**Let me just begin this review by saying I truly don’t know where to begin!! I don’t find myself speechless very often, but occasionally when an exceptional product comes along that adds richness and the perfect flavor to our studies, I feel it a great privilege to represent it appropriately.
Classical Legacy Press is a company created by Norman and Katharine Birkett, both Princeton graduates who are devoted to writing and publishing high quality Christian and classical education materials for homeschool and classroom use. Their vision in creating accessible and teachable classical curricula was to “further the revival of Christian classical education” which they believe can truly be a “springboard to the love of language and the mastery of clear thought.” You can read more about these fine folks, their vision, what they believe and their dedication to providing quality educational products to our students and homeschool community here.
A bit about classical education….
As I wasn’t a student of the classical education style in my formal education years, I didn’t really consider it or even really know what it was until I began researching materials to use in our homeschool journey. As I ran across different aspects of classical education, I became intrigued by the idea of incorporating the rich historical and academic features of our ancient forefathers into our education, through a Christian perspective. Even if you are not a fan of the classical camp, I would encourage you to read the Birkett’s ideas on history, Christian classical education “flavors”, and flexibility in adapting to our children’s learning readiness if you, like myself, are a connoisseur of fine teaching materials and a collector of ideas to nurture our children and homeschools.
So exactly what am I reviewing here?…
We received The Great Latin Adventure, Levels I and II (with our deepest gratitude to the Birketts for this GENEROUS offering!!) student books, teacher books, and pronunciation cds.
Before receiving my package, I was relieved to see that this curriculum labeled for beginners in grades 4-6 claimed to have great teacher support with no Latin background required. I was particularly excited that this program was coming to us as we were finishing up an intensive English grammar program designed to be an introduction to Latin, but only teaching a few prefixes, suffixes and roots integrated into the English grammar.
Upon receiving this package, I unwrapped each shrink-wrapped package, placing both levels of student pages and teacher pages into their perspective notebooks, along with sliding the included front and spine covers in place. (I thought that was pretty cool they included those!)
Grabbing my teacher manual, I plopped down on my bed and took off on my Great Latin Adventure. I began reading through a very thorough Introduction of just what this program is and isn’t, who it’s for, why, how and when.
*For Latin beginners grades 3 or 4 and up. My daughters are 9 and 13, and it was well suited for both of them as we just finished a very complete English Grammar program together. In my opinion, this program could be used for any student ready for or who has a good grasp of English grammar- late elementary, Jr High or even High Schooler who wants to learn Latin. It is recommended that if the student hasn’t had much grammar, to use it concurrently with an English Grammar course, but it’s not a requirement. Personally I think my girls are enjoying this course so much because they already understand basic grammar, and I LOVE seeing the language skills they just worked so hard on being reinforced and extended! For those homeschoolers that are of a more relaxed/eclectic mindset, or Charlotte Mason or other educators who don’t introduce formal grammar until later on, this program would work well with older grades, really. My point here, is not to let the grade level description fool you- it has the content and complexity to work for upper grade levels, or the ease of use for late elementary ages.
*For new or experienced teachers- I noticed many references to experienced teachers throughout the notes on ways to adapt the teaching to different theories such as the two different schools of pronunciation. Since I’m in the “new teacher” camp, I don’t know the difference in Ecclesiastical vs. classical pronunciation (GLA uses classical pronunciation because the author feels it best represents the way the Romans pronounced their own language), nor do I have a preconceived opinion on use of macrons, first declension, English-to-Latin translation pages, or other formalities of teaching such as these. I do love that the author takes the consideration to explain why she chooses the methodology she does, and I believe this makes this program even more teachable for new and experienced teachers alike.
*Challenging yet incremental- as I alluded to before, this program begins at the beginning, but it doesn’t stay there for long. The authors clearly state that one of their main goals in creating teaching material is to “set the bar high, but help children achieve it.”
*Not a self-teaching program- plan to spend some time preparing lessons, and get excited about learning Latin right alongside your kids!! You won’t be able to just assign lessons, or expect your kids to get out their notebooks and work on this themselves (except of course the worksheets which are to be completed independently). But your teacher manual is fully equipped with EXTENSIVE instructions on how to teach, what to teach when, and has all the answer keys right there for you, as well as a sample schedule to get you started in adapting this to your own homeschool schedule.
Not a video program- while there are programs out there that include a video you can pop into your computer or dvd player of an instructor lecturing or showing how to teach the program, this is not one of those. It does, however, have a super easy to follow format, and step by step instructions on how to proceed through the program. But you, not an image on your computer, will be teaching your kids.
Not an immersion program, and not a Roman culture or history program- this leaves you room to teach the language like other foreign language programs, adding your own cultural flare and history as you see fit.
Family friendly, supporting the goals of Christian parenting- you won’t find references to mythology, or predominantly war-related themes. This leaves you to teach your children about Zeus and Caesar if and when you choose.
So after my extensive introduction to the whys and hows of the program, I moved on to the Master Chapter Plan. As I tried to stay focused on the many pages of how to teach the program, including a great little nine-day chapter plan (rec. three days a week for three weeks per chapter making it possible to complete a level in a typical school-year), I found myself a bit frustrated with the complexity of it all. This, however, is merely a manifestation of my hands-on “let’s just get started already” nature. So I did a quick overview of the Chapter 1 Teaching Notes, and sat down with my girls to get started. As I am taking the “learn along with the kids” approach to this program, I read the teachers notes to my girls and we worked through the beginnings of the program together. As with any new program, it took a minute to figure out how to put it all together, but the teaching notes really take you step by step. There were parts that kind of expected me to come up with some extra teaching steps on my own- that would certainly benefit experienced or particularly classroom teachers, but these parts are easily skipped over when teaching to just a couple of students at the table. Again, the author is VERY considerate to include ideas for both classroom or coop teachers who might be teaching many students with a blackboard approach, and homeschool teachers who are sitting at a table with just one or two kids.
We begin each chapter by looking at the new vocabulary words, and listening to them on the pronunciation cd a few times, participating and learning correct pronunciation together. Next , we make flashcards of the new words for study. Then onto the grammar lesson. After reading through the lesson together, we move onto the study sheet. This is basically a worksheet reinforcing what the grammar lesson taught. After the study sheet is completed, we work through the first derivative worksheet, which is probably our favorite part. There are Latin to English ones as well as English to Latin. Next comes the pre-quiz to help the students learn the vocabulary and reinforce learning before moving onto the second derivative worksheet. Lastly, after all the worksheets and review has been completed, the quiz is given.
As for the scope and sequence of the program, I’ll leave that for you to review for yourself on the website, along with sample pages.
In closing, I will say if you would like to add a richness and quality to your language and learning no matter what style of schooling you choose, then I would definitely recommend you check out the Great Latin Adventure. It may just be the adventure you’ve been looking for.
See what my crewmates had to say about the Great Latin Adventure on the Crew blog.
Check back for updates on our very own adventure through GLA!
We were blessed with these materials as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew for review purposes. No other compensation was received, and opinions expressed here are my own honest thoughts and feelings.