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Latin (elementary age) questions


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I've been doing some reading at Memoria Press and Highlands, and I'm seriously considering starting Latin with my oldest two dc next year. But, I have some questions first.


1. Is it really that important to start Latin in elementary school, or can I wait until middle school or high school, when they can learn it independently? (I have a large family, so I'm nervous about adding more programs that require teacher time.)


2. My oldest two dc will be in 4th and 5th grade next year. I'll also have a Kindergartener and a 2nd grader, as well as two preschoolers. I'm thinking Latina Christiana 1, though if it would be beneficial to start with Prima Latina, we can. Would a 2nd grader who is still finishing up phonics be able to handle Prima Latina? If so, I'd think about teaching all 3 of the oldest together. If not, I'd do whichever program is best for the 4th and 5th graders.


3. How much time should I expect to spend on these programs? Are they done daily?


4. We use R&S for English and Spelling. I noticed that the spelling starts covering Latin roots in 7th grade. Considering the dc will learn roots eventually, do we really need to study the Latin language as a whole right now? (At least before high school?)


5. Are there any other programs that would be good in our situation? I did not take Latin myself, so I'll be learning it too. I need open-and-go, and preferably a program that becomes more independent for the student as they get older. Inexpensive is a plus.



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As for #2: My 3rd-grade dd is doing Prima Latina this year. She hasn't needed my help with the lessons once we set up the routine of how to do them, but then she'd advanced enough reading-wise that I wasn't too surprised. If your 2nd grader is still working on phonics, I wouldn't expect her to be able to do PL by herself. There's also a lot of writing in the workbook, so that might be difficult for her if she's not comfortable with writing yet. With help, doing things orally instead of written, it's likely to be very possible for her.


As for your 4th- and 5th-graders, I'd recommend starting them in Latina Christiana I if you choose to do Latin. PL is a breeze for my dd8 - by next year I'm afraid she'd find it boring. Each lesson explains a bit of grammar (stuff she's already had in R&S 3), assigns about 6 vocab words (Now that we're nearing the end, they're all six conjugations of a one verb in present tense, for example), and a line or so of a Latin prayer. Then you get two pages of exercises where memorized things are written down or questions are answered. (There's not really any translation or working with the language yet.) I'm glad we're doing it because I feel she'll be ready to tackle LC I next year with no faintness of heart, but if she were any older I'd consider PL to be a waste of time.


#3 Dd8 spends about 15-20 minutes on PL 3x/week and we cover one full lesson each week. (There are 25 in the book.) (Oops - that doesn't include review lessons - Sunny Days is right!)




Mama Anna

Edited by Mama Anna
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I can answer some of this. We're using Prima Latina right now and I've looked at the next programs as well.


1. Obviously there are a couple schools of thought... one says start Latin young and it'll be helpful with their vocabulary, plus make it easier to pick up other languages. One says wait a little while, and they'll get more out of it and be able to handle declension and conjugation better. Another, of course, says skip Latin altogether and focus on learning Latin and Greek roots and word origin. Just depends what your priorities are!


2. Personally, I would chunk your two oldest and your next oldest. MP says you can start right into Latina Christiana, so there's no true need to do Prima Latina unless you want to... you could easily do LC with your oldest two. Then do it again a few years later with your next two, then the next two.


3. PL has 30 lessons including review. You could easily do 1 or 2 per week and have them review or listen to the CD on a different day. I'm not sure about LC.


4. - Kind of goes back to #1


5. There are plenty out there, that's a topic in itself!! I know lots of people like Latin for Children, or Getting Started with Latin, and others, but I don't know anything about those. I don't know any Latin either, so even PL is also a learning experience for me.


Hope that gives you some food for thought, at least!!

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Since you are doing some background reading, here are two articles with a different viewpoint on the matter.


Thanks! I'll check those out now.


ETA: That first article really makes a lot of sense to me. After considering both sides, right now I'm thinking we won't do Latin, at least not this young. We'll definitely learn roots though. At this point, we are learning some roots as we come across them in science, plus they will begin a more formal study of roots in 7th grade spelling.

Edited by lotsofpumpkins
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I started my ds with Latin for Children last year when he was in 5th grade. We love it and I think it'd be a good fit for your older two. It comes with a DVD/CD set and you don't have to know any Latin yourself. I watch the DVD at the beginning of the week with him (10-15 minutes) so I know what's going on. He does the rest on his own. I'd say he spends 15 minutes/day on it, not counting listening to the CD. I play the CD every morning as he's waking up, usually for about 15-20 minutes. So I would suggest this:


- 4th and 5th graders: Latin for Children A, be sure to get the DVD/CD set. I would recommend skipping the Activity Book. We found it busy-work and somewhat poorly designed (like the mazes would be so thin it was hard to find the path). I don't think it helped him learn Latin much.


- 2nd grader: watch the DVD along with the other two and listen to the CD with them. Have him learn the vocabulary (or some of it, if there are too many words for him each week) as well as the declensions and conjugations. I wouldn't worry about having him write anything down or testing him or that sort of year. Just a good solid exposure to vocabulary and idea of how the language works. Then in a couple of years, he can go back and do the course properly and completely.


My son did not want to do Latin at all, and I'd say it is probably his favorite subject. He loves LfC!

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I can't answer all your questions. You can certainly wait to start Latin if you want. For me, about age 10 is a good age though, then you can get to reading real literature at about age 14 or 15, so the child gets an idea that this is a real language.


FWIW, I start a living language before Latin, whilst the child's brain is still very receptive to new sounds and structures. It's certainly possible to achieve fluency later (I have been fluent in two foreign languages, one started at age 11, the other as an adult) but I do think it's easier if started earlier, from what I've seen with my sons.



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