Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review: Great Latin Adventure

Since I wrote the post on the TOS Blog for this product, I'm going to copy some of it verbatim, just to get me started.  One of the final companies I get to review this year is Classical Legacy Press, and I'm reviewing their Latin program here.

Classical Legacy Press offers products for Latin and Logic, two of the three subjects of the trivium (Rhetoric being the third).   These products include The Great Latin Adventure (Levels 1 and 2), and Logic I: Tools for Thinking
Each level of the program consists of a teacher’s manual and a student book.  A pronunciation CD is included.  And there is nothing else to buy, except for 3-ring binders to put the loose-leaf books into.
Classical Legacy Press has a FAQ page  for the Latin program, and many samples available as well.  While at their website, you can also check out Logic I: Tools for Thinking and read more about the company and their products.

Okay, so now you know the basics of the program.  But how did it work in my family?  Yikes, that is going to be really difficult to address.  Unfortunately, we received this just as life started to get crazy.  Our school life goes in cycles... January is a great time to start something new, as is July through September.  April is not.  So, we really did not get far at all.

So based on not getting nearly far enough into this, here is a recap of my experience with it.
  1. The customer service has been incredible.  That is something I always appreciate with a company.
  2. The product comes as three-hole punched pages ready for you to put into a binder.  With front, back, and spine pages so that you can recognize your Latin book on the bookshelf.  I love when I don't have to pay extra to ship things like three ring binders.
  3. I sat down with the teacher book for Level 1, and I was thoroughly impressed by the detail.  Katharine Birkett intends this to be used to "further the revival of Christian classical education" and for the product to be usable by parents (and teachers) who did not themselves receive a classical education.  
  4. What #3 means, though, is that this is not a program you can order a couple of weeks before you plan to start using it.  Or at least I couldn't.  I think you need to plan for at least a couple weeks to read the introductory materials and the teacher materials for the first two chapters (the first chapter is on pronunciation and its setup is different from the remaining ones).  The introductory pages alone are over 30 pages, the teaching notes for chapter 1 are 10 pages, and for chapter 2 there are another 6 pages of teaching notes.
  5. The content is "family friendly" meaning specifically that mythology and Roman deities are not included.  I go back and forth on my opinions about that.  On the one hand, I love that I can work through materials of my choice (D'Aulaires' Greek Myths being my favorite for this age group, followed by Roman Myths by Geraldine McCaughrean).  On the other hand, there is something nice about having that scheduled out for me.
  6. The program uses Classical pronunciation, and although I prefer Ecclesiastical, I'm going ahead and using the pronunciation given.  There isn't enough of a difference for me to get too stressed out about it.  If you want to use Ecclesiastical, you could skip chapter 1, and not use the pronunciation CD.
  7. Skipping the first chapter might have been a good move on our part.  We got pretty hung up there, and I'm not sure that learning the pronunciation was really worth it in my family.  The two children primarily using Great Latin Adventure have had a number of reading issues in English.  They are simply not going to learn the sounds by just memorizing them, they need to use them in context.  I had to realize this and just move on to Chapter 2, as waiting for them to master the sounds means we'll  never do real Latin. (Though they love a couple of the silly sentences!)
Getting into the meat of the program, I am going to make a few comments on Chapter 3.  The early chapters have only five vocabulary words each.  I love that.  It increases to around ten in chapter 6.  Considering that for the 4th-6th graders, the idea is to be spending three weeks per chapter, the vocabulary is far from overwhelming.  Here's a rough schedule:
  • Monday: go over vocabulary words, start grammar lesson, start derivative worksheet.  Vocabulary includes I love/to love, I shout/to shout, and, I work/to work, not.  My kids already knew these words, which makes it even easier. Grammar lesson includes learning first conjugation present tense for amo (my version - I love, you love, he loves, we love, y'all love, they love).  Derivatives include a dozen words in eight groups (a group would be collaborate, collaborator), and the student is reading the definitions, and writing out the Latin word and definition.  My kids adore the derivative part of the lesson.  Yeah, I've got etymology geeks in my family.
  • Wednesday: continue grammar lesson, start study sheet, finish derivative worksheet. For grammar, we worked on the conjugation for porto (I carry).  Derivative work involves putting the English words into sentences.
  • Friday: Complete grammar lesson and study sheet.  Begin first translation worksheet.  Grammar lesson involved learning the personal endings, now that we've seen them twice.  The translation worksheet is all Latin to English, the most complex is a sentence like Cogitas et cogito. (You think and I think.)
  • Monday: Review a bit, finish first translation worksheet.  The translation worksheet has them translating three ways... so cogito can mean I think, I do think, or I am thinking.
  • Wednesday: go over the first translation worksheet answers
  • Friday: start second translation worksheet, study for vocabulary pre-quiz.  Translation involves filling in conjugation charts, and the three ways of translating like on Monday.
  • Monday: take vocabulary pre-quiz.  Complete second translation worksheet.  Translation involves more Latin to English.  The quiz does both Latin to English and English to Latin vocabulary, and some work with prefix/suffix definitions.
  • Wednesday: go over second translation worksheet answers, study for chapter quiz.
  • Friday: take chapter quiz.  The quiz is two pages, and honestly is longer than my pencil-phobic children can handle.  I'm actually having my kids do one page Thursday and one on Friday.
After three lessons, there is an English to Latin chapter.  We haven't done one yet, but these look fabulous.  I'm skimming Chapter 12 (the last chapter in Level 1), and the grammar has you working with prepositional phrases, questions, there is/there are, words you can leave out (there, his, her, our), subjects and predicate nominatives with adjectives, predicate adjectives, and word order.  Yikes... 

The English to Latin chapters also do more work with derivatives.  And there are four translation worksheets plus the quiz.

Keep in mind that we have used a number of Latin programs.  Powerglide, Prima Latina, Latina Christiana I, Minimus, Lively Latin, Getting Started with Latin, Henle, Wheelock, Oerberg... and undoubtedly I have forgotten some.  We own all of these, and now Great Latin Adventure.

My plan is to continue with Great Latin Adventure for my rising 4th and 6th graders.  
We may use Lively Latin for the history, mythology and art.  But GLA is going to be our primary program.  I think the explanations for ME are fantastic.

My rising 8th grader is going to work through both Levels 1 and 2 at a very accelerated pace.  The introductory materials give suggestions for doing that.  The plan is to be doing roughly a chapter per week, unless he gets to a point where he is bogged down.  I think he needs a different approach for awhile, and I like the explanations given here.  

Since we have not yet used it, I'm not going to say much about Level 2, other than that it is similar to Level 1.  The final chapter (Level 2 includes Chapters 13-25) is an English to Latin chapter, and the grammar part covers two main topics:
  • genitive of possessive
  • the dative of indirect object
Translation (English to Latin) includes sentences like:
  • They were announcing the queen's great victories to the inhabitants with loud trumpets.
  • The earth and stars declare the glory of God's wisdom.
And the price?  I'm impressed.  $45 to get the teacher and one student book for Level 1, without binders.  Level 2 is the same price.  The student book is only $15, so additional students are quite inexpensive.  

I will be following up with a review in August or so.  I will also be reviewing their Logic program in late summer/early fall.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about Great Latin Adventure at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive free products from Classical Legacy Press.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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Deb said...

My gosh, that is a detailed review. I really like the idea of teaching Latin - so many of our words are based on it and I think it helps with understanding English. My dad went to a Catholic elementary school and his ability to understand words he had never heard before (like in the Reader's Digest Word Power quiz, for example), always astounded me. I know it is because he had that tiny bit of Latin.

I am not planning in introducing it until 3rd-ish grade, but I am collecting reviews so I can figure out what to do. All this talk of declensions and derivatives is intimidating, though...

Heidi said...

OK, now your review has me thinking that maybe we CAN do this. I want to, but I'm bogged down with all the introductory stuff (and I've already read through it once before). LOL I think I need to walk away for awhile!