My final two reviews as part of the 2008-09 TOS Homeschool Crew are for products I received from Memoria Press. A family owned business, Memoria offers numerous original curricula with a Classical Education philosophy. They have books covering Latin, logic & rhetoric, French, handwriting copybooks for both manuscript and cursive, Christian studies, Classical Studies (history lessons from classical time periods), as well as various resource books and an online academy.
Memoria Press graciously sent the Prima Latina foreign language curriculum for my family to try and review. I’ve always wanted the boys to learn one or more foreign languages (preferably fluently). We’ve done work with both sign language and Spanish but have never had a true curriculum – just a sign language picture book and Spanish conversation CDs written for adults.
We’ve been using Prima Latina for about a month now, and I am very pleased with the layout of the program and the results. We received both the student book and teacher manual, the audio Pronunciation CD, and the Instructional DVDs.
Each lesson contains five new Latin vocabulary words with their English definitions and derivatives. A derivative is an English word that has as its root a Latin word. For example clamo means “I shout” and the English word “clamor” is a derivative of clamo that means a loud uproar.
In addition to the vocabulary words, proper pronunciation of each Latin consonant and vowel is taught. A line or two from a prayer is taught each week as well. It’s fun to learn a Latin prayer – it makes me think of the priests of the Middle Ages and even later who always conducted their services in Latin.
Written exercises are part of each lesson – two pages for each lesson. The exercises are simple – writing out the vocabulary words and their English counterparts and answering questions like “What would you call a female teacher?” Each Prima Latina lesson is intended to last one week – either as a once weekly lesson or as a daily lesson. We’ve been doing Latin lessons two days per week, and this is working well for us.
On the first day, Nicholas and I orally go over the new vocabulary words, lines of the prayer, and pronunciation rules. We review the words and prayer from the previous weeks. I then have him complete the first page of the written exercises.
On the second day, a few days after the first, we review the new material from the current lesson and listen to the Pronunciation CD. I then have Nicholas complete the second page of the written exercises. Sometimes we watch the Instructional DVD but normally we don’t.
Prima Latina is set up in a simple, slow-paced fashion that works very well for a young elementary aged child learning a foreign language for the first time. It’s designed for grades Kindergarten through fourth. Even James, who is pre-K, is learning the Latin vocabulary though, of course, he doesn’t do any of the writing exercises.
The lessons could easily be completed and learned well without the Pronunciation CD or Instructional DVD, though it is nice to hear the pronunciations on the CD. One thing that confuses me, though, is that some of the words on the CD are pronounced differently from how one would pronounce them according to the rules given in the manual. For example, the textbook says that the vowel ‘u’ is pronounced oo, as in boo. One of the vocabulary words in the first lesson is ambulo which would be pronounced am – boo – lo, right? On the CD, however, it’s pronounced am – byu – lo with the ‘u’ having a sound identical to the word “you.” That confuses me, and I’m curious why there is a discrepancy. Maybe I’ll email to ask eventually, but as yet I haven’t done that.
The Instructional DVD shows Leigh Lowe, the author of Prima Latina, teaching the material from the manual. She does a very good job on the DVD and isn’t at all boring to listen to. She’s got a good personality for being video taped that way. The instruction she gives on the DVD is a repeat of the information presented in the student book. For my family, watching the DVD was too redundant so we stopped watching it.
Prima Latina progresses to Latin phrases and verb conjugations while retaining the same simplified format of the beginning lessons. For anyone interested in beginning a Latin curricula with their young elementary students, I would highly recommend Prima Latina. It is designed as a beginning point that will enable students to move into Latina Christiana I and II, also by Memoria Press.
Memoria offers free online games to reinforce the Prima Latina lessons. Check them out here.
The Prima Latina student book and teacher manual are $14.00 each, and the Pronunciation CD is $4.95. The Instructional DVDs are available in a 3-disc set for $45. A package set including all of these materials plus flashcards can be bought for $90.90.
© 2009, Cindy. All rights reserved.