Tag Archives: First Year Latin by Robert Henle

After First Year Latin by Robert Henle?

I received this question:

My son took your Latin Henle Year 1 last year.  We are trying to figure out which class would be the best next step for him to take.  What would you suggest?

Here is my reply:

Since he has finished First Year Latin by Robert Henle, it really makes sense to move on to Second Year Latin by Robert Henle.  Unfortunately, it’s not a very inspiring book.  It does, however, introduce students to Caesar’s Gallic Wars.  I find that book interesting.  I’m not sure everyone else does.

For all of my students who finish First Year Latin by Robert Henle, I always recommend they read Lingua Latina.  Of course, they’re more than welcome to attend the classes I teach on that book, but after finishing First Year Latin, I feel they are ready to read Lingua Latina on their own.  From Lingua Latina, they can go in almost any direction they like.  It really opens the doors.

 

Now’s your chance…

Every Saturday, I send out a tip of the week.  I also include announcements, upcoming classes, and so on.  If you would like to hear from me every weekend, sign up for my weekly updates here:

 

I don’t like to use my email list to advertise.  Instead, I like to let you all know about new tips and tricks I have discovered.

But, today, I thought I should let you know that Visual Latin is on sale.  Just click on the sale link to the right, if you are interested.

Compass Classroom is having a “Back to School Sale” from now until August 9.

I know some of you are confused.  I have a DVD series for Latin, but, I also teach live Latin classes.  What gives?

Let me explain.  No.  There is too much.  Let me sum up.

Visual Latin stands on its own.  It is a two year Latin course.  It will take you from zero Latin to reading the gospels in Latin.  I recommend Visual Latin as a complete Latin course for middle school, or early high school.   I can now safely say that people really like Visual Latin.  I know.  I have seen the emails.  Hundreds of emails from happy, happy mothers whose children now like Latin.

I recommend Visual Latin to anyone who wants to learn Latin.

After Visual Latin, I recommend you tackle something like Spanish, French, or Italian.  Learn something spoken by millions of people.  Then, go talk to them.

However, some people just can’t get enough of my voice.  If you are done with Visual Latin and you are one of those people, I offer “next level” classes on my site: www.dwanethomas.com.  If you liked Visual Latin and you want more Latin, I can take you there.

I recommend this route to those who have finished Visual Latin and want something more.

But, perhaps you have a copy of First Year Latin by Robert Henle on your kitchen table, and you yourself are on the bathroom floor with your knees pulled up, biting your nails, glancing nervously toward the kitchen, I can help.  Henle Latin is intimidating.  I know.  I have seen the emails.  Hundreds of emails from frightened, frustrated mothers facing Henle Latin.

I recommend this route ONLY to those in Classical Conversations who feel they could use help with Henle Latin.

If you are just starting out in Latin, check out the sale going on over at Compass Classroom.  It ends Wednesday.

Have a happy Saturday!
Dwane Thomas

P.S. If you are joining me live this fall I am offering orientation classes every week in August.

This Tuesday (August 8, 2017) at 6 PM central time, I am offering an orientation class.  If you are confused about upcoming classes, or if you have any general questions, join me here for free:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7740698583480666369

Also, If you have already signed up, you may need the registration links for class.

If you have subscribed, but have not registered for the upcoming classes, please email me and ask for the registration links.  After verifying your subscription, I will send them to you.

Okay.   I’m done.  Have a great weekend!

Book Review #5: First Year Latin by Robert Henle

Some time ago, my students and I finished reading First Year Latin by Robert Henle.

I read this book every year.

First things first.  Praise where praise is due.

First Year Latin by Robert Henle will take you to a New Testament reading level.  Sort of.  More on this in a bit.

Every time I start learning a language, I have one primary goal.  Within six months, or so, I want to be able to read the New Testament in the language.

Why do I try to read the New Testament in the language I am studying?  There is a reason.

Since this post is about First Year Latin by Robert Henle, let’s focus on Latin.

To read the New Testament in Latin, you need a vocabulary of about 1,000 words.

Since the New Testament is written at an elementary, perhaps middle-school level, these 1,000 words will become the foundational vocabulary on which you will build the rest of your knowledge.

The Bible is a perfect first Latin reader for many reasons.

First, it is repetitive.  Truly, truly, I say unto you, the same words are used again and again.

Second, the background doesn’t really change.  Everything happens in Judea,  Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Galilee, and Nazareth.  With the steady geography comes some steady, and basic vocabulary.  You learn the words for hill, road, village, lake, sea, city, wall, house and so on.

Third, the characters rarely change.  Mary, Joseph, Jesus, John, Herod, the apostles, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees.  Sprinkle in a few Romans from time to time and you are good to go.

What does all of this mean?

It means that you will be encountering the same words again and again.  And again.  Repetition is the perfect way to absorb new vocabulary.

Fourth, the New Testament is filled with subjunctive sentences.

Try learning the subjunctive while reading a few examples from a textbook.  That’s like trying to learn about married life from a book.  Have fun with that.

On the other hand, the New Testament is filled with the subjunctive mood.  It’s all over the place, and… it’s in context.   Learning the subjunctive in the context of a story is a bit like learning about married life while being married.  It just makes sense.  I mean, it’s still confusing and all, but if you are going to learn about it, this is the way to do it.

Back to First Year Latin by Robert Henle.  This book will take you to the New Testament.  That it is the goal (one of them) and that is a good goal.  Any book that gets you reading the New Testament in another language is worthy of your time.  So, kudos to Mr. Henle.

That said, I am now going to leave the reservation.

I have taken thousands of students through this book.   I have spent thousands of hours grading the work of students plodding their way through this book.   And, I have received hundreds of emails from what I call “Henle refugees”.

I have received hundreds of emails from tearful mothers who don’t know what to do because Henle Latin shattered their love of Latin and because Henle Latin shattered their children’s interest in Latin.

I have also received five or six emails from parents reprimanding me because I am too hard on Henle Latin.  Here is one: https://dwanethomas.com/not-happy-with-me/

When it comes to First Year Latin, the fans have their thousands and the haters have their tens of thousands.

Actually, the fans seem to have their dozens.   Maybe.

Soooo… why?  Why the hate? 

I believe it is, in part, because Latin is hard.  In fact, I recommend students start with Latin Lite before they attempt Latin.  What do I mean by Latin Lite?  I mean Spanish, French, Italian, or any of the other Romance languages.  Start with one of those languages and then study Latin.   After learning Spanish, you will find Latin so much easier.  Best of all, if you never make it to Latin… you will still speak Spanish. 

Latin is hard.  This has nothing to do with Mr. Henle.  Not his fault.

Henle Latin takes a grammatical approach to the language.  Again, not Mr. Henle’s fault.  The book was written in the mid-1900’s.  Every Latin book took the grammatical approach back then.  Well, every Latin book in America.  This is the academic approach.  The problem is, the approach doesn’t really work.

Don’t believe me?  How many Americans take a foreign language in high school?

I will give you a clue. 

ALL OF THEM.

How many bilingual Americans do you know?

Crickets.  Crickets.  Crickets. 

Mmmm-hmmm.  I rest my case. 

First Year Latin by Robert Henle takes the academic and grammatical approach to Latin.   I am not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings… but, don’t be surprised when you finish the book and you can barely read in Latin.

There is another reason the book is not as effective as we would all like it to be.  First Year Latin teaches students about 500 Latin words.   This falls way, way, way too short. 

You need about 1,000 words to read the New Testament in Latin.   You need about 3,000 words to be able to speak fluently in a language.  It’s a simple math problem.   First Year Latin just does not provide enough ammo for the fight.

In contrast, my favorite Latin book, Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg, equips students with about 2,000 Latin words.  By chapter 28, students are reading straight from the gospel of Matthew.   With ease.

By the way, Henle students are often annoyed to find they can’t read Lingua Latina fluently after completing First Year Latin.  Again, it’s just a numbers game.  When you show up to Lingua Latina, you are about 1,500 words short. 

Again, credit where credit is due.  Henle Latin does teach the grammar of Latin.  In fact, it teaches the same grammar that Lingua Latina teaches.  This is good.  This simply means you need to catch up in vocabulary. 

As far as I can tell, First Year Latin has two major goals.

The secondary goal is to get students to a reading level in the New Testament.   Empowered with a vocabulary of 500 words, students are left a bit short.  They do have the grammar.  They just lack the vocabulary.

The primary goal of the book is to give students the ability to read Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

This, by the way, is the reason there are so many morbid words in the book.  Students never learn the word for sister.  But, by the end of First Year Latin, they do know how to say kill, attack, assault, capture, conquer, danger, do harm to, enemy, hostage, hurl, repulse, slaughter, sorrow, sword, and wretched.

They also know how to translate the sentence: “There were dead bodies floating in the river.”

I wish I were making this up. 

Here is the saddest part.  I teach Second Year Latin as well.  After completing First Year Latin students still are not ready to read Caesar’s Gallic Wars.   Again.  Numbers game.  You just need more vocabulary. 

Here’s the thing.  If you have to read First Year Latin, I can help you.  I take students through the book every year.  In the spirit of ripping the Band-Aid off quickly, we read the entire text of First Year Latin in… well… the first year. 

If you have to read the book, I can help. 

But, if there is any way you can avoid the book, I recommend a completely different approach.

Combine Visual Latin with Lingua Latina.  The moment you finish these two, read one of the gospels in Latin.  You will be able to. 

It’s still Latin.  It’s still going to be difficult. 

But, I get the emails.   Every single day, I get the emails.   I’ve seen the damage.   I’m telling you, Henle Latin could destroy your interest in Latin.  Lingua Latina could ignite it. 

If you can, skip First Year Latin by Robert Henle.

If you can’t skip, I can help you.

Join one of my Henle classes.  Click the blue button below: 

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After Visual Latin?

I received this comment:
My 12 yr old has finished visual latin. What class should he go to next school year? Why do you suggest on classs over the other. Why do you teach Henle latin if you don’t suggest it?
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Here is my reply:
Honestly, I suggest French, Spanish, Italian, or some other modern language.  You can learn all of them for free using DuoLingo.  You can even follow me over there if you want too.  My username is Enawd.
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If you want to continue with Latin, and if you want my help, I suggest reading Lingua Latina, and I suggest joining one of my online classes.  The schedule is here: https://dwanethomas.com/schedule/
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I teach Henle Latin to help those who have to study Latin using Henle Latin.  Simple as that.  I am just trying to help the students who are stuck reading it.

From Henle 1 to Henle 2? Henle 3?

I received this question:

My daughter is going to be enrolling in Classical Conversations for the very first time, going into Challenge 3 where the class will be completing the last part of Henle 2 and then starting Henle 3. I don’t think she is really going to be ready, and I think it might have been better for her to do the second half of Familia with you this year instead. But she didn’t. So, in your opinion, what is the best way for her to get prepared to jump in and not be too over her head? Should she try to do more Familia over the summer? Or would Visual Latin help her to bridge the grammar gap?  

Here is my reply:

I am not sure how to answer this.  In my experience, Henle 1 does not prepare students for Henle 2.  I am teaching Henle 3 this fall.  I am not even sure how to prepare.  So far, as best I can tell, Henle 2 will not prepare students for Henle 3.  

Years ago, I was leaving education for construction and real estate.  I was leaving because of books like Henle Latin.  I discovered  Lingua Latina and decided to stick around a bit longer.  I loved the series then, and I still love it today.  It prepares students for almost anything in Latin.  

It’s a simple numbers game.  First Year Latin by Robert Henle teaches students about 400 words.  Lingua Latina part 1 teaches students about 2,000.  

Have her read Lingua Latina over the summer.  It will prepare her for the Henle books.  It will do a better job than the Henle books.  

By the way, I will likely be offering a Lingua Latina review class over the summer if you are interested.

Will Henle 1 prepare me for Henle 3?

I received this question:

Hi!  I am CC tutor and I have completed 1-26 in Henle I four times.  I will be doing Henle 3 this fall with an older group.  Do you recommend I finish Henle I on my own this summer and get as much of Henle 2 done as possible, or jump into Henle 2 now?  What would be the best prep for Henle 3?  I have read before than 1-26 is all that is necessary for 3, but if you think I would be better off finishing the first book, I can do that instead.

Here is my reply:

I have never taught Henle 3 (I start this year) so, I am not exactly sure what to tell you about preparation.  I can say this, though… 

In my experience, Henle 1 does not prepare students for Henle 2.  I fear what is waiting for myself and for my students in Henle 3.  

I think the best thing students can do is simply jump in and start swimming.  

If you are interested, there is an ace you can play.  If you have time this summer, read Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg.  Since you have read Henle 1 many times, you are already ready for it grammatically.  You will have to learn a lot of new vocabulary, though.  Henle Latin 1 teaches students about 400 words.  Lingua Latina teaches students about 2,000.  When laid out like that, it is easy to see the problem with Henle Latin.  

Henle Latin is worth going through.  But, in my opinion, it really needs to be supplemented with Lingua Latina.  

Want to join a class?  Click the blue button below: 

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