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Latin's Not So Tough

by Karen Mohs

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: Latin's Not So Tough, by Karen Mohs, Levels 1 through 4, available from Greek 'N Stuff. Prices are dependent on the components chosen.

Latin's Not So Tough brings the study of Latin down to the level of the earliest elementary students, but may also be used as a gentle approach for older students. Karen Mohs, the author, suggests that it is best to introduce classical languages before the child decides that they are too difficult. While teaching her own children, Mrs. Mohs found that the study of Latin made a positive difference in her children's academic work and this led her to develop Latin's Not So Tough.

Level One: Level One is suitable for the youngest students as long as they are reading and writing. The primary focus of this workbook is to learn to write and pronounce Latin phonics. Mrs. Mohs recommends that younger students complete one of the 104 pages per day while suggesting that older students may choose to do more. She also has offered a lesson-oriented scheme in the full text key, but makes it clear that the program was not designed with lessons in mind. Activities include writing of dipthongs and letters with and without macrons, circling choices, matching, and fill-in-the-blank. Graphics such as pies, pickles, and kites make the activities more fun. A check-box appears at the bottom of each page to remind the child to do his or her flashcards, which are reproduced and ready to cut out in the back of the book. Four quizzes, a mid-term, and a final exam are included in the test and quizzes packet.

Level Two: Level Two could be a starting point for mid-elementary students. The alphabet and Latin phonics are reviewed in the first twenty pages of the 144 work pages. Mrs. Mohs then systematically introduces fifty Latin words including nouns, verbs, conjunctions, and prepositions. The full text key suggests English derivatives to go with many of the vocabulary words. Activities include circle the correct spelling, drawing a picture of what the word means, matching, crossword and word loop puzzles, and fill-in-the-blank. Vocabulary is constantly reinforced in the exercises and ten pages of review are included at the end of the workbook. A glossary is in the student book, and again, the flashcards are in the back ready to be cut out. Four quizzes, a mid-term, and a final exam are included in the test and quizzes packet.

Level Three: Level Three could easily be a starting point for mid to upper level elementary students. All material from the previous two books is reviewed during the first twenty-six pages. At this level, Mrs. Mohs' combination of inductive and deductive methods becomes apparent. Sentences are introduced, and using the examples and the vocabulary already learned, the student is easily able to translate Latin to English. Declension and verb endings are explained in the context of sentences, and many exercises are used to reinforce the endings; yet, the grammatical terms (direct object, accusative case, etc.) are never mentioned to the student. The present active indicative tense and all five cases for first and second declension are taught. The full text key has detailed "you are here" charts tied to the pages introducing each grammatical concept, and these charts tell the parent precisely what declension and case, or conjugation and person, are being covered. A total of approximately 110 vocabulary words is constantly reinforced. The 170 pages of activities are similar to previous levels. There is some translation from English to Latin in Level 3. A glossary and four paradigm charts are in the student book, and again, the flashcards are in the back ready to be cut out. Four quizzes, a mid-term, and a final exam are included in the test and quizzes packet.

Level Four: Level Four (blue) brings together many of the concepts inductively taught in previous levels. After thirty-eight pages of review, Mrs. Mohs introduces the principal parts of verbs, macrons, the verb "to be," and more words, bringing the total Latin vocabulary to approximately 170 words (plus the many other forms of those words.) In a straightforward style, she organizes the cases and declensions along with the first and second conjugations and teaches the Latin names and English grammatical uses and terms for each. Third, fourth, and fifth declensions and the third and fourth conjugations are covered. Several pages of translation of sentences from English to Latin are included. Four quizzes, a mid-term, and a final exam are included in the test and quizzes packet. One hundred-seventy work pages, similar in style to other levels, are followed by a glossary, helpful paradigm summaries, and flashcards. As always, plenty of reinforcement of concepts is provided.

Level 5: Level 5 continues in the same manner as other books in the series. The first 48 of over 200 pages in this workbook are devoted to review. New material includes a great deal of vocabulary with grammar lessons focusing on adjectives and adverbs and various special case uses. Four selections from the Latin Vulgate are used for translations. Comprehensive paradigm charts, a glossary, and flashcards are included in the back. The full text key offers "you are here" charts to explain the new concepts introduced and lists of derivatives associated with the new vocabulary. A pronunciation tape/CD for levels 4 and 5 and a quiz and test packet are also available.

After a family completes Latin's Not So Tough, the author recommends either Jenney's Latin or Wheelock Latin.

Conclusion and Recommendation: Latin's Not So Tough is a Latin grammar program covering all cases of the five declensions and the four conjugations in present active indicative tense. While classical pronunciation is used on the audios, speaking is not emphasized in this program. Reading of literature is not included. Translating from Latin to English is the primary focus of this program, though there are some exercises for English to Latin translation.

Latin's Not So Tough is a self-teaching, workbook based program. It would be a good fit for the family in which the parent does not wish to get too involved in Latin or the child thrives on a workbook approach. New concepts are introduced slowly, gently, and with plenty of reinforcement. If other Latin programs overwhelm you, Latin's Not So Tough could be the answer.

I highly recommend purchasing the "full text key" in case your student needs more explanation of what he is learning during Level Three, in particular, where many concepts are being introduced but not being given a name. If you choose to use a more lesson oriented approach rather than the one-page-per-day approach, the "full text key" will be very useful too. The budget conscious family could avoid purchasing the flashcards if the student is willing to cut up the ones from the back of the workbook. The pronunciation tape/disc is helpful for reinforcing both pronunciation and memorization of the vocabulary. In fact, the audio would be an excellent supplement to any program as its format lends itself to learning in the car or on the go.

Latin's Not So Tough would be a fine introductory program before moving on to an intensive program like Latin in the Christian Trivium, which uses ecclesiastical pronunciation, Ecce Romani, which continues with classical pronunciation. resources related to this review:

Latin Curricula Comparison Chart to help select an introductory or intensive program.'s Classic Languages Resource Section
Interview with Karen Mohs
Review of Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek

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