With each Volume I, II or III Teacher’s Guide, you will receive a CD with a helpful Power Point presentation to help you teach your classes.  We are working on a Bank of Test Questions so you may design your tests differently each time.  Email us if you would like this sent to you.  You are ALWAYS invited to email or call us with any questions.  We are here to help!  858.335.6311.

Free Self-Study Lesson Plans: These are appropriate if you are working alone and need guidance.

Free Assessment Quiz: Use this guide to find out if you’re ready to begin Latin.

Free Quick Start Guide

How does Dennis Tuma’s class of 9 year olds get A’s in Latin using Latin in the Christian Trivium?

What are our methods? Let me ramble off quickly, as my time is short.First, we have made sure that the kids are up to speed in Grammar. We have used Shurley English.Second, my goal was to infect them with motivation to study Latin. There is Latin on the dollar bill, Avis Car rentals, etc. Everywhere you look you see Latin. We use a dictionary that has the Latin and Greek roots as well.

Third, I take them through the same steps in every chapter (using the notebook method): (1) master (not learn) vocabulary, (2) master grammar, (3) master assignments, and (4) master Roman culture. I give lots of quizzes and a homework sheet in every class to pace them (we meet for 60 minutes twice a week). We also do lots of drills and team competitions (two teams) have to answer my quick questions in rapid fire. I give a test for every chapter and each child must pass with a 90% or higher to move on. Kids that get lower than 90% retake the test.

Last, I am excited as a teacher. I infect them with the passion. I connect as much as I can to real life, discussions about Christ, etc. etc. They love it. I am adding Latin songs this year. Last year we memorized Latin prayers and sang “Dona Nobis Pacem.”

Why Study Latin?
 by Doug Busby
The inspiration of the Scriptures testifies to the importance of language skills for both comprehending and formulating verbal thought and expression. God has revealed Himself and His plan in words. Words, and the relationship of words, are the basis for ideas, and ideas have consequences in our personal lives and for history. Language skills, therefore, make us more effective in our service to God, and Latin is a powerful and effective vehicle for learning those skills.Latin has been the most widely used language in all the world’s history, and more than any other tongue, it influenced the languages of Europe and the Americas. It has been estimated that between 60 and 70% of our English words are derived from Latin. Some words, such as area, circus, and animal, are spelled the same in both languages. Others, like people, space, and peace (populus, spatium, pax), come indirectly from Latin. Indeed, because Latin has been the language of learned men and women, it became the basis for the vocabulary of the sciences, law, technology, music, and medicine. For developing a powerful vocabulary, Latin is a definite plus.Latin is equally important for learning the structure of language and grammar. Most of our nation’s founders could read Latin and even Greek, and they were able to use the English language the way a fine craftsman uses his tools. Their ability to write and say what they meant with power and elegance is largely because of the skills they learned in their youth from studying these ancient languages. Furthermore, from Latin, a student can branch out into other languages with ease.Studies have shown that students who study Latin tend to perform better in all academic areas. The study habits and memory development gained in the study of Latin are vital factors for success in college and in getting higher scores on the SAT and ACT entrance exams.So now the adventure begins. Thousands upon thousands of students in both institutional and home schooling environments have studied Latin on their way to success in every walk of life. With Latin in the Christian Trivium, that pathway will have the added guidance and direction provided by studying the Bible in Latin.

“Study to show thyself approved . . .” Sorry, I meant to say, “Sollicite cura te ipsum probabilem exhibere Deo operarium inconfusibilem recte tractantem verbum veritatis” (2 Tim 2:15).

The Main Reason I Learned Latin by Gary Bisaga.

I am a great fan of C.S. Lewis. However, one difficulty that has long plagued me is that when he is addressing cultured and highly educated audiences, he throws in foreign phrases, assuming (probably correctly) that his audience knew the languages as well as he. French is not uncommon; Greek is used occasionally; but by far the foreign language he uses most often is Latin. He was clearly almost as comfortable with Latin as with English, and most of his usages are actually references to some ancient or Medieval Latin manuscript.

My problem with this was that every time I came to such an example, I had to “bleep” over the Latin. And it happened more often than I would like that the passage in question was a key part of the point being discussed. The example that I would like to give appears in one of his speeches on apologetics (i.e. defending Christianity in public). He finished with a paragraph on the relation between science and apologetics, relating how some recent discoveries in science may help support the Christian cause. But he cautioned apologists not to put too much weight of their arguments on the scientific discoveries because scientists are always changing their theories as they get more information. The talk ended “klj asldkjaio sd wer kjsdf lkjsdes is a sound principle,” which reflects how I read the Latin phrase at the beginning.

I read this essay a number of times and finally could not take it anymore. I decided I would learn Latin to figure out what was going on here and in other places. I put the essay out of my mind and I started taking an Internet-based Latin course using Wheelock’s (the standard college Latin textbook). Around chapter 24, I come upon a reading from the Aeneid about the Trojan horse. As an aside, I had always assumed the Trojans were a bunch of rubes happily pulling in this Greek-built horse without ever suspecting it was full of soldiers. In reality, in the story a number of Trojans protested against bringing in the horse, saying that the Greeks wouldn’t just leave this wonderful gift without “strings attached.” Chief among the protesters was Laocoön, a Trojan priest, who said “Men of Troy! What are you thinking? … It could be a trap … “ and then ended with the famous phrase “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes!” … “I fear the Greeks even when they bear gifts!”

I immediately remembered the phrase from Lewis that I had puzzled about; Lewis’ sentence was “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes is a sound principle.” It suddenly all fell into place: the scientists seemed to Lewis to be coming to Christians bearing gifts (in the form of arguments favoring Christianity). One should consider them, he argued, but to base our entire apologetic on them is as unwise as the Trojans putting all their faith in the Greeks and their wooden horse. I saw how Lewis effectively used Laocoön’s phrase, evoking memories of the seemingly friendly Greeks and how it turned out badly for the “men of Troy.” My understanding not only of the specific sentence but also of Lewis’ entire article was greatly enhanced. I suddenly felt that, by learning Latin, a whole world (the last 2,000 years) was opened up to me.

This example is unusual only in its dramatic impact. Many times since similar situations have occurred. To me, these are reason enough for having spent the hours required to learn Latin, which I now love as Lewis did.

The Wanderer Newspaper  Issue Date December 30, 2004

My Case For The Study Of Latin


  The readers of this weekly journal know me for my articles on the translations of the prayers of the Roman Missal from Latin into English. For more than four years, I have been defending the prayers in Latin of new composition for the Novus Ordo of 1970 and have been comparing the present English version we hear in church with what the prayers really say when translated accurately, with a slavishly literal translation not suitable for liturgical use.

  We look at the Latin vocabulary, examine the grammar, and figure out what it all means. Not all, but most of you have to take my word for it, of course. If you haven’t had any Latin at all, you are dependent on what other people tell you it means. This has been a terrible problem in the last few decades. In the Catholic Church this is a disaster, as you know, but it is also tragic in society at large. I think we ought to do something concrete about this disaster and start putting things to right.

  Let’s consider for a moment what the impact of Latin’s loss has been, just in a few rapid references. Since the Catholic Church still rather self-consciously vaunts that Latin is her “official language,” and even though the Church’s canon law specifies that all seminarians should be very well trained in Latin, and even though Blessed Pope John XXIII wrote a document on the importance of Latin (Veterum sapientiae — 1962) and desired, in the 1960s, that it be fostered and promoted, the fact is that the teaching of Latin at every level of the Church has been nearly destroyed.

  Since the Church lost its way in this matter, so did the rest of the secular society. This is a sad fact and we must not be naïve about it. The Church and the world’s culture cannot be separated, no matter how hard people have tried through the centuries.

  The effect of this for the Church, and therefore for all of society, has been devastating. Look at it this way. Suppose you want to study, say, physics. You go to college, but they find you have never had more math than high school geometry. Do they let you take the courses? Certainly not. You lack the basic tools. Say you find yourself desiring to study French literature at a high level of scholarship. The problem is, however, you have never studied French. Do they let you into the graduate school’s French department? Do they let you teach?

  However, in the ambit of the Church, seminaries (billed these days as graduate schools) have students taking and even instructors teaching philosophy, theology, ancient history, and so on, and most of them have no skill in Latin. Can you study physics without math? Sure, superficially. French literature without French? Bien sûr, but you have to rely on what other people tell you the texts say, since you can’t read them and think about them yourself. Can you study theology? Scripture? Canon law? All without Latin and Greek? Sure. But. . . .

  The Church’s incredible treasury of literature, history, philosophy, theology, law, art, and music has been slammed shut and the key has been purposelypurposely— taken away, friends. We have been robbed of our patrimony. It is with great irony that I say that Latin is having a revival, mostly in secular, public schools. I will get to this a little later on. But, for the most part, the powers that be have made the old adage that Latin is a dead language nearly true.

  I am going to make a pitch for the study of Latin and Greek, but especially Latin. I am addressing primarily parents of young children but also anyone who wants to improve himself in ways both marginal and monumental. Of course most parents with school-age children may not have access to schools with a Latin language program. You might not live close to, say, Chicago’s Latin High. No matter.

  This is so important that you should make some sacrifices and take the time and effort to overcome your obstacles. You who are home-schooling parents have a decided advantage: You set the curriculum for your children and you can include Latin. And if you haven’t studied it before you can learn it also!

  There are some resources I will point you to at the end of this piece. Believe me. This can be, and ought to be done. I think we have a responsibility to our families, our Church, and our society to make Latin a real working element of the formation of our children.

The Most Useful Thing I Ever Studied

  I am entirely convinced, and I have staked the greater share of my not yet very long life on this conviction, that the most useful, practical topic I have ever studied was Latin. This is not because I am a priest of the Catholic Church’s Latin rite, nor because I am involved in Patristic Theology, the teachings of the Fathers of the ancient Church who wrote in Latin and Greek. Latin, simply put, gave me indispensable tools and shaped my mind. It opened the locks on books, smoothed the difficult and rocky paths of learning additional languages, and shaped the structure of my mind: how I think, solve problems, see my world around me.

  It would be a bit cliché to list here all the various contributions Latin has provided over the millennia, and I need not go into details here. You know about the foundation of the English language on both Germanic tongues as well as the Latin derivative Norman French and directly Latin itself. You know about its fantastic body of literature.

  You know that it was Western Civilization’s single most important medium of communication for politicians, scientists, naturalists, historians, lawyers, mathematicians, explorers, philosophers and theologians, artists and authors, and even friends and lovers in both speech and in correspondence across the face of the whole planet and through the ages.

  You know these things and I need not list many examples of them here. I simply want to make a pitch for the learning of Latin, especially by the young. Consider it both free advice and also, perhaps, the greatest gift in your education you might ever receive.

  This is a matter to which I can personally attest. I began my study of Latin not as a child implicated in the Mediaeval trivium and quadrivium (much to the surprise of some of those who regard me from afar), nor even as a child in Catholic schools some decades ago (having been born only at the very tail end of the Baby Boom, and into a Lutheran family, at that). I began with Latin well into my undergraduate days in university, and only because I had made a deal with a friend to fill a couple of elective courses together with him: I would pick one and he’d pick one.

  He chose Latin. “Latin?” quoth I, but the “die was cast,” for I had made a bargain. To make a long story short, he dropped it after the first term and I continued with it, to the extent that it turned into an additional major and then graduate school. My growing knowledge of Latin prepared me to embrace with my intellect the content of what I experienced in the first Latin Mass I attended during the first visit I had ever made to a Catholic church.

  But before that, Latin began to assert its utility in my life in many ways, especially in my studies. Briefly, in my other schoolwork, I was suddenly beginning to grasp the meaning of words I hitherto had been constrained to look up in the dictionary. I began recognizing quotations and themes from ancient writers, especially poets, in literature. When it came time to take my entrance exam for graduate school, I obtained a score especially in the sphere concerning language and reasoning, logic, which pleased mevery much indeed.

  Having added Greek to my arsenal, in graduate school as a teaching assistant I was involved in teaching medical students biomedical terminology: The building blocks of virtually all the terms used in anatomy and most of the physical sciences are from Latin and Greek roots. More than once I have raised the eyebrow of a physician by identifying rather arcane terms. This is all, of course, due to my knowledge of Latin and Greek. But Latin does more than break the ice at parties. It can change your life.

The Lost Tools Of Learning

 The writer Dorothy Sayers, in a presentation at Oxford in 1947 called “The Lost Tools of Learning,” made a case for the learning of Latin in terms that can justly be called prophetic. Describing the alarming trend in the quality of education, Sayers advocated a return to a modified trivium (grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric) and quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). The trivium, literally a “three-way crossroad,” equipped a student with the ability to think, and practically apply clear thought both by expressing himself clearly and with elegance in virtually every pursuit in life, especially life in the public square.

  Based on the centuries-old tried and true methods of ancient rhetoric, the first part of this system, the trivium aimed first at learning a language, “not just how to order a meal,” according to Sayers, but rather “the structure of a language, and hence of language itself — what it was, how it was put together, and how it worked.” Next the student learned “how to use language; how to define his terms and make accurate statements; how to construct an argument and how to detect fallacies in argument. Dialectic, that is to say, embraced logic and disputation.” Thirdly, the student “learned to express himself in language — how to say what he had to say elegantly and persuasively.” The language for the entire curriculum was Latin, in olden days.

  Today, Latin would be a common thread helping to deepen the student’s tools of learning from youth to adulthood. Sayers makes the strong point that the language used as the glue for the whole structure must be an inflected language, that is, a language with words whose function in sentences is identified by endings for cases, times, numbers, persons, moods, and so forth. She makes the additional practical point that “a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least fifty percent. It is the key to the vocabulary and structure of all the Teutonic languages, as well as to the technical vocabulary of all the sciences and to the literature of the entire Mediterranean civilization, together with all its historical documents.”

  Latin, friends, is the key. For Sayers, it was also a remedy.

  She makes a powerful case for a return to Latin study and the foundational approach similar to the Mediaeval program of study. She aptly describes what we are now reaping in the 21st century.

  The truth is that for the last 300 years or so we have been living upon our educational capital. The post-Renaissance world, bewildered and excited by the profusion of new “subjects” offered to it, broke away from the old discipline (which had, indeed, become sadly dull and stereotyped in its practical application) and imagined that henceforward it could, as it were, disport itself happily in its new and extended Quadrivium without passing through the Trivium.

  Effectively, she is pointing out that, today, people are tending more and more to learning lots of stuff, various points, large quantities of information, but they are not learning how to think and, more alarming, they are not learning how to learn. She goes on:

  “Right down to the 19th century, our public affairs were mostly managed, and our books and journals were for the most part written, by people brought up in homes, and trained in places, where that tradition was still alive in the memory and almost in the blood. Just so, many people today who are atheist or agnostic in religion, are governed in their conduct by a code of Christian ethics which is so rooted that it never occurs to them to question it.”

  I am not sure how deeply Christian ethics are guiding us now in society, but, I digress. . . .

  Remember, what now follows was written in 1947, nearly 60 years ago. The people about whom Sayers is speaking have gone to their reward. We are now in a time nearly without the memory of what she described. Going on:

  “But one cannot live on capital forever. However firmly a tradition is rooted, if it is never watered, though it dies hard, yet in the end it dies. And today a great number — perhaps the majority — of the men and women who handle our affairs, write our books and our newspapers, carry out our research, present our plays and our films, speak from our platforms and pulpits — yes, and who educate our young people — have never, even in a lingering traditional memory, undergone the Scholastic discipline. Less and less do the children who come to be educated bring any of that tradition with them. We have lost the tools of learning — the axe and the wedge, the hammer and the saw, the chisel and the plane — that were so adaptable to all tasks. Instead of them, we have merely a set of complicated jigs, each of which will do but one task and no more, and in using which eye and hand receive no training, so that no man ever sees the work as a whole or ‘looks to the end of the work’” (emphasis added).

  Dorothy Sayers clearly saw some dire consequences for losing the tools of learning. All around us now, we see the results. She concludes with:

  “It is not the fault of the teachers — they work only too hard already. The combined folly of a civilization that has forgotten its own roots is forcing them to shore up the tottering weight of an educational structure that is built upon sand. They are doing for their pupils the work which the pupils themselves ought to do. For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.”

  Essentially, for Sayers, and I think she is absolutely right, the use of Latin as a catalyst within a program of education gives shape and flexibility to the mind and a myriad of helpful reference points for whatever else we are going to pursue in life, be it computer programming, homemaking, law, theatre, graphic design, the military, or the convent. Latin and Greek, especially Latin, are the key.

Shaping Your Child’s Mind

  I have mentioned that Latin shapes your mind. It may be that you have read about how some public school systems in the United States, alarmed by the plummeting skills and test scores of pupils, implemented Latin in their curricula with amazing positive results. These stories are quite true and have actually been the subject of formal studies.

  For example, a study in the 1970s in schools in Washington, D.C., showed how Latin improves reading and reading comprehension skills. They found that English reading scores were significantly higher for students who had taken Latin than for others who either did not take a foreign language or who took a foreign language other than Latin. The students taking Latin were low-level reading students, but even their rate of improvement was better than the other groups.

  A 1977 study said that children who were in an eight-month program “climbed from the lowest level of reading ability to the highest level for their grade, equaling the achievements of pupils who had studied French or Spanish for 38 months” (Mavrogenes, N.A. “The Effect of Elementary Latin Instruction on Language Arts Performance.” Elementary School Journal, 77 [4] 270).

  I won’t give you too many of these citations here, but at the end I will mention where you can find more information. There were similar findings for low-level reading students in studies in Worcester (Mass.), Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and even a study in the New York public schools system in 1995. In Erie County (Pa.) it was found that Latin increased students’ scores in all areas, including “Word Knowledge, Reading, Language, Math Computation, Math Concepts, and Math Problem Solving.”

  There are many of these studies, and I will not detail them here. However, the formal research found that reading and reading comprehension improves dramatically if students take Latin, which provides the building blocks of vocabulary. Around 100,000 English words derive from Latin and Greek roots and the most frequently used prefixes from both. Preliminary conclusion: Latin does something for you that other languages, even those derived from Latin, do not. Latin is better for us.

  This is not limited to the very young. Older students also improve by leaps and bounds. In the same study I cited above, it was found that in studies of older students or adults in Washington and Boston, students who had taken a foreign language and Latin scored in the 58th percentile on their English vocabulary level, while those with no foreign language scored an average percentile of 28. In a study in 1977 in Boston, two groups of high school juniors, one with both Latin and another foreign language for two years each and one with no foreign language, the Latin group scored higher than the others.

Why Is Latin So Helpful?

  Why does Latin help so much? To understand what you read and hear, you have to know what the words mean before you can think about it. Latin gives you those building blocks and then, because the language itself works like a puzzle that is fun to solve, it teaches you to search for and make connections between concepts and then hold the thought in your mind as a whole. The way Latin works, with the inflected endings and without a regular word order, the reader or listener must accustom himself to holding concepts in his mind almost as a juggler keeps objects in the air until the pattern is established and the thought becomes clear. Latin keeps your mind focused on structure and meaning. You learn to decode the world around you, think about it, and then talk about it intelligently and with style!

  Many of the studies on the utility of Latin were done in inner-city areas of New York, Los Angeles, Washington, and Philadelphia. Latin helped underprivileged inner-city children “achieve great improvement in English communication skills” (Sussman, L.A. “The Decline of Basic Skills: A Suggestion So Old That It’s New” The Classical Journal 73 [4], 351). In sum, Latin improves your reading, comprehension, vocabulary, higher thinking, and mathematical skills. Latin could be your child’s, or your, ticket to vertical social movement as well.

Wake Up!

  Within the Church herself, there are some signs that people are waking up a little about the rough shape we are in over the loss of Latin skills. There are more and more summer Latin programs available for people of all levels and ages. Also, in Rome, His Eminence Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, has formed a commission to promote the use of Latin in the Church. His Congregation also intervened to reinstate a program in Latin Letters at a pontifical university in Rome, the “Salesianum,” after it had been canceled. Perhaps what we are seeing is a reversal of a trend. New initiatives are being undertaken even as old entities are dropping away. Change is a sign of life, in most cases. And where there is life there is hope.

  Still, these initiatives are not enough. We cannot rest assured that all will be well unless we make sure that people start learning Latin again. What I have presented here is not just to urge a benefit for the Church and society as a whole, but also for your own personal benefit and that of your children. Sure, those other languages are great. I have studied several by now. I love them. But, I learned them more quickly because I knew Latin.

  I know that you know that much of English derives from a Latin base, and much from Germanic sources. You know that useful and sometimes quaint Latin phrases salt the speech and writings of the learnéd and I won’t tire you with them. We don’t have to get into the debates about the Church’s liturgy, whether it is in English, or Latin, or Mandarin Chinese. What I want to do is help you realize that knowing Latin improves your mind and can radically change your life.

  Latin together with ancient Greek can be the key to lifting you above your less than happy skills, if that is a problem for you, or improving what you have to the point that you or your children might just get better grades, open up a rich new apprehension of Western culture, and acquire what you need not only to get a better job, but enjoy your life in way not previously imagined.

Some Easily Accessed Internet Resources

  You can read more about the studies that have been done on Latin and improvement of students’ skill on the Internet in a piece called: “Efficacy of Latin Studies in the Information Age” by Alice K. DeVane, which was a paper submitted for a psychology department at Valdosta State University in Georgia in 1997: http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/files/Latin.html.

  Dorothy Sayers’ magisterial piece “The Lost Tools of Learning” is all over the Internet. The copyright is now held by The National Review. It is a piece known well to home-schoolers. One place to find it, however, is: http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html.

  You can listen to Latin liturgical broadcasts of Holy Mass, Lauds, and Compline every day on the Internet from Vatican Radio: http://www.vaticanradio.org/.

  St. John’s University in Minnesota has good online resources for students and teachers: http://www.csbsju.edu/library/internet/latin.html.

  The incredible Perseus site of Tufts University, mirrored in Oxford, Berlin, and Chicago, has unbelievable texts, including online a searchable Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary and Liddell & Scott’s Greek Lexicon. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/.Homeschoolchristian.com has a comparison of Latin resources for home-schoolers at http://www.home

  Latin in the Christian Trivium is an interesting web site with materials available: https://latintrivium.com/.
+    +    +

  Fr. Zuhlsdorf, a convert from Lutheranism, was in part drawn to the Catholic Church from his study of Latin and his background in theatre and music. He was ordained by Pope John Paul II in 1991. He has both secular and ecclesiastical degrees from Pontifical Universities in Rome, where at present he is working on a doctorate in Patristic Theology. Fr. Zuhlsdorf is a weekly columnist for The Wanderer, has appeared on ETWN, contributed articles to Sacred Music, Catholic World Report, and Inside the Vatican, gives retreats, is a speaker at conferences, and also moderates the Catholic Online Forum (forum.catholic.org) and the ASK FATHER Question Box (askfather.net).

Graphics copyrighted and courtesy of
The Christian Catacombs of Rome

The Roman Empire

Latin Teach.com

Published Articles

A Homeschooling Grandmother’s Testimony by Gail Busby

Serving Their Country by Mary Harrington