I received this inquiry:

“Which of the two “Latin 1” courses you teach would you recommend for a high school credit for a young man?  Henle Latin or Lingua Latina.”

Here is my reply:

The short answer: Lingua Latina.

The long answer:

Two of my girls just finished a local astronomy class.

I don’t think I ever saw them more eager to start a class.  In the fall, they were super excited.  They could not wait to begin.

By the Spring, they were frustrated, tired, and ready to pull out.  I don’t think I ever saw them more eager to get out of a class.

So… what happened?

It wasn’t the instructor.  He didn’t change over the course. Throughout the class, he maintained high energy levels.  Each week, he was eager to teach astronomy.

It was the book.

In the beginning, the instructor created the class from his own knowledge of astronomy, from his own notes, and from his own experience.

At the beginning of the Spring semester, he shifted gears.  He based the semester on a textbook.

Almost immediately, my girls lost interest in astronomy.  In order to find out what went wrong, I spent some time in the book.  It did not take long to find out why their interest tanked.

The high school textbook killed their love of learning.  Their interest in astronomy died.

Have you ever noticed this?  I call it the “textbook effect.”

Take any fascinating subject.   Hand that subject to a bunch of tenured bureaucratic university professors.  Ask them to create a textbook.  Once they have created the book, send it to a committee for review.  The committee will likely consist of tenured bureaucratic university professors.

Never forget that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

By the time the “textbook” reaches the students, anything interesting will have been successfully removed.  And, just like the previous sentence, the book will be in the passive voice.  This makes everything a bit more boring.

Okay, now we are ready.  Hand the book to students.  Watch their love of learning plummet.

Another success for the tax-funded bureaucratic school system.

I don’t know if First Year Latin by Robert Henle went through this process, but it sure looks like it did.

I am finishing up another year teaching Henle Latin, and I have to say… I can’t wait for summer!

Henle Latin will likely have the “textbook effect” on your kids.  Unless you must read it, don’t read it.  The book is boring.  Much of the instruction is in the passive voice.

There is an alternative.

If you want to learn Latin, go with Lingua Latina.

I am finishing up another year teaching Lingua Latina, and I have to say… I am dreading summer!

I taught two Latin classes yesterday.  One was filled with passive voice grammar instruction, dry facts, and complicated terms describing simple Latin concepts.  Henle.

In the other class, a ship in the Mediterranean was running as fast as possible from pirates.  The Captain was studying the sky, hoping the wind would shift so that he could rely on the strength of his rowers instead of relying on the wind.  You see, in a previous chapter, a storm had damaged the ship’s rigging.  The sails on the pirate ship worked just fine.  They were closing the gap.  On the running ship was a fugitive slave, fearful of crucifixion, a merchant who had lost it all, and a Christian girl calling on the name of Christ.  She hoped He could deliver them from evil.  Yep.  You guessed it.  That chapter is in Lingua Latina.

Henle Latin and Lingua Latina will both teach you Latin.  Lingua Latina, however, will not bore you to death.

Even better, it will not kill your interest in Latin.

Do you want to endure Latin?  Or, do you want to enjoy Latin?

If you have a choice… go with Lingua Latina.