Explore our site


home page linkabout us linkLatin curriculum linklogic curriculum linkproducts linksite map link

contact us link


The Great Latin Adventure Level I Student BookWhen should my child begin?

As you know, The Great Latin Adventure is for Latin beginners in grades 4, 5, and 6. Some students begin in grade 3; a seventh grade start is suitable for some students. Here's a closer look at some considerations that will help you decide when your child should start.

English foundations

There are no Latin prerequisites at all, but your child should be solidly comfortable with reading—and should also have had a year or two of very basic English grammar—before beginning The Great Latin Adventure. I do explain all grammar topics very clearly in the grammar lessons, but children will learn Latin grammar best if they are not simultaneously being exposed to English grammar for the very first time.

How much English grammar should your child know? Children who can identify nouns, pronouns, adjectives, prepositions, and prepositional phrases, and can identify the subject and verb of a sentence, are well positioned to begin The Great Latin Adventure.

The wonder window

The “wonder window” is just my name for the happy fact that young children have a natural delight in the wonder of a new language. The wonder window is in full force in grades 3, 4, and usually 5; for some children, it fades a bit by grade 6. The enthusiasm of a parent can bring back that wonder, though. It’s never too late to start Latin!

Derivative readiness

As for derivative readiness, many English derivatives of Latin words are “big words.” I’ve selected accessible derivatives and defined them simply, but many are still big words, and some children will benefit most from the derivative component of The Great Latin Adventure with a grade 5 or 6 start. You’ll probably want to take a look at a sample derivative worksheet (sample pages) to assess your own child’s readiness. Your child doesn't need to already know and use these words before you can start GLA, of course, since the derivative worksheets are designed to introduce them. But your child should read well enough that the illustration sentences on the first page of each derivative worksheet are within reach already or represent an attainable stretch if discussed with you.

Earlier and later starts

For many students, the wonder window and derivative readiness combine to suggest a grade 4 or 5 start. However, many grade 6 beginners and grade 3 beginners have done very well. A grade 7 start is also suitable in some cases.

Beginning in grade 3

Beginning in grade 3 does require extra commitment from the teacher and some modification to derivative expectations, along with a slower pace through the material. A given chapter might take four weeks instead of three, for instance, and at the beginning of the year a third grader might need to focus on just a few derivatives per chapter intensively, rather than try to master all of the derivatives on the worksheet. A grade 3 start is used in the setting where The Great Latin Adventure was first developed, but most users outside of that setting have preferred to begin later.

Beginning in grade 6 or 7

As discussed in the FAQ, GLA's unique topic path, with its coverage of a substantial suite of case uses, means there's a lot of meat in the program for older beginners. The inclusion of English-to-Latin translation work provides a meaningful challenge for older beginners, as well.

Sixth graders find GLA stimulating but very doable. As for seventh graders or older students, GLA is suitable in a number of situations. For example, if you have a child who needs his grammar foundations shored up, or a child who benefits from repetition, reinforcement, and accountability, GLA can be an excellent place to start for an older beginner. If you don't know any Latin yourself and want a thorough grounding before you feel comfortable teaching a higher-level Latin program, GLA can be an excellent place for you and your older beginner to start. If you are teaching multiple children and don't want to be teaching multiple programs, you may choose to use GLA with perhaps a fourth, fifth, and seventh grader at the same time. And finally, if you have a self-directed, motivated older child and want that child to be able to do quite a bit of his Latin work without your help, GLA can be an excellent choice. (You'll still need to grade work, of course, but an older beginner will be able to do much of his work without your constant supervision.)

Seventh graders and older students can take GLA at a rapid clip, then move on
to a Latin program that covers grammar topics more cursorily, or to the study of another language. Because foundational topics are explained in detail in GLA, it makes a good predecessor to programs with more cursory coverage.

How long will the program take?

This depends on starting age and on the amount of time devoted to Latin, but younger beginners (grade 3 or 4) will generally find that the two levels of GLA last them about two and a half years (at three or four times a week), while beginners in grades 5 and 6 may complete the course in two years or less, and seventh graders, with Latin five times a week, may roar through the program within a year and a half. (Transfer students into a school that uses GLA have done a fast-paced summer study; GLA "accelerates" well.)

These figures assume a nine-month school year; some teach a similar number of hours per year but allocate those hours differently (longer class periods, year-round schooling, etc.)

Co-ops that teach Latin once a week but allocate follow-up tasks to Moms to complete at home are in effect teaching Latin more than once a week, so keep that in mind as you evaluate these scheduling scenarios.

In the teacher’s manual for each level, I provide a number of real-world case studies featuring homeschool, co-op and Christian school settings. Please also see section B of the FAQ page for other information on scheduling and planning.

What comes after GLA?

Students of The Great Latin Adventure have gone on to success with a great variety of other Latin programs. An expanded treatment of this topic is now located at the FAQ page.

Users have told me they’d love to see me to write more levels of The Great Latin Adventure—they say nothing else is quite like it—but until that happens, GLA thoroughly grounds their students and ensures success with other programs used as sequels, even some intended for much older students.

What about starter programs?

Do you need to do a starter program with your child in grades K-2? Not with The Great Latin Adventure. Absolute Latin beginners succeed very well with the program, and most GLA students have had no prior Latin exposure of any kind.

What do I mean by a "starter program"? A program that focuses on vocabulary, songs, pictures, chants, and phrases and passages learned orally. Children in grades K-2 are too young to begin Latin grammar or to do significant translation, so it's necessary to begin with a starter program if Latin is to be studied in these grades at all. Starter programs can be fun and valuable, but they are optional. You don't need to feel pressured about whether you do Latin in these very early years.

Why? Children can learn an enormous amount of both vocabulary and grammar by starting in grades 3-6! They aren't harmed by not learning vocabulary ahead of time. They can learn their vocabulary right along with the grammar and translation which put the vocabulary to use. I've seen it happen many times. And after all, understanding Latin sentences is the goal of Latin study.

That having been said, if you do want to begin Latin in grades K-2, a convenient way to achieve that with The Great Latin Adventure is to use the vocabulary lists and CD to teach vocabulary and paradigms to your child. This can be done on a purely oral basis at first, later progressing to making flash cards. This gives both you and your child a head start on the complete program. This can also be fun if you are schooling an older child using The Great Latin Adventure and don't want a younger child to feel left out of Latin time.

If you do want to begin vocabulary or paradigms from GLA with a younger sibling, feel free to copy vocabulary pre-quizzes or noun and verb blanks from your teacher's manual for your younger child's use if you would like to introduce a written dimension as well. But the written dimension can easily wait until "full GLA," of course.