Follow our family as we journey through life.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Product Review: First Form Latin

First Form Latin by Memoria Press is a "grammar-first" program intended for grades five and up. According to the product description, this program focuses on grammar forms and vocabulary because those are the grammar stage skills suitable for the grammar stage student. However, the First Form Series is for students of all ages because all beginners, regardless of age, are in the grammar stage of learning. Syntax (how to use the grammar) and translation are logic and rhetoric stage skills, respectively, and quickly overwhelm the student unless they are introduced at a slow, gentle pace and taught for mastery.

For this review of the Latin program we received: Teacher Manual, Student Text, Student Workbook, Quizzes & Tests, Pronunciation CD, Flashcards, and DVDs. This package is priced at $115 on the Memoria Press website. They offer the same package, minus the Flashcards & DVDs for $55. In addition to the Latin program, Memoria Press offers many other curriculum materials for all ages. Way to many to list in this review. Some of the these materials include different levels of Latin instruction, Christian Studies, and History materials. I encourage you to visit the website to see the complete listings of curriculum offered.

Although intended for grades five and up, First Form Latin can also be used with a child that has completed Latina Christiana 1. Since James is currently doing fifth grade work and finished Latina Christiana over a year ago, we thought this would be a good fit for him.

The Adult View on the Program:

The program is your typical grammar approach: learn one grammar rule (future tense, past tense, etc.), and a random list of vocabulary per lesson. Due to this, I feel that the programs suggested age of fifth grade or previous Latin studies is accurate. The instruction is generally clear and a manageable amount of material is covered each week. The worksheets are what one would expect - a bunch of problem sets designed to facilitate understanding and memorization. Finally, a quiz is taken each week, and a unit test given after four or so lessons/weeks. I must say that I am impressed by how good this text is at reinforcing English grammar (especially teaching sentence types and parsing sentences into their grammatical parts), and at explaining how Latin is both similar to and different from English. Impressive!

That being said, it is not the most exciting text, and James began to find it repetitive and dull rather quickly. It doesn't take much to keep him engaged academically, so this would concern me if I was teaching a student who needs more stimulation. More generally, my view is that second languages should be taught as much as possible in the way that one teaches a first language - just start using it! This text does not provide conversational Latin, not even "salve" (hello), "quid agis" (how are you?"), etc. More importantly, the only translation exercises in the book are of single phrases rather than complete sentences. Although Latin is a "dead" Latin, it is still important, in my opinion, to speak it and hear it spoken. As with more everything, the more senses you use to learn something, the better you learn it.

There is no doubt that this is an excellent program. We will continue using it with James for sure. We also fully plan to use it for our other children when they are ready for it. In addition to this program, we will also be supplementing with other Latin materials that focus on conversational skills and translation.

What James think of the program?

I really liked the program at first. I still kind of like it, but I get tired doing all the same things on the pages. I don't really like workbooks.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Group, I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation. 

No comments: