Thursday, September 12, 2013

Latin, morning time and the interlinear text

Earlier this summer Andrew Kern made a comment that a full classical education could be accomplished in about 6 years.  This podcast is the beginning of his response to how that can be accomplished.  It is worth a listen, although, as usual, it is a little wandering in nature.  I will only cover the first half of the conversation which included introducing Latin and Greek at an early age and using interlinear texts.

He referenced books that were new to me (on Sunday I'll be posting the list of Latin curricula I currently have).  He discussed using interlinear texts, especially with young children, as read alouds. The interlinear approach to Latin was endorsed by Locke and Milton (yes, the men you think of first). But there was only one advocate who tried to create a series of texts to use in this fashion - Hamilton (no, not a famous guy just a linguist with a dream).  His approach has fallen out of favor.  If you want an idea of how it works you can listen to this short video - this man appears to be finding ways to bring it back into style.   Here is another article that explains the approach.   It seems that you read the text once and memorize it (like little kids love to memorize their favorite books) and then you read it through a second time to dig into the language and parse it, etc.  

I am still torn on the long term plan, but I have decided to start including an interlinear text reading in our morning time.  Reading or listening to Latin is also greatly extolled by the creator of Visual Latin. Honestly, if you have Visual Latin you could create your own interlinear and audio experience by using the answer worksheets for the third section as an interlinear text and then listen to him read it aloud.  I might do this when the kids are a little bit older.

The texts' Kern mentions are already prepared and only take a couple of minutes to read.  We just started a few days ago and it has already led to some good discussion.  When we watched the animated video of the Bayuex tapestry and REX was emblazoned on the tapestry and a part of our text - I just pointed it out.  This week we are also discussing ominvores and omines is one of the words in our text - so we talked about how omines means all.   I am really beginning to see how a Latin centered curriculum could really work.

Here are the books that Kern recommends:

Fables - Aesop's with an interlinear text.  There is a free PDF you can download or a book you can purchase.  Her related sites also have Latin Bible verses, mottoes, etc.   Maybe for my second go around with Language Lessons through Literature I will connect the fables she uses with their Latin counterparts.  Possibly we could do this with the first level of most progym programs as well - since often you are rewriting Fables.

Child's First Book in Latin - this one has Christian content and is a little moralistic but it is what we are going to start using during our morning time.   We have already learned short sentences like Deus est Rex and Amo Deus (which ties in with the first conjugation present tense jingles we are learning).

He also mentions Adler's Latin.  It appears that the linguist who discusses using interlinear texts above is trying to update this method and make it an interlinear experience.  The good thing about Adler's is that there is a key to the old version - which is not always the case!

Kern does not mention the Latin Primer by John Henry Allen but it is similar in nature and uses Bible stories (I found it through Don Potter's website - he has done his homework!).  It is not a word for word interlinear translation - instead it just covers "new" words in the text.

I am still don't know how you would teach kids to study the text.  Most people do suggest memorizing the declensions and basic conjugations first.  However, I can see the value of learning these quickly (like Spell to Write and Read has you learn the phonograms) and then starting to apply them in your reading.  Of course, Visual Latin does encourage you to read Lingua Latina once you get through about a third of the lessons for this exact reason.  So, more resources to add to your list.


  1. The Latin Primer by John Henry Allen looks fabulous and like a great start - I'm also looking through Don Potter's other suggestions now that I realize he has links to Latin texts. I've used some of his reading and math suggestions before but never looked at the rest of the site. Thanks for sharing your research!

  2. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Just last week I found Visual Latin online and downloaded the free samples. We have done one week and while I liked it and I wasn't sure if this was the way to go. I own Henle Latin and also own Latin's Not So Tough AND also memorized had the kids memorize Classical Conversations Latin Memory Work for the past three years. I was contemplating (reluctantly) giving up on Latin and just starting Spanish with the family. Now, after reading this I will continue with my struggle through Latin! Love to talk to you about Latin and maybe you can help me understand what my focus needs to be! I so love your blog!

  3. I have used Don Potter's site for other subjects too. He really has a lot of great information. I am glad to finally have a place to share some of what I have collected.

    Fina - don't give up. I would be happy to talk with you more about Latin - I still haven't learned the language but I am trying to learn it and my "honey bee" has kicked in and I have looked at all different approaches to studying. I might be trying to avoid memorizing - but I have learned a lot in the process. We are enjoying CC so far -thanks for your encouragement there! :)