02 December 2009

Learning Latin, Among Other Things

No, I'm not doing it yet, but it is on the agenda for when Monkey gets bigger. It's a large and rather foreign project, so I like to read about it. I like to see what I can learn from other people's experience. Andgela, over at Walls of Books, has a great article about Latin in the Grammar stage, and references another article, this one from Memoria Press that also looked really good.

Memoria Press has an interesting idea: learn just grammar first. This strikes me as sort of backwards, but when I think about the difficulties I have had with learning Japanese, it begins to make sense. I studied Japanese in college, and since then have wanted to "finish" learning the language, but have struggled to merely keep up what I learned in the first place. Several times I've set myself vocabulary learning tasks to help my fluency. It's never worked very well. But the idea presented in these two articles seems to be that the vocabulary is pretty useless without a context to put it in, and that context is embodied in the language's grammar.

In terms of Latin, Angela has a number of suggestions for what to do in the grammar stage: teach the kids to love it through exposure in music and sayings. Have them begin the memory work that will lay the grammatical foundation for later work. Ask them to memorize scripture. All these things make a great deal of sense to me, now that I think about them, and are ideas that would translate well into other language learning.

2 comments:

cellista said...

This is on my list too. I actually bought Henle Latin, then decided this was just not the year for something that looked that involved. So I'm happily going through Latina Christiana with my oldest and we're going at half-pace even, a lesson every two weeks. I must say, it's slowly sinking in and I'm getting quite a review in grammar.

I took German in jr. high and had a wonderful teacher, but we spent an inordinate amount of time memorizing lists of nouns, and learned very little grammar. I would love to brush up my German and actually learn how to put all those nouns into context so I could speak the language at some point.

I also agree with Angela that memory work will help. We've finally gotten a pretty good memory routine down this year and I'm adding in our Latin cards now as well. I think my kids are actually better at memorizing than I am. I have to work harder!

Ritsumei said...

I like the idea of half-pacing some things, and Latin seems like a likely candidate, though we probably won't really start it for a couple years. That being said, there's a Latin-Saying-A-Day calendar I saw over at B&N that's calling my name.

Yep, my German is mostly gone too, and while I did learn more about grammar in German than in English, it certainly wasn't grammar-intensive. The Japanese classes were, and the grammar that I mastered I've retained pretty well. The vocabulary that I never learned to use in context, not so much. But I think I've got something that could be turned into a plan of attack now: grammar and memorization. This is all the sudden sounding pretty do-able.

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