“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” or so the saying goes. Yet I think at times we as Americans believe that we will sit down, invest minimal time, and come away fluent in another language. This notion makes for a lot of frustration I’ve noticed, especially amongst those choosing to home educate. I offered to review Visual Latin in hopes of finding a program that would be a different type of experience. I have been blown away!
If you read here at Hip Homeschool Moms, you know that our family has been home educating for a very long time. One of the things that I haven’t particularly cared for where some of the more prolific language programs are concerned, is the individual rather than group focus for learning. While I think there is definitely a time and place for this, I prefer a more integrated model initially so that everyone within my home has the opportunity to be exposed and possibly spark an interest. My parents are linguists, so there is ongoing discussion about modalities, a natural vs. traditional approach to language, and all sorts of other “fun” stuff that they are passionate about! In short, true fluency in language requires lots of things.
I believe Dwane Thomas has developed a stellar program for achieving a comprehensive, working knowledge of Latin. His website, which any one of us can certainly read, is one of the most thorough and helpful I’ve had the privilege of perusing in quite some time. While I don’t want to be one of those people who simply repeats what is already there, I will point out some things that stood out to me, and hope that you will take the time to consider his product.
1. Dwane is passionate about Latin! Why do I know this without meeting him? Well, for one thing, he offers the first 4 lessons free. When I look at websites and products, I am quick to notice those that simply want you to buy vs. those that are honestly passionate about what they offer; desiring to ignite that same passion in others. Dwane’s sidebars are full of links, comments, and full support in order to pursue learning Latin. He offers suggestions for integrating it into daily life, allows you to see how he integrates it into his own home with and for his own children, and is obviously committed to the individuals that have registered a vote with their disposable income into his vision.
2. His approach is a full, concise, calculated, and confident one. When he introduces himself, he immediately offers his qualifications, as well as vulnerabilities in his own ongoing pursuit of two languages that he is still working to master. I found this to be very refreshing. Through his own vulnerability and confession of some learning issues, he immediately sets the student at ease, focusing on the fact that anything worth pursuing is going to take effort! He assures students that repetition is good and that this is not a race. He has worked very hard to combine all of the modalities that he himself has been exposed to while learning language, in order to provide a solid, trustworthy foundation from which students can learn. He wants you to hear, see, speak and read. While this may seem lofty, I can assure you that his short, portable, and repeatable lessons, are just the ticket for being able to accomplish this. He believes in the student and has a very affirming, confident style.
3. Making language relevant from a distance isn’t easy! Dwane has a sincere and unique ability, even though he is behind a camera, to make you feel as if he’s right there with you. As I stated, the lessons are very short, easy to process, and obviously, repeatable. The worksheet that comes along with each lesson is concise and serves to review, while reinforcing what he just taught. One thing that also stood out to me as a mother, was that the lessons are offered in a very clean, easy-to-read font and the answer key was actually in red, rather than the same color. This is a valuable asset when you are looking to correct your work. He works to take each concept one by one so that they are assured of being easy to understand. Standing in front of a camera to teach can be disastrous. Dwane is relaxed, confident, personable, and a wealth of knowledge. I loved how he used his teaching segments to weave in other facts and ideas that used a subtle approach to reinforcing the relevance of Latin even in today’s world. He doesn’t isolate the subject matter from everything else. This is a “biggy” for integrated learning and a whole life approach.
4. He knows his audience well. It can be discouraging as a home educator, to make a huge monetary investment into a product, only to find that it isn’t a good fit. I so appreciate that Dwane breaks down his modules of learning into brackets that can be purchased for $25.00 each. Again, the consideration of his target audience was seen right away and only further added to my confidence in my decision to purchase this product. After all, I can help my children further pursue Latin for the cost of one evening of pizza for dinner!
5. It works! Look, if we’re all honest, we can think of teachers we were “in-the-flesh-present-with” that were still not able to relate to us. I can’t stress enough Dwane’s gift of connecting. I’ll use an example. I have a 12 and 10 year old that I asked to sit in on the lessons. They’re both boys. My 12-year-old has “had a life goal to learn Latin,” which was news to me; and was very attentive to the video. My 10-year-old was being polite initially. They were both laughing and very much at ease with Dwane’s humor and style, and later on, I heard the 10-year-old conjugating the verbs under his breath to himself. The jewel? I heard him tell himself he could do this. Priceless! Yet another time, he asked me if I remembered an interesting fact that Dwane had shared with them about the state of Pennsylvania’s name coming from Latin. This has sparked an interest in knowing more about the history of a state he’s unfamiliar with currently.
Dwane has a quote on his website that says, “I want my kids to be able to read in Latin before high school.” Most people would look at this and possibly think he’s nuts.
Based on this mother’s personal experience, I say BRAVO. We, over here, are hooked!
I hope that you will commit to visiting Dwane’s website and will give serious consideration to his product and what it can do to enrich your family’s learning experience.
Teri is a believer in God, family, community, and lover of leadership education the Thomas Jefferson way. Teri writes and also speaks about lessons learned on her educational journey with 5 rambunctious sons, ages 22 down to 9, one hero Hubby, and celebrating day to day life with lots of humor, within the human race. You can find Teri blogging at Tommy Mom.
Visual Latin Giveaway
Today we’re giving away a complete set of Latin I (Lessons 1-30) on either DVD or digital download, winner’s choice.