Latin textbooks We’ve tried out many textbooks for Latin, from Cambridge to Henle and most things in between. After introducing the language with the Minimus book (s)*, we have found the best text to start properly with is Galore Park’s Prep Book 1, which is aimed at children aged about 10 (though it can be started at any age you feel is appropriate for your child). The prep books, of which there are three (though you needn’t work through all of them) lead naturally into the Galore Park ‘So You really Want to Learn Latin’ textbooks which are also very good: they focus on grammar right from the start yet manage to maintain the humour found in the prep books. There are three books in the series, which will take you right up to GCSE level (and beyond). Terrible name, good books. These Galore Park books represent one of the few occasions when I’d actually say to someone, “Go out and invest in the textbooks.” They are not cheap and can be hard to find for less than the full price (about £10 – £15), but they are fully re-usable and Latin is such a core subject for thinking skills that it is worth investing in a good programme. We started off years ago with the Cambridge course as that what my husband had used at school, but we quickly discovered that using the books as a stand alone textbook with no teacher meant the chances of a child mastering Latin grammar were pretty thin! We found ourselves supplementing a great deal and ended up using a variety of other books. Having said this, my husband does still like to use the Cambridge books early on as he says they are engaging and interesting for a younger child (say, 11 or 12 or so). But he uses them as a supplement to a more grammatically based course. As the GCSE approaches we also use John Taylor’s Essential GCSE Latin. This bills itself as ‘a summary of all the linguistic requirements for the OCR Examination Board specification.’ (Mr. Taylor is very helpful and supportive of home-educators and will supply the answers free of charge; there are also support sites online for his book). We have found the book ‘Momentum tests’ by Ashley Carter to be an excellent form of preparation and revision once you approach exam stage. It is simply a whole set of exam-style comprehension tests, increasing in difficulty as the book progresses. Others have recommended Linney’s ‘Getting Started with Latin’, which is aimed at complete beginners (and home-educators). I haven’t used it, and I must confess I was put off by the repeated use of y’all to translate the second person plural (far too American for me!), but if you don’t mind that kind of thing it might be worth a look. * Regarding Minimus, I have mixed feelings about this course. It is a very gentle introduction to the concept of the Latin language, with little grammar teaching. If your child is already familiar with the fact that the Romans spoke Latin, you may feel happy to skip this stage altogether. If you do use it, I’d recommend starting much earlier than the usual Year 5/6 (ages 9-11), at seven or eight (or even six with a keen child). The lack of grammar and a structured vocabulary can make it a frustrating text to use if you have no Latin yourself, yet I think the Teachers’ Book is not really worth the price.
John Taylor has produced two brand new textbooks for the 2018 onwards syllabus. I’m hoping to buy these for use with our 5th son and will review them at a later stage. You might want to have a look at them if you are tackling the new OCR syllabus.