While Bolchazy-Carducci publishes many classical language materials, the most interesting to home educators is Artes Latinae. This is a programmed-learning style Latin course for independent learning with two levels available. Completing these two levels should be equivalent to two years of traditional high school latin coursework. The course offers students three pronunciation choices at the click of a button: American Scholastic, Restored Classical, or Continental/Ecclesiastical.
The complete package for each level includes a DVD-ROM with the contents of two textbooks and the original 15 cassette tapes from earler versions of the course, plus print versions of a reader, a reference notebook, teacher's manuals, and test booklet.
The DVD-ROM's will run on Windows or Macintosh computers. Programs are installed, then run from your hard drive. The DVD-ROM's have self-checking exercises that enable the student to work independently while also assuring that they answer questions correctly.
As they begin the course, students first become familiar with pronunciation and the sound of the language in sentences. Later, they look at sentence elements and develop vocabulary. Knowledge builds in small increments that are constantly repeated for reinforcement—the essential description of the programmed method. It does teach Latin grammar, but in an unusual way.
I have some concern about the methodology beyond the programmed method itself. For instance, in Book One, before nominative and accusative cases are named, students are told to identify subjects and objects by endings of "s" or "m"—a fact that will not hold true with plurals and other declensions. Later, the proper terms and other endings are introduced, but I find this confusing. Proper grammar is taught as the program progresses, on a "need to know" basis.
The program moves slowly (at least through the first half of Book One) with much repetition, although students can zoom ahead through this at whatever rate is comfortable for them. I orignally reviewed only the printed version of this course. I found that coordinating the teacher's manual and other materials with the textbook was quite confusing, but this might be less so with the DVD-ROM edition.
My opinion of Artes Latinae has been influenced by our experience using it with one of our children, which certainly is limited exposure. Many knowledgeable people do not share my misgivings about Artes Latinae. I have also solicited reactions from a number of people using the program. The majority of them are very pleased with the program, so I feel that it is important to balance my misgivings with the fact that I am in the minority.