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Artes Latinae, Level 1 (CDROM Version) Review by Kate KesslerWaldo E. Sweet
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc.
1000 Brown Street, Unit 101
Wauconda, IL 60084
When Artes Latinae software landed on my desk for review I knew I wanted to see how it worked for my oldest child, age 13, without any help from me. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers offers homeschooling families complete Latin instruction without any previous Latin knowledge necessary. That description would certainly fit me! We popped the CD into the computer and easily started the program.
We began with some history on the people who used the language, their gods and goddesses, the legend of the founding of Rome, Roman authors and literature, all the while becoming familiar with how the program works. The introduction was not only interesting, but drew us both in immediately. Working frame by frame the student listens and reads, and then answers questions with empty dashes in subsequent frames. The questions are based upon information learned in the previous frame(s). This sounds a little complicated in the writing, but it is really very easy. For example, in the introduction we learned from the narrator that Rome was founded in 753 BC. In the subsequent frame the question will be asked with the year in dashes. Rome was founded in _ _ _ B.C. This is, of course, a very simplistic question. I offer it purely to show you how the frame by frame aspect of the program works.
Once you have the correct answer in your head you say it out loud, enter your answer on the computer and then check the answer with the given check mark button. Why say it out loud? They have tested the program on hundreds of students and they discovered that the students who did the best were those who repeated the information out loud. Once you get the question correct you move on to the next frame. There are no trick questions. If you find you cannot answer a question, if means that you have missed a small piece of information in one of the earlier frames. At that point you should click back to previous frames to find the answer as they do not suggest you do that until you first try your answer.
This is called systematic programmed learning. The theory behind it is that you will learn faster if you solve many easy problems and know right away whether you are right or wrong. We found we were paying attention to the smaller details so we would not miss the questions coming up. One of the early helps they offer are prompts and clues. These are things like one or two letters of the answer showing or a portion of a lengthy answer given. As you progress through the 30 different units you will see the program prompts and clues vanish. It is expected you will have mastered the work or you will not move on. At the end of every unit is a test.
There are several genuinely unique qualities to this program that I want to be sure to mention. One is that you have the choice of three different Latin pronunciations: American Scholastic, Restored Classical, and Continental Ecclesiastical. All are defined and sampled for you. I loved this. It was wonderful to be able to hear the pronunciations and choose the one we wanted to use. Latin is supposedly a dead language, but there are certainly enough debates among Latin scholars and homeschool mothers as to which pronunciation is best!
This is also a self-pacing interactive program that makes sense and leaves nothing out. You will not be wondering where the grammar fits into the program it is all explained in a very understandable manner where it fits into the study.
To use the curriculum most effectively you will need a reference notebook. You will use this to write down various Latin forms, notes, readings, and vocabulary words. From Unit 5 there will be a vocabulary inventory. This will be given at the end of the unit for your student to use as review for any words they are unsure of. Vocabulary is accessible for any unit by clicking on the review menu. There are just so many goodies to this software and they have made it so easy to find the information you need.
According to Bolchazy-Carducci, Artes Latinae fulfills the high school foreign language requirement for college. You can find a course description and more information on that here: http://www.bolchazy.com/al/alcourse1.htm. To experience the program, try downloading the demo here: http://www.bolchazy.com/al/alcddemo.htm. There is also an extensive support network available on their website.
The only potential negative is the program's cost. At $233.00 that can be a big bite out of a homeschooling family's budget. However, this is a reusable program that will be available for all your children. In my family of five, that works out to $46 a child for a whole year's worth of high school Latin. I think that is a pretty good price!
The website claims their program places in the student's hands all of the tools necessary to learn and love the Latin language. Its systematic programmed approach to learning provides consistent review and immediate reinforcement. This is absolutely true. My daughter looks forward to finishing the program and coming to grips with Latin in a new and fresh way. That we look forward to it says a great deal about Artes Latinae.