If you’ve read about the Garner Family’s growing love of Latin, then you’ll know that the journey was not without a few difficulties. We were actually Homeschool Latin Dropouts, then spent a year searching for the right program, before we found and began to thrive on the curriculum produced by Memoria Press.
If you’re familiar with Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility then you know that Mr. Willoughby was a great deal of fun, and implied a deep passion for Marianne. Marianne’s other suitor, Colonel Brandon, was a little older, a little more reserved, yet his love was built on a solid foundation, and he was willing to go the distance. (As evidence, may I remind you that where Willoughby read aloud from Shakespeare Sonnets, Col Brandon read aloud from Spencer’s The Faerie Queene.) In the end, he won her heart. And what does this have to do with Latin? It serves as a fun literary affirmation for our choice of solid, some have even said “boring” curriculum, eschewing the lure of the more dashing “fun” programs. Latin programs that are sure and steady, charming in their own way, and not in a rush, seem to work better for us.
Here are a few things you can do to build a solid foundation for your Latin Love Life.
1. Drill Baby Drill – I confess that I found the chants in former curricula, well, silly. Yet whether you choose to sing or simply speak them together, drilling aloud the conjugation and declension endings is an invaluable tool to memorization. Two years later, we are starting Henle Latin, but we already have those case and conjugation endings so solidly memorized that we can easily pluck the tense we want out of our memories. Yet in the beginning we weren’t sure we would ever feel so comfortable!
It helps that Memoria Press does a brilliant job of planning out when to present each aspect of Latin grammar to maximize what you’ve already learned, and then apply it to the next related bit of Latin grammar. (Two examples for those familiar with Latin: teaching first conjugation present tense endings, then Sum before perfect tense endings; teaching adjectives after teaching first and second declension nouns)
2. Latin Phrases Sharing Time – this is just fun – going on a hunt for Latin phrases – monuments, dollars and coins, flags, state mottoes, classic books. Now that The Daughter is reading classics, Latin (and French) phrases surface. We jot them down and “bring them to class” to share.
3. Make Your Own Flash Cards (color coded) – Save a few bucks and require that your kids make their own vocabulary cards. Buy enough packs of colorful cards and plan blue cards for masculine, pink for feminine and yellow for neuter. (Yes! Just like a baby shower!) We use green for grammar rules and adjectives (they must agree with all three genders) and purple for Latin phrases that we are memorizing. Our packs also include lavender which we use for Latin phrases. The writing and thinking required to make the cards and pick the color will solidify learning. It also gives each child, or parent, a set to flip through before bed time.
4. Sing Latin – Singing helps you memorize. Latin is beautiful – the pure vowels provide perfect placement for good pitch, and make for gorgeous round tones! Make it a goal to learn a few verses of Veni, veni Emmanuel (O Come, O come Emmanuel) for Christmas, the Pater Noster, (Lord’s Prayer) and a dinner prayer that everyone can sing together. My favorite Latin text right now is O Nata Lux de Lumine, but even working through the text of the Latin mass is a useful exercise for any Christian, and a delight for those who love liturgy.
5. Don’t Stress Over the Schedule – Like math, Latin is cumulative. You need a firm foundation to build on so your goal is to achieve mastery. Take an extra day or two, even an extra week or two to master the lesson. After all, lasting love builds over time.
” . . . that Marianne found her own happiness in forming [Col. Brandon’s] was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband as it had once been to Willoughby.”