Visual Latin

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Maybe you are looking for that Latin program the whole family can use together. Or maybe your children have started and burned out on at least one Latin program. Or maybe you know you want your children to learn Latin, but you have no idea where to start and just wish that a Latin teacher would happen to move in next door. If you fall into any of these camps, you might want to take a good look at Visual Latin. Chances are you just might get hooked yourself! Visual Latin is a video-based Latin course, with all instruction done through short, engaging videos and printable PDF worksheets (with answer keys) included for review. Teacher preparation (and involvement) is minimal, and you or your student can set your own pace. The course is also designed to be immediately rewarding, with students reading and using short sentences immediately, without having to first memorize vocabulary lists or charts.

Each DVD contains 10 complete lessons, each of which is broken into three short video segments with a printable PDF worksheet for each segment. The three parts of the lesson include: (A) Grammar, (B) Sentences, and (C) Reading. To complete a lesson you would print out all of the worksheets for each lesson, then the student would watch the first segment ('A'), then complete worksheet 'A'. Then it's onto video 'B' and worksheet 'B' and then video 'C' and worksheet 'C.' At this point, it's recommended that the student go back and watch all three video segments again for review before moving on to the next lesson. It's just about that simple. And all you need to do to prep is to print out those worksheets!

The video instruction is truly the heart of the program, and it features experienced Latin teacher Dwane Thomas and his trusty chalkboard. That's it, no gimmicks. No cheesy cartoons. But trust me, your children will watch! Dwane brings his extensive knowledge of Latin and passion for languages into every lesson, and he does it with expression, humor and just enough unedited "goofs" to make it feel like you are sitting right there in his classroom, hanging on to every word. The quality of the DVDs is excellent, and I love the fact that as Dwane provides and speaks example sentences, they appear on the screen so you get the visual AND the auditory at the same time. In the Grammar segment of the lesson, Dwane introduces the grammatical topic, explains it thoroughly and provides several examples to illustrate. He provides many more sentences that illustrate the grammatical concept in the second portion of the lesson, which also exposes the student to quite a few new vocabulary words. In the last portion of the lesson, students really get to dig into reading and translation. In this "Latin immersion" segment, Dwane reads abridged selections from the Latin Vulgate Bible. He reads the selection straight through the first time, then reads it through again slowly, pausing after each line so the student can repeat the sentence and gain practice with pronunciation. Again, the words are shown on the screen, reinforcing the auditory and visual link.

At the end of each lesson segment, the student is prompted to complete the correlating worksheet. There is typically about one worksheet per lesson, and these closely mirror what was covered in the video lesson. Worksheet 'A' recaps the grammar concept, and often provides additional examples. There may or may not be some short exercises; if not, this page may function primarily as a written reference. Worksheet 'B' is primarily made up of exercises to practice the grammar: translating, choosing the correct form of a word, etc. Worksheet 'C' provides the written text of the lesson's reading, with ample space in between the lines and a vocabulary key. Students are challenged to translate the reading into English, using the vocabulary key and the grammar they have learned. As the lessons progress, the readings become longer, so there may be multiple pages to this particular exercise. The answer key contains the full text of the worksheets, with answers provided in red.

The first three DVDs (Lessons 1-30) are classified as Latin I, and the next three DVDs (Lessons 31-60) comprise Latin II. Specific topics are listed by lesson on the back of each DVD; visit our website to see these in more detail. According to their website, Latin I will take about a year to complete at the pace of about one lesson per week. Now, for those of you considering Visual Latin as a high school language course, there are a couple things to think about. On its own, Visual Latin I is considered a half credit. However, you can flesh that out into a full credit by supplementing the course with Lingua Latina Pars I: Familia Romana and Lingua Latina Exercita I. If you choose this route, there is a free download available from their website which pairs Lingua Latina lessons with Visual Latin lessons. You can actually use Lingua Latina I through Latin I and Latin II for two years of high school Latin credit.

This course would be a great fit for families wanting to learn Latin together, for students who are intimidated by a heavier, drier Latin course, or any student who could benefit from the experience of "sitting in a Latin class." It's engaging, entertaining, and I think students will feel empowered by their ability to read and translate Latin from the first lesson. It's perfect for parents who have no prior knowledge of Latin and don't have the time to invest in learning Latin along with their children (although you certainly may want to!). The format is great for students to use independently, and if you and your child become stuck, the creators of Visual Latin encourage you to visit their website forum and FAQs. Because everything is on DVD, there are no additional resources or books you have to juggle (unless you follow the Lingua Latina track), making this a portable and relatively inexpensive course as well. Just to be fair, I should point out some potential quibbles as well. First of all, there's not an abundance of written practice on each concept. While quick learners will not miss this, I could see where some students might wish for more practice work. Secondly, the Latin pronunciation appears to be a bit muddled between Classical and Ecclesiastical. According to the website, Dwane prefers Ecclesiastical pronunciation, but was trained in Classical pronunciation, sometimes resulting in an "Ecclesiassical" flavor. If you have strong feelings about one versus the other, this may be an issue for you. Lastly, this is Latin and purely Latin. There are no options to tie the course into Roman history or geography like many other Latin courses do. If you're just reading about this program for the first time, I'd encourage you to check out their website, www.visuallatin.com. You'll find additional information and you can even download several free lessons so you can actually try it out. I think you'll find that it really IS the next best thing to having that Latin teacher move in next door! Jess

Visual Latin | A Quick Explanation - Trailer from Compass Cinema on Vimeo.

Visual Latin | Lesson 1A - Grammar from Compass Cinema on Vimeo.

Visual Latin | Lesson 1B - Sentences from Compass Cinema on Vimeo.

Visual Latin | Lesson 1C - Reading from Compass Cinema on Vimeo.


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Visual Latin 1 - Lessons 1 to 30 DVD Item #: 013992
Grades: 4-Adult
Retail: $100.00
Rainbow Price: $85.00

Visual Latin Complete Package Item #: VLCOMP
Grades: 4-Adult
Retail: $200.00
Rainbow Price: $160.00

Visual Latin 2 - Lessons 31 to 60 DVD Item #: 014020
Grades: 4-Adult
Retail: $100.00
Rainbow Price: $85.00

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