You want your kids to study and learn Latin, if only so that they can go on to learn a modern foreign language and travel the world with polyglot ease.
How does one begin?
Decide to do it.
Years-ago I was in a 52-books a year club. I tried it for a few years and even though I am a voracious reader, I never hit 52 books a year. One year, I had a revelation. In order to accomplish my goal, I had to read a book a week, every week, for a year. And I did; for several years.
It’s the same way with language studies. You must break it down into small, incremental, manageable, attainable, realistic, timely goals. And then work the steps.
What should we be doing?
There are many great overview Latin programs: Prima Latina, Duolingo, Powerglide Latin, Visual Latin. These programs will teach you some vocabulary, possibly the present tense conjugation of the “to be” verb or a declension or two. It’s a great way to introduce Latin. These are great overview programs. But if you really want to learn Latin, I would suggest a meatier program that will require memory work and mastery.
Memoriae mater studiorum. (Memory is the Mother of Learning)
In order to understand Latin so that you can translate from Latin to English and English to Latin you need to memorize:
- Latin vocabulary
- Forms (Latin conjugation and declension charts)
- English grammar
Don’t be afraid to over-learn the information. Overlearning is the process of long-term memorization so that it becomes second nature. To help you solidify the actual memory work, we’ve created a Latin Helps booklet which contains 5 Charts that will benefit your Latin language studies!
Can I do it myself?
Like a good homeschooling parent, you believe that you can teach Latin yourself. And you are completely correct Of course you can! There are many excellent programs on the market that make Latin language acquisition more accessible than ever before! Some of these programs come with DVD’s and/ or CD’s, teaching helps and notes.
There are self-paced and live on-line programs as well. Prices and quality vary, so do a bit of research and check reviews! Be sure to check out True North Homeschool Academy Latin courses. We offer First Form Latin for 3rd-7th graders and Latin I and II for 8th-12th graders.
The Key to Success
To succeed at Latin you must commit to regular study and accountability. If you trust yourself to have a regular class with your kids where you are doing regular homework and show up, set regular study and drill times and keep with it, by all means, do it. If, however, you are concerned that life and other subjects will crowd out Latin and it’s a serious goal, outsource accountability.
Invite other families over to do Latin with you on a regular basis. Sign up for an on-line Latin class such as the ones we offer at True North Homeschool Academy.
We meet for an hour each week, assign homework, chant forms, drill vocabulary, phrases and prayers. We laugh, pray and have a great time together. And we are all learning more Latin together than we would separately, “Two are better than one for they have a good return for their Labor” (Ecc 4:9). Latin studies statistically translate into higher test scores, which translates into college scholarship dollars. Paying for a reasonably prices on-line Latin class can literally be a pennies-on-the-dollar investment.
Latin is difficult and doable
Latin is difficult, not because it is so “hard” but because there are a lot of moving parts and because you are probably learning the language of English grammar right alongside the language of Latin! While I meant to learn Latin for many years, it wasn’t until I taught it in a co-op setting that we really took learning Latin to the level that was required to learn it. Once we made the commitment to study Latin, it became very doable; just like my 52 books a year endeavor. But it did take regular study, my digging deeper into English Grammar than I’d ever gone before and discipline.
Latin is a blast!
There are many benefits of Latin but one overlooked benefit is just how much fun it is! Translating and foreign language study is code cracking. It allows you to dig a deeper into history, theology, cultures, other language, writing and more! If you want to learn Latin at home, just do it! You’ll be glad that you did!
Lisa Nehring is doing what she loves, owning and operating True North Homeschool Academy where she speaks, writes and teaches about education, writing and Latin! She has homeschooled for over 25 years, having graduated 4 students who have gone on to college, the military, cosmetology school, marriage, or a combination of the above and still homeschoolers her youngest polyglot! If she had free time, she would still be doing what she’s doing, which is linking arms with fellow homeschoolers to create amazing programs that support parents as they train and educate the next generation. You can find her on Pinterest and Facebook.