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Prima Latina

by Leigh Lowe

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: Prima Latina, Introduction to Christian Latin 2nd Edition by Leigh Lowe. $32.95 -- paperback student book (128 pages), paperback teacher manual (138 pages), and CD. Published by Memoria Press. Please support by buying this program from our ChristianBookDistributors link or Amazon affiliate link.

Prima Latina is designed to be used in Kindergarten to fourth grade, and "its goal is to teach and reinforce an understanding of the basic parts of speech while teaching beginner Latin." As soon as the child successfully completes Prima Latina, he can move on to Latina Christiana I.

Prima Latina offers twenty-five regular lessons and five review lessons, all of which are highly organized and easy-to-follow. Each of the standard lessons begins with practical Latin, basic sayings such as salve/salvete, semper fidelis, Anno Domini. Next comes a lesson in which a wide variety of topics including ecclesiastical pronunciation, parts of speech, derivatives, numbers, constellations, declensions, and the first conjugation are taught. Then there is a vocabulary list of five to six words with their English translations. Last, comes a line from a Latin prayer. Four complete prayers (The Sanctus, The Doxology, The Table Blessing, and The Lord's Prayer) are included in the program. The appendix includes two listings of the vocabulary sorted alphabetically and by part of speech and a list of the Latin sayings by lesson.

The exercises section consists primarily of fill-in-the-blank exercises. Two to five review questions allow the parent to discern if the child has retained information from earlier lessons. Questions and translations from the current lesson come next. Then, a "Speaking Latin" section instructs the student to listen to the CD and practice speaking. The "Write and Learn" section has the child write each vocabulary word twice along with its meaning and sometimes a derivative. This section also frequently has a reinforcement activity for the grammar concept. The last exercise, "Fun Practice," includes multiple choice questions, art projects, reading, and counting items.

The review lessons list the vocabulary and practical Latin from the five preceding lessons and bring together the lines of the prayer learned. The first exercise asks the student to copy all vocabulary words, their translations, and a derivative for each. The remaining exercises ask questions from the lessons, have the child say and write the prayer, and answer questions about the vocabulary. A bonus question has the student sing and write a Latin song.

The teacher manual contains teacher support materials and completely reproduces the student manual with answers. The book begins with a basic overview of ecclesiastical pronunciation and grammar for the new Latin teacher. Then, goals for Prima Latina, general guidelines for teaching, and five one page tests and their answers follow. A CD exercise form on which to document oral practice is the last support item before the student manual key.

The thirty-six track CD includes an explanation of the program and basic instructions, the four prayers, a pronunciation guide, and reinforcement for each lesson. Leigh Lowe's voice is rich and clear, and her accent is minimal. The sound quality on the audio is very good. Four Latin songs from the Lingua Angelica curriculum are also included.

Optional Supplements:

Prima Latina Videos ($45) -- Leigh Lowe, author of Prima Latina and a teacher at a Kentucky Latin school, instructs students in these video sets, available in DVD or VHS formats. The DVD version offers the outstanding benefit of indexing so that the desired lesson can be accessed and replayed without being concerned with rewinding. The video begins with Mrs. Lowe, who introduces herself as "Mrs. Leigh," recounting the benefits of studying Latin. She then goes through each lesson using repetition to teach the vocabulary. The lesson elements, vocabulary, pronunciation, prayer lines, and so forth, appear as graphics around a smaller window where Mrs. Lowe continues to teach so that the students can follow along without having to refer to the book. Her enthusiasm is catching, and the repetition and encouragement give the opportunity for success to even the most reticent student.

Latina Christiana/Prima Latina Flashcards ($12.95) All of the words introduced in Prima Latina are covered again in Latina Christiana I. The flashcards are set up by Latina Christiana lesson though, so some searching is required to find the appropriate cards for the Prima Latina lessons. The cards, printed on cardstock, are color coded by part of speech.

Recommendation: Prima Latina has a gentle approach that is appropriate for young children who have a solid grasp of reading or older elementary-aged children who are not familiar with grammar.

Prima Latina is particularly well suited to Latin-fearful parents. The simple layout of the lessons allows for easy implementation with little to no preparation, and the material is at a level that any willing parent can easily learn. The exercises have quite a bit of writing so it may be advisable to wait to begin this program until the child is writing well. The CD enhances the program with its repetition of the lesson vocabulary and prayer. The flashcards are a good investment since they can also be used with Latina Christiana I.

The optional video set for Prima Latina is excellent. For less than $2 per lesson, the homeschooling parent has almost all the burden of teaching Latin lifted from her shoulders. Rather than spending time trying to figure out what to teach when, how to pronounce the words, how much repetition to provide, and so on, the parent can learn along with the child. Worry on the part of the parent is replaced with the enjoyment of learning and seeing the child learn! The videos will truly lighten the load of the busy or Latin-fearful parent.

Prima Latina with its optional videos will get your family off to an outstanding start with Latin. Success is almost guaranteed with the simple format of the workbook and the experienced, positive teaching method of Leigh Lowe. resources related to this review:

Latin Curricula Comparison Chart to help select an introductory or intensive program.'s Classic Languages Resource Section
Interview with Cheryl Lowe
Review of Latina Christiana
Review of Lingua Angelica

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