Monday, January 6

Teaching Latin in Middle & High School

You’ve gotten the hang of this homeschooling thing…and then, you enter the high school years.  One of the changes is the addition of foreign language.  About half of families begin foreign language in the elementary years, while the other half wait until high school.  If you’re trying to decide which language to select, may I make the case for Latin?

Reasons to Teach Latin
  • English Vocabulary  About 60% of English words derive from Latin, and more than 90% of multi-syllabic English words have a Latin root!  All of that "scientific mumbo jumbo" is either Latin or Greek.  Learn it and empower yourself and your children!
  • Foreign Language    If you want to learn or teach Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese or any of the Romance languages, a Latin background will be immensely helpful.  The vocabulary and grammatical structures all derive from Latin.
  • Test Scores    Not my favorite topic, but a background in Latin has been proven to increase verbal, analytic, and problem solving scores.
  • There are many more reasons, but these three alone are enough for us!!  What's your reason for choosing Latin (or another language)?

Common misconceptions about Latin…
  • It isn’t practical.
I really have to laugh at this one!  Have you been to a doctor recently?  How about a lawyer?  Read any higher-level books recently?  Been to a church?  If you’ve done any of the three, then you’ve already been encountering Latin in daily use.  Maybe your student is interested in other Romance languages, but can’t decide which to choose…Latin is the foundation for Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romansh.  Learn the one, and they’ll have a leg up on several.  

But maybe your student is just a struggling learner who has difficulty making sense of the English language.  Why on earth would you want to try and teach them another one?  (I had the same question with my struggling learner, with some amazing results.)  By getting that good foundation with words that they don’t know – thus having to really put the effort into paying attention – your student will come away with a better grasp of the English language and how it works.  They may not master the language, but you will see results in their English reading and writing abilities.
  • You should have begun teaching prior to high school.
While it’s true that exposing a child to a foreign language early on can be very beneficial for fluency, it isn’t really necessary with Latin.  Many families start in middle school – and that is when we began, as it helps to provide a strong grammar and language mechanics foundation.  Even if you wait until high school to begin, that same foundation is going to bolster ACT and SAT scores.  By then, too, your student’s brain will have developed enough to be ready for some of the more advanced reasoning skills needed for true success.  Don’t sweat it – start in ninth grade and put in the required two years…or three or four, for brownie points!
  • It’s only for the ‘smart kids.’
Are we really going to go down that road?  I like to tell my kids that “it’s only easy if you know it,” and Latin is no exception.  All learning requires determination, but if you’re interested in learning something, you’ll make the effort.  I would argue that Latin can be a big boon to the below-average student, particularly those struggling with language arts, as it will help to provide a stronger grammar and language usage foundation than the typical English class.  Maybe it’s not the ‘smart kids’ that make up a Latin class….maybe it’s the class that turns them into the ‘smart(er) kids.’
  • It’s a dead language.
Well…not in this house.  We actually have a book called How to Insult, Abuse, and Insinuate in Classical Latin.  I kid you not…it is the most popular book in our car (that would be – books that stay in the car for those “are we there yet?” days).  It’s true that Latin is usually an unspoken language, but my children wield their Latin phrases like swords against each other!  And, (ducking my head), they’ve even been known to insult others in Latin, too.  Thankfully, said folks were unawares.  My point is, it’s NOT a dead language if you don’t want it to be.  You can choose to get caught up in the (unfounded) stereotype that Latin is boring and drudgery, or you can choose to make it fun!

  • If you and your kids have been working on Latin, then you know there is a lot to learn!  This economically-priced Latin Bundle includes a daily calendar and vocabulary flash cards for nine different sets of words (months / days, weather / seasons, body parts / senses, colors, numbers, animals, food, family, and holidays).
    • Each set can be used as flash cards, or as a memory game (match word to picture).  Use the daily calendar to practice everyday words, and you'll be surprised at how much is retained!
  • Classical Academic Press has wonderful Latin programs for all ages and they also provide some great extras. 
  • Latin Loaded‘ is a YouTube channel with short videos perfect for a quick Latin lesson.
  • Latin Alive! is for high school students who want to get a firm grasp on the language.  Taught through DVD lectures and book drills, the only thing you'll need as a teacher is the answer key.
  • Latin for Children series is appropriate for middle school and beginning high school students.  It includes video, games, and drill in a fun way that is meant for an older audience than Song School.
  • Song School Latin 1 & Song School Latin 2 w/ online games
    • The kids enjoy watching "Monkey Latin," which is what they call the DVDs that came with the Song School Latin program.  
    • This is appropriate for elementary children, and is followed up with the Latin for Children series.
  • Besides their YouTube channel and Headventure Land, Classical Academic Press also has a large selection of resources on their FAQs page (coloring pages, Latin charts, and flash cards). If you use any of their programs, their resources are perfect for review.
  • Learning all those Declensions and Conjugations takes time – and I don’t want my son to forget all he’s learned so these Latin master charts from Family Style Schooling are perfect for reviewing vocabulary (and something we’ll be using to keep all the information fresh in his mind).
As our children have continued their Latin studies, we've developed some activities and games to practice the language while having fun. The holidays definitely qualify as one of those times!!

I can't say the title to this one without starting to hum the classic tune from Meet Me in St. Louis...  Get into the holiday spirit while continuing Latin studies with these twenty-two pages of games, activities, and history!
  • Learn about the history of Christmas and how it derived from Saturnalia.
  • Host a Latin Christmas caroling night (with musical examples).  
  • Send Latin-language Christmas cards.  
  • Read Christmas classics in Latin.  
  • Also included are vocabulary words and a word search.
A Latin Adventure
Further study of Latin with proper nouns, declensions, and everyday use of Latin words and phrases in our modern society. Demonstrated through a fictitious adventure, with interactive components.  Similar to 'Choose Your Own Adventure,' this can be reused multiple times to practice the skills repeatedly.

Study basic Latin concepts with these fun, Lego-themed daily calendar labels. Concepts covered include : months, days, seasons, and weather.  If you're not into Latin, we have one of these for Spanish as well!
Here is my son's twist-tie "Super Vir."  I love how he takes his Latin and just applies it to....everything.

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