Latin Primer I

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  • Reviewed on Sunday, March 10, 2013
  • Grades Used: 3rd-5th
  • Dates used: 2012-13
I have yet to find a beginning Latin program for kids that is taught well. I took Latin in college and I KNOW you can learn a language without spending two years memorizing just vocabulary and paradigms. The best Latin for children that I have seen was Linney's "Getting Started With Latin." Unfortunately, there is no volume two so once you finish that book you have to go somewhere else.

I have tried teaching my kids Latin from Memoria, Classical Academic Press, Latin Primer, and other materials. They all have the same problem--way too much emphasis on memorizing vocab and forms and not enough translation. Look, you can only cram so much in to your kids' heads before they can no longer remember what they learned. Translating the language helps them remember vocabulary a LOT better than just memorizing lists and filling in charts. (Good Lord--if I see one more "fill in this chart" I'm going to throw the Latin books out the window!)

If your child hates Latin and you're using a Latin for children book from just about anyone I've heard of, this is why. I would hate Latin too if I had to learn it the way they're teaching it.

Right now my 7th grader is using Bolchazy's Artes Latinae--I'm not thrilled with that one either, but it's better than anything else we've tried.

My 3rd grader is learning Latin from me. I'm just taking word lists and paradigms, breaking them down a LOT more and having her use her translation skills by making up my own Latin sentences for her translate.

After all, the whole point of using Latin as the foundation of classical education is so that they learn grammar and language skills, not so that they have an impressive list of Latin words memorized. I give my daughter less than 10 words to memorize at a time with a new lesson. Then we spend the rest of the week practicing using them in sentences; real Latin sentences, not 2 words long sentences. If your child knows how to conjugate 1st declension verbs, decline feminine nouns with an understanding of just the nominative, genitive, and accusative cases, you can translate endless sentences with 50 vocabulary words. You can tell a whole story with that much. Why are there no kids' Latin programs that will attempt that?

Some programs like Classical Academic Press will include Latin readers, but you have to muddle through so much Vocabulary and those precious "charts" before you get to read a new story that it's not worth it.

It won't be long before I've reached my limit on writing Latin lessons and I hope to find something more suitable by then. I was thinking about looking into Cambridge Latin, but the one time I skimmed it Cambridge looked like it was too advanced for very young students. This was a couple of years ago. If anyone else has any better ideas, let me know.


  • Reviewed on Sunday, May 4, 2008
  • Grades Used: 6th-7th
  • Dates used: 2007/2008
We did Minimus before using this program and I have to say that the lessons learned in the Latin Primer are much more valuable. The chants are conjugations, and vital for them to read and write latin. Yes, there are a lot of vocabulary words, common in any foreign language program, but we found it easy to keep them memorized with 15 minutes a day in flashcards. The worksheets were very important as they worked on derivatives, conjugations (where the chants are used), and translations. If you want them to actually learn to read latin, use this program. Just press on and you will see results.

Debra T.

  • Reviewed on Saturday, July 26, 2003
  • Grades Used: 6
  • Dates used:
Let me first say choosing Latin Primer I for 6th grade was a mistake. it's much too elementary. It was our first year homeschooling and I was insecure, especially since I had never taken latin myself. I bought the whole curriuculum- books (3! and 2 were teacher's guides that were difficult to align..), tapes, videos- over $100 worth! And this is what you get; a simple list of latin words, vocabulary, that's all. I felt like I could have gotten that info over the net just as easily. There is no study of grammar, just memorization of grammar endings they call chants. The 1 item I felt was worth the price, was the pronunciation tape. It was only $3 or so, and really helped as far as pronunciation goes. We have used several other latin curriculums since this and if I had to do it over again, I would start with Minimus or Latina Christiana.

Cindy Johnson

  • Reviewed on Friday, April 4, 2003
  • Grades Used: 3-5
  • Dates used: September - April 2003
I have been using the Latin Primer 1 program this year with my 4th grade son. We have been using the program along with the videos, which he has enjoyed, for the most part. I will say that he has learned some good Latin basics, but after 21 lessons (there are 27 lessons in the course), he has accumulated quite a long list of vocabulary words that he can't remember. The Latin Primer 1 requires the student to memorize many vocabulary words, as students at this stage of the trivium are supposed to be good memorizers. However, the method used for the memorization is mostly drill with flashcards, and I have found that my son is not remembering the words. I think that vocabulary words need to be memorized in context, but Latin Primer 1 students don't really know enough grammar to be able to do many translations. So we are switching to Ecce Romani, which teaches vocabulary and grammar in the context of stories. He has, though, learned, some valuable things.