Sunday, August 8, 2010

Unschooling Latin?

My daughter has been interested in learning Ancient Greek and Latin since forever. We've approached Greek in fits and starts because I haven't really found anything that seemed to work well. She worked through the Greek Hupogrammon years ago but that's just learning the alphabet. Beyond that there's not a whole lot of interesting Greek homeschooling stuff. Or rather, there's some but her real interest is Attic, not Koine or New Testament and in the homeschooling world that limits the already narrow options even more.

Latin has been easier. There are a ton of interesting programs. Ones that have caught my eye have been Lingua Latina and Cambridge Latin which seem more focused on getting a person reading the language from the get go rather then spending time memorizing stuff. The memorizing stuff is valuable but intimidating for a mom who only speaks English and a desperately tiny amount of French. But those two programs are rather pricey.

I ended up ordering Getting Started with Latin by William Linney. It's under $20 and everything I'd read about it seemed to be good. A gentle and not too rigourous introduction to the language. And it is. It's also great buckets of fun. So much fun that even Harry (now 8) loves to sit in while Catherine and I go through the lessons.

What's fun about GSWL for us is also the thing that would make it great for unschoolers. It's easy to do orally while flopped on the sofa eating nachos. I read a lesson, the kids play around with it, we go off on a tangent...It's in the same vein as the Michael Clay Thompson poetry and grammar materials I touted in an earlier post and Philosophy For Kids. Open the book, read a bit, discuss. Come away looking at things differently then before.

And you will look at things differently. Not just word roots and grammar. Shucks, when I learned that sum meant, I am, I couldn't stop thinking about the weight it seems to have in Latin as opposed to modern English - except when we use sum as a mathematical term. I am in English always seems to have to be followed by something while the mighty sum seems to be a statement in an of itself. Rather like how sum in math is a definitive state of all that came before so that, "I am both a sailor and a farmer," seems to just be a statement about what roles you play while, "Ego sum et nauta et agricola," seems to imply that you're the sum of those two roles.

And no, I have no idea if I've got the right impression on that or not. Probably not but it was still a fun thought and Linney's text inspired it.

For the unschooler it would be a great way to gently introduce Latin, to let them stick a toe in the water to see if there's an interest. If your child has an interest then it's a fantastic and inviting bridge to the more intensive programs.

At the very least, for $20 it makes fantastic strewing material!


JJ Ross said...

"Sum" so delighted by this post and thanks for the recommendation! :D

Anonymous said...

We got that book along with the Red Hot Root Words two years ago, we've poked through them often. They're fun. Don't forget about GSWL's online auditory stuff too, downloadable mp3s for pronunciation.


feebeeglee said...

Bah, thanks to you I am $40 poorer! I had never seen the MCT books... At this rate I'll be beggared soon. That's it, no more reading this blog! Which I don't quite remember how I stumbled onto, anyway, several months ago. Hi, hello, howdy from sunny and hot Oklahoma :-)

Anonymous said...

For Latin, we found Minimus to be a fun, if a bit unstructured, way for our young one to learn Latin. It's written in sort of a comic book format whose main character, Minumus, is a mouse that lives with a Latin speaking family in Britain during the rein of the Roman Empire. It uses humor to tell their story, but each chapter has short explanations about history, grammar, pronunciation, etc. If you get bored with your Linney book, give this a try.