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First Form Latin (Complete Set) Review by Laura Delgado

Cheryl Lowe
Memoria Press
(877) 862-1097
4603 Poplar Level Rd.
Louisville, KY 40213

Latin is one of those subjects that many homeschoolers feel pressure to include in the curriculum while simultaneously feeling uncomfortable with the idea. Thanks to companies like Memoria Press, though, no discomfort is necessary. For students in 4th-9th grades, First Form Latin is the perfect way either to introduce Latin into the curriculum, or to continue Latin studies already in progress. Memoria Press’s First Form Latin Complete Set includes absolutely everything you will need to teach your students Latin, even if you have no prior knowledge of Latin yourself. For $125.00 you receive the following:

  • A full-size Student Workbook with 4-6 pages worth of work for each lesson
  • A smaller-size Student Text that perfectly encapsulates the lesson
  • An oversized Teacher’s Manual that includes an inset copy of the Student Text with the answers printed on it, as well as absolutely everything you could need to teach the lesson to your child (should you choose not to purchase the DVDs): scripted lessons, a recitation schedule, teaching notes, and extra background information that you can choose to incorporate or not
  • A Quizzes and Tests booklet with reproducible quizzes and unit tests
  • A Teacher Key with answers to all student materials (Workbook, Quizzes, and Tests)
  • A Pronunciation CD
  • Flashcards for vocabulary, Latin sayings, and grammar forms
  • DVDs (3 discs, 9 hours, 15-20 minutes per lesson) taught by Glen Moore (a former Highlands Latin School teacher).

Memoria Press indicates that by the end of First Form Latin, one will have mastered the six indicative active tenses of the first two verb conjugations, five noun declensions, the first and second declension adjectives, and 185 vocabulary words.

Written out, the whole thing has a tendency to look overwhelming, but the way Memoria Press organizes and presents everything, it most assuredly is not! Everyone who homeschools has likely heard all of the reasons to study Latin, so I won’t digress into those here, but I will emphasize the point that studying Latin with Memoria Press takes all of the potential pain out of the process.

When purchasing the Complete Set, Memoria Press does all of the work for you. Although you can purchase Lesson Plans for First Form Latin from Memoria Press’s website, it’s really not necessary. There are 34 lessons in the program. Many school years include 34 weeks. Each lesson has between four and six days’ worth of worksheets. It’s a fairly simple matter to divide that work over the course of a week – voila! Lesson Plans! At the beginning of a lesson (for us, on Monday), one watches the video lecture presented by Mr. Moore. He presents all of the necessary information in an easy-to-understand and pleasant manner. Then, the worksheets are simply done over the course of the week. Many times there are four – perfect for many homeschoolers’ four-day weeks. When there are more, it is a simple matter to adjust the schedule.

Because there are so many Latin programs from which to choose, it is important to realize that the focus of First Form Latin is grammar. There is plenty of vocabulary introduced, but grammar is the emphasis. Thus, this program is ideal for classical homeschoolers who want their students to be exposed to Latin the way it was taught a century ago. When I took Latin, the emphasis was on conversation and vocabulary. I learned grammar, but in three years of Latin I did not get as rigorous a grammar workout as students will get in one year with First Form Latin. If that is the kind of Latin you’ve been seeking, look no further! Memoria Press has you covered in this course and in the three succeeding years of “…Form Latin” courses that follow.

Because I want my children to have the kind of Latin program that was once de rigueur in schools, I have been utterly delighted with First Form Latin. In fact, when I received this program for review, I immediately bought two additional student workbooks so that my 11-year-old twins could do the program along with my 13 year-old son. First of all, because Latin is so much a recited, or chanted, language, it is nice to have a “class” to chant with. Second, I knew that my twins would be doing this program eventually, so I determined that there was no reason to wait. Although I have taken Latin and am comfortable teaching it, I love that Memoria Press makes everything so easy. Glen Moore is a fabulous teacher. He is interesting and entertaining without being silly. Because I have the Teacher Manual, I am able to reteach something from Mr. Moore’s lecture if it gets forgotten during the course of the week. I know exactly what needs to be recited each day. If, for some reason, I don’t know the answer to something in the Workbook or something on a quiz or a test (which means I have not been paying close enough attention!), I have the Answer Key to rescue me. Truly, Memoria Press has thought of everything.

Like me, my children are really enjoying First Form Latin. My 13-year-old son is very task and workbook oriented. He likes to know exactly what has to be done in a given day. Because of that, this kind of curriculum is ideal. It does exactly what it needs to do and then releases you from obligation. And what it does is enough. He is retaining what he learns perfectly. In fact, he has been doing his Latin early in the day and then he has been coming back to school to help my younger twins do their worksheet for the day. Because he can teach it back to them, I know that he has learned and retained the information. It has been such a treat to see that happening day after day. For students with very orderly brains (in this case, a student with a severe case of OCD), First Form Latin is the ideal Latin curriculum. Its focus on grammar falls into the strict lines of such brains and almost soothes them. I truly think Latin is therapy for some students.

I can imagine that the cost of this program may put some parents off, and it is true that $125.00 is not an insignificant amount of money. However, it is important to remember that Latin actually covers multiple curriculum areas, including vocabulary and SAT prep. Further, it is possible to buy the curriculum a la carte, thereby significantly lessening the expense. For example, the flashcards are nice, but not necessary. The same is true of the CD. While I would argue that the DVDs take the curriculum to the next level, they are not an absolute necessity. Thus, before dismissing the program outright as infeasible, consider just buying what you absolutely need. First Form Latin really is that good.

The only real criticism I have of this program is the availability of packages. There is the Complete Set, which I received for review and which is stellar, and there is the Basic Set, available on the website. I wish there were an even more basic set available for purchase, one that didn’t include Quizzes and Tests, an Answer Key, and a pronunciation CD, but that still offered a package discount. I think that there are many homeschoolers who would benefit from the excellent and thorough Teacher Manual and Student Books, but who would find the other material extraneous. Having one more package option might encourage them to purchase this program over other, less rigorous and less complete Latin programs.

My whole family is enamored of First Form Latin and plans to continue with the series in the coming years. At a time in the evolution of homeschooling when there is a glut of Latin programs saturating the market, First Form Latin distinguishes itself with its grammar-centric approach and its ease of use for non-Latin savvy parents.

—Product review by Laura Delgado, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September, 2016