Artes Latinae: Level 1

Book cover: 'Artes Latinae: Level 1'
Waldo E. Sweet
John Arbogast

In two formats: CD ROM or workbook with audio tapes

Traditional format includes: Level 1, Books I and II, 15 cassette tapes, Teacher's Manual, Graded Reader, Teacher's Manual for the Graded Reader, Reference Notebook (consumable), Test Booklet (consumable), and Guide to Tests

CD ROM format includes: CD-ROM (Equivalent to Level I, Books I and II and the 15 cassette tapes), Manual, Graded Reader, TM Graded Reader, Reference Notebook (consumable), Test Booklet (consumable), Guide to Unit Tests

Artes Latinae has been called the cadillac of Latin curriculums, and if the quality of the program doesn't convince you of that, the price will. At nearly three hundred dollars for Level 1 (equivalent to one year of college Latin, or two years of high school), it's easily one of the most expensive ways to study Latin. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

If you want a Latin program that's self-paced, self-guiding, accurate, thorough, and which will leave your children in command of Latin rather than just having dabbled in it, and which works well even if you have no Latin background yourself, Artes Latinae may be just the thing. By the end of Level One, the student will be at ease with all the noun cases and verb tenses; relative, interrogative, and personal pronouns; and have committed to memory over a hundred "basic sentences" from classic Latin texts exemplifying the various points of grammar.

Instruction is based on Dr. Sweet's revolutionary structural method of teaching Latin grammar. Instead of memorizing vocabulary and learning rules of grammar which are then applied to the translation of Latin sentences, students learn to read the way real Latin-speakers did. Each sentence is approached as a sequence of empty "slots," and the reader identifies the correct word to fill the slot by recognizing the signal of the word ending.

Thus, for instance, a reader aproaching the sentence "Hilarem datorem diligit Deus" begins with the framework "Someone blanks something"; recognizes the "-m" ending which signals an accusative noun, and thinks "Someone blanks a cheerful giver"; then recognizes the "-t" signal for a present active indicative verb, and thinks "Someone loves a cheerful giver"; and so on. By contrast, the traditional method of reading Latin (as described for instance in the classic Wheelock's Latin text) calls for searching the sentence for the subject and its modifiers, then for the verb and its modifiers, and so on; in other words, forcing the signals of English grammar (i.e. word order) onto a language that does not use them.

One consequence of the structural method of learning Latin is that Artes Latinae does not track any other Latin program in sequence, making it difficult to switch to a different program in midstream. Other programs such as Latina Christiana may however be easily used as supplementation should you want more Christian content such as prayers or hymns. While Artes Latinae teaches classical Latin, the CD-ROM version offers a choice of classical or ecclesiastical pronunciations, and the voluminous supplementary readings in the accompanying reader include medieval as well as classical selections. The reader also provides supplementary vocabulary, as the basic program (CD-ROM, or workbooks plus tapes) focuses more on mastering grammar than memorizing vocabulary.

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