CM Latin: Curriculum Options?

Salvete Omnes!

Thank you for your interest in teaching Latin the CM way…and in uncovering and restoring Ms. Mason’s PURPOSE for the study of this challenging ancient tongue. I had a Facebook-messaging conversation with another CM homeschooling mama today about CM-friendly curriculum options. I have pasted her original question and the transcript of our discussion below (edited for clarity):


Q: HOW do we teach Latin in a way that doesn’t reduce the study to mere mental gymnastics?? Which curricula do you recommend, especially for the parent who is clueless in Latin (yours truly)? Which curricula approaches it for the right reasons and does the language justice? I am leaning towards Latina Christiana from Memoria Press for my 4th grader with an aim to continue with their First Form Latin in future years. I would love your professional recs.  -Sara

A: I appreciate the question, and it has been one that I think needs to be addressed. It’s very difficult to gauge the methodology of the curriculum choices out there, and those that publish are very invested in promoting their own product as the best or right way to approach the language. I definitely have some recommendations that would be more in line w/CM, and not surprisingly, some of these options have been overlooked in the classical homeschool community—one community especially gives much emphasis to the trivium (three distinct stages of learning)…reinforcing their assertion that Latin must be learned via the “grind” at this stage (heavy on memorization out of context, drill drill drill, start as early as possible, grammar-translation method is the best way to learn, etc.). In my deepening understanding of Ms. Mason’s methods, Latin is still challenging, but it need not be SO “grinding”! Let me offer some suggestions:

SongSchool Latin is a gentle introduction and very enjoyable, but might (?) be too easy for 4th? Or might not…but it’s definitely very helpful for parents as well. Minimus is my favorite at this age–very living, contextual, supports verbal Latin, and includes details of everyday life that bring Latin culture to life. Another option is Latin for Children by Classical Academic Press. It’s a CCE curriculum, so less CM than Minimus, but it’s still a good one.
Memoria Press is rather dry. One thing they do well is to emphasize recitation and memorization…but if you select some Latin hymns or passages from the Vulgate to supplement any of the choices I recommended, then you are off to a great start with several tools in your belt that fit with CM methods.
Q: Okay. Big book of lively Latin? I like Classical Academic Press and I want this to be something she can do largely independently, so I will likely shift gears to Latin for Children. I’ve looked at it before….she’s on the younger end for it so I might go half time.
A: I haven’d heard of that one, but I’ll look into it! I did see that someone suggested games…yes! Check out the American Classical League. I’ll link…they have a ton of resources for teaching Latin. I loved having a Roman calendar in my classroom…a living way to learn the months and days.
Q: Hi, Angela. Me again. 🙂 I don’t think I want to do Minimus because I really need Latin to be something she can do largely on her own.  So, we need something written to the student and with videos, like Memoria Press. Would you advise NOT using Memoria Press at all? I’m looking at Latin for Children and it, too, will be challenging to use “the CM way” because of how it’s meant to be scheduled. CM says Latin 2x a week at 30 minutes each for my daughter’s age; LFC is written for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. Memoria Press’s offerings seem much more gentle, however, I don’t want to waste my money so if you really think it’s of the “drill and kill” variety, I will pass. I can try to do LFC and just go at half-speed.
A: OK. With the need for her to be working independently, it makes sense that you are drawn to Memoria Press. They’ve made the homeschooling part so easy bc it’s all there and it is laid out week by week. It is a grammar-translation approach, which is the traditional way of teaching Latin…and it works just fine for many students. But it does not work well for all…so knowing your daughter’s learning strengths will help you determine if this might be a good fit for her. It sounds like it has some definite advantages for your situation though. It’s more aligned w/trivium methods, but it could work just fine for you all. Let me give you some other options, though. I’ve looked into a few other curricula…these are ones I haven’t actually used myself, but from the descriptions, I would say they present the Latin in a CM-inspired way. Also, these are structured for more independent learning, which is what you are looking for:
You had mentioned Lively Latin…after looking at it, I’d say it sounds a good option. Another one that really stood out is called Once Upon a Time (Olim in Latin). I think I want to buy a copy for myself…it sounds so wonderful!
Latin for Children is still a great option. I would just slow it down to fit more with CM’s pacing. The enjoyment of short lessons is key. And truly, when they get to 6th-7th grade, they naturally take off with the language learning…so there really is no reason to rush this stage. Enjoyment and exposure to the language are the goals for now.
Q: The grammar-translation approach is to be contrasted with what?
And thank you for these recommendations!
A: There are a few different methods of teaching foreign language, and some curricula combine methods for a multisensory approach, which can be especially helpful, since the more sensory experiences are involved in learning, the stronger and more numerous are the neural pathways associated with that learning. But overall, it seems that the reading/inductive method is more aligned with CM. I’d also say that the natural/conversational method has many strengths that mesh well with CM, though my experience with that method is limited. Let me find you a page describing these.  
This is a good overview. 🙂
Q: Many thanks!
A: Pleasure is mine!
At some point in the future, I will flesh this out into more detailed reviews of these and other curriculum options for CM Latin. But for now, I hope this conversation directs you to some resources that you might not have considered to help you inspire a love of Latin in your young studentis!
Wishing you all the best in your Latin endeavors!


    • Angela

      Hi Phyllis! This one came to my attention only recently…I’m wanting to get my hands on a copy, because the premise looks like a good fit w/CM. I’d love to begin with my boys using a conversational method, as it’s the method with which I have the least experience, but I believe would lay a strong foundation for later study. Could you reference the publisher in another comment here? I’ve not had any luck locating it yet!

  • Beth Smoak

    Hi Angela,
    I recently heard you on Brandy Vencel’s Schole Sisters podcast. I have used a more traditional approach with my two older kids, and they are in the 4th year of Memoria Press’s 4th Form Latin. It has worked well with them and me because that’s how I like to learn a language. However for my two younger children coming behind, I’d like to try something a little different (especially now that I’m more familiar with how Latin is set up as I’ve been learning it alongside my older two). You recommended Minimus Latin (they are ages 9 and 11 but the 11 y.o. has learning disabilities and works a few grade levels below her age level). I had a few questions about it and was wondering if you could help. Can I just order the teacher’s guide and work from that with both of them or do I need a student text as well. Together the books are a little more expensive so just wanted to be sure before I put in more money than I needed to. About how long does Book 1 take?

    Thanks so much! Your talk with Brandy was just wonderful and so informative!

    • Angela

      Hi Beth! Thank you for stopping by! I’ve been on break from my Latin project this past month, so I apologize for my delay in getting back to you. How great that you have been able to progress with the MP series. I know that that approach can work very well for certain learners. It will be such a helpful background for you as you begin to approach the language in a new way with your younger children. It sounds like you could potentially work through Minimus with your younger two together. The program can be introduced as early as nine, and seems to work best for students who are reading and are beginning/have begun a grammar lessons in English.

      I am not sure if the Teacher’s manual contains all that you need, but it’s possible that it might. It does contain additional resources and activities along with the answer key to provide more practice with the concepts. Your background is a strength here, and you should be able to structure the lesson plans however you see fit. The student texts are inexpensive via Amazon, so you could easily add them in as you determine your need—and they have lots of reading sections, so they are nice for the student to hold in hand for reading practice and study. Minimus’ approach is not exclusively oral, so having an attractive, inviting text for the student’s personal use is part of how the program is designed.

      The first book has 12 chapters, which I break up into 3-4 short lessons. I think most students could work through it in 1 year, perhaps a year and a half if needed. Maybe one day I’ll find the time to type up my own lessons plans for a CM homeschool, but alas, LIFE calls! 😉

      Thank you again for your kind words, Beth! Do let me know if there’s anything else I can suggest. And do check back here….I hope to be publishing more resources for parents here soon.
      Carpe diem,

    • Angela

      I have heard nothing but good things from families who use Linney’s Latin courses. The lessons are short and sweet and get right to the point. Make it a habit and one will make good progress with Latin!

What are your thoughts?