TOS Crew Review: The Latin Road to English Grammar

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Time for another glowing review!

I’m a classical educator at heart.  That, in my world, anyway, means that while many days get away from us and I feel blessed if we got through math, handwriting and maybe read *something,* we’ve endeavored to inorporate lots of memory work, logic and thinking skills, classical literature, and Latin into our school years.  We’ve tried several Latin curricula over the years, and loved all those we tried in the elementary years.  A couple of years ago we attempted an upper-level program, however, which I regret to say we struggled with for a couple chapters and then set aside hopelessly.  If you’re still hunting for a Latin program to use with your older students, I’ve got a keeper for you.

Schola Publications publishes The Latin Road to English Grammar.  Designed for parents without a Latin background who wish to learn along with their students, this program is geared toward 6th-12th graders. 

So, the inevitable question . . . Why teach Latin?  There are a myriad answers to this question, so I’ll let the folks at Schola speak for themselves.

Recent studies in Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Indianapolis prove that the study of Latin significantly improves verbal skills, mathematical reasoning powers, and strengths in other academic areas. Also, students who have taken Latin were recently shown to score higher marks on the SAT than did students of other languages. Compare these figures:

          Verbal Math  
  National Average 424 466  
  Latin Students 558 585  
  French Students 540 566  
  Spanish Students 497 536  
  Hebrew Students 544 572  
  Russian Students 518 595  
  German Students 538 581  

As you can see, Latin students score higher on this test than do students of any other language. They score 134 points above average in Verbal and 119 points above average in Math.

Since a student may not know which specific language will be required in college, Latin is ideal because it prepares him for all of them. The Romance languages- Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian are all descended directly from Latin. Because of Latin’s total reliance on word endings to convey sentence structure, its study also makes it easier to learn German and Russian, languages which still rely on the use of such word endings.

The benefits of Latin have been related to these frequently mentioned career areas:

Law: As western world law is steeped in Roman jurisprudence, so is legal vocabulary steeped in Latin. Such terms as prima facie, habeas corpus, nolo contendere, corpus delicti, and amicus curiae are part of the everyday Latin vocabulary of practicing lawyers.
Medicine: For over a thousand years the language of medicine was Latin. Today, a knowledge of Latin can provide a pre-med student or student nurse with the winning advantage in extremely competitive medical school studies.
Pharmacy: Like medicine, pharmacy is also steeped in Latin terms and phrases – terms and phrases a student will not have to spend precious college time memorizing like the not-so-lucky fellow students who have not studied Latin earlier.
Ministry: Latin, together with Greek and Hebrew, is the language of Judaeo-Christian thought and tradition. Every serious student of the New Testament eventually studies Greek so that the New Testament can be read in the original language. A knowledge of Latin will make the mastery of Greek infinitely easier.
Journalism: The ability to communicate with an extensive vocabulary and a thorough command of English is essential to success in journalism. The contribution of Latin to these skills is immeasureable.
Archeology: To become a working archeologist specializing in the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, a student will find a reading knowledge of Latin and Greek to be as indispensable as the tools he will use for field excavation.
Linguistics: If a student enters the field of linguistics – the study of how languages work – he will find that Latin is one of the most significant of all the Indo-European tomgues.
Ancient History: To be a serious student of ancient history in college, a student will have to be able to read in original sources – sources written in Latin and Greek. The cost of having such original sources translated for him can run as high as $20.00 per page.
Teaching: In case a student is interested in becoming a teacher of any subject, a study of Latin will equip him with a depth of understanding that will be invaluable to him in his own classroom.

The Latin Road Curriculum Package, available for $149,  includes:

–Textbook: 142-page textbook which makes a clear presentation of the forms, syntax, and vocabulary of Latin with relationships to English. Translation exercises, word studies, and readings are included.
–Worksheets
act as quizzes following each chapter.
–Tests
to be completed every two chapters–Teacher’s Guide: your notebook all set up for you with lesson plans, all answer keys, and verb charts.
–Vocabulary Cards:
keyed to the textbook and color-coded with extra large print for easy oral drills.
–Audio CD’s: Correct pronunciation of all forms, vocabulary, exercises, and readings on 2 CDs

A set of teacher’s DVDs covering each chapter is also available for $89.

As I said, the upper-level program we attempted previously was a struggle.  It was written in a way that made it difficult to follow, and you know that’s a recipe for disaster in most homeschool households.  So why do I like The Latin Road?  It’s very clearly laid out.  The teacher’s manual practically scripts every day’s work for you.  Latin Road takes a parts-to-whole approach, which makes the most sense to me, especially with foreign language study.  Audio tapes to help us out with correct pronunciation are indispensible.  The included vocabulary cards are great, and there are multiple suggestions in the workbook for doing things like using different colors of paper and pens to help concepts "stick" in your mind–and it’s laid out to be done notebook style!  Woohoo for those of us who need something concrete as well as crafty to keep our own interest up.

You will want to know that this isn’t a program you can just hand to your student to use alone.  It’s written to the parent with very clear instructions and really meant to be worked on in tandem, really in an enjoyable format.  An hour a day for language study is a lot of time, however, I absolutely think it’s worth it!

And to top it all off, not only is this a great Latin program . . . in the process, your kids will get a ton of–yep, you guessed it–English grammar!  That means that in your hour a day of language study, you can truly cross two subjects off your to-do list.  In the process of studying a foreign language, one has to pay attention to verb tenses, sentence structure, parts of speech, etc.  Correct translation depends on learning all these things thoroughly.  And with Latin Road, that’s the goal.

LREG consists of three levels, each of which could be completed over the course of a year.  They’ve also developed a course called The Bridge to the Latin Road, which was written to introduce 3rd-6th grade students to Latin.  While these programs could be used at any time it’s most convenient in your homeschool studies, I’m thinking the perfect setup would be to do The Bridge in 6th and then the Latin Road books in 7th-9th grade.  That may be the way we’ll approach Latin and English around here from now on, anyway!

I love, love, love this program!  Take a look at it yourself at www.thelatinroad.com .  Enjoy!

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