. Readings from the Bible begin in the first lesson with "Daniel in the Lion's Den," and Scripture is included in every lesson thereafter. The Fidelius family story builds in complexity and interest. Grammar lessons include the active voice, indicative mood of all tenses and all conjugations, the passive indicative of all tenses and conjugations, fourth declension, present participles, and many fine points. A Latin/English glossary and "The Magnificat" are included in the back.

Volume III ($48.95) prepares the student for the National Latin Exam (except for mythology.) The expansion of activities in Volume III to include a term paper on Julius Caesar, further study of Roman history, and extensive Bible study in both Latin and English make this year of Latin particularly challenging for high school students. The fifth declension, infinitives, and gerunds are some of the many grammar subjects addressed. The book ends with grammar summary charts, a glossary, an index, and a list of Roman kings and emperors.

The Teacher's Guides ($34.95 for Vol. I, $52.95 for Vol. II, and $59.95 for Vol. III) include a full answer key with all student pages shown, suggestions for teaching, a list of the phrases and mottoes to use at the beginning of each class, and a key to the color scheme for the flashcards and notebook. Volume I has the instructions and a game card for VINCO, while the Volume II teacher's book has details for supplemental oral reports and an etymology poster. The Volume III book includes instructions for a term paper. In all volumes, step-by-step directions and teaching tips appear before each lesson. Translations are shown in boxes following the Latin passage. Study sheets, drill sheets, and tests are inserted at the appropriate time with their answers.

The Study and Drill Sheets Booklet ($19.95 for Vol. I, $19.50 for Vol. II, $24.50 for Vol. III) is comb-bound for use as a workbook. The study sheets include fill-in-the-blank and essay questions and are to be completed after each lesson to reinforce all the concepts learned. The drill sheets offer practice declining nouns, conjugating verbs, and translating from Latin to English and English to Latin.

Test Packets (included in the price of the Study and Drill Sheets Booklets) included loose-leaf tests for easy copying. Tests are suggested after even-numbered chapters and include material covered on both the study and the drill sheets as well as derivatives.

The pronunciation audio comes in CD ($8.95 per volume) format. Father Mike McCloskey pronounces all Latin text including sayings, vocabulary, readings, and exercises in a crisp voice using ecclesiastical (also called "church" or "Italian") pronunciation. Paul Gentry, of Christian Music Content Association (CMCA Christian radio), produced the tapes and does the English narration.

The activity booklet ($13.95 for Vol. I or II, $14.95 for Vol. III) is a "perfect bound", large paperback. The authors created this supplement to make Latin fun for those students who learn best through activities. Word searches, crafts, games, and puzzles are suggested and related to the chapters in the text.

The overhead map sheets ($24.50 - Vol. I only) reproduce 10 maps from each text. Many of the maps were taken from old Latin texts. This item is appropriate for use in a co-op or classroom situation.

Recommendation: Latin in the Christian Trivium is a rigorous, well-laid out program that could be followed by a motivated homeschooling parent with no Latin background. It is written for a teacher-led environment with quizzes and review of previous written work at the beginning of each class and "homework" assignments of the study sheets. The program is written from a non-denominational Christian point-of-view and is suitable for both Protestant and Catholic families.

The text introduces new concepts and vocabulary at a pace best suited for middle to high school aged students. An introductory Latin course such as Latina Christiana I or Our Roman Roots would be very helpful, but is not required.

Components needed for successful teaching are the text, a teacher's guide, and the study, drill, and test sheets booklet. The CD is very helpful, but not required, and the activity book should be thought of as a fun supplement. The overhead maps would be useful in a co-op environment.

Latin in the Christian Trivium provides a strong foundation in Latin grammar and vocabulary using the Bible as a primary reading source beginning in Level II. The story line is sure to hold the interest of students and adults. The goal of preparing students for the National Latin Exam with Volume III will be of interest to many homeschooling families. Latin in the Christian Trivium will find a strong following in the classical Christian market. resources related to this review:

Latin Curricula Comparison Chart to help select an introductory or intensive program.
Queston and Answers with Mary Harrington

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