If you want your kids to learn Latin, I think I’ve got a great way to teach them. After two years of Visual Latin, your kids (and you, if you hang in there) will know how to read the New Testament gospels in Latin. That’s pretty awesome, right?
I think so. But, honestly, I have to face reality. Visual Latin is not for everyone. It just isn’t.
1. If you want to spend 7 to 10 years learning Latin, then Visual Latin may not be right for you.
Many books and programs spread Latin out for five, six, seven or even ten years. This is not a new development. In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis mentions the same thing. One teacher drilled Lewis and the other students constantly with Latin endings. But, he says, they never got within sight of a Roman author.
I once received a very sad email from a student who had spent 10 years learning Latin. He still couldn’t read in Latin and emailed me to ask for help. He had just discovered Visual Latin. I could have saved him a lot of time, but it was too late. He had already spent 10 years learning Latin.
2. If you don’t want to be reading Latin two years from now, avoid Visual Latin.
If you prefer to learn Latin from a book alone, then Visual Latin may not be for you. Almost every Latin program is based on books. This makes sense. Latin existed long before DVD’s and downloads were invented.
3. If you prefer to learn Latin (and Latin pronunciation) from a book, then Visual Latin is definitely not for you.
I have taught from most of those Latin books. I may have read them all. It certainly feels that way. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. Many of the explanations in the books are actually quite confusing. I spent 20 years explaining those tough concepts to children. Over time, I figured out how to explain tough Latin concepts in a clear, understandable way.
4. If you don’t want clear, understandable explanations, Visual Latin may not be for you.
Have you ever tried to explain a very complicated concept to a room full of 12-year-olds? I have. I did it for decades. Would you like to know the secret? Humor. Use humor. Tell some jokes. Tell some good jokes. Some lame jokes. Some terrible jokes. Use humor to diffuse the complicated concepts. The concepts are still complicated. There’s no way around that. But, if you are going to sit in a room full of complicated concepts, you might as well enjoy it. Humor helps. And I use a lot of humor in Visual Latin.
5. But, if you would rather learn Latin using books made from sandpaper, perhaps Visual Latin is not for you.
6. Or, if you’re the type of person who hates laughter in a classroom, then Visual Latin is definitely not for you.
There are a lot of do-it-yourselfers out there. I know the temptation. I feel more manly when I can repair a car. When my car acts up, I often attempt to fix the problem myself. My wife walks out, asks me what in the world I am trying to do, and then tells me to call the mechanic. If I can get any of the work done before she shows up, I am usually able to make sure the repair costs much more than it would have had I just called the mechanic. This is good. It keeps us from saving too much money. This makes me a better citizen since the government doesn’t like it when we save money. Just watch Economics for Everybody.
As I said, I have taught Latin for twenty years. I know what I am doing.
7. But, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, Visual Latin is not for you.
One more thing: Latin is tough. It is going to make your kids angry. You probably need this. It is hard to make your children angry. I know. I have five. They are always delightfully happy. Obnoxiously cheerful, really. They are rarely angry. Someone had to do something. This is why I began teaching them Latin myself. I don’t let them use Visual Latin. Visual Latin makes people happy. I know, I’ve seen the emails. But I want my kids to be angry. Prepares them for the world, you know?
Visual Latin is not for everyone. But if you’d like to be reading in Latin in no time, if you’d like clear explanations, and if you’d like to laugh while learning, then you should check it out.
Author, Dwane Thomas
Dwane has been studying languages for most of his life. He grew up in Europe surrounded by the Dutch and German languages. For almost 20 years he has been teaching Latin in the classroom and, more recently, online. Dwane and his wife have three wonderful children (there are five in all, but only three of them are wonderful). He and his wife homeschool their children, which means they both drink more than their fair share of wine. Featured in Visual Latin and WordUp!