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Latin in the Christian Trivium Review by Anne Weiland

Gail Busby and Mary Harrington
XL Group
17161 Alva Road #3011
San Diego, CA 92127
(858) 385-0606
For free tutoring help, email

Latin is more accessible to homeschoolers than ever before with Latin in the Christian Trivium. Mary Harrington and Gail Busby, two homeschooling mothers, have written a thoroughly Christian Latin program that takes student and teacher along on the journey into this classical language. Woven into the text is an original story about a Roman family who eventually come into contact with Jesus. Roman history and culture are also included.

To use this program, you will need the Textbook, the Teacher's Guide, Study Sheets, Drill Sheets, and Test Packets. Other study aids are also available. Volumes I and II are available now, Volume III is due out in 2004 and Volume IV is planned for 2005. The Complete Teacher's Guide is what makes this program accessible. It gives systematic instructions for each lesson, and it includes all student text, study sheets, drill sheets, and tests with answers rendering it very easy to use. There are also detailed instructions for the student to follow in setting up the notebook that will become an essential study tool throughout the program. The student will begin with an English grammar review, and will quickly progress to translating sentences and then paragraphs and passages from Latin into English. Progress is important, because the goal is not to muck around endlessly in Latin grammar, but rather to master Latin in order to read the great works written in it.

Let's take Lesson 11 from Volume I as a sample to see how this program might actually work in the trenches. The Teacher's Guide breaks the lesson into 11 separate steps and I want to complete the lesson in eight days or two school weeks. On day one, we will learn a new Latin phrase and discuss grammar, in this case, three verb tenses (steps one and two). On day two, we will memorize the verb tenses using the 'tricks' in the Teacher's Guide (steps three and four). On days three through six, the student will complete the Study Sheet, the Drill Sheet and the Exercises (steps five through nine). Then on day seven, we will read and discuss the Roman History section (step 10) and finally on day eight, the student will read and translate several paragraphs from Latin (step 11). Keep in mind that if you as the teacher are learning Latin yourself, you'll need to do some of the exercises as you go along. Also, daily drill with the note cards the student has made will be vital to successful retention of grammar and vocabulary.

LitCT is ideal for a high school student starting on Latin for the first time, or a student as young as sixth grade who has had some exposure to Latin through a program like Latina Christiana. Volumes I-III are the equivalent of three years of high school Latin. LitCT differs from other Latin programs in that it spreads the grammar out over all three years and includes portions of the Latin Vulgate, Caesar's Gallic Wars and Cicero's speeches interspersed. The more traditional approach has been to teach all the grammar in Year One, read Caesar in Year Two and Cicero in Year Three. The authors explain that they prefer to spread out the grammar for better retention. Also, LinCT relies more heavily on the Vulgate than any classical writings.

Be prepared for a learning curve if you're a teacher approaching Latin for the first time. There will also be about 30 minutes a week of preparation required throughout the program. LitCT is both enjoyable and rigorous, and, given the opportunity, will help you become a better Latin teacher.

-- Product Review by: Anne Weiland, Sacramento homeschooler, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine