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Visual Latin Complete DVD Set Review by Laura Delgado

Dwane Thomas
Compass Classroom
609 West Iris
Nashville, TN 37204

Visual Latin is the course that started the phenomenon we know as Compass Classroom (you may also be familiar with Economics for Everybody, The Grammar of Poetry, or some of their other terrific courses geared toward homeschoolers). I received for review the Visual Latin Complete DVD set, consisting of sixty lessons on a two DVD set. The set also includes, in PDF format, a Teacher’s Guide, worksheets, quizzes, and vocabulary lists. It costs $200 and streaming can be added for $5.00 more. Each set of lessons (Latin 1 and Latin 2) is good for one high school credit, although Mr. Thomas (the instructor and, arguably, the funniest Latin teacher ever to conjugate a verb) suggests that parents may want to round out the 150 hours of instruction with the college level Latin text upon which Visual Latin is modeled. Compass Classroom provides the guide for parents who want to do this. In other words, all the material necessary for two high school foreign language credits is present in the two DVD set, however the set alone will not provide 150 hours of instruction. If hours in and of themselves are of concern, Compass Classroom has the solution for you. If you simply want to round out the curriculum with more material, the same solution applies. If, however, you just want to learn Latin and/or satisfy the foreign language credit on a high school transcript, this two DVD set alone will meet that requirement!

The Latin program itself begins with a brief discussion concerning why one would should study Latin and how Visual Latin works. It then moves right to the meat of Latin. Each lesson contains three short videos covering grammar, sentences, and reading, worksheets, and a weekly quiz (it is assumed that you will cover one lesson per week, although you can certainly move at a faster or slower pace). The DVDs also include access to Quizlet vocabulary flashcards online (which, if you’re familiar with Quizlet, you know is a huge timesaver since you don’t have to make your own), and the relevant Teacher’s Guide material with scope and sequence. You don’t have to have any advance knowledge of Latin to “do” Visual Latin, although (speaking as one who had three years of high school Latin from a wonderful magistra and who has continued to study and love it) if you already have some knowledge of Latin, I think you will appreciate Mr. Thomas and his affection for and appreciation of the language even more. Everything you need to know is taught right to you. Anything you don’t know you need to know is delivered to you via the Teacher’s Guide. All you must do is sit back and watch Dwane Thomas teach you Latin. He is so good at it, so funny, that your students won’t even realize the immense advantages they are gaining by learning this language.

In Latin 1, you will be covering the basics of being verbs, gender, singular and plural, the declensions, adjective/noun agreement, nominative and genitive cases, counting to 10, the indicative mood, the accusative and vocative cases, the imperative mood, the ablative case, pronouns, active and passive verbs, the dative case, personal, demonstrative, relative, interrogative, and possessive pronouns, verb infinitives, 3rd and 4th declension nouns, and positive and comparative adjectives. Latin 2 covers positive and comparative adjectives, 5th declension nouns and superlative adjectives, irregular comparison adjectives, 1-100, reflexive pronouns, indefinite and irregular adjectives, conjugations and macrons, verbs (present, imperfect, and future tenses), principle parts of the verb, supine/perfect passive participle, the other participles, future infinitives, perfect tense, pluperfect tense, future perfect tense, volo, nolo, malo, deponent verbs, impersonal verbs, gerunds, adverbs, subjunctives, gerundives, perfect, fear and cum, pluperfect, indirect discourse, verbs - ablative absolute, verbs - fio, comparative subjunctive.

I realize that listing out what is, essentially, a table of contents can be rather tedious, but it can also be very helpful when comparing Latin programs. For instance, many Latin programs *begin* with the four principle parts. Visual Latin doesn’t tackle it until the second year. What does this mean? Well, Visual Latin is less about the hard grammar of Latin than it is about making Latin the fun and interesting language that it is. Visual Latin will make your kids want to speak and read Latin right away. Yes, he will be conjugating, and yes, she will be learning plenty, but more likely than not, they will also be speaking sooner rather than later. For some kids, this ability to speak the language is key to enjoying the study of the language. Dwane Thomas does a great job slipping in intensive grammar study while also making sure that everyone studying Latin is having a great time. This is one program that will not feel like school while you’re doing it.

Further, the pacing of the course is exactly right. There is never too much to do in each week (if you are following the suggested schedule). Thus, the course maintains its “fun factor.” The thing about Latin is that it is a great language to study! It sometimes gets a bad rap for being too hard or (gasp!) obsolete, but Mr. Thomas always keeps it fresh and relevant. There is no hint of it being a dead language. The course will appeal to homeschooling parents who know that Latin is important and who want their children to have all of the advantages that Latin study brings, but who don’t want to face tedious hours of doing nothing but chanting declensions and conjugations. As I said, Mr. Thomas does an amazing job of teaching a great deal of Latin while not making it seem like a ton of work is taking place. He is a terrific teacher.

If you don’t want to commit to both years of Latin at once, you can purchase the DVDs separately. You can also sample the lessons. If you have been hesitant to take the dive into Latin, though, this very well could be the program that convinces you once and for all.

-Product review by Laura Delgado, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2017