Latin Primer

Latin Primer I
Publisher: Canon Press
Reviewed by Amy and Calvin Klomparens

Latin Primer I is an introductory Latin program recommended for second or third grade, although the chants could be taught even earlier.  Its primary focus is learning vocabulary and the Latin noun and verb endings, or “chants” i.e. “amo, amas, amat…”  It is organized into 27 weeks; each week has a weekly wordlist and chant to memorize with an accompanying worksheet.

This is a grammar level curriculum, that is, it focuses on memorization rather than grammar and translation, which takes advantage of the fact the young minds find memorization easy, while the more logical work of translation is something for which they are not yet ready.  It is a visual and auditory program when used with a set of DVDs available where the teacher reads the wordlists and chants aloud and students respond.

Latin Primer I consists of both a Student and Teacher text.  As previously mentioned, there is a set of  DVDs featuring Julie Garfield, the Latin teacher at Logos School in Moscow, Idaho.  Also available are flashcards and an audio CD with student voices reading the wordlists and chants.

The student workbook is divided into two sections: first, weekly wordlists and chants and second, an accompanying worksheet for each week.  The worksheet focuses on derivatives, vocabulary and endings, with a little grammar introduced.  By the end of the text there are some short translations.  

The teacher text provides additional  notes, including a list of derivatives for each wordlist, and an answer key for all weekly worksheets.  The material is fairly simple and straightforward, so you may be able to get by without this teacher edition, but there are some valuable helps, not the least of which is the extensive list of derivatives for each week’s vocabulary. 

On the DVDs, Julie Garfield leads a class in recitation of the weekly wordlist and all the chants up to the current lesson.  She also works through the Weekly worksheet with the students in the class.  These DVDs do not take the place of parent as teacher, but they will help the parent who has no previous Latin experience feel comfortable teaching their student Latin. 

These materials can be purchased at  The Student and Teacher Books together will cost around $45, while the DVD set is around $50.     

The most valuable aspect to this program is the weekly chant.  Each week the new chant is added to those previously learned, so that by the end of the book, they can say 24 chants in a row, almost without taking a breath.  In addition to being a great parlor trick, when they are ready to begin a grammar program they will find this memory work invaluable, since they will have the noun and verb endings they need cemented into their memories.  The work of declining nouns and conjugating verbs is mentally taxing at first, but having the endings committed to memory will make it less so.  We did  not always do the worksheet and we did not necessarily learn all of the vocabulary, but we know those chants and we use them all the time when translating Latin.

Each week, we did not do the worksheets but memorized a wordlist with a chant and quotation for example “Cave Canem” we used to run around the house yelling at the top of our lungs “Cave Canem” “Cave Canem.” By the end of  The book could say 24 chants. It is good because you memorize the chants which are very important.

Helping parents teach the languages of the cross.