Have I ever mentioned I took Latin in college?
It’s true. I did.
I took two years of Spanish as my foreign language in high school, and was able to go on two pretty fabulous beach camping trips to Mexico with the class to “practice my Spanish,” but I didn’t actually learn enough to be able to test out of the foreign language requirement in college.
So, needing to choose something for the two years of foreign language required by my major, I looked at the options and chose Latin. I thought it sounded romantic and unusual, and would help me with other languages as I moved forward in life.
My Latin class was located in the basement of a six story building. There were no windows. The elevators creaked as they descended into the pits of the mechanical workings. It was the stuff of horror movies. That first day of class I clutched my Henle Latin books to my chest and cautiously exited the elevator, looking for the boogie man around every corner, and found my way to the classroom.
There were only women in my class. I find that telling in retrospect.
The teacher’s aide who taught our class was a larger than life replica of Fabio, the man who graced the front cover of hundreds of 80s era romance novels, couldn’t ever quite get over the taste of butter, and was tragically pegged in the protrudere by a passing pigeon while riding a roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
(OK, it was a goose, not a pigeon. But I couldn’t stop from using the word “pigeon” because it was so alliterative. I got carried away. Forgive me.)
I don’t remember my TA’s real name. I just called him Fabio in my head and “sir” when I had to address him out loud.
He liked that. Sir Fabio spent all of his weekends attending cosplay events where he would joust, speak Latin to his fellows, and probably drink mead and harass the wenches. (The wenches comment is complete hyperbole. I don’t know a thing about that, just assuming. I also know his favorite time of year was when the Renaissance Faire was in town.)
I sat in Fabio’s classes in the basement for two semesters before I called it quits and switched to French. I never could grasp how those dang endings changed the meaning of the sentence, although I was really good at learning the vocabulary. My stilted Latin studies helped me significantly when I traveled in Europe post-graduation, so there’s that. And you can see that I still get a good amount of milage out of the bizarreness of that experience, even 20+ years later.
However, revisiting my past experiences with Henle this year as our oldest worked through the Challenge A coursework was a little overwhelming. She felt like she was thrown into the deep end of the pool. (Note, we didn’t start the Latin program in 4th grade as is recommended in the guide. I instead just counted on the Foundations Guide memory work for Latin being enough.)
She ended up doing quite well with Latin, but hating the process. So for the children coming behind her I want to come up with a gentler, kinder, more loving approach to the bane of their grammatical existence.
I’ve talked to several people who are far more gifted than I at analyzing curriculums and the plans, and after contemplating their recommendations, here it is, the big reveal:
MP First Form -> MP Second Form -> MP Third Form -> MP Fourth Form/Henle I -> Henle II/Caesar Prep -> Henle II / Mueller’s Caesar
The goal here is to keep with the strong grammatical approach of Memoria Press and Henle, because those are truly great tools used for forming clear thinking structures in the brain, and then culminate in the translation of Mueller’s Caesar as the “Huzzah! I’ve learned it! Let’s go celebrate with a joust!”
However, I have to admit I have had my head turned by the beauty of the fonts, layout, and love of vocabulary offered by Classical Academic Press. I really appreciate the way they approach Latin as more of a living language.
So my work around is to stick with the grammar approach during the academic year and work through the fun stuff in the summers. During the summers we will, as a whole family group, work through Song School Latin, Latin for Children, and Latin Alive curriculums. This multi-age approach will hopefully also shore up my own limited Latin as we sing little jingles about our names and sail down the Derivative River.
So that’s all I have to say about that.
What will you be doing with your Latin studies?