Wednesday, October 27, 2010

LHP Review: Our Next Step in Latin

Wilson, Martha. Latin Primer Book II Teacher's Edition (Second Edition). Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1993. 171 Pages. Spiral. $17.00. (LHP).
Wilson, Martha. Edited by Laura Storm. Latin Primer Book 2. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2010. 223 Pages. Paper. $22.00. (LHP)

Wilson, Martha. Edited by Laura Storm. Latin Primer Book 2 Teacher's Edition. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2010. 407 Pages. Paper. $28.00. (LHP)

Why Latin? The publishing house behind the new 2010 third edition of Latin Primer Book 2 have some great answers:

Over half of the English language is derived from Latin.

aquarium—aqua, water
fable—fabula, story
clamor—clamo, I shout
dolphin—delphinus, dolphin
narrator—narro, I tell

These and thousands of other words we use every day keep this "dead" language—a language of kings and poets, of scrolls and secrets—alive. And this means that when we study Latin, we're not just learning about Rome— we're learning about ourselves. Rediscover this time-honored language, which led classical education pioneer Dorothy Sayers to declare that "Latin should be begun as early as possible ... when the chanting of "Amo, amas, amat" is as ritually agreeable to the feelings as the chanting of "eeny, meeny, miney, moe."

In Latin Primer 2, Martha Wilson strengthens elementary school students (grades 4 and up) in the basics they discovered in Latin Primer 1, and leads them steadily into new territory. Revised and expanded, this text spotlights the fundamentals of classical Latin: vocabulary for everyday experiences like names of animals; verb and noun endings; adjective and adverb use; questions and commands; and other early grammar essentials.
(indented quotes here and later from publisher's website)
Our classical Lutheran school teaches Latin. And we used the previous edition of book 1 in this series. And then we went looking for something else. That edition of Latin Primer 1 had already replaced the school's original curriculum. We were looking for something that handled prepositions better and added a stronger syntax focus to the strong vocabulary base.

As any language student can tell you, mastering vocabulary cards can lead to overconfidence and failure if sentence structure and preposition forms are not included.

What did we do? We retooled our program and used Matin Latin I and II. Why? We believe it gave our newer students a better, more age-appropriate foundation. Besides, we were waiting for the revised edition of Latin Primer 1. And we have been very pleased!

I know that this revision of LP2 is a revision, but it feels and teaches like a completely new text. The Teacher's Edition has more than doubled in size. It has quadrupled in its helpfulness to the teacher!

We loved the font, organization, and page design changes. We think our students will respond favorably to the interesting art, too.

Those of you familiar with the older editions of Latin Primer 2 are probably wondering what’s different about this new edition. If you used the new Latin Primer 1 last year, you probably have a good idea what all the excitement is about!

To begin, the content and teaching approach of this fourth edition is fundamentally the same as before. We have added more exercises, moved some of the vocabulary around, etc., but these new editions won’t force teachers or parents to struggle through a long period of adjustment. If anything, this new edition will be much, much easier to use.

Why is that? Well, actually, there are several reasons.

First, the Primer 2 now features weekly Word Lists. Just like in Primer 1, students will receive a new Word List every week, rather than once every few weeks. This transition from Primer 1 to Primer 2 has never been more simple or familiar.

Second, we have completely redesigned the layout. While older editions were arranged by category—a word list section, exercise section, and test section—the new edition has been arranged in a simple lesson-by-lesson format. For example, all of Lesson 1’s components are grouped together, back-to-back. When you finish one lesson, you’re on to the next. No more flipping back and forth between sections—everything you need for each lesson is right at your fingertips, whether you’re the teacher or the student!

Third, we’ve added new exercises to every lesson, giving students greater opportunity to practice and review their Latin skills, as well as providing teachers with more material to gauge their students’ level of understanding.

Fourth, the teacher’s edition has been significantly expanded. Mirroring the student book, it includes not only the answers, but also weekly quizzes and new weekly teacher’s lesson notes. The lesson notes have been redesigned to explain the standard flow of every lesson and offer tips on preparation and focus for everything from weekly derivatives to unit goals. Whether you’re a homeschooling parent or a classical school teacher, these convenient notes will save time, provide a clear direction for the course, and better help your students grasp the language.

And last, but not least: you’ve heard that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but who doesn’t like to use a good-looking book? Latin Primer 2 will debut in its new perfect bound form with perforated exercise pages for easy grading. And don’t miss out on taking a look at the new, kid-friendly cover.

These new editions will be especially helpful for those brand-new to Latin. Our goal is for parents and teachers who have no Latin background to still be able to walk their students through these texts with ease. (And maybe even learn a thing or two themselves!)

Perhaps having to learn a subject I was not formally taught is the most humbling part. Yes, it will be somewhat strange to see the first generations of graduates from the new classical schools return as teachers. And I can't wait!

Until then, we have our work cut out for us. Resources like this are a great tool. Classical Education is heavily dependent upon an informed, winsome, and interesting educator. We intend to give our teachers a nine-month head start on our young scholars.

We will soon place our order for classroom copies of this new edition of Latin Primer 2. We hope you will, too! Don't forget the downloadable extras, flashcards, and the yet-to-be-released audio guide.  

QBR eagerly awaits Latin Primer 3 and beyond! And, we're curious about future revisions for the Canon Press Latin Grammar series.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.