Learn Spanish, French, or Italian first!

I received this comment:

Hi Mr. Thomas, I have mostly younger children (4 that are 7 and younger, a 3rd, 4th & 6thgrader) and only began the process of really researching what I will be doing with my upcoming 7th grader this past year. My oldest has taken an online Latin course with Veritas Press for the last two years and LOVED them. This year was a transition course. She took the first level of the NLE and only missed one. She LOVES Latin. We have been a CC family for 6 full years, but the step to Challenge hasn’t been one I am jumping into for several reasons. However, in our situation it may be our best bet. One of my struggles is the 6 year Latin plan. I’ve been following your blog since the Fall and feel like you have been able to put words to several of my gut feelings. I have spoken with several families who have participated in Challenge and chose a different Latin plan. From what I see, it looks like we should start with Visual Latin for 7&8th grades and then Lingua Latina. Am I assuming correctly? Thanks for being such a dependable source of information.

Here is my reply:

Hello! I am so embarrassed.  Last week, I discovered that my site was hiding over 800 comments and questions from me.  I have not responded to literally hundreds of questions.   This is not like me.  Scrambling to catch up over the next few days.  

You are correct. I do not think Latin needs to take six years. In fact, the darkest part of that plan is that students are kept from studying other useful subjects like Spanish, French, were Italian, which I heavily advocate.   In my opinion, students ought to start with one of those languages and then study Latin. After all, if they never get to Latin at least they might know how to speak French or Italian. However, if they start with Latin and study it for 6 to 8 years, as many students do, they will graduate with a language they cannot speak.   Worse, they will have missed an opportunity to learn Spanish, French, Italian, or any other modern language that they could speak.

You are also correct about Latin.  After studying a modern language in elementary school, I recommend Visual Latin . in middle school followed by Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg.  

Again, I apologize for the long delay. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.