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Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age Review by Amy Christy

William E. Linney
Armfield Academic Press

I have always wanted to introduce my children to Latin but wasn't sure where to start. Frankly, it seemed a bit intimidating, but the book Getting Started with Latin changed my point of view. This book is the perfect foundation for learning the language, and it was specifically written for the homeschooled or self-taught student. In fact, the author, William E. Linney, met with homeschool mothers when developing this book, and they had a great influence on its format. This is evident in the completely self-contained, user-friendly curriculum.

There are 134 lessons in all, with concise instructions in how to use them. A pronunciation guide and answer key are found in the back of the book. All Latin words are in bold print, and each new word is italicized when introduced. The print is large and easy to read.

The lessons are short, and each one serves as the building block for the next. This is a self-paced program with many practice exercises. Once you've mastered the new word or concept, you move on, and the next lesson will review it. There are no "official" tests in this book, but you can easily create your own. To administer a quiz or test, simply back up to the previous lesson(s) and have the child translate the exercises.

As with any foreign language, the best way to learn pronunciation is to hear it, so the author has provided free downloads in MP3 format on his website. You may listen on your computer or burn them to a CD. As suggested in the book, we also used these recordings for testing purposes. Our children translated the exercises directly from the computer. I highly recommend the website for the other beneficial resources it contains. There are recorded lectures, free Latin book downloads, and even a preview of the book.

My boys started with just a few simple words but quickly became excited about learning more. We also enjoyed the "Latin Expressions" that are found throughout the book. These are interesting historical tidbits about common words we use and their Latin roots (words like alma mater, Carpe diem, and circa, to name just a few). I loved when my children learned to say "Cogito ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am). It was also nice for us to learn a bit about the great French philosopher Rene' Descartes in the process!

Mr. Linney's appreciation for this language and his ability to teach it really shine through. I am looking forward to the free Latin classes on MP3 that he is preparing. He'll teach through the book The First Year of Latin by Gunnison and Harley. If you are looking for an affordable introduction to the world of Latin, Getting Started with Latin would be an excellent choice.

Product review by Amy Christy, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2007