Monday, October 10, 2011

Crew Review: Visual Latin

Hi, my name is Alane and we {deep sign} are Latin drop outs.

We've run our course through three Latin programs so far in Ben's educational career.  By 5th grade, the academic luster had worn off of the idea of studying Latin (Improve Your Brain power! Raise your SAT scores!) and it had become just plain drudgery.  So, we stopped, and I was content and happy in that decision.

Then last spring I began hearing about this program called "Visual Latin.Yea, yea, yea, I think to myself, Another Latin program to drop out of.  (sorry, but my stream of consciousness sentences do end with prepositions sometimes.)

But just for kicks and to torture my drop-outta-Latin soul even more, I decided to watch an online demo of the program.

It wasn't even boring. And this was not just my opinion, but also the opinion of my 12-year-old.  He asked to do it.

Good job, Dwayne.

Fast forward to this fall when I'm blessed with the opportunity to review this program. I'm most impressed.  I could even want to include Latin in our homeschool again!

From the beginning I noticed several distinctives which set Visual Latin apart from other programs we've used:

  1. The teacher is a guy!!  This is a big deal in our house.  I have three boys and they are surrounded by women (moms) who teach them.  Their exposure to male teachers is zilch, so this is a huge selling point for me.
  2. It's funny and quirky and....normal.  Dwayne makes mistakes and misspeaks. He make you smile and chuckle a little -- about Latin and learning and languages and humanity.
  3. It is bite-sized.  The DVD lessons  -- three for each lesson -- are short (6-8 minutes or so) and there is the corresponding one-page worksheet that goes with it. The worksheet is clutter free and makes sense, teaching 1 concept at a time.
  4. This program is laid out with homeschoolers in mind. I don't have to adapt it and try to mold it into a homeschool subject for 1 or 2 students.  
  5. You can purchase it as a physical DVD product, or download-able product, which you can watch on multiple computers, iphone, ipad or ipod.  Your Latin lesson is portable!
Another thing which is unique about this program is that Dwayne works on getting kids to think in Latin from the beginning.  Instead of having kids memorize a weekly lesson of 10 words and then having them complete several workbook-styled vocabulary tasks, Dwayne uses easy translations of Bible stories to begin to have the children think in Latin in the context of the story.  By focusing on just a few vocabulary words and trying your had at translation and reading, my 12 year old was actually getting the gist of the language -- which is exactly what would happen in a real life, modern language immersion situation. 
A year's worth of Latin 1-- 30 lessons -- will consist of three DVD sets.  Each set is $30 -- or you can purchase the whole set for $80.  The program is also sold as a download-able product for $25 for each of the three modules. Visit The Compass Store for more details. Latin 2 has the first set of 10 lessons completed, with more coming this school year.

Visual Latin is appropriate for all age ranges, so it makes it a great investment for late elementary, middle and high school.  You will want to speed up the pacing of VL for a high school student to get a full year's credit for the course. This web page will also answer questions on how to create a high school Latin course using Visual Latin.

If you are interested in trying out Visual Latin, I highly recommend downloading their first 6 videos for free.  This will include 4 intro segments, which really does a nice job of explain why we study Latin and underscores the importance of Latin in our own language.  The final two freebies are actually the first two lessons on the first DVD.

If you'd like to hear what others said about Visual Latin, visit the Crew Review blog with link-ups to other blogs to read.

Thanks to Visual Latin for a copy of their DVD lessons 1-10. In exchange for a free copy, I have written an honest review of our experiences using this product -- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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