Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Latina Christiana from Memoria Press (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Latina Christiana from Memoria Press - A Schoolhouse Crew Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @
Salvete, amici Latinae!

Over the years we've been homeschooling, I've consistently heard great things about Memoria Press, but I'd never used any of their materials. I have been curious though, so it was a treat for us to review Latina Christiana I Complete Set over the past several weeks.

Memoria Press Review

Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that has been providing classical Christian education materials to home educators and private schools since 1994. Founder Cheryl Lowe intended to promote classical heritage through liberal arts and the great works of Western tradition. Memoria Press currently provides curriculum for all ages in a wide range of subject, including Penmanship, Literature, Science, Greek, and of course, Latin.

The curriculum set we received, Latina Christiana I, was authored by Cheryl Lowe, and is designed as a beginning Latin course for students of all ages. In fact, the course was specifically written so a teacher with no background in Latin could teach it! Each lesson covers vocabulary and grammar, and there are prayers, songs, and sayings in Latin for the student to memorize. We received the Complete Set, which includes:

  • Student Book - 25 lessons and 5 review lessons.
  • Teacher Manual - Complete copy of the student book with the answers; also contains detailed lesson plans and instructions, background information, and quizzes with answer keys.
  • Pronunciation CD - pronunciation for each lesson, prayers, and songs
  • Instructional DVDs - 5 discs with complete lessons led by Leigh Lowe 
Memoria Press Review

How did we use it? I started out thinking I had better read through the Teacher Manual and get some idea what I was doing, but after trying that for a bit I decided I was better off just jumping in and getting started. After all, the Instructional DVDs were going to lead us through all the lessons anyway. Personally, I found that it was easier to understand once we were just doing it, rather than trying to figure it all out ahead of time.

Kennady and I sat down with the DVD and Pronunciation CD, and it was so easy to follow along as instructor Leigh Lowe worked through the lessons. She gave very clear instructions and the Student Book and Teacher Manual, so there was no guesswork about what to do next. The DVD is divided into the same twenty-five lessons as the Student Book, and each lesson takes about a half hour to view. She teaches and then leads the Latin greetings between instructor and students, and teaches a Latin saying at the beginning of each lesson.  (Did you see my Latin greeting at the beginning of this post? We learned it in Lesson One, and it means, "Greetings, friends of Latin!")

Each lesson has a great section of vocabulary words, and this turned out to be one of our favorite parts of the study. A set of Latin words is presented (usually ten of them) along with their English definitions, and the student learns to differentiate between nouns and verbs. Then for each of the Latin words, some English derivative words are discussed. The instructor takes quite a bit of time with this and thoroughly discusses the definitions, and shows the similarities between the Latin and English words. Kennady and I paused the DVD before the discussion and tried to think of derivatives on our own.

Students learn how to conjugate Latin verbs right from the first lesson. In that first lesson, they just memorize the First Conjugation; in the second lesson, they are taught what the personal endings mean; and by the third lesson, they should be able to conjugate verbs themselves and can identify whether a Latin word is a noun or a verb, and whether the verb is singular or plural. Wow, that escalated quickly! And painlessly! In fact, all the memorization is surprisingly easy. After reciting the conjugations along with the DVD, the student can complete the Exercises in the Student Book, practicing translation, grammar, and derivatives.

Latina Christiana from Memoria Press - A Schoolhouse Crew Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @

After just a couple of days, Kennady had also memorized the Latin table blessing, and used it to say grace at our dinner table. We also easily memorized the first two Latin songs, but Kennady and I have both sung them in choir settings over the years, so we had a head start. (The recordings provided of the songs are beautiful, by the way, and we genuinely enjoyed singing along.) The pronunciation and translation of two Latin prayers and three Latin songs are given at the end of the Student Book, and you can listen to them on the Pronunciation CD. The Appendices in the Student Book also summarize verb and noun forms, and gives a quick reference vocabulary index.

Latina Christiana from Memoria Press - A Schoolhouse Crew Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Although Latina Christiana is designed for students as young as third grade to begin learning Latin, neither of us felt that we were in a class that was way too young for us. I sat in on the DVD lessons with Kennady, and since there were just two of us, we realized we could do the recitations of the vocabulary words and conjugations much more quickly than the instructor was leading them, so on occasion we paused the DVD at that point and did our own recitation, then skipped to the next section in the DVD lesson.

What we liked best:

  • learning Latin vocabulary is shown to be practical through the time spent examining English derivatives.
  • the simple instruction made it relatively easy to understand things like conjugations and declensions. 
  • the DVD lessons make it possible for a parent/teacher with no background knowledge of Latin to teach the course, and without having to spend a lot of time in preparation.

What I need to mention:

  • Yes, you need the Student Book and Teacher Manual along with the DVD lessons! The DVD provides practically all the instruction, but the written practice and exercises in the Student Book are essential to the course.
  • You and your one or two students might feel foolish standing up to recite when the instructor says, "Surgite."  We did, but we also laughed at ourselves and had fun; and she does say, "Sedete" so you can sit down again after just a minute or two. All that to say - the style of instruction feels like it's meant for a classroom of students. 

Our bottom line: Kennady and I both had more fun with this than I think either of us had expected! She sings in a Childrens Chorus that often performs works in Latin, so this turned out to be rather practical in that she will be better able to understand what she is singing; and of course it's practical in terms of broadening vocabulary. I am impressed that we are learning conjugations and declensions - which can seem so daunting! - and it makes sense.

Memoria Press Review

Would you like to become a friend of Latin? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website:
Find out more about Latina Christiana I.

Pricing: The Latina Christiana I Complete Set can be purchased for $98.90. Components can also be purchased separately. See the website for all the options and pricing.

Recommended Ages: Latina Christiana I is suitable for Grade 3 and up.

You can follow Memoria Press on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews. 
Memoria Press Review

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