Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Classical Academic Press: Latin Alive!

We were given the opportunity to review Latin Alive! Book 1 published by Classical Academic Press. The authors of this book are Karen Moore and Gaylan Dubose. Classical Academic Press offers Latin materials for students K-12:
I have to admit that we have been Latin flunkies. In the course of my son's school career, we have tried at least 4 other Latin programs. We would begin the program with enthusiasm only to get bogged down by the program's weaknesses. When Latin Alive! arrived, I immediately knew this was head and shoulders above anything we had previously tried.

The bundle that arrived included a Teacher Manual, Student Manual, set of DVDs (a real, live Latin teacher, teaching your child!), and an audio CD of selected Latin passages. This bundle retails for $139.95. A test packet can be purchased separately from their website (PDF download) for $7.95 for a license for 1-3 students (complete details on license pricing for additional students, as well as a sample of the test packet is available here).

The Classical Academic Press website clearly spells out what's included in this dynamic program:
  • Thirty six weekly chapters including twenty nine new content chapters and seven review, “reading” chapters.
  • Pronunciation Guides
  • Weekly introduction of vocabulary
  • Thorough grammar explanations including all five noun declensions and cases, all verb conjugations, irregular verbs, various pronouns, adjectives and adverbs
  • United States state seals and their Latin mottos
  • Extensive study of the Latin derivatives of English words
  • Substantial Latin readings and translation exercises
  • Lessons and stories of Roman culture, myths and history
  • Exercises and questions to prepare students for the National Latin Exam and the Advanced Placement Exam
  • Includes historical contributions from Christopher Schlect, historian and Academic Dean at New Saint Andrews College, Moscow, ID
A lot of the "magic" of this program is due to the enthusiasm of Karen Moore, the instructor on the Latin Alive! DVDs. Here's a sample video lesson from Book 1:

We completed the first lesson in one sitting but subsequent lessons we spread out over several days. Each lesson has subcategories making it easy to do just a portion of a lesson. We typically read the chapter, watched a segment of the DVD until we came to an assignment. My son then completed that assignment referring back to the text or reviewing portions of the video lesson as needed.

Program Strengths:
  • Teacher needs no prior Latin experience; manual is clear and straightforward
  • DVD instruction reinforces the lesson in the text and provides accurate pronunciation
  • Assignments are explained and examples given on the video
  • Real world examples of Latin phrases on money, as mottoes, etc.
  • Helpful, responsive staff (we e-mailed with a question and received a very prompt reply)
  • Yahoo support group to discuss lessons and offer extra helps using the material (with author participating)
  • Systematically presents concepts in manageable chunks
  • Good reinforcement of grammar as lessons are taught
  • Incorporation of reading samples following Lesson 6
  • Additional information about Roman history and Roman life
  • Yahoo group of fellow users (with author participation)
  • Online quizzes and games to reinforce the lessons
  • Supplemental materials available free on website
Suggested Improvements:
  • In teacher's manual, it would be nice to have a counter guide for a particular section within each the lesson. We often did parts of a lesson over several days; having a counter guide would be a great convenience (perhaps this could be available on their website)
  • Sturdier binding; ours started cracking along the spine after a couple weeks
What We Thought
My 16 year old son thought the program was really easy to understand and well done/solidly put together. He liked having a teacher providing a lecture that coordinated with the printed lesson. And assignments were just the right length--"enough to understand but not repetitively dull."

As a teacher, I have to say this curriculum was a dream! Very little to no preparation is required of the teacher. Sometimes I would read the lesson before my son, but most often, my son and I would just read it together and then view the video together. I thought they did an excellent job of reviewing grammar principles as you go along. I love all the supplemental helps the company offers on their website.

There is a Latin Alive Yahoo group which provides another form of support. You can post questions and get responses from other users. The author, Karen Moore also participates in the forum which I think is pretty neat. Within the files of that group are many helpful materials that others have created and freely share.

We didn't discover Headventure Land until recently but all I can say about it is, "Wow!" How many other companies develop a fun, creative and FREE site to help students review and retain content? Honestly, this site is so good, I'm surprised they don't charge for it. Even high schoolers can appreciate fun ways to review. We are definitely planning on completing Book 1 and then will purchase Book 2.

Classical Academic Press also carries materials for the following disciplines:
All of their products are fully explained with prices in their Online Catalog. If you are looking for resources in any of the above subjects, I highly recommend looking through their materials. I know I will be!

Free Resources
This site has some of the most extensive free resources I've ever seen. So many articles, tips, and helps for using their curriculum. In case you've wondered why you'd ever want to study Latin or how you would teach it, here are just a couple helpful articles:
You can read reviews from other homeschooling families who tried out Song School Latin, Latin for Children as well as Latin Alive! Just visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

Contact Information:
Toll Free: 866-730-0711
Phone: 717-730-0721
Adress: 3920 Market Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011
Visit their Facebook page

Disclaimer: We were provided a free Latin Alive! Volume I bundle for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

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