Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homeschool Review: Song School Latin

Song School LatinSong School Latin at Amazon You can also find it at the publisher, Classical Academic Press.

Kansas Dad was excited for First Son to begin learning Latin. He's always wished he'd learned it earlier as it would have been very useful in his philosophy and theology studies. Of course, Latin is useful for all sorts of studies. I believe Charlotte Mason would have us wait to start Latin, but we'll consider ourselves Classical for this subject. I wanted to start in first grade, but I was a little nervous about Prima Latina. It seemed like it might be a lot of work and writing for First Son.

Then, Brandy at Afterthoughts mentioned they were using Song School Latin. It looked like much more fun, so I picked it up to try for first grade.

First Son loves it. He says every lesson would be better if there were more pictures of monkeys. What can I say? He's probably right.

You definitely do not need the teacher's manual. I purchased only the student book, which comes with the CD. The CD contains songs for each lesson recorded in both Classical and Ecclesiastical pronunciations. The lyrics are printed in every lesson which I found quite helpful. Even so, it was a little difficult to understand the pronunciation. I would have appreciated some tracks for that. (I checked; the teacher's manual did not provide more nuanced pronunciations than the student text.)

Kansas Dad was a little disappointed in some of the translations for the songs; he thought they were a bit weak. I thought they were alright considering they were for children's songs. The translations in the book always seemed accurate.

Each lesson begins with a vocabulary list, mainly nouns. The lyrics for the chapter's song are included. Most of the lyrics are in English, with the Latin words mixed in.There's a short lesson, which I usually read aloud for First Son, though he could probably read it himself. About midway through the book, they introduce a "Famous Latin Saying" in each lesson as well. Some of these were more famous than others. I really liked the "Grow Your English" section which shows how one of the lesson's words is used to build modern English words.

The exercises always start with tracing the Latin vocabulary words. I liked this start. When I was in college, I learned writing out Spanish vocabulary words was a great way to reinforce my own lessons. Other exercises might be matching, circling the correct word to finish a sentence or more active exercises like playing Simon Says. Most of the active ones seem to be best suited for a classroom setting. We did alright on those by including First Daughter.

Each lesson includes at least one little review exercise. Additionally, there are whole review lessons after every three or four that introduce new words. The review lessons include a "Chapter Story," often a fairy tale with some of Latin vocabulary words appearing in the text. (The picture is from the first lesson, back in August. First Son drew his magistra, me. Don't I look lovely?)

The book is definitely Christian, as there are a couple of lessons with Christmas vocabulary and Christmas stories. I think they would be fine for any family that's comfortable with the Christmas story of Jesus's birth, though.

So, has First Son learned how to speak Latin? Not really, but that's not too surprising. Though there are some lessons that teach a little grammar, the vast majority of the vocabulary words are nouns. First Son learned a few verbs and phrases, but he can't really carry on a conversation. His vocabulary is a little shaky, too, but I think that could have been improved by listening to the songs more often. I plan to continue playing the songs for the kids over the summer.

I think this book is great for a family that's interested in starting Latin but not anxious to be too stressed by it. Latin is one of First Son's favorite subjects and I'm sure this book is one of the reasons. In the most recent catalog from Classical Academic Press mentions a Song School Latin Book 2. It's not listed on their website, though. I might consider it for second grade if it were available. Instead, we'll be moving on to Prima Latina next year.

This review is my honest opinion. I purchased the book myself.

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