Sunday, October 16, 2011

Visual Latin

The cornerstone of my curriculum that I use with my son is Ambleside Online. I have used Ambleside for six years now. Before settling with Ambleside Online, I had looked at The Well Trained Mind, Trivium Pursuit, and Classical Education in general. I had even used Tapestry of Grace for eight years straight!

Through my research and application of the various above-mentioned educational program choices, there was one deep, dark, underlying, troubling suggested topic of study... LATIN! Never having been educated in Latin myself, and having purchased Latin programs that I failed at and failed to even fully attempt to implement, I had developed a personal response of a sort of a shrug that I can't teach Latin, which hid a nevertheless present longing to be able to conquer it--not only to educate my son in Latin, but to actually learn and understand it myself as well.

Fast-forward to my current year on the TOS Homeschool Crew. I was offered the opportunity to try out, for the past month or more, a home program called Visual Latin created by Compass Cinema. [I received Visual Latin Lessons 1-10 for free in exchange for this review. I did not receive any other compensation.]

What a blessing this has been to me! There is finally an avenue where modern technology can
help me conquer a dead language!

Visual Latin can be purchased on DVD or can be acquired by digital download using i-Tunes videos. I really wanted to be able to do the program on the television in our classroom, and not have my laptop tied up while watching the lessons. The folks from Visual Latin were so great--they not only send me the DVD, but also sent me the digital downloads! That was so wonderful for me because...

As day passed to day, this poor struggling mama had one trial after another. Initially, when I had the download but the DVD had not yet arrived, I was struggling and struggling not only to figure out how to use i-Tunes videos, but also, once I downloaded the lessons, I struggled to locate where they had saved on my computer. Can we say growing pains (my pain I experienced to grow with this digital technology). So relieved I was when the DVD arrived in the mail, and happily I loaded it into my computer, downloaded the instructions and the pdf worksheets, and then put the DVD into the television's DVD player for our next lesson.

Of course that would have to be a Friday. Do you have any guesses as to what my next trial was? Well, lesson came and went, and DVD got left in the machine. The weekend came, and the "kidlet" used the machine to watch other entertaining movies. Monday came, and an unhappy momma was left walking around in circles saying, "Where did I leave the DVD?" "Why isn't the DVD in its box?" "Where is the DVD?"

So, to minimize lost time, I again was struggling with my computer to find where the lessons saved when I downloaded them. I finally went back to the original email to download them again. I probably did this daily. If their technology counts times downloaded, they're probably wondering at this point why someone who received the DVD has downloaded the lessons 15 times...

DVD one day quietly reappeared, and Momma sighed and put it safely into its box. Only to be unable to locate the box the next day. ::sigh:: Have I mention that I am clutter-challenged?

Anyway, back to my description of the program...

Visual Latin is taught by an attractive, funny young man named Dwane Thomas. I especially like this because a huge disadvantage for my son in our homeschool has been that the only teacher has always been a woman. I like for my son to see this bright, funny young man excited about teaching this subject that my son is still skeptical about applying himself to. I like for my son to have a man teaching him one of his subjects.

Visual Latin is set up in the following way. Initially there is a four part Introduction for you to listen to with your child. (I listened to it first, and then listened to it with my son one part per day for four days.)
This overview will contain part of that information:

Then, Disk 1 contains some pdf files for you to start out with, including Instructions. The instructions will tell you to print out a set of worksheets for your student(s) to give to them with each lesson. For each lesson there is a Part A, Worksheet A, Part B, Worksheet B, Part C, and Worksheet C.

Part A is a section teaching Grammar:

Part B is a section teaching how to build sentences in Latin:

Part C is a section where the children jump in, right from the first lesson, reading Latin!

As we worked on Part C of Lesson 1 my very resistant learner, no joke... turned to me with a half-smile and a look of amazement and said, "I'm reading Latin, Mom!"

The instructions anticipate for most students to cover 2 lessons per week. After doing Lessons Parts A, B, and C (with the worksheets), the student is supposed to review the same movies for a day or two before moving on to the next lesson. Our current year is so busy with co-op and field trips that we have actually been doing one lesson per week. One of the great things about this program is how you can adapt it to your life -- go faster or go slower; it's all good!

I can see the importance of review, but I strongly think this program would be better if it were changed to include a Lesson Part D, that would be a review by itself. This could a faster review, so that it would cover the same material, but cutting out all the time spent introducing the concepts that were introduced in parts A and B, and it might quickly translate the words that were new in Part C of the dictated section. Review is important and essential, but the review provided could be better if it were different than just rewatching the initial material.

I am very happy to have had the opportunity to try out this program, and I might, in a few weeks, decide to purchase the next DVD for the next set of lessons. About this time you may be thinking, "It must be great to be you!", right? Well guess what? Visual Latin knows that Latin would be of value to everyone. They also know, I think, that if you try this you are going to like it and are going to want to continue with it. Guess what again... cause I haven't told you the best part yet... You yourself (yes, you!) can go to their site and download and try out the first six lessons for free, and you don't even have to write a review like mine! They are a new company breaking into a tough market, so they offer the first six lessons for download for free in the hopes that you will be hooked and will want to continue. To get six free lessons, click HERE!

I worked the lesson ahead on the Introduction and Lesson 1, but I found that this program just doesn't need me to do that. I watch the DVDs when my son does, and I try to print the pdf pages out in advance, but sometimes do it when we get to them, and it's all good. This program is working with 7-8 year olds! My son is 11. I am ...much older than that... and it is working for me. So this program is good for almost all ages, from the very young to the... well... older folks like me...

This program tries to hit all the learning styles. You hear the Latin (auditory); you see and read the Latin (visual); and Dwane is funny, which I hopes helps the kinestetic learners... I think this program would be good for anyone. It is wise for everyone to learn Latin, but you probably will need to be motivated to do so, even with this program. Anything worth learning might require work, and work seems not pleasant at the moment...

So did I mention that I myself am actually learning Latin (as well as my son) and am loving it? I am loving learning Latin, and knowing that it is the root language of the Romantic languages, which means that once I have learned Latin it will be easier for me to move into learning Spanish, which will be next on my list. I am loving that Latin teaches Grammar as well, which will make the Language in our English language easier for my son to understand as well.

I love this program. I am not so sure about my son. I read other reviews and other folks' comments, and no, my son does not beg, "Please, Mom, can I do my Latin now?" That being said, I can't be sure whether or not my son actually likes this program. I do know that I want him to learn Latin, and I do know that he is prone to complain about any and all school work I assign to him. When he has complained about Latin, I have taken note and have tried to find out what is actually going on in his mind. I ask him if he would like me to try a different Latin program, and he emphatically makes it clear that if he must study Latin, he wants to stay with Visual Latin.

Not convinced? Well, why not just watch an entire lesson right now to see just exactly how it works.

Visual Latin is available to purchase in many different ways, chunks, formats... as follows:
-- The complete Year 1 of Visual Latin [Introductions A-D, Lessons 1-30, and absolutely everything] is available in DVD format for $80.00 for an individual or family, or for $150 for a group or class.

Or, since you really hadn't saved up for this, you can buy Year 1 in sections. It costs more overall, but you can pay in sections that way. The downloads cost less than the DVDs, but here's the other way to buy it:
--Lessons 1-10 DVD for $30 or download for $25;
--Lessons 11-20 DVD for $30 or download for $25;
--Lessons 21-30 DVD for $30 or download for $25
[So the total cost for downloads can be $75, and the DVDs can be either $80 all at once or $90 purchased in separate purchases.)

Latin II is in the works. The first ten lessons have been completed (available for $25 for the download or $30 for the DVD). By the time you finish Latin I, they will probably have Latin II finished.

In addition to Latin products, Compass Cinema
has produced some additional DVDs and Music materials (Daniel; Parables; "Ask Me WhoOo"), and also has available free downloads of some classic materials that many will appreciate.

To read more reviews of Visual Latin, go to the TOS Crew Blog.

All comments are welcome and desired. I like knowing I didn't put you to sleep...


  1. You included youtube clips - good job! I'm organizationally challenged too, that's why downloads actually work BETTER for us :O! I just put it on my iPad then I can't lose it, but everyone is different!

    I'm glad you're enjoying Latin, it's well worth the effort and helps you understand English SO much better!

  2. There were Vimeo clip options, but I couldn't make them work! :-o So I was glad I finally noticed a way to post the videos using YouTube!

  3. This is a great review of a great program! We enjoyed it very much.