Friday, November 4, 2011

First Form Latin Review

I was blessed, recently, to receive First Form Latin, by Cheryl Lowe, from Memoria Press to look at to review. First Form Latin is for students who begin their formal training in Latin when they are in Grade 5 or higher. Students who begin the study of Latin in 1st through 4th Grade would begin Latin using Prima Latina, and those who begin the study of Latin in 3rd through 6th Grade would begin with Latina Christiana I.  If you look at that closely you will see that there is a lot of flexibility in which Latin program to start with. In addition, the parent knows their own child and might decide on Prima Latina for a 5th Grader, or an advanced 4th Grader might start in First Form Latin if they are up to the challenge!

I was so totally blessed when I found that Memoria Press sent me the complete "First Form Latin Plus", which includes the Teacher Manual (soft cover), Teacher Manual: Workbook & Test Key (soft cover, spiral), Student Text (soft cover), Student Workbook (soft cover, consumable), Quizzes and Tests (soft cover, consumable), Pronunciation CD, Latin Flashcards, and DVD set! This complete set sells for $115.

Homeschools can purchase a First Form Latin package that includes only the Teacher Manual, Student Text, Student Workbook, Quizzes and Tests, and Pronunciation CD, which sells for $55. I don't see, though, how the average homeschool mom who knows no Latin can possibly be successful without the DVD set, though. My advice would be that this less expensive set would be for someone experienced with Latin themselves. Someone with no previous Latin education themselves should seriously find a way to buy the "Plus" set, to ensure a successful Latin program in their home.
I had to figure this out so that I could make an official announcement. I have decided that I am a linguaphile, particularly of Latin.  From the very first Lesson, I am learning. (Yeah, I know, this was supposed to be my son learning, but he's going to start it after I get a better footing so that I can better support him in his studies.)

About 20 years ago, I learned the chant: "amo, amas, amant, amamus, amatis, amant". I knew it was the root word for "love", but I knew nothing else. (Suffice it to say I was trying to teach Latin to a different child using a different Latin program."

In my opinion, this program starts out a little rocky. I began by watching the DVD Introduction and Lesson 1. The instructor asks the student to open the textbook, and the DVD lesson follows the textbook. The instructor explains how to do the Lesson 1 conjugations (1st Conjugation, Present Tense) before the next lesson. He instructs the student to work on memorizing the word charts in three different ways: endings of the six conjugations by themselves (-o, -s, -t, -mus, -tis, -nt); the endings attached to an example verb (am-o, ama-s, ama-t, ama-mus, ama-tis, ama-nt); and the student is to memorize the meanings (I love; you love; he, she, it loves; we love; y'all love; they love). What is recited will change as different verbs are introduced, and the student is supposed to work on learning the new vocabulary and all the declensions and everything quickly. He goes over Lesson 1's new vocabulary and instructs the student to make conjugation charts for all the new Latin verbs that are introduced in Lesson 1 of the Textbook.

That is a lot to work on until Lesson 2 next week, but as I worked on the conjugations I found that the process really was beneficial. But I looked at my materials to go with the program only to find that there were more materials that looked like they were meant to be used that he had not mentioned: the Workbook and the Flashcards  So, I looked over the workbook only to find that not only would there be 4-6 pages in the workbook for each week's lesson, but also there were pronunciation pages that needed to be studied to answer the workbook pages about pronunciation that came before the Lesson 1 workbook pages. (I haven't even figured out how I will integrate the flashcards, yet.)

In addition, there is a pronunciation CD to be used each day between lessons to help the student with the pronunciation and each weeks' recitation. (I think he mentioned this somewhere in the DVD lesson, but did not mention it at the end where he seemed to be summarizing what the student needed to do on his own before the next DVD lesson.)

What I'm saying is that it would have been very helpful if the DVD had covered the use of the Workbook, Pronunciation recording, and Flashcards, giving the assignment to go through the pronunciation pages in both the textbook and the workbook, as well as the recitation CD, as part of the assignment for Lesson 1. Even if these are optional, it would have been helpful for them to be mentioned for those who are using them...

That said, I did my conjugations and listened to the recitation recording. Ideally the student would  listen to the recording daily through the week while working on/reviewing daily on the conjugations and workbook assignments, and do a new lesson on the same day of the following week, working on each lesson for a week with incremental daily assignments and repetitions of recitation. However I have a whole year's curriculum to review and only have had the material for about a month, so I need to abbreviate what I do to give you the review.

This is actually a partial lesson. While watching the DVD lesson, the student would follow along in the Student Textbook. Following the lesson you would conjugate the verbs in the lesson's vocabulary list.  The work in the lesson can be spread out through the week, but the student would work through all the material, as well and do the pages for Lesson 8 in the Workbook. The teacher actually begins the workbook pages with the student, working from the Teacher Manual, until the student understands what is required and can try to complete the rest of it on his/her own. Throughout the week the student works on the week's Oral Recitation to prepare for the next lesson. The student should listen to (and repeat after) the pronunciation recording, possibly daily, to help cement it all in. I did notice a link to Corrections in First Form Latin, which I am printing out so I can go through my book and make the corrections.

First Form Latin comes broken down into 34 Lessons. Since there are 36 weeks in a school year, this means you can take two weeks for a couple of lessons, or take the first introductory week to do the Pronunciation work before Lesson 1, but I don't think that is necessary. It's nice to know there is a little "wiggle room" in case you get sick or off schedule, so you can still finish close to when you originally planned to.

So far, I am really liking the results I am seeing. So, here are what I liked and what I didn't like.

What I liked:

  • This program is thorough. If one follows the Memoria Press Latin program through all four years, the student will come away from the program really, really reading Latin. The student will be able to pick up Latin manuscripts and read the book in Latin, for books like Caesar's Gallic War, and any other books in print in the original Latin.
  • The program teaches the student to learn how to learn. The student needs to recognize that it is their own responsibility to learn, to apply themselves, to work hard, to achieve goals, to seek excellence in themselves.
What I didn't like (or what someone might not like):

  • As I mentioned above, when you are first beginning the program it is hard to figure out. Things are not as spelled out as they could/should be. If the week's assignments include conjugating, memorizing, pages in the workbook, listening to the recitation tape, and practicing with flash cards, then the DVD should not only say the first two. Or, if everything else is optional, the DVD should still mention what *could* be done when, so that people who are trying to use each item know when to implement them.
  • The teacher on the DVDs goes really fast! What I mean is this: he speaks the Latin, and the student is supposed to repeat the Latin after the teacher speaks. However, the teacher barely gives the student time to repeat what he says. If the DVDs were actually recorded in a classroom setting, I think the teacher would have realized this, but without the students attempting to repeat in his presence, I think he forgets this. The student can get around this by getting in the habit of speaking with the instructor instead of trying to repeat after the instructor finishes speaking. (There are sections where the student can know what the teacher is going to go over).

  • Because of all the different modalities used in First Form Latin Plus, I believe it would be a good program for students of all different learning styles.
  • Although, with a motivated student, this program could be successful with little to no teacher preparation and participation, I believe the student (and the teacher) would benefit from the teacher watching each DVD lesson in advance, as well as participating deeply with the student while working through the different facets of each lesson.
  • I believe this product would be considered "Christian" in nature, but I have not encountered any aspects of the program that I believe would be offensive to someone approaching it from another persuasion.  Much historic Latin is Catholic in origin, owing to the history of the Middle Ages. This is just a fact.
So far I have been working through the program on my own, because of my own personal interest and for my own continuing education. Soon I will begin to introduce this to my 6th grade son. I might spread this course out over two years for him, but I hope to continue on through all four years of the Latin program with him to enable him to be fully fluent in Latin by the time he graduates. (And I hope to be fully fluent with him! How cool will that be!) So, yeah, I love this program.

In addition to a full line of Latin products, Memoria Press also sells materials for Classical Studies, Logic and Rhetoric, Literature guides, American Studies (History, Geography, & Insects!),  Christian Studies, Primary Curriculum packages, Cursive and Copywork, and Greek and French.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of First Form Latin Plus in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I received no other compensation (other than the aforementioned), and this page contains my honest opinions.

This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew Review.

To read more reviews of this product, visit the TOG Crew Review page for this product.Throw me a bone! Leave me a comment! I love comments!


  1. We use this and have spread it out over two years now. For my dd, who is in high school, I count it as 1/2 credit (the first 1/2 was earned in 8th grade so I don't know if that counts towards her hs credits).
    Because of this program both my daughter and I have become linguaphiles! :)
    Did you know there is a Yahoo! Group for this program?
    Good review!

  2. In my state, work done in 8th grade can be counted as high school credit if it is high school level work. This program states that completing it constitutes one year of foreign language for high school, so I say definitely count it!

    Apologies to anyone who receives this twice. I found that, although I have learned how to conjugate, I didn't learn how to spell it. I had to go in and correct spelling on that word. :)

  3. I love that it places emphasis on taking responsibility for learning, that's such a valuable life skill!!

  4. The teacher speaks much TOO FAST! He rambles the conjugations/vocabulary so quickly. Does this confuse any of your students?

    1. He is a very competent teacher and he does not ramble the conjugations too fast. He is fast so You have to speed up!!! That is the challenge and as you study it is fun to keep up with him!

  5. I have only one student, for starters. I am home schooling. At this point I have put this program off until this year, starting it to use it as 9th grade Latin.

    Yes, he speaks fast. But this is very typical of classroom presentation. There is a lot of material to cover in a lesson, and once the student has each item memorized it is easy to say it with the instructor at the speed he is presenting it.

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