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Prima Latina, Introduction to Christian Latin, 2nd Edition Review by Anne Weiland

Leigh Lowe
Memoria Press
4103 Bishop Lane
Louisville, KY 40218

The growing popularity of classical education has created some curricular challenges. What's a mom to do when she sees the need to teach Latin but has never had Latin instruction herself? Memoria Press has been answering this question for some time with its Latina Christiana curriculum for teaching Latin to students from third to ninth grades. Prima Latina is a preparatory course for students in first to fourth grades. Available components are a teacher's manual, student book, pronunciation guide CD and an instructional DVD set. Prima Latina is the recommended starting point for parent-teachers with no previous Latin experience.

The teacher's manual gives plenty of explanation as to how to organize lessons and also provides the complete student manual with answers to all exercises. The student book is consumable, and I would recommend purchasing one for each student for the simple convenience of having all the student's work contained in one book. The pronunciation guide CD covers all the lessons, prayers, and three songs. The Instructional DVD set features Leigh Lowe actually teaching the lessons to the student directly. Helpful graphics display the words in the lesson while they are being explained. The DVD could be used to introduce and teach the lessons, and then the parent could oversee the written and spoken exercises. The DVD will make Prima Latina very easy for any home teacher, but it is not essential for using this program. The teacher's manual explains how to teach lessons in detail.

A bit of explanation is needed for the age recommendations for Prima Latina and Latina Christiana. The publishers suggest using Prima Latina for a beginning Latin student up to fifth grade. The student should be reading well before beginning Prima. When Prima is finished, then go on to Latina Christiana I. The time needed to complete each program will vary from one semester to two years. The shorter time periods would be for older students. The vocabulary and grammar contained in Prima are a subset of what is contained in Latina. Therefore, a student moving from one program to the next will find many words and concepts familiar.

I began teaching Latin to my children using Latina several years ago. I did not have any instructional DVDs to help me and we did just fine. With that said, though, the DVDs would have been a great help. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what a declension was before I could teach it. Prima, with or without the DVDs, is an easy-to-use Latin introduction for both student and parent. The Latin phrases are interesting--ever wonder what mea culpa means? (My fault.) The vocabulary will be engaging for young students, with numbers, constellations, and more. The oral and written practice should make memorization a snap.

On the downside, I'm not convinced that Prima Latina is a necessary starting point. A parent could be quite successful in Latin instruction by waiting a few years and using Latina Christiana.

Overall, if a parent wants to teach Latin to a younger student, I would recommend using Prima Latina. It is easy for both parent and student to understand and will give both the confidence to take on more Latin in the future.

--Product review by Anne Weiland, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC