How to Teach Latin

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How to Teach Latin
(A Guide to Using Latin for Children) • By Karen Moore
NOTA BENE: This guide is intended for the use of teachers in various settings—whether at home,
a co-op, or a traditional school. The word “teacher” refers to whoever is teaching Latin to the
students regardless of the setting. This guide, while designed to be straightforward and clear, is
also designed to be detailed enough to provide teachers with practical and specific advice that a more general
guide could not provide. For the reader wanting more general guidance, we refer you to the Latin section
on the Classical Academic Press website ( Here one can find a variety of
guidance and help. Those wishing to review a suggested weekly schedule for teaching the Latin for Children
primers, should download the PDF file entitled Latin for Children—Suggested Weekly Schedule
( ).
I. Introduction
II. METHODOLOGY: Parts-to-Whole
III. PREPARATION: What do I need to get started?
IV. VOCABULARY: The building blocks of language.
V. GRAMMAR: The mortar that binds.
VI. TRANSLATION: Applying the tools of the trade.
VII. ASSESSMENTS: What are you evaluating?
VIII. ROMAN CULTURE: Bringing language to life.
IX. INTEGRATION: Making Latin relevant.
XI. APPENDIX: Supplemental materials for Latin for Children
Practitioners of classical education have long asserted that Latin is the foundation for the grammar
stage of learning. Indeed, it has even become a kind of trademark distinguishing classical schools from other
schools. Most schools that endeavor to teach Latin to very young children are considered classical, and a
school of any kind cannot be truly classical unless its teachers train their grammar students in the rudiments
of Latin. Latin forms such a key element for the grammar school that it is an essential element to the very
foundation upon which the following stages of the Trivium, Logic and Rhetoric, are built. Dorothy Sayers,
in her famous essay, goes so far as to declare, “quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the
Latin grammar.” (Sayers, “The Lost Tools of Learning”) If this language is so very important, even essential
to the classical philosophy of education, then it is of the greatest necessity that we train our Latin teachers
how to teach Latin grammar effectively.

The first order of business in creating a Latin program should be to determine the ultimate goal, and
then how to go about achieving this goal. After all, you would never undertake a family trip by choosing
a route, uncertain of where it might end -- particularly when you are bringing a great many young children
with you. The greater the number of active young minds onboard, the greater the need for preparation. I
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will state quite quickly with all the certainty that conviction allows that the ultimate goal of any truly
effective Latin program must be to construe original Latin texts. There are certainly several other
excellent benefits to studying Latin in addition to the construing or reading of original texts, some of which
will be discussed shortly. However, as your studies progress the ability to read Latin ought to remain
the primary goal. While students may not fully realize this goal until the Logic stage of learning (7th – 9th
grade), the groundwork for it most assuredly begins in the grammar school. I will begin my defense for
this statement by defining my terms. The verb construe is a marvelous word defined by Webster as, “1.
to analyze the structure of (a clause or sentence); to analyze grammatical structure 2. to place a certain
meaning on: INTERPRET. 3. to translate, especially aloud.” Is it not the end goal of classical education
to train students how to think, reason, even interpret what they may hear or read? So, should it not be
the purpose of a language program to teach them how to construe (i.e. analyze, interpret, translate) the
structure of a language? As Ms. Sayers instructs us the purpose of studying this particular classical language
is knowing, “not just how to order a meal in a foreign language, but the structure of a language, and hence
of language itself – what it was, how it was put together, and how it worked.” (Sayers, “The Lost Tools of

The other term in this purpose statement that we should clearly define is original Latin texts.
While many of the young readers involving colors and numbers, or the adventures of a Roman family are
wonderful for beginning Latin students, by the end of their Latin studies, students should be able to read
the orations of Cicero, the poetry of Vergil, and the theological dissertations of Augustine. In classical
education, we often hear talk of reading the “Great Books.” Why not read the greatest books in their
original language? Give students the opportunity to truly construe for themselves the writings of these
great works, which inspired hearts and changed the course of history, instead of simply reading someone
else’s English interpretation. This goal will take several years of diligent study to achieve, but it can be
attained by any student whether studying at home or in a more formal school setting.

To some it may seem as though I have laid before you an impossible task. The languages of antiquity
often carry with them a foreboding reputation. However, this is not raising a standard beyond reach, but
merely placing it once again to the height from which it had fallen. John Adams, French Ambassador,
framer of the U.S. Constitution, and our second President, met these same requirements. He grew up on a
farm in rural Massachusetts. His father saved up enough money to send him alone of their several children
to the nearby Latin school. At the age of sixteen when young John applied for Harvard University, the
examiner asked him to translate a particularly complex passage from Cicero as part of his entrance exam.
At first he was a bit daunted by the task before him, until the examiner allowed him the use of a Latin
lexicon and grammar. With these familiar tools he was able to conquer Cicero, win entrance to Harvard,
and eventually become one of our founding fathers.
However, when it comes time to choose the best Latin program for our students today, many
often lose sight of this goal. They instead focus only on the other benefits of Latin study; a list which you
can find in the multitude of “why Latin?” articles posted on every classical website. To borrow an old
proverb, they do in a very real sense lose sight of the forest for looking at all the individual trees. These
other benefits are indeed very worthwhile, but they should not keep us from purposing to teach students to
construe Latin texts.

A favorite benefit is the great expansion of a young students’ English vocabulary. So, many prefer to
adopt a root-word or derivative based program. Certainly any program you choose should have a very rich
vocabulary, and it should take the time to demonstrate to students the etymology of Latin words and how
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they are transformed into English derivatives. However, if all that students learn is a list of Latin words and
their English derivatives, without any understanding of how these words fit into the context of a sentence, I
would say they have not truly learned Latin at all.

Latin does increase the students’ problem-solving skills, so perhaps an inductive reading program
would prove fruitful. However, grammar school students are well-suited to learning vocabulary and
grammar paradigms. They are little sponges who love to soak up data. Children of this age think in black
and white. They thrive on memorization and recitation, not on inductive and deductive reasoning. The
inductive approach is better saved for the students in middle school.

Another benefit is the advantage that Latin will give them when it comes time to learn a modern
language. After all, Latin is the basis of many of our modern Western languages such as French, Italian,
Spanish and Portuguese. Most of us would love to see our children become fluent in at least one these
modern languages. So, perhaps it would be best to prepare them for cultural language study through
an immersion course rather than studying Latin grammar and syntax in a dedicated fashion. While this
approach sounds entertaining and exciting, it misses the purpose of studying Latin. Such an approach
does not enable students to truly understand original Latin texts without also including a significant and
systematic study of grammar. Is it our goal to have students fluently speaking with other Romans? No,
that is simply not possible. Students may be able to understand a Latin passage, but can they understand
why it is to be translated a certain way? Can they speak of its diction and syntax? Blending conversational
Latin into a traditional Latin course is an excellent idea, but neglecting the traditional study and mastery of
grammar and syntax leave students without the necessary tools to properly understand and construe Latin.

I would suggest that while each of the goals above and the cursus vitae they might suggest has some
merit, none of these should be viewed as the ultimate goal, the purpose of studying Latin. The purpose of
Latin should neither end with a simple derivative study, nor strive to revive a conversational language that
has long been silent. I will say again that the ultimate goal is to be able to construe original Latin texts,
interpreting the intent and minds of these ancients, and to convey their thoughts eloquently in our own
tongue. If we pursue this goal, then we will gain the many other benefits as well.
METHODOLOGY: Parts-to-Whole

The best approach to learning the structure of a language, as Ms. Sayers exhorts us, is what we
commonly refer to as the parts-to-whole method. In its truest form, this method instructs students in the
various “parts” of Latin grammar, and then asks them to apply those tools in translating “whole” sentences
and passages. Opponents to this method argue that this is not the natural way humans learn language.
However, such arguments forget the purpose of studying Latin. We ought not to teach students Latin for
the same purpose as we would a modern language such as French, Spanish, or Italian. Instead we teach it
as a discipline of the mind that is designed to focus on how language works. One can equate this study in
many ways to anatomical studies. Students cannot acquire a full understanding of how a toad’s body works
simply by observation and imitation. Instead they must cut the toad open to learn about each part and
how those parts come together as a whole to make the toad effective. So it is with language. We do not
study Latin in order to converse with or imitate the Romans, we study Latin that we may better understand
language and what makes it effective.

The Latin for Children Primer Series is arguably the best parts-to-whole program available for young
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grammar students today. Authors Drs. Chris Perrin and Aaron Larsen designed each text specifically for
students of the grammar stage as prescribed by the classical methodology. While each text focuses primarily
on the rote memorization of Latin vocabulary and grammar paradigms, all the texts progressively teach
the students how to apply these tools to simple translation. Thus, the primers have found a way to marry
beautifully the rote repetition of the grammar stage with the reading so necessary to learning a language
well. After carefully considering the many different curricula available for teaching Latin, I have found this
series to be the most effective in my classroom. Their many supplemental tools and the support provided
on their website make them the ideal resource for the new or inexperienced Latin teacher. I will, therefore,
use this curriculum as I share with you how to teach Latin effectively.
PREPARATION: What do I need to get started?

I once heard that, “ten minutes of preparation is worth two hours of labor.” This certainly is true
for the labor of education, whether you are planning a class for one or for twenty. Classical Academic Press
provides a wealth of materials to choose from. In addition to their series of Latin primers, they provide a
DVD & CD combo, an activity book, a line of history readers, and a multitude of worksheets that users
may download from their website for FREE. Often consumers ask, “but do I need all of this?” Certainly
you do not need to purchase every product on the LFC line. Every child, every class of children, is unique,
as is every teacher’s style of instruction. Classical Academic Press provides a wide variety of supplemental
materials in order to ensure that all teaches are able to tailor their program to their students’ needs. I
encourage you to learn more about each of these supplemental materials and how it may benefit your class
by referring to the product descriptions provided in the appendix, or visit

Once you have decided upon the supplemental materials you will use alongside your textbooks, it is
time to prepare your order. I always recommend that teachers purchase an additional copy of the written
products for themselves. This is particularly helpful with primers and readers. Well before the first day
of class, allow yourself the time to read through each of these materials, marking them up with notes and
ideas. Work through the memory worksheets in the primers and decide which of the online worksheets
will best supplement them. You should print these out and place them in their own binder. Decide which
games in the activity book you would like to use, and make sure you understand how to play them. Peruse
the history readers and select the stories you are most interested in using. Discuss these stories with your
history teacher to find out which ones might best compliment his or her lesson plans for the year. Once
you have made these plans, it is a given that they will change over the course of the year. However, at this
point you have become very familiar with the resources available and better prepared to use them. Now
you are ready to begin teaching.
VOCABULARY: The building blocks of language.

Words are the essential building blocks of any language. A toddler needn’t have a great
understanding to communicate his needs, but the right words are crucial. So also is the case with the lost
traveler desperately searching through his pocket-sized conversational-help-book. He is not worried about
how articulate he sounds, but in getting out the right word to get him to his destination. In the grammar
stage the central focus of teaching language is the rote memorization of words, the building of vocabulary.
The LFC series introduces ten new words in each chapter, adding an additional five review words in primers
B and C. Day one should be spent on introducing these new words to the students; do not leave them
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to fend for themselves. The teacher should model the pronunciation and then ask students to imitate. If
you feel less than confident about your pronunciation, you may wish to use the DVD or CD provided by
Classical Academic Press.
The debate over classical vs. ecclesiastical pronunciation is a hot topic in some circles. There are well
respected Latin instructors who present well crafted arguments on both sides. I, myself, prefer the classical
pronunciation. However, I do not feel that the pronunciation you choose is nearly as important as being
consistent with your decision. The primers and DVD sets provide readers with guides to both ecclesiastical
and classical pronunciation. Choose the one that fits best with your style of teaching. Then, stick to it.
When reciting vocabulary I urge you not to simply repeat endings, but make sure you chant the
whole words to them. In other words do not have students chant: puella, -ae. This may not seem to
present a problem for the well-behaved first declension nouns. However, before too long you will begin
introducing second and third declension nouns whose stem varies between the nominative and genitive
singular, i.e. ager, agrï. Instead require students to continue chanting the noun stem with both endings:
puella, puellae; ager, agrï; vox, vocis, etc. The same should apply to adjectives (bonus, bona, bonum) and to
verbs (amö, amäre, amävï, amätum).
Some texts do not teach students to memorize all four principal parts of verbs, and some teachers
do not require it. I am emphatic about requiring such memorization from my students. The principal
parts are the essential forms from which every type of verb will be formed. If they do not memorize all the
principal parts as a complete set now, it will be much more difficult to do so later. The last two parts often
vary in their form, and students will not readily associate them with the first two. They will in essence
find it necessary to relearn all of their verbs. Moreover, this is the stage at which children are easily able
to assemble and retain great quantities of data. The extra memorization may take a little more rehearsal,
but is readily accomplished. It is crucial that students have command of their vocabulary, and now is the
opportune time for them to gain it.
As you proceed through the new vocabulary list, pronouncing each word properly, take time to
discuss English derivatives. At first, give students the opportunity to guess a few derivatives on their own.
The guidelines for detecting a derivative are: 1) it must look similar in spelling to the Latin word and 2)
it must have a meaning related to the Latin word. If the suggested derivative does not meet both of these
requirements, then it cannot be a true derivative. They often love this time for it is a game that provides
them active participation in the learning process. If they can come up with some derivatives on their own,
they make an invaluable connection – they own that word.
Of course there are those Latin words that seem only to inspire diction too elevated for young
students. So, the primers do provide some help. Each review chapter contains a set of derivatives for most
of the Latin vocabulary words. You can sneak an early peak at this list and have some derivatives ready at
hand. The memory worksheets also provide a derivative exercise for each chapter. It is helpful to introduce
the derivatives they will need in your initial derivative discussion. Sometimes the younger students have
a hard time coming up with some of the derivatives for the memory worksheet on their own. However,
if you have discussed it as a class the day before, they will almost certainly be able to recall the word with
little or no prompting. Older students should be encouraged to use an English dictionary to find some
derivatives on their own. In this case it is important to make sure you have an English dictionary that will
list the words’ origins. Unfortunately, not all dictionaries will provide this information. At the beginning
of the year, do a few derivative detective exercises, teach your students how to search for derivatives using
the two clues above and then how to use the dictionary to verify their theories. Once again, they have
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made the connection themselves and this builds confidence in their newfound vocabulary skills.
A very wise Latin teacher once instructed me that the more senses you use to learn something, the
better you retain it. I have found this time and time again to be so true, particularly with children. So
far students have used the senses of sight and sound to learn their vocabulary words; now it is time to add
tactile practice. Next on the agenda are the famous flashcards. Some programs offer pretty pre-made cards.
I, however, have always preferred that students make their own. The time it takes them to write out every
vocabulary word with all of its grammatical parts, meanings, and even a derivative or two is time well spent.
As they write they review each letter that makes up each part of each word. Ask students to write only the
first entry of each word on the front and the remaining information on the back.
aqua, aquae, f.
aquarium, aquatic
Always require students to memorize the gender of their nouns along with the other pertinent
information. We are, after all, training them how to learn a language. While gender may appear easily
recognizable in the beginning, it will not be so easy later on. Even the first declension has its exceptions. It
is wise to develop in students a habit for memorizing a noun’s assigned gender.
To this end it is also beneficial to use color coded index cards. Pink is assigned to feminine nouns,
blue to masculine, and yellow to neuter. White remains the color for verbs. Some colored packs also
include green and orange. These colors can be assigned to adjectives and prepositions. Use white once
again when it comes time for adverbs, thus connecting them visually with the verbs they modify. This
mnemonic device not only comes in handy when students are reviewing vocabulary cards at home, but
also when they are creating them. The student must take the time to think again about the word, the part
of speech, the gender (if it is a noun), and then the color needed for that word. When they have finished
creating the cards, the teacher should check them. The students need to use the vocabulary tools they have
just created to practice their new words for a few minutes each night at home. It is important to make sure
that they have recorded the information correctly.
The mantra for the grammar stage is “rote, repetition, review.” This seems a dry and dull
philosophy, but it does not have to be. There are plenty of creative ways to review vocabulary words that
will keep the young mind fully engaged. Classical Academic Press provides an activity book full of games
and puzzles that serve this very purpose. Many kids enjoy using the flashcards they have just created to
quiz each other on their new words. These same cards can lead to playing Latin taboo, a favorite at our
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school. One student must give clues to try to help another guess the word on the card, BUT they cannot
use the meaning of the word or any of the derivatives listed. Some students like to use extra index cards
to create another set of Latin cards that are blank on one side, making them suitable for card games such
as “memory” or “go fish.” There are other games that do not require cards at all such as Latin Hangman,
Around the World, and Spelling Bees. The list of Latin games could continue ad infinitum. Many of them
are the creations of imaginative Latin students. Engage your students in creating their own review game. It
will most likely become their favorite.
GRAMMAR: The mortar that binds.

If words are the building blocks of language, then grammar is the mortar that binds them together.
It is grammar that gives vocabulary meaning and power. Without it they would be, well . . . just words.
On a fundamental level, the grammar of Latin is very different from that of English. Latin is an inflected
language. That is it is a language that regularly affixes endings to words in order to demonstrate to the
reader the function of that word in a sentences. The word inflection is itself a Latin derivative from the
verb flectere meaning, “to alter the shape of.” Indeed Latin is very fond of altering the shape of its words,
molding them to fit the purpose needed. English too uses inflection as demonstrated in the manner that
it pluralizes most words, i.e. girl – girls. Of course Latin, with its many lists of noun declensions and verb
tenses, uses inflection on a much larger scale. It often takes a little time for our English brains to conform to
this new paradigm of grammar. A very good reason to begin instructing the so called “poll-parrots” in these
new paradigms with the familiar method of “rote, repetition, review.” Each chapter of Latin for Children
begins with a new or review grammar chant. Although we do not introduce the grammar lesson until the
second day spent on this chapter, we always make time to rehearse the grammar chant on the very first
day. Again it is important to model the pronunciation of each word and each ending for the students, and
then ask them to repeat it. Rehearsing these chants should be the first exercise of every Latin class. It is a
great way to signal to the students that we are moving from the world of English grammar to that of Latin.
Once again, however, the time spent orally reviewing these chants does not have to be dry and boring. Find
creative ways to enhance this time. We have several grammar songs and chants that have become so popular
at our school, even the Kindergarteners know them. Many a student has been caught singing them on the
playground, in the car, and on one occasion even in her sleep! Many of these were created by the students
themselves. One fifth grade student set the imperfect and future tenses of esse to the music of the Mexican
Hat Dance. Another group created a rap that listed all of the prepositions that take the ablative case, and
another for those taking the accusative. We have nurtured such an attitude of enjoyment at our school
with regard to Latin that my husband often teases me that I am “warping” these young minds. No - I’m
merely “inflecting” them.

Once students have begun learning how to memorize the vocabulary and grammar paradigms of this
language, it is time to show them how the two work together. Some programs prefer to wait until children
are older to show them how to apply the tools of vocabulary and grammar work together. This could be
compared to a lesson in wood shop in which we teach students about a nail and then about a hammer, but
then put off instructing them on the affect the hammer has on the nail when applied. Once students have
learned a few words and then a grammar chart, it is only natural to show them how the one affects the
other. Latin for Children does just this. On day two of each chapter students are presented with a short
and fairly simple grammar lesson. The lessons are written in a very straightforward manner that clearly
takes into consideration a young audience, and the possibility of a novice teacher or parent who does not
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have any formal training in Latin. Before class look over the grammar page and the worksheet that follows.
Every worksheet will have a grammar section with questions regarding the grammar lesson on the previous
page. Take the time now to circle the answers on the grammar page so you know exactly where they are
located. You will want to emphasize these as you give the day’s grammar lesson, particularly with the
younger children.
Begin the grammar lesson by having the students read the grammar page out loud, stopping often
to ask comprehension questions about what they have just read: “What is a conjugation? What does it
mean to conjugate a verb?” As they read, have them also circle or underline the same passages that you
identified in your preparation for the lesson. Allow them to use a colored pencil (markers tend to bleed).
This exercise is training them in the skill of note taking. Not only will they relish the opportunity to
use colors in their book, this exercise will highlight the segments of the lesson they will need to complete
the worksheet. As the students get older, it will become less necessary for you to tell them exactly
which sentences they need to highlight. Instead at the end of the reading ask the class, “What is the most
important point in the first paragraph? Circle that sentence.” Again, teaching is not simply filling them full
of information, but training them how to learn.
Now the students are ready to review the vocabulary and grammar they have learned with their
first assignment, the chapter worksheet. With all of the preparation you, as the teacher, have provided in
discussing vocabulary words, derivatives, and grammar, the students should be able to work quietly on their
own or with a single partner to complete the worksheet. Afterwards the teacher can collect the books to
look over the assignment. Of course, with larger classes, taking up fifteen to twenty books can be quite a
lot. Instead, you might consider having the students check their own work. Ask them again to produce
a colored pencil – any color (always a big hit). Review the worksheet aloud as a class and ask them not to
erase their mistakes, but simply write the correct answer over the error. It is important to emphasize that
mistakes are a part of learning, and not an occasion for embarrassment. This method of correction and
review tends to work best with the younger classes, who are not naturally given to reviewing their corrected
assignments on their own.
For the Primer A students, the chapter worksheet is often the end of their grammar lesson. The
sequential primers do often provide additional exercises for grammar application, often in the form of
translation worksheets. Budget your class time appropriately for these additional exercises. Begin each one
by modeling how to complete the exercise. End by reviewing the students work. If you do not have time
to review the exercise that class day, make sure to allow time to do so soon. Students cannot learn from
their mistakes unless they understand them.
For primer A students who would like additional practice, there are more than ninety such
worksheets available free of cost on the Classical Academic Press website. These vary from exercises that
rehearse declining nouns to parsing verbs to translating simple sentences. Latin teachers using LFC have
created these for use in their classroom and have generously made them available for public use. Students
using Primers B and C can benefit from some of these exercises as well. I created the declining and
conjugating worksheets, as well as the generic parsing worksheet for Latin students of all levels. The wider
the variety of practice offered the students, the better they will understand their grammar and how to use it.
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TRANSLATION: Applying the tools of the trade.

Now that the students have their bricks, mortar, and the knowledge to use them, it is time to create
– or rather construe. To put it simply, you cannot begin training children to construe Latin too early.
Even if this exercise begins with a simple one-word sentence consisting of a lone verb; train them to identify
the verb, parse it, and translate it appropriately into a complete English sentence. All too often I have heard
bewildered Latin teachers lament that their upper level students could not “read Latin.” They had diligently
trained them by reciting vocabulary lists and grammar paradigms. They had conjugated the verb amäre in
every known tense a thousand times. The students knew their language tools backwards and forwards, but
they did not know how to use them. They had the hammer and the nail, but they did not know how to
construct anything with them.

As soon as students learn about the person and number of a verb they are ready to begin translating.
First, provide them with a parsing worksheet. Parsing (from the Latin pars, meaning “part”) requires
students to identify the parts that make up a verb and then put them together again to understand the verb
as a whole. This worksheet consists of five columns, designated as follows: VERB, TENSE, PERSON,
NUMER, and TRANSLATION. Some parsing worksheets designed for beginners leave off the column
marked “tense.” Advanced levels can add columns for mood and voice as it becomes appropriate. Fill
in the far left column with a list of verbs the students are learning. Make sure to vary the tense, person,
and number of these verbs appropriately. In class ask students to identify the items as requested in the
remaining columns, and then translate that word appropriately.
He loves
You will see
We were giving
They have
This exercise will train the students to consider all the characteristics of a verb when translating. As
mentioned earlier, such a worksheet is available on the Classical Academic Press website.
Once students have mastered this exercise you can provide them with one-word sentences, consisting
of a single verb. Again ask students to parse the verb before translating. They will be sorely tempted
to show off their newfound skills by merely translating the little sentence without showing their work.
However, the point of parsing is training them how to look at Latin sentences and consider all the elements
of grammar before jumping to a conclusion on how to interpret the meaning. Just as with math, the study
of Latin is a means to discipline the mind; students must show their work.
Gradually nominative nouns can be added to these sentences, then predicates, objects, and so on.
Require students to parse their nouns and adjectives as well, identifying case, number, and gender. Every
time a new case is added to the mix make sure that students know how to parse it, and also how to identify
its function in the sentence. Diagramming or labeling sentences is not just for English class. Students
should use these same notations in Latin class as well. As students parse, then diagram a sentence, they are
creating a type of road map for themselves. When it comes time to translate the sentence, all they need do
is look at the instructions they have written. They should now easily identify the subject, verb and object
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and be able to transfer them into an English sentence. Once again, some will be eager to skip the grunt
work when they are cutting their teeth on short simple sentences. However, as their skills mature and they
begin to encounter more complex sentences with possessives, indirect objects, and subordinate clauses, these
habits will become extremely useful. The flexible word order for which Latin is famous if not notorious
can sometimes be the student’s greatest obstacle. The ability to parse sentences correctly will guide them in
construing effectively.
The next step in reaching our goal, to construe original Latin texts, is to begin providing students
with small passages. Primers B and C provide a few such passages in some of the review units. These
passages are borrowed from the history reader series, “Libellus de Historia” (A Little Book about History),
the companion reader for the Latin for Children series. This series is modeled after the graded readers
that Latin students have used for many decades. A graded reader is one that begins with short passages
containing very simple grammar, and gradually increases the readings in length and complexity. We
designed “Libellus de Historia” to work in tandem with the LFC series, grading the difficulty of the readings
to coincide with the grammar lessons in the primers. The subject matter follows the Veritas Press History
Card Series, and is particularly useful for those programs that use both of these curricula. Should you
prefer, there are other graded Latin readers available that use stories strictly pertaining to Roman culture
and history. No matter which topic you prefer, the approach to passage translation is the same.

Begin by having each student compile a list of unfamiliar vocabulary words. This exercise may seem
tedious at first, but it will save time later. The exercise also asks students to look closely at each individual
word, considering its part of speech, the declension or conjugation to which it belongs, possible cases or
tenses, and the wide range of meanings that may need consideration. While the Libellus series does seek to
incorporate as many known words as possible, it would be impossible to describe these historical events
using only LFC vocabulary. We view this as an opportunity for students to expand their Latin vocabulary
further. The main goal of the reader is to practice the grammar learned. This is a particularly effective
exercise when new words appear that students must parse more carefully.

With the vocabulary list complete, students are ready to begin construing the text. Small groups
of two to three are the most effective in the beginning. After students have translated several passages,
gaining confidence in their skills, you may wish to have them tackle a passage individually. One advantage
the Libellus series has over other graded readers is the manner in which the actual text of the story appears.
The large font and extra spacing not typically found in other readers, allows the student additional work
space. They can parse their sentences within the text if they find it helpful. While I sometimes encourage
this practice in the beginning, I no longer require it. At some point the students must begin to stretch their
wings without the use of these visual cues. Under no circumstances do I allow them to translate the stories
within the text. Instead they must use a separate sheet of notebook paper. Some teachers may wish to have
students keep their own spiral notebook set apart for just this purpose. This notebook becomes a type of
journal, recording the progress in their studies. It is fun for students to be able to look back over the course
of a year or more and see how far their skills have improved. Often we do not realize how far we have
come until we see where we have been.

Now we have come to my favorite element of Latin, both as a teacher and a student; now we read
Latin – aloud. After completing the written assignment arrange students in a comfortable group setting (I
like having them in a circle) with their Latin text and unfamiliar vocabulary list, do not allow them access
to their written translation. The purpose of this exercise is to train the students to read Latin; we already
know they can read English. Before you begin, give everyone, including yourself, permission to make
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