Visual Latin is a unique Latin curriculum that we've been using for several months in our homeschool. It's not your typical curriculum — not in the least. It's even better!
What is Visual Latin?
Visual Latin is a curriculum of sequential videos recorded by instructor Dwane Thomas in which he introduces the student to the Latin language and Latin grammar using clear explanations — and a heavy dose of humor. Students don't memorize long and confusing tables of declensions or recite from rote memory lists of vocabulary words.
Instead, they begin to learn and understand Latin vocabulary and grammar through simple explanations and examples — and they have a lot of fun at the same time!
Who is it for?
Visual Latin is truly an enjoyable way to begin to learn Latin for students of almost any age. My 8-year-old is watching the videos right along with my 13-year-old, and while she may not understand the concepts as fully as her older brother, she has surprised me at how much she does learn through Dwane's easy explanations. (I mean, when your 8-year-old explains to you the difference between accusative and nominative case nouns after watching one of Dwane's lessons, you know she's learning something!)
How does it work?
Each Visual Latin lesson is broken into 3 sections: Grammar, Sentence, and Reading. There are worksheets to accompany each section for reinforcement of the concepts taught.
The total length of the videos for each lesson is about 15-18 minutes and there are a total of 60 lessons in the Visual Latin curriculum.
To get an idea of what concepts are covered in each lesson, see their website here.
A Sample Lesson from Visual Latin
Part 1: Grammar | Being Verbs
In this section, Dwane introduces one or two concepts about Latin grammar, such as the third person being verbs est and sunt, accusative or nominative case nouns, singular and plural endings, etc.
Part 2: Sentences | Being Verbs
In this section, the grammar learned from part 1 is applied to actual Latin sentences. It's here where a lot of Dwane's humor generally comes in. For example, I don't particularly like Spongebob, but hearing a portion of the Spongebob theme song sung in Latin to illustrate prepositions is really quite amusing.
Part 3: Reading | Being Verbs
In this section, Dwane reads a story that's been adapted from the Latin Bible. He first reads the story, then reads it a second time, pausing after each phrase to allow the student to repeat the words after him.
As you know, no curriculum is perfect, and there are a few things about this curriculum that I think should be improved. Actually, only my first point below is really something that really needs to be improved. The other two points aren't big deals at all, and in fact may prove to be positives as you'll see.
1. Occasional errors in the worksheets. Since Visual Latin is such a new curriculum, there are still a few errors scattered throughout the worksheets. Usually it's just a misplaced heading here or a slight misspelling there. It's definitely not something that makes the curriculum unusable. Students can be on the lookout for such errors, as they should be with any textbook or workbook.
Since Visual Latin is video-based and uses pdf worksheets instead of a printed textbook, when Dwane comes out with corrected updates to the worksheets, we can just download a new set. Problem solved.
2. Omissions in the glossary for the Reading section. My kids have noticed that in the worksheets for section 3, where the students translate the reading from the video, that sometimes a few of the Latin words in the reading aren't included in the English glossary for that worksheet.
While this was frustrating for my kids at first, they quickly discovered this thing called a Latin-English dictionary, and they've gotten much better at utilizing this handy tool.
So while the glossary omissions do seem at first like a negative about the worksheets, I actually wonder if the words are left out intentionally to encourage students to take the initiative to look up the words on their own.
Either way, while these omissions might technically be errors, they don't bother me in the slightest.
3. The teacher isn't perfect. At time Dwane misspeaks or writes something incorrectly during his presentation. While he does eventually catch himself a moment later and corrects himself, the incident itself isn't edited out of the video.
While this bothered me at first as well, I quickly realized that a live teacher would do exactly the same types of things, so leaving in the minor flubs adds a sense of realism to the lessons.
Teachers aren't perfect, and when our children attend college with real-life teachers, they'll need to stay vigilant and be aware that sometimes teachers misspeak. So in the end, leaving in the various flubs and missteps doesn't bother me either since the errors are corrected by Dwane himself before the end of that lesson.
Would I recommend Visual Latin?
Absolutely! It's been a wonderful curriculum for us. Not only have my children learned a lot of Latin vocabulary and grammar quickly, they actually look forward to the lessons.
Based on Dwane's recommendations for other Latin resources, we've also added Lingua Latin to our Latin curriculum, and we've found it to work very well with Visual Latin. Lingua Latina is written entirely in Latin, so it relies heavily on inductive reasoning to learn the vocabulary and grammar; but watching Visual Latin concurrently makes the process much easier! Combined, the two make an excellent and comprehensive Latin course.
For more curriculum reviews, visit the Homeschool Curriculum Review Roundup at The Happy Housewife.