Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Latin Alive! TOS Product Review

Classical Academic Press
Latin Alive! Book 1

Written by Karen Moore and Gaylan Dubose

Karen Moore – Karen is the head of the Latin department at Grace Academy in Georgetown, TX. She began her Latin studies in seventh grade and went on to receive a B. A. in classics from the University of Texas. She is the author of the Libellus de Historia series, also published by Classical Academic Press.

Gaylan DuBose – Gaylan has been teaching Latin in the classroom for over forty years. He holds a Master’s degree in classics and was the Academic Contest Chair of the National Junior Classical League from 1996 to 2005. He is the author of Farrago Latina: A Teacher Resource Book, and co-author of the well regarded Excelability in Advanced Latin. He currently loves teaching Latin to fifth and sixth graders at St. Andrews Episcopal School in Austin, TX.

Latin Alive! Book One ($24.95)
Latin Alive! Book One: Teacher’s Edition ($29.95)
Latin Alive! 1 DVD and CD Set ($114.95)

Latin study recommended for students in junior high or high school

As stated by Classical Academic Press… Latin is an elegant and ancient language that has been studied for many generations. It is also quite alive in our culture, and in the languages we speak today. Latin Alive! is a series of Latin texts for junior high or high school Latin study. Written by experienced and enthusiastic Latin teachers, Latin Alive! is an excellent introduction to the classical language. With an emphasis on grammar and solid understanding of the language, it goes on to frame the study of Latin in Roman culture and mythology, and also to remind us of the many ways Latin is present in our culture today.

Let me start this product review by telling a story.

Two years ago we began our first year of a classical Christian education curriculum that encompasses history, theology, and literature. I am not embarrassed to admit that some of the books we studied that first year were books I had never heard of, let alone read. I’m not embarrassed because, quite frankly, most I knew had never read them either. These were books of antiquity. But I quickly realized I had a little problem. I didn’t know how to pronounce the names. I figured I would solve my problem by contacting the publisher and asking for some help. I mean, couldn’t someone please tell me how to say Herodotus? Or how about Eusebius, or Aeschylus or Oresteia? What about Aeneid or Hammurabi? At the time, the answer I received satisfied me. “No one knows for sure. These are languages no one has ever heard spoken.” Oh. OK. And off I went saying Herodotus as Hair-ro-dote-us. I’ll spare you from the massacre that occurred with all the other names.

Then one day Latin Alive! arrived in our home. I’m sure the color ran out of my face when I realized the answer I was given, “No one knows for sure” was really to keep me from embarrassment or, perhaps from feeling, um, stupid. You see, had I known anything at all about Latin, I would have realized that, while these are languages no one has ever heard spoken, there is a way to know. So, the complete answer should have been, “Learn to speak Latin.”

Amazingly, the very first lesson in Latin Alive! revealed to us how to say each of these names. Were these names in the first lesson? No. But the introduction to the Latin alphabet, the pronunciation of each letter (c is always hard as in cat, never soft as in cent), the consonant blends (ch is pronounced individually like chorus, not like bachelor), and that Latin vowels are either long or short and have only two sounds helped us immensely. There are only six diphthongs in Latin. So, when we see the diphthong ae we know it sounds like the ai in aisle. We now know how to say Aeschylus.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to attempt to teach a Latin course here on my blog! But I thought it important to say that in one lesson in Latin Alive!, taken slowly over a few days, our eyes and hearts were opened to a whole new world.

So, why Latin? Read Karen Moore’s detailed answer here. Let me also quote Amy Barr, a homeschool mom with a M.A. in Latin, from a recent article that appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

“Mastery of a Classical language promotes excellent English grammar, vocabulary, and analytical skills, Classics students tend to be self-directed learners who shine at anything requiring language, logic, or analysis. Advanced students go on to read texts foundational to Western religion, philosophy, and society becomes the next generation of well-rounded scholars in law, history, medicine, science, and literature.”

From the Classical Academic Press website…

Students will be delighted by what they learn in each new chapter of Latin Alive!, Book One, and they will learn to see that Latin is everywhere around them. As the first text in a three-year series, it is a rigorous and thorough introduction to this great language, and is designed to engage the upper school (middle and high school) student. Brimming with relevant facts and stories this text offers something for everyone.

• Thirty six weekly chapters including twenty nine new content chapters and seven review, “reading” chapters.

• Pronunciation Guides

• Weekly introduction of vocabulary

• Thorough grammar explanations including all five noun declensions and cases, all verb conjugations, irregular verbs, various pronouns, adjectives and adverbs

• United States state seals and their Latin mottos

• Extensive study of the Latin derivatives of English words

• Substantial Latin readings and translation exercises

• Lessons and stories of Roman culture, myths and history

• Exercises and questions to prepare students for the National Latin Exam and the Advanced Placement Exam

• Includes historical contributions from Christopher Schlect, historian and Academic Dean at New Saint Andrews College, Moscow, ID

• Teacher’s Materials including answer keys, teacher’s helps and additional activities available separately

As we watched Latin Alive! lessons on DVD each day, we found Karen Moore to be engaging and easy to listen to. We love her southern y’alls and her rolling r’s! Lessons are broken down into sections and exercises making it easy to stop and practice what you’ve learned. The student textbook is non-consumable (exercises are completed on separate sheets of paper). We enjoyed listening to the audio CD of the Unit Review Latin Readings provided to help students practice proper pronunciation and accent.

To see pages of the student textbook, click here. To see pages of the teacher’s edition, click here. To find out what Karen Moore is up to, check out her Latin Alive! blog here. Why there's even a Yahoo! Group for Latin Alive!

If there was one thing I could add to Latin Alive! it would be a speaking Latin dictionary at the website. This is a tool I would pay to use. For those Latin words we are struggling to memorize and that need more practice, it would be an invaluable tool.

Make no bones about it--learning Latin is rigorous and takes practice, practice, practice. Latin Alive! is designed to serve students new to Latin, while a the same time providing further insight and challenges for “veterans” of any grammar school series.

Let me just say, Ama-mus Latin!

If you use Latin Alive! Ama-bi-tis Latin too!

I highly recommend Latin Alive! and am so thankful to have had the opportunity to review and use this product.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

1 comment:

  1. As a side note, the day the curriculum arrived and we watched the introduction together, I knew we were hooked! I called Classical Academic Press and ordered a second workbook so both of my Latin students could have their own copy.

    In addition to French, both of my students are also learning Latin!