July 26, 2011

Latin Update

As you may have read, Hannah Jane seemed pretty determined not to learn Spanish.  Why?  I have no idea.  Maybe it is because the first Spanish curriculum we purchased was really awful.  Like really, really awful.  Maybe it's because she sensed that Joe wanted her to take Spanish and she has a rebellious streak (that's my vote).  Or maybe she simply doesn't have a good feel for it.  Who knows?

What we all know is that Joe has a big beef with Latin.  I know.  Right?  A scientist who doesn't appreciate Latin.  He says it's dead and useless and the language of prep school snobs.  Like me.  Yes.  He married his nemesis.  The private school girl with a love of vocabulary lists who took (but almost failed) Latin.  He and I have that in common in a weird way.  We've been called, by various members of our families, the anti-snob snobs.  We dislike all things snooty and high brow.  We don't always buy organic, we walk barefoot in the garden, we avoid Starbucks like the plague, and the dollar menu at McDonalds is our idea of a fun dinner out (you know, the once every 3 months that we actually eat dinner out).  There.  I admitted it.  And when Hannah Jane said she wanted to take Latin, I'm almost certain that Joe saw flash before his eyes a 20-something woman in pearls and a polo, sitting in a Starbucks with a man named Biff, giggling primly at some joke that would only be understood by someone with an extensive knowledge of obscure Greek mythology.  So, yeah.  He wasn't up for Latin.  Did I make that clear?

I gave it a fair shake, though.  I had her take the sample lessons for both Powerspeak Spanish and Powerspeak Latin.  The Spanish was all animated and fun.  The Latin had black and white outline pictures and a monotone voice reading a long, boring story.  Seriously, I would never have chosen the Latin based on those 2 sample lessons.  It's as if the fact that it's an old language means that they don't have to update the program as often as they do the others.  Spanish was flashy and modern.  Latin was shoot-myself boring.  But she picked Latin.


I had a flashback to my first day of Latin class where the teacher (who was actually quite nice and somewhat of a funny-man) faked a super mean attitude and told us that we weren't in Spanish!  No sir.  This was Latin and we were going to learn a thing or two.  If we wanted to simply get an easy A by wearing a sombrero and eating a taco, he could direct us upstairs to Spanish class and he would gladly sign any papers that needed to be signed to make that transfer happen.  ( I know...totally culturally insensitive.  I'm just repeating what was said.  No hate mail).  I was sure I had made a mistake, but I didn't want to admit it.  I longed for a week to be upstairs making pinatas and saying hola.  But I stuck it out.  I never did well.  Never understood what was going on in the class.  Never fit in with the braniacs and popular kids who were there.  But I made it through with a C.  And now here my homeschooled daughter is deciding to take Latin, which of course, I am going to have to learn along side her in order to be able to check her work.  Bleck!

We don't get to start Powespeak until the fall because she's getting it through the public school system from an online school.  But I didn't want her to lose that excitement she seemed to have for learning a new language.  I mean, in her rebellion against Spanish, she has feigned super enthusiasm for Latin and any decent home schooling mom would Carpe Diem on that enthusiasm.  Right?  So I ordered a Latin/English dictionary and a book of fairy tales in Latin.  I thought we'd use the dictionary to translate some stories until fall.  Bad idea.  I didn't remember enough about endings, cases, genders, declensions, etc to be able to tell if we had located the right word in the dictionary or not.


So I went hunting and found a pretty decent free trial Latin course online. We loved it for the week that it lasted.  We both learned a lot and it stuck with us!  Whoo-Hoo!  Once that ran out, we moved on to this free latin class online.  So far, so good.  It is my understanding that this is some sort of government initiative out of the UK National Archives.  I have no idea why, but we're thankful for the help. 

She has done the vocab, translated sentences from Latin to English and English to Latin, and appropriately changed cases of nouns to make them objects of prepositions.  She's conjugating charts of verbs from the infinitive.  Way more than I ever did.  And I'm learning right along with her!  All the things I was supposed to understand in high school, the things my teacher, my tutor, and my friends tried to help me understand suddenly make sense to me.  Something about this format clicks with my brain and  I'm getting the education I missed out on in school. 


Her little Latin notebook is filling up and she's happy as a clam.  I must say, I never saw this coming.  I was up for taco Tuesday and Spanish speaking dinners with our friend Maria as the guest of honor, but Hannah Jane has upped the ante and brought this dead language to life in the Christison house.  She's dragging us down the trivium path without ever having heard of it. We'll see if the boys catch Latin fever or I end up having to learn another language when they come of language learning age.  For now, I'm really enjoying seeing her excited about school work!

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