Sunday, January 18, 2009

Holy Cow! I Can Read Latin (First Year, That Is)!

The other day, I was reading a story from Stage 8 (Chapter 8 of 12) in Unit 1 (book 1 of 4) of David's Latin curriculum. Subito, I mean suddenly, it hit me! Holy Cow! I am reading Latin. I am not to the point of thinking in Latin and, if I ever reach that point, you can have me locked up! fabula haec est "pastor et leo"--This story is "The Shepherd and the Lion." David, filius meus, and I, et ego, are enjoying the Cambridge Latin Course, North American, Fourth Edition (textbook and tests) for the following reasons:
  • They make free resources available online.
  • The tests are very well-written and focus on what is important (not minutia).
  • You read lesson from the very first sentence in the very first chapter!
  • They slowly introduce you to tedious parts of grammar (declensions, cases, conjugation) and phasing it in so gradually that it feels almost effortless.
  • Every book focuses on a period of history and geographic area(s) in the Roman Empire. The books include articles about the culture and history.
  • The first book grips your attention with its stories about a Pompeian family whose house was preserved by the fallout of the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD.
  • Some of the stories are funny and make us laugh. David calls the son, Quintus, a bum because he wrote graffiti and broke the nose of a statue when his discus slammed into it.

One reason this period in history fascinates me is that Jesus and the early church was born then. Understanding the Gentile culture helps me better understand the struggles of the Jews struggling to accept the Messiah, the Jews who became believers, and the Gentiles who joined in that belief. For the past few months, the books I read for "mother culture" are mainly historical fiction from that era with a Christian perspective:

I hope by the end of Unit 4 of the Latin curriculum to read this:


Penny said...

I am so impressed (an a wee bit jealous!)!!!

walking said...

Penny, this is an awesome series for learning Latin. I have lived with Steve's bilingual family for twenty years, and, if I had a curriculum like this for Spanish, I would have learned it long ago! LOL!

I bet you could learn Latin through the CLC!

Niffercoo said...

What is the earliest age you would recommend for this? Early high school? We are really struggling through Minimus, which is by the same folks. I'm trying to decide whether we just keep at it, or whether we try something else. It's very frustrating for me when the kids ask me a question about the Latin and I can't tell them the answer. I didn't take latin in school at all, just French.

And I want to read Green Eggs and Ham, and Harry Potter, in Latin! ;)

walking said...

I'd recommend it when their logic skills kick in . . . when you see them able to understand the logic behind English grammar, chemistry, algebra, etc.

My foreign language experience is quite limited: I learned the basics of German in high school (my adopted mother is German) but never took a course. I have not been able to learn Spanish: I can follow some conversations and say a few things. I think I like Latin because it is a dead language so you can take your time in piecing it together.

What you might do is get the first book and play around with the online resources. The stories are quite amusing. For example, in today's story, Quintus (aka the bum) was hanging out with Milo, a famous athlete, at the sports field. Quintus showed him his new discus and threw it. It hit a statue and broke off its nose. Everyone was cracking up, except for Milo. Why? Because it was a statue of him! :-)

Niffercoo said...

I was actually hoping learning Latin would help develop some of those logic skills, and also help develop Austin's vocabulary. I have noticed that he is starting to ask what words mean while I'm reading aloud (or sometimes when I'm speaking b/c I have a tendency to use big words sometimes). I think this is another great example of him "thinking about thinking" because he is realizing there is a gap of knowledge, which is something he didn't do as little as a year ago.

I notice that AO suggests Latin earlier. Did you do Latin earlier? I'm trying to figure out if all of this Latin angst is really worth it in the long run. I really want them to learn Latin because I feel it is important, but it's so hard for me to teach because of the competence thing! :)