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Curricula and Learning Links - Classical and Charlotte Mason Methods

Studying Latin

Michelle T.: Why would I want to teach Latin? I know we want to add a foreign language next year, but one child wants Spanish while the other wants French.

It will help tremendously with Spanish or French as both of those languages are based on Latin. Over 50% of the English language comes from Latin so study of Latin will build vocabulary tremendously. Latin is highly inflected, meaning that the endings of the words change based upon their usage in the sentence. So in order to learn Latin, you must thoroughly learn and understand grammar concepts. This makes English grammar a snap and builds the skills needed for good composition skills. In other words, your grammar skills in English will get stronger by studying Latin. You will learn grammar concepts (subjects, objects, parts of speech, etc.) because you must know these to write/translate Latin.

Kathleen: Help! My boys hate Latin! They just don't seem to get it! And now they don't like it because they DON'T GET IT. We're doing the Mars Hill Latin Primer recommended in The Well Trained Mind. They are in grades 3 and 4 so it shouldn't be too difficult for them. Any ideas?

Martha R.: There is no reason to do Latin at such an early age. If the child is interested in trying it at this age, go for it, but otherwise, I recommend waiting. The logical structure of Latin really lends itself to the early dialectic stage or late grammar stage (6th or 7th grade). If you really want to do Latin at an early age, you might try a different program. You could start with Cheryl Lowe's Introduction to Classical Studies to build interest before doing Latin. We are currently using Our Roman Roots and my children are really enjoying it.

Tara: Try the Latin Teach website for games and such that you might find helpful. Two options- try and find a latin tutor to help once a week or once every two weeks- a friend of mine is doing this and they have really enjoyed her zest for Latin and joy in teaching it. I plan to teach in 2 years and am already trying to organize a "Latin Group", I've had 4 years of Latin and loved it- some of what makes it fun is learning in a group- lots of fun games you can play to practice the endings and decoding treasure hunts- name it. Our plan is to have a once a week class with 5-10 other children at the same level and play games as we learn.

Cheryl: When do you start Latin?

Martha R.: There are two schools of thought on that. Read the interview with Cheryl Lowe, author of Latina Christiana. She believes in "Latin based education" in which the child starts Latin at the early part of the grammar stage and learns Latin grammar as opposed to English grammar. If you'll read the interview with the Bluedorns, you'll see that they believe in delaying formal academics until the child is about 10. Then they feel you should teach them Latin right away. So, when should you start? Whenever it is best for each child!

Mary H: I would not begin Latin until your children are at least fifth grade. It is like history, a subject that you only need to do one time through and then thoroughly. You can take five or six years to go through it slowly and they will really learn it well. It IS a high school subject, but with homeschooling, you can do it at any age.

Patty in VA: Is there an advantage learning one pronunciation over another? Also is it difficult to switch pronunciation after learning one?

Martha R.: Julius Caesar... Can you imagine him saying, "Weenie, weedie, weekie?" In classical pronunciation, /v/ is pronounced /w/, while /w/ is /w/in ecclesiastical pronunciation. If you are planning on doing any hymns or prayers in Latin, all are done in ecclesiastical pronunciation. I think this is the better approach for Christian families.

Classical, also known as "Restored Classical," is how scholars THINK Romans pronounced words based upon poetry from different periods and other research. Ecclesiastical pronunciation evolved over the 2000 years that the church continued to speak and write Latin. Schools used to teach only "church Latin" (ecclesiastical) until, I believe, the early 1900s when a switchover started. (See the movie Good-bye Mr. Chips in which the main character, a teacher, objects to calling Cicero with a pronunciation of hard /c/ -- Kickero. LOL.)

Which one is right? Who knows? There aren't any ancient Romans around to tell us we are talking funny, so it really comes down to preference. No, it's not terribly hard to switch over. Think of it as changing from speaking American English to British English. Many words are the same.

Angela: Read this articles for more information on Latin pronunciation.

Other Resources

See the HomeschoolChristian.com Review Page for many Latin reviews. Also see our Latin curriculum comparison chart.

National Latin Exam

Textkit Greek and Latin Learning Tools

Find more free curricula and resources on HomeschoolChristian.com's Curricula Page Index!
See more Charlotte Mason and Classical Resources.