I hope that everyone is getting excited to start Classical Conversations this month! I myself am getting excited. I love Cycle 3 (especially because I live in Virginia—field trips!) and I am tutoring Challenge III this year (American History–field trips!). After looking at the entire Latin program of Classical Conversations, I wanted to focus this month on the beauty of the classical model of studying language.
In my humble opinion, the classical model is a bit like a funnel cloud. At the bottom of the cloud, students are getting the foundational pegs on which to build their cloud. As the cloud gets wider, students are going over the same material, but they are elaborating on it. At the top of the cloud, they are able to explain and synthesize the material.
In Foundations, students start their cloud by learning chants of all five noun declensions, case uses and the active indicative conjugation of amo. At this point, it is not important if they are able to translate it or even understand it. The important part is that they are building the parts of their cloud. Each student, if she starts CC young enough, has the opportunity to go through each cycle at least twice, so his/her understanding will be augmented every time he/she goes through that cycle. Both my six year old and my two year old are able to sing amo (although my two year old thinks amamus is “a mama”), and when my six year old goes through Cycle 2 again, she will learn more about the translations and how to conjugate other verbs. In Cycle 3 while using John 1:1-7, students focus more on pronunciation, prepositions, and vocabulary. Each time they go through this cycle, they will add to their cloud of knowledge of vocabulary and translation.
In Challenges A and B, students review nouns, verbs and vocabulary. However, they also learn to further translate not just words but also full sentences. They are learning how and why everything works together in Latin and they are still adding to their knowledge of case uses and verb endings. Their cloud of knowledge is getting bigger and more fully formed.
In Challenges I-IV, students are continually adding to the grammar and vocabulary they have built and they are also becoming more rhetorical. Their funnel cloud of knowledge is fully formed and not only can they translate from Latin to English, but also, they can also translate from English to Latin. I especially love the Henle Latin series for this endeavor. The vocabulary and grammar for each chapter is manageable and also presented in such a way to be clear and concise. The sentences students need to translate make sense and inculcate students. Other textbooks I have used give an excessive amount of vocabulary and the sentences do not always make sense. By Latin II and III when using Henle Latin, students are translating authentic Latin literature from the great authors Caesar and Cicero. Students are, in a sense, communicating with the ancients by reading the authentic literature. This is the ultimate goal of any Latin program: to understand the mechanics of written language and translate authentic literature. Classical Conversations’ goal in Latin studies (besides gleaning all the skills that Latin studies produce) is no different. Our curriculum allows students to become fully rhetorical in language.
I am praying that this year goes well for all of you and that you appreciate the funnel cloud of knowledge that Classical Conversations offers.