I received this question:

Hi!  We are LOVING Visual Latin 1.

However, we are considering homeschooling our almost-10-year-old son as well and I am curious: what Latin program would you recommend using before Visual Latin 1?

Thanks so much!


Here is my reply:

Happy to hear you guys are enjoying Visual Latin! Thanks for saying that. Actually means a lot to me.

As for pre-Latin? I recommend Spanish, French, Italian, German, or any other language your kids may actually use someday. Anything but Latin, really.

The reasons are pretty simple.  Here’s why I say this:

#1: If you learn a modern language, you will be able to go talk to people.  Can’t do that with Latin. 

#2: If you learn a modern language, you can visit countries where people speak the language you are learning.  Can’t do that with Latin.

#3: If you learn Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, or Portuguese, these languages will actually help you when you are learning Latin later!

#4: If you never make it to Latin, you will still possess a language you can use for the rest of your life. 

There is a real opportunity cost with Latin. I have seen schools spread Latin out over 3, 4, 5, 6, and more years. When students get to the end, they possess a language they really can’t use anywhere. They do have the ability, though, to read books in Latin. Books that were long ago translated into English. 

I am not against Latin. I am against spending 6 years on Latin only to find out that most Latin authors are dull. C.S. Lewis called Cicero “the great bore” in Surprised by Joy. I have taught Cicero’s writings for years. Lewis is right.  Cicero is the great bore.

When it comes to Latin, I recommend Visual Latin, which we created to take much of the pain and time out of the process, and a book called Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg.  That’s it.  The entire process should take three years at the most.  After that, students can retain the Latin they learned by reading the New Testament in Latin.

The entire New Testament is available as a free audiobook here: https://live.bible.is/bible/LATNV1/MAT/1?audio_type=audio_drama

As soon as a student is done with Latin, I recommend going back to one of the modern languages.   After Latin, a student could learn to read in Spanish, French, or Italian within 6 months.  Imagine leaving high school with three, or four languages at your command.

The key is not to waste 6, or 7 years on Latin.