Thursday, October 13, 2011

Product Review of "Visual Latin"

I'll just cut to the chase.  I love this product!  I have been on the fence for almost two years, deliberating over which Latin program to buy for my sons.  I'm glad I waited, because Visual Latin came along this year for me to review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  As a mom, I have always wanted my children to learn Latin for many reasons.  One, it makes learning other languages exponentially easier.  Two, knowing Latin can help decipher unknown words on SATs--much of the English language is derived from this ancient Roman language.  And three, (I'll just come out and say it), reporting to your in-laws that your children are studying their Latin verbs just sounds like you are doing a bang-up job at homeschooling.

But, if you are looking for a stuffy old Latin program with lots of conjugation drills and pious sounding narrators on tape, find something else.  Because with Visual Latin, you get quite the opposite.  Dwane  Thomas is your child's personal Latin tutor.  He introduces the first four lessons, explaining why you should learn Latin and how to really go about learning a foreign language.  Do not skip these intro lessons.  They will help develop your child's friendship with their Latin teacher.  Dwane is like an "Everyman" character.  He talks to students in a casual, conversational style and never once acts as if he's reading cue-cards.  He'll even flub here and there and just say, "Wait, scratch that, guys.  I messed up."  As a homeschool mom, who has "messed up" numerous times while teaching a lesson, I appreciate this.  It makes me look normal.  LOL.

From the first lesson, your child will learn that exact pronunciation is not the key here.  It's understanding.  Understanding enough to READ Latin.  There are several types of pronunciation and the truth is, as Dwane will tell you, the Romans didn't leave us any audio-recordings (ha ha).  So, as long as you can learn the language well enough to read it, that's the goal.  Lesson One introduces the verb "to be" and the student will complete the lesson knowing how to use the verb as well as many vocabulary words.  I like how each time a new vocabulary word is introduced, Dwane shares information such as "silva means's where we get the word Pennsylvania".  My kids like trivia like that.

One of the mottos of Visual Latin is that "it is better to make kids laugh than make them yawn".  This is a huge selling point here.  With humor as a key ingredient in the instruction, you never want to fast forward or skip any parts of the instruction.  A curriculum in no good if your child is staring at the wall while the lesson plays on the computer.  If it never catches their attention, it will never be absorbed into their little brains.  And Dwane's offbeat sense of humor is goofy enough to keep them paying attention (no offense Dwane, we totally get you).

After each segment of a lesson plays, the words will come on the screen.  "Now complete worksheet 2B" (or whatever lesson corresponds to what they just learned).  The entire program is very straight-forward and easy to use.  With each lesson, there is a A, B and C segment.  "A" is Grammar, "B" is Sentences and "C" is Reading and Translation.  In the video portion and the written portion, Dwane adds a little more challenge, but still goes at a pace that a beginner can follow.  It really does incorporate seeing, listening, saying and writing.  Wonderful for all learning types.

You can buy Latin I (Lessons 1-30) on DVD for $80.00 here.  You can also purchase the downloads in segments of 10 lessons for $30 each.  These can be used on your computer or any portable device such as an iPod.  Pretty cool.  You can download the first 4 lessons for free on the website as well.  I really recommend viewing these free lessons and seeing for yourself how fun Latin can be with Visual Latin!

**Disclaimer:  I was provided a copy of the first 10 lessons from Visual Latin in exchange for my honest review, which I have provided here.  Please also check out the opinions of some of my Homeschool Crew-mates here.


Penny said...

I'm seriously looking into this for my kids! Thanks for the review and you are so right about the in laws . lol

Naomi said...

I love your review! We love Visual Latin, too, but I haven't made it a point to tell the in-laws that we are studying Latin. Maybe, I should start dropping things like this on the next phone call...

Post a Comment