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If Latin is a dead language, why is it still so useful in modern life?
In an educational system that prioritizes STEM and hard skills, where spoken languages can be swapped out for coding languages, it can be hard to drum up interest in Latin. But the so-called “dead language” complements nearly any skill set in any field.
Almost half of all English vocabulary is rooted in Latin, which comes with obvious grammatical and syntactical benefits. But understanding these roots benefits more than just your SAT scores. Latin roots define modern medicine, science and math, from the symbols on the periodic table to the word integer (which means whole in Latin) which describes whole numbers. Latin is also the language of governance and law, from habeas corpus to referendum.
For homeschool parents, school districts, libraries, and anyone in between interested in providing Latin, we have added an Introduction to Latin course to Transparent Language Online.
The Introduction to Latin course is a two-part course: an Introduction to Latin Vocabulary and an Introduction to Latin Grammar.
There are two levels of vocabulary lessons. Level I introduces basic but essential grammar topics like case, declension, and conjugation and eases the learner in while teaching as much of the most common and useful vocabulary as possible. Level II focuses on specific grammar topics necessary to achieve a beginner’s level grasp of Latin morphology and syntax while still teaching more of the most common and useful vocabulary. While vocabulary in Level I is loosely connected, the vocabulary lists in Level II follow a story and a set of characters. All course vocabulary was chosen based on frequency above all else.
The grammar section of the course includes one corresponding grammar lesson for each vocabulary lesson. The grammar lessons cover most of the basic topics that would be covered in a first-year Latin course, including declension, case, conjugation, plurals, and more. The grammar instruction is written in a friendly, encouraging tone, with each lesson consisting of text slides that break down the topic into learnable chunks, interspersed with activities to drill the information introduced in the slide. Each lesson contains at least one reading passage with an accompanying glossary so that the student is exposed to reading longer chunks of text.
Each level is comprised of 8 units with a unifying grammar concept or cultural topic around which the unit vocabulary is based. Within each unit, learners will find:
The very first unit of Level I covers 1st and 2nd declension nouns. After completing the unit, learners will be familiar with important vocabulary relating to people and nature, the three noun genders and their endings, and the nominative and accusative noun endings for the 1st and 2nd declension nouns. That’s a mouthful! So, how do we teach all that? Let’s look at the very first lesson.
The lesson begins with Grammar Preview, which introduces the grammar topic of the lesson with a basic overview of noun declension.
The lesson vocabulary is introduced side-by-side with the English translation in Language Comparison. Here, keen learners will already see the grammar lesson playing out, as “femina” becomes “feminam” when it is the object of the sentence “Vir feminam amat.”
Vocabulary and grammar concepts are reinforced in Preview It, where small annotations call out more explicitly the noun declensions and endings.
Learners can practice speaking in Pronunciation Practice, which records utterances and compares them to the proper pronunciation.
Matching and Multiple Choice
As the names suggest, these game-like activities continue to reinforce the vocabulary.
Recognize & Write It and Produce & Write It
Learners can practice typing while demonstrating their knowledge in these two activities. The first presents Latin and learners must type the English; the second gets a little more difficult, requiring the learner to type the Latin.
The Introduction to Latin Grammar course consists of 16 lessons, each one corresponding to a vocabulary course unit. The grammar section is geared towards students or parents of students seeking a more formal Latin education. Each lesson contains:
The course is capped by a final comprehensive review of all grammar topics through a series of multiple choice questions and three reading passages adapted from authentic Latin texts, derived from Ovid’s Metamorphosis and Pliny’s Natural History.
Words to be Used
Each lesson kicks off with an introductory review of words that will be important in understanding the grammar instruction and activities to follow.
A Story to Think About
Students are exposed to a grammar concept via a short Latin story. They will be asked to identify a pattern or confirm comprehension of a concept.
Here, the grammar concept is explicitly explained in a reading passage. Tables, formatting, and examples are used to make the concept clear.
Game-like Activities (Table, Matching, and others)
Game-like activities are used to reinforce the grammar point explained in Grammar Notes. Learners may be asked to fill in the blank, match like items, answer a challenge, etc.
A Story to Read
The lesson concludes with the same story, which is now more easily read and understood thanks to the preceding grammar instruction. Comprehension questions check the learner’s understanding.
Schools and Educators: Latin teachers can incorporate the course into their curriculum, but districts or universities without a dedicated Latin program can also offer it as an independent learning resource. The admin portal allows educators or administrators to make assignments, track and report on student progress, and message with students. Learn more about our educator resources here.
Homeschoolers: Students can learn independently while parents supervise from afar. The course comes with a separate admin account through which parents can track progress, including time spent learning and assessment scores. Learn more about our homeschool resources here.
Individuals: Any novice-level learner with an interest in Latin can subscribe to the course and learn on their own. We recommend searching for a library near you that offers free access!