Friday, February 7, 2014

Teaching Languages - Teaching the Trivium Ch. 5

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Welcome to another week of the Teaching the Trivium book club!  I am so excited to read and discuss this book along with you.  I loved the discussion last week and would love to hear from more of you!  Today we talk about languages.

Chapter 5 - Teaching Lauguages

I am going to come right out and say that this was a difficult chapter.  My kids are little, and while we have begun basic Latin (we love Song School Latin), this chapter goes deep into the 'whys' and 'hows' of teaching classical languages.  Let's start of  with a question for you!

What language(s) are you teaching your children?  

Do you value teaching the classical languages over modern languages?  

An Argument for Teaching the Classical Languages

This first section of the chapter talks generally about the benefits of learning these dead languages, and then takes Latin, Greek, and Hebrew specifically and defends why the study of each is worthwhile.

I find the reasons for learning Latin compelling.  As a Christian, I think that learning Greek would be extremely helpful.  Hebrew just sounds painful ;) 

I underlined a lot of things in this chapter.  Many of them because I know that I will want to revisit them as my children enter this stage more.  Here are some of the quotes that  I found really interesting.

As the knowledge of the Biblical languages diminished among the common people, a darkness crept over professed Christianity.  The people became more and more dependent upon religious professionals.   pg. 108

Wow.  That is very interesting to me!  I have never even considered learning Greek for myself, for the sake of understanding the Scriptures.  I've just always depended on trustworthy translations like most Christians do.  The Bluedorns also mention that many seminaries do not even require the study of Greek and Hebrew anymore.  If that is true, it is shocking to me.  I don't know how well versed they are, but I know that my pastors had to learn Greek.  (I'm not certain about Hebrew).

If you are a Christian, does your pastor know Greek and Hebrew?  Does it matter to you if they do or not?

Only a century ago, no seminary in the United States even offered a course in Greek.  Students were expected to have mastered Greek before they entered seminary.

Wow!  Fascinating again!  Can you imagine if that sort of knowledge was expected in this day and age?  Most kids graduating high school can barley even handle our own language, let alone mastering another language (and a classical one at at that!)

Most classical educators expect their students to learn Latin.  I think the benefits are most obvious for that language, though if you are a Christian, the others become important as well.  Here are the reasons that the Bluedorns give for learning Latin (if you are a classical homeschooler, these reasons will be familiar to you):

  1. Latin is basic to English - much of our vocab is derived from Latin in one way or another
  2. Latin is a springboard for mastering other inflected languages - if you want to learn a modern language, Latin will make it much easier for you!
  3. The study of Latin sharpens the mental process
  4. Everything in a culture is embedded in its language
  5. Technical language is in Latin - medical/scientific/legal/etc.
  6. Latin is also valuable for further studies in all disciplines
  7. Latin is useful in English

A General Course of Study

The last part of the chapter is devoted to how exactly to teach these dead languages.  There are lots of charts and examples.  Honestly we are just not there yet in my family.  I underlined a lot of things to come back to in a few years and I learned a lot of thing I didn't know that I didn't know =)  What about you?

How do you teach the classical languages to your children?  

What resources have you used?  

What resources have you loved?

Leave comments here on the blog post, or share about it on social media (#ClassicalMamasRead).  I'll be sharing too, so follow me on facebook, twitter, or google+ and we can chat about it there as well!  Don't forget, if you want to share your thoughts about Teaching the Trivium on your own blog, link it up below so we can all come and visit!

Next week we will be talking about chapter six of Teaching the Trivium.  If you haven't gotten your own copy yet, make sure you check your library or order one soon so you can be ready for next time!  Also, this is a 600+ page book, so I am only touching on certain points of each chapter.  There is so much great information that I am not covering, so if this discussion interests you, you are going to want to make sure to pick up your own copy so you can read more!

Classical Mamas Read Link-Up

Did you write about Teaching the Trivium on your blog?  Have you been reading and blogging about another book (for you, not a children's book)?  Do you have a book club going on at your blog (once again, not for a children's book)?  I'd love for you link up here so we can all be encouraged by each other and maybe find another great book to read!

I think I'm going to keep this link-up ongoing since there aren't going to be a huge number of posts and then anyone new will be able to be encouraged by the other book reading ideas and discussions.  If the number of posts gets too large, I will fix it.

Please note, all posts must be on topic (about a book you are reading) and appropriate (think family friendly).

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  1. I studied Latin for 6 years and loved every minute of it. When we started homeschooling, my daughter was sick of learning Spanish. Latin seemed like the perfect choice for us, and she has loved using Prima Latina this year. We plan to complete it at the beginning of next year and will move on to Latina Christiana. I am still in touch with my Latin teacher, and it is a curriculum she recommended as well. Greek and Hebrew are a lot more difficult because of the alphabets, and I have not been ready to devote the kind of time on my part to learn them.

    My daughter is also taking a Russian class once a week because her ballet teachers speak Russian and offer a language course for the homeschool kids. She has really loved being introduced to it, and we will probably try to get her into some actual curriculum in the next year.

    1. That is the Latin curriculum from Memoria Press, right? I've never used anything from them before, but I've heard good things!

      That's really neat the your daughter's ballet teachers offer a class for homeschoolers! Is she taking extra interest in the Olympics this year?

  2. Ugh! Shame on them! Now I want to learn Latin and Greek! Lol!

    Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to this chapter and almost skipped over it. I'm not a classical method homeschooler. It seems so structured and disciplined, we're kind of the opposite of that. When we pulled my son out of public school he was so high strung and panicky over textbooks and timers that we ditched all of them (all most) and just focused on math and did unit studies. He still freaks out if he thinks he's being timed. And every time I try to get him to memorize something (Bible verses) he goes blank....completely blank. Even with multiplication we had to break it down for him because he would get so angry when we used flashcards. I would love for him to learn Latin. I'd also love for us to be more structured, but I'm just not sure he is able to handle it.

    1. Gina, how old is your son? Classical education is definitely not about textbooks. I bet your son would do great with the classical model using living books! The memorization part might be a problem, but maybe if you just eased him into it (without him even knowing?) he would warm up to it.

      If you're interested in Latin but don't want to overwhelm him, I completely recommend Song School Latin (depending on his age). It's from Classical Academic Press. Here's a link if you want to check it out,

      I'm so glad you're reading along! Thanks for the sharing your thoughts =)

    2. Thanks! He loves music, I think that may work! He's 9. After posting this last night I was thinking about it and am now wondering if it's just a confidence issue. Maybe if we did back up and go slower he would see that he IS capable. It amazes me how much he can recall about things that interest him! Thanks for help!

    3. I bet you are right. Sometimes I get going to fast with my son and then realize that I need to just settle back a bit. He's at the upper range for Song School Latin, but if you tried it for a while at least it would be a fun start for him if you wanted to continue Latin in coming years. Classical Academic Press has Latin curriculum for every age, though I haven't used it since my kids are just at SSL age! Obviously there are lots of other choices too.

  3. Just a short note about Memoria Press, all 3Gs finished Prima Latina and then began Latina Christiana. But, the battles to study Latin became a problem, so I dropped it until the Spelling Workout process was done for my oldest. He is now reviewed old materials in the first Latina Christiana book and begun the second. The twins are set to follow the same pattern especially G#3 who is looking forward to continuing in the Latin process here after his Spelling Workout finishes (which, by the way, is doing some latin and greek study as we near the end of Level H and he doesn't even acknowledge it). I'm just not sure how to make the jump to High School Latin yet, but will address that this next planning period with upcoming interactions at homeschool conferences. Mainly, study it when they are ready, and they enjoy it, and they pursue it, and it's GREAT! Win for all!!!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! I have read that about Spelling Workout (how it incorporates Latin and Greek) and think that is really neat. I hope you are able top find just the right fit for your kids as you plan for the coming year. Sorry I can't be of much help with recommendations since your kids are older than mine! =)


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