Saturday, September 29, 2012

Latin Windsprints

You might enjoy the following post from Doug Wilson regarding the benefit of learning Latin (my thanks go to David Byle, a missionary in Istanbul, for sharing this with me.)
The Brain Is More Like a Muscle Than a Shoebox (or Why It’s Good for Kids to Learn Latin)
Posted: 24 Sep 2012 11:00 AM PDT

“If a football coach were making his player run wind sprints in a particularly hard practice, no one would upbraid him for making his players run from the thirty-yard line to the forty-yard line and then, mindlessly, pointlessly, back again. If he were confronted, he would point out that the issue was discipline and not the particular piece of ground the players were covering. In fact the ground covered in the subsequent game is not important in itself either but is related to a higher end.

“We tend to think of our students’ minds as finite shoeboxes, and we then think we must take special care not to put anything in there if we do not want it to remain there for life. But the brain is more like a muscle. A student who learns one language, such as Latin, is not stuck with his shoebox three-quarters full, with no room for Spanish. Rather the student has a mind that has been stretched and exercised in such a way that subsequent learning is much easier, not much harder.

“Now of course this kind of mental discipline could be acquired by requiring of the students the intellectual equivalent of running back and forth. While a football coach might be able to get away with this, because everyone understands the point, we should not attempt it in the classroom—although mental wind sprints that had no point in themselves would still be better than simple laziness. The reason this approach would not work in the classroom is that the human mind is inescapably teleological; it wants to know why it is learning something. Latin has the advantage of providing the grist for the mill of the mind, while also providing great practical advantages. To return to our metaphor of football, the study of Latin is therefore simultaneously an exercise to prepare for the game and part of the game.”

—Douglas Wilson, The Case for Classical Christian Education (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003), 140-141.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Delayed Gratification

Human beings are hard-wired to seek instant gratification, from the plaintive cries of an infant at his first hunger pangs to the toddler screaming at the grocery checkout because he wants the candy “now!” to the adult buying his lottery ticket in hopes of striking it rich.  We want what we want and we want it now.  Instant financing, no-interest/no-payments for six months, lines of credit, and pay-day loans.  The desire for instant gratification is the root of many evils.  It leads some into drugs.  Others, into alcohol abuse.  Others, into divorce.  Others, into perversions of every sort.  Therefore, as a parent who wants the best for my children (and who must battle my own desire for instant gratification), one of my primary jobs is to teach my children to delay gratification.

The ability to delay gratification, not differences in wealth, is what distinguishes the upper and lower classes.  And by class, I mean differences in culture, not money.  The hard-working poor who saves what he can and invests in books rather than beer (not that a good beer is anything to avoid, but you know what I mean) will not be poor for long.  As a parent, I want to train my children to delay gratification.  I want them to be wealthy in knowledge and culture and to avoid the many pitfalls of instant gratification.

One method I use to accomplish this is education, and particularly the disciplines of math and Latin.  I’ll let others speak to the benefits of math in helping students delay gratification, but I say that Latin is its brother in this cause.  Studying Latin is a long-term investment, not a get-rich-quick scheme.  It is popular in upper-class, wealthy, elite schools precisely because of this.  The parents who invest in those schools know that knowledge is built slowly over time, like a good investment, and that the interest from a student’s long hours of study now won’t be withdrawn until much later.

I saw one example of this in my home last week.  My children were on taking an online vocabulary test as they prepared for the SAT.  The test was timed and gave you a ‘rough’ (I’d say very rough) estimate of your personal vocabulary.  My 10-year old, after 2 years of Latin, knew about 15,000 words, while my 14-year old, after 6 years of Latin, knew about 40,000.  When I scored 50,000+ on the test (I’m sure my children will surpass me in the next few years), I noted that almost every word was based on a Latin root and that my knowledge of Latin made the meaning of even the most obscure word quite clear.  Why?  Because college-level vocabulary tests don’t check the little Germanic words everybody has learned by 3rd grade.  No, they test the ‘big’ words.  And what are the ‘big’ words?  90% are Latin.  9 out of 10 words on the big three, the SAT, ACT, and the GRE, are LATIN words.

So, the payoff for Latin, the increased understanding of English grammar and vocabulary, is built slowly over the 12 or 13 years of formal schooling.  Of course, the improvement is evident after just weeks of study, and one year of Latin is better than none, but Latin is like a good mutual fund that needs time to accrue interest.  For those who want to get rich quick (but actually live in poverty), Latin is not for them.  For those who are ready to learn delayed gratification and build for the future on a solid foundation, Latin is the lime in your concrete.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Latin for Children

As most of you know, I am a Latin teacher at a public high school and a homeschooling dad for my seven children.  Over the last 12 years I have experimented with many Latin programs for my children at home and for my high-school classes.  The short list of texts I have purchased and taught includes Rosetta Stone: Latin, Artes Latinae, Latina Christiana, Cambridge Latin Course, Ecce Romani, and Jenney’s Latin.

After all those curricula, I settled on Lingua Latina per se Illustrata by Hans Ørberg for my high school classes.  For grades 6 and up there is nothing better if you really want to learn Latin (and not just memorize some vocabulary and a few charts.)  However, for my children at home I had not found a program that would serve as adequate preparation for the rigors of LLPSI, that is, until this year.

This year we adopted a program called Latin for Children at our homeschooling co-op.  This program is the perfect complement/prequel to the LLPSI series for a number of reasons.  It offers a complete course of study for grades 3-5 (i.e. there are three levels) and after finishing Level C students have a solid foundation in grammar (all major noun/adjective/pronoun declensions and six active verb tenses) and vocabulary (720 common Latin words).  All of this is taught in the traditional American order (nom., gen., dat., etc. for nouns and amo, amare, amavi, amatum for verbs) which students are likely to encounter in college, so by studying Latin for Children and LLPSI, students will know both the American and European noun/verb systems.  Students also have a choice of ecclesiastical or classical pronunciation throughout the program.

I advocate a balanced approach to learning Latin, using the grammatical method to train the brain in ordered, logical, and systematic analysis of language, and using the natural method to develop long-term memory, vocabulary, and depth of understanding.  Children in grades 3-5 are naturally going through the “Grammar Stage” of learning, so Latin for Children is perfectly suited to them.  Around 6th grade students begin to enter the “Dialectic Stage,” and the constant inferences required by LLPSI is perfectly suited for them.  LFC and LLPSI complement each other well.

LFC helps make learning permanent with many creative games, songs, and activities.  The songs for the declensions are catchy.  I love using Lyrical Latin and Latin Verbs Rock in my classes, but the LFC songs are as good or better.  The video lessons add a lot of humor.  Dr. Perrine has a great sense of humor and it shows in the videos (particularly when he takes his children’s toys and parades them in front of the camera in a spaghetti western meant to teach verb conjugations!)  On the website there are many learning games (very professional, very entertaining) which correlate to the chapters.  There is a card game (it comes with the learning bundle) to reinforce vocabulary.  The activity book includes crosswords, puzzles, word searches, and many other fun opportunities to practice what the students have learned.

I’m so glad that I found Latin for Children.  I believe it completes my Latin program and gives my children a solid foundation for a lifetime of learning.  You can learn more about Latin for Children on the Classical Academic Press website ( The learning bundle includes all of the materials described in this review.

As a homeschooling dad, a Latin teacher, a Classics major, and a graduate student in Latin and Roman studies, I can say unequivocally that the Latin for Children series is in a class by itself.  If you are considering Latin for your children, you will find no curriculum more thorough, more professional, more rigorous, and more fun for students in grades 3-5.  –Joe Klomparens, homeschooling dad and National Board Certified Teacher

Friday, September 14, 2012

Online Course - ISC Only

This post is for students of the International School of Communications only:

To sign up for your online course follow these instructions: 
1. Go to
2. Click on "create new account."
3. Create your account (you will need a valid e-mail address.)
4. You will get a password in an e-mail (write it down.)
5. Go back to the course (step 1) and enroll (use the enrollment key you received in class.)
6. From now on you will go directly to the course (step 1) and use your user name and password to log in.  If you forget your user name or password, use the link on the page that says "forgot user name or password" and you can have the site e-mail them to you.
7. Complete the exercises for Lectio Prima ("Lesson One").  You will complete roughly one lesson each week and you should complete all of the exercises for that lesson each week (usually 3-5 exercises.)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lingua Latina: User Guide

Lingua Latina per se Illustrata (LLPSI) is a fantastic Latin program for students in grades 6 and up (including adults with a Latin background.) However, it may not always be the most user-friendly program for those who are not familiar with its resources and methods.  So, here is a step-by-step guide to get the most out of LLPSI:

1.  There are 56 chapters in the program.  It will take five years to complete the series if you spend three weeks on each chapter (any less than this and you will not be able to fully internalize the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of each chapter.)
2.  Each chapter has 2 or more lessons (called lectiones.)  These are marked with Roman numerals in the margin.  Each lesson will take about one week to complete.  
3.  DAY 1 - Watch the Lesson 1 tutorial (labeled as 1.1, meaning Chapter 1, Lesson 1) available on Mr. K's Moodle site (click here to visit the site.)  Choose your LLPSI book/level (e.g. Familia Romana.)  Log in as a guest and use the key 'latin' to enroll.
3.  Read the first lesson (aloud!) paying particular attention to the endings (Latin is a language of few words but many endings.)  Use the Latin-Latin dictionary (available in the Resources section of this blog) to help you with your reading.
4.  After carefully reading lesson 1, you are now ready to try exercise 1. Watch the Exercise 1.1 tutorial on Mr. K's Moodle site.
5.  Complete Exercise 1 using the online course (available from  The online course contains an online version of the book, all the ancillary materials, exercitia and pensa with a grade and hint feature, among other features.  After you move into the Roma Aeterna book (after chapter 35), you will need to switch to CD-ROMs for your exercitia and pensa (also available from
6.  DAY 2 - Re-read Lesson 1 (aloud!) paying close attention to the vocabulary and margin notes.  Study/memorize margin notes.
7.  If necessary, watch the Exercise 1.1 tutorial again (the 5-minute tutorial on Moodle covers all 3+ exercises for the lesson, so it may be useful to re-watch only the relevant potion of the video before a particular exercise.)
8.  Complete Lesson 1, Exercise 2 using the online course (or CD-ROM).
9.  DAY 3 - Re-read Lesson 1 (aloud!) paying close attention to the content (who/what/when/where/why/how).  Try translating the whole passage aloud.
10. Complete Lesson 1, Exercise 3 using the online course (or CD-ROM).  You have now completed Chapter 1, Lesson 1 (i.e. Capitulum Primum, Lectio Prima).
11. DAYS 4-12: REPEAT DAYS 1-3 for lessons 2, 3+, and the Grammatica (this should take 12+ school days.)
12. DAY 13 - When finished with the Grammatica for the chapter, memorize the Latin-Latin flashcards (available on this blog under the tab labeled "Flashcards.")
13. DAY 14 - Complete Pensa A-C using the CD-ROM or online course.
14. DAY 15 - Watch the Pensum D tutorial and complete the Pensum D worksheet (available on this blog.)
15. DAY 16 -Take the LLPSI 40-question chapter test (if you have questions about the tests, e-mail
16. DAYS 17+ - If you score 90% or better, go to the next chapter and repeat the process.  Otherwise, review the flashcards, listen to the chapter translation (available on this blog), study the margin notes, and redo Pensa A-C.  After that, go on to the next chapter.

If you start in 6th grade, you'll have a very solid foundation in Latin by the end of 10th grade.  If you begin in 9th grade, you will still be reading unmodified Latin texts (including Livy, Vergil, Catullus, and Martial) before you graduate.  Bona Fortuna!  If you have any questions, please e-mail