We've been using Dwane Thomas's Visual Latin curriculum from Compass Classroom in our homeschool now for several years so I wanted to share with you a bit about why we love it!
What is Visual Latin?
Visual Latin is a comprehensive Latin language course designed to make learning Latin accessible, engaging and effective. The course is produced by Compass Classroom, an online education company that specializes in creating high-quality, video-based courses.
The lessons are presented in a video format, which makes it easy for students to follow along and learn at their own pace. In addition to the videos, the course includes written materials, pdf worksheets, vocabulary and grammar exercises, quizzes, and a teacher book with a scope and sequence as well as the answer key to each assignment and quiz.
What is Included with Visual Latin?
You can access the Visual Latin materials in two different ways. You can either purchase the Latin courses individually, or you can access the Latin programs as a part of the complete Compass Classroom Premium Membership.
Membership gives you access not only to the Visual Latin program, but also to over fifty other courses hosted by Compass Classroom. At the time of this writing, Membership is $39/month or $390/year.
If you purchase Visual Latin I or II separate from the membership, you can choose DVD or Streaming and Download access to the video lessons. Digital (PDF) versions of the student book and teacher book are included, but for a little extra, you can order physical copies of the student and teacher books to save you the trouble of downloading the PDF files and printing them yourself.
At the time of this writing, an individual Visual Latin course costs $100 for digital/streaming videos and PDF files for teacher and student books. You can get DVDs of the videos instead for an additional $5 or both DVD and streaming for an additional $10. Print copies of student and teacher books are an additional $52. (Purchase extra copies of student books here.)
If you choose either Membership or digital/streaming videos, you'll have access to the Compass Classroom online learning management system which means that you'll be able to take the online, self-grading quizzes for each lesson!
Is Visual Latin a Live or Self-Paced Online Course?
One of the main advantages of Visual Latin is that it is self-paced. Once you purchase the course you have immediate access to all video lessons. Students do not have to attend live classes at any time in the course.
This is great for fitting in a Latin program in the midst of an already busy homeschool schedule, or for giving students the opportunity to spend more time on a lesson when they need extra help or practice.
What is included in Visual Latin lessons?
Each Visual Latin Lesson is divided into four parts: Part A, Part B, Part C, and a Quiz.
In Part A, Latin Teacher Dwane Thomas introduces a grammar concept. In the short video lesson, he stands in front of a traditional green chalkboard demonstrating the concept and any new vocabulary. Often animated text on the bottom of the screen supplement to help students follow or remember ideas behind the grammatical concept.
In Part B, students practice sentences based on the new grammar concept they learned in Part A.
One of my favorite features about the Visual Latin approach is that sentences are written to help students build language skills in small, bite-sized steps. Fore example, two sentences in a row might be nearly identical except that one subject is singular while the next subject in plural.
This means that students can immediately put into practice the concepts they've learned without having to remember new Latin vocabulary or figure out new syntax for every sentence.
The third part of each lesson is a translation passage. In the beginning of Visual Latin I, translation passages are short and use primarily the limited grammar and vocabulary a student has learned. The simple sentences are based on the story of the Old Testament, beginning with creation and the Garden of Eden.
As students move on towards the end of Visual Latin 2, they will eventually be translating "real Latin" in the form of passages from the Latin Vulgate Bible!
The short video that accompanies each Part 3 assignment features Mr. Thomas reading the passage in Latin! Though he reads these passages in the Ecclesiastical pronunciation, throughout lessons and sentence practice, he often shares the classical pronunciation of words as well.
Once students have finished the first three parts of a lesson, they take a quiz to assess understanding before they move on to the next lesson. All quizzes are in multiple choice format.
At the beginning of Visual Latin 1, quizzes only have 10 or 15 questions, but towards the middle of Visual Latin 1 and on through Visual Latin 2 quizzes have 50 questions, meaning that a wrong answer won't have a huge impact on the final grade.
If you have streaming access to videos on the Compass Classroom site or if you are a Compass Classroom Member, you can access the digital, self-grading quizzes. Otherwise, the teacher book (or PDF) contains an answer key for easy grading.
Does Visual Latin Teach Classical Or Ecclesiastical Pronunciation?
Instructor Dwane Thomas reads Latin passages and sentences in Ecclesiastical pronunciation. However, teaching the pronunciation of Latin words is not a major component of the course. This is typical of most Latin curricula because, unlike modern foreign language courses, the emphasis is on translation, not conversation.
How Many Levels of Visual Latin are There?
How many lessons are included in a level of Visual Latin?
Each level of Visual Latin includes 30 lessons. Visual Latin 1 contains Lessons 1-30 and Visual Latin 2 contains Lessons 31-60.
What Grade Level or Age is Visual Latin a Good Fit For?
Compass Classroom advertises Visual Latin as appropriate for students age 10 and above - this translates to upper elementary, middle, or high school.
Visual Latin I and II cover the grammatical concepts from a typical high school Latin 1 and 2 course. Because of it's approach to language learning, this curriculum could easily be used with middle school students. It is also perfect for high school students who would like a streamlined foreign language curriculum.
Does Visual Latin Count as a High School Credit?
Yes. One year of Visual Latin counts as one high school foreign language credit. As I mentioned above, you may wish to supplement the core program with other resources I've shared below, but this is optional.
Is Visual Latin a Christian or Religious Curriculum?
While this program is not specifically designed to teach or promote a religious view, it is definitely written from a Christian perspective and all of the translations passages are based on portions of Scripture.
Video Review of Visual Latin
Here's a short video review I recorded to tell you a bit about why we really love this video-driven Latin homeschool curriculum and what we've found most helpful!
Can I Get a Free Trial of Visual Latin?
Yes! Compass Classroom offers several ways for you to try out Visual Latin in your own home and see if this approach to Latin words and grammar topics is a good fit for your students.
First, you can try out Compass Classroom Membership absolutely free for one month. This means you can not only explore Visual Latin, but over fifty other homeschool courses as well!
Or, if you'd rather just focus on this particular course, you can get a free download of the first four lessons of Visual Latin! These sample lessons include not only the short video segments that go with each part of the free lessons, but also the digital downloads of printable worksheets so your student can actually engage with the Latin grammar first hand!
I would highly recommend trying this sample digital download if you are considering trying Visual Latin with younger students and want to know if it's a good foreign language course for their ability level.
Recommended Latin Resources to Accompany Visual Latin
Both levels of Visual Latin include a simple glossary in the back of the book (or the end of the PDF file) covering Latin vocabulary words introduced in the curriculum. However, if your students plans to continue in Latin studies, I highly recommend purchasing a stand-alone Latin-English Dictionary. This is one of my favorites.
Younger students starting out in Latin may encounter English grammar concepts they are not familiar with. This chart is a great way to supplement understanding of English grammar as it relates to the study of Latin.
If you want to supplement your high school student's study of Latin, you may wish to integrate your Visual Latin curriculum with another popular homeschool Latin Curriculum. Compass Classroom provides correlation guides so that you can use Visual Latin alongside:
Also, Compass Classroom offers some great free resources to accompany Latin study with any program:
- Latin Readers: Need some extra translation practice? Here are a collection of classic Latin readers, free to download!
- The Lord's Prayer and Creeds in Latin: Give your student exposure to the beauty of these ancient texts read aloud in Latin!
- Dwane's Awesome Latin Lists: Free Printable Charts of ALL of the Latin endings in one place for quick reference!
What Should My Student Do After Visual Latin 2?
If your Latin student wants to continue to explore the Latin language after completion of Visual Latin II, here are some suggestions.
If you used the curriculum correlation chart to integrate Visual Latin with Henle Latin First Year, you can continue on in your study of Latin with the Henle series which includes Second Year, Third Year, and Fourth Year.
Or, if your student is interested in tackling a new language, a solid foundation in Latin (as provided in this program) is a great jumping off place to study other Romance languages like Spanish, French, Italian, or even Portuguese or Romanian!
Try Visual Latin!
Give Visual Latin a try. I think you'll be impressed!