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Latin Alive! Book 1 (Textbook, Teacher's Edition, DVD and CD Set) Review by Kathy Gelzer

Karen Moore and Gaylan Dubose
Classical Academic Press
3920 Market Street
Camp Hill, PA 17011

As the classical method of education grows in popularity, we are seeing more Latin curriculums emerge. Latin Alive is the fourth Latin language program produced by Classical Academic Press. This particular curriculum is designed for the preteen student who is ready to enter the logic stage. It is appropriate for students who have some or no Latin background. Parents will find it reassuring that Latin Alive can be used both by homeschoolers and in a classroom by teachers with no Latin experience.

Each of the 29 chapters has all of these common elements: a state or national seal and motto in Latin and English, a vocabulary chart, written exercises, translation exercises, grammar lesson components with corresponding written exercises, and a passage to read in Latin (based on stories by Livy) with accompanying glossary and other helps. In fact, one of the goals of the Latin Alive series is to produce students who can read original Latin texts. Interesting additions to many chapters are the Culture Corner, which is a short explanation about some aspect of Roman culture; Derivative Detective, which shows the connection between English words and their Latin roots; and oral exercises.

The first chapter concentrates on pronunciation. Thereafter, this instruction is reinforced as students are asked to mark the pronunciation of new vocabulary words. Latin aficionados will want to know that Latin Alive uses the classical pronunciation.

At the end of every unit (every three to six chapters) is a special historical reading, part English and part Latin. This forms a review, with questions about the reading. These readings and questions are formatted after the National Latin Exam or the Advanced Placement Exam and provide excellent preparation for these tests.

On a par with other Classical Academic Press products, this one is extremely well organized with pleasing page layouts, photos of Roman art and architecture (wish they were annotated!), clear page and chapter markings, and easy-to-read charts. This is a cohesive curriculum with many applications of each aspect taught and with the text referring to other pages to help you maximize your teaching and learning.

The teacher's edition provides clear instructions and explanations. It contains all the material in the textbook, an answer section at the end of each chapter, and teaching tips set off in white text on black background. The history of each of the before-mentioned national and state seals is explained. Extra exercises and worksheets are included in the teacher's edition. You will also find some project ideas related to Roman culture in the unit reading sections of the teacher's edition.

Three appendices are included in both text and teacher books: vocabulary organized by chapter, reference charts for declensions and other grammar rules, and a complete alphabetical glossary. The teacher's edition has a fourth appendix: Teacher's Extras. Here you'll find lots of fun worksheets and projects and unit tests and answers.

The authors wisely caution the teacher not to try to do everything in this jam-packed program but to pick and choose according to his or her particular teaching situation. There is no wasted space in these thorough and engaging books. Even the inside covers are printed with a timeline, from the founding of Rome to the assassination of Caesar.

The covers on both the textbook and teacher's edition started to come apart when I was looking through them. I think this is a problem worth solving since the amount of time I spent reading and using the books pales in comparison to what a student and teacher would spend over the course of a year.

I also received the Latin Alive, Book 1 DVD and CD Set. On the DVD, author Karen Moore goes through each lesson. This provides an opportunity for self-directed education or the extra help you need if you are lacking confidence about teaching this subject. The CDs include all the readings, so they are extremely helpful with correct pronunciation.

This is a Latin curriculum worth looking at!

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2010