Here is a very fun, convenient way to learn Latin from the beginning. Visual
Latin is a DVD course taught by Dwane Thomas, who has 15
years experience teaching Latin. No previous knowledge of Latin
is needed by either the student or the parent. You just pop in
the DVD and go.
I received Visual Latin 1, which is available as a download
or on DVD. There are three discs, each packaged separately in its
own case, with ten lessons on each disc. The first disc also includes
four introductory lessons: Why Study Latin, Latin Then and Now,
How to Learn a Language, and Stuff You Should Know about Latin.
These introductory lessons are full of good information that will
motivate and assist your student in learning Latin.
Each lesson is broken down into three segments: Grammar (seven
minutes), Sentences (eight minutes), and Reading (five minutes).
Each of these segments is to be followed by a PDF worksheet. Answers
for all the worksheets are also included in a PDF. One lesson is
comprised of the three video segments and their accompanying worksheets.
Mr. Thomas teaches with the aid of screen notes and a chalkboard.
He is upbeat, funny, informal, and passionate about his subject.
The reading sections of the video are Biblical.
It is suggested that all worksheets and answers be printed out
at the beginning. The teaching procedure is to watch the grammar
video and then do the worksheet; watch the sentence video and then
do that worksheet; and watch the reading video and do the translation
worksheet. Then the teacher corrects the worksheets and reviews
any wrong answers with the student, having the student re-watch
videos as necessary. It is also recommended that you re-watch the
three lesson videos the next day for review.
I am a little confused about the suggested pacing of the class.
On the general instructions PDF page, it says that you would complete
20 lessons per semester, or two lessons per week for ten weeks.
However, the scope and sequence PDF states, "For elementary and
middle school students who want to learn Latin, or for high school
students who want a half credit in foreign language, Visual
Latin can be taught one lesson a week for 30 weeks."
Visual Latin 1, alone, equals ½ high school credit.
If you supplement with other recommended materials, though, it
will equal 1 high school credit. The suggested plan is to teach
Latin 1 twice per week for 15 weeks and then follow with Lingua
Latina Pars 1 and its accompanying exercise book by Hans
H. Orberg, lessons 1 through 17, at the rate of one lesson per
week for 17 weeks, with Latin 1 grammar lessons reviewed as needed.
One of the big questions homeschoolers have about any Latin curriculum
is pronunciation. Dwane Thomas does not place a big emphasis on
this, since the language is not spoken a great deal anymore. He
sometimes uses classical pronunciation and sometimes ecclesiastical.
This curriculum is focuses on reading: "The primary goal of Visual
Latin is to be able to read Latin effectively."
Although we've illustrated how to use the program for high schoolers, Visual
Latin is for anyone, ages nine and up through college.
The ability to read is the only prerequisite. This is a widely
appealing curriculum; while I was watching the videos, my 11-year-old
daughter plopped in my lap and started taking notes. My husband,
who wants to learn Italian in anticipation of an upcoming family
vacation, wanted to know if Dwane Thomas had an Italian curriculum.
My 12-year-old niece looked over my shoulder to comment on one
of the silly sentences on the screen.
Visual Latin 2, Part One is available now, with subsequent
parts becoming available in the coming school year.
After some frustration with various Latin curriculums, I'm looking
forward to revisiting this language in our homeschool this fall.
I heartily recommend Visual Latin!