Kraken Latin for the Logic Years will eventually be a series of two courses. Book One is already available and Book Two will be available the Summer of 2016. Aimed at students in what is considered the “logic stage,” Kraken Latin is more challenging than many other Latin programs that target students below high school level. Consequently, Book One can easily serve as a full year Latin course for high school students as well. While the course does not require the previous study of Latin, students without some background might find the pace overwhelming. For example, in the first week, students translate from Latin into English, “Male pugnās, sed stō et bene pugnō.” (Translation: “You [sg.] fight badly, but I stand and fight well.”) By the third week, students are translating lengthy sentences from English into Latin and a short story from Latin into English.
While the vocabulary includes many words encountered in other first year Latin courses, there are some unique words and the content itself is a bit different. Rather than using sentences based on the writings of Caesar and Cicero, the author bases her content on tales of pirates, goddesses, the kraken (a legendary Scandinavian sea monster), brave heroes, kings, and queens, and other more appealing content along with Christian content.
Rather than sticking with simple sentences, Kraken Latin challenges students with more complex sentences that require them to continually think about the various forms of conjugations and declensions. The author tries to lighten the load with some sort of puzzle every so often—a crossword, word search, or other type of puzzle or matching quiz. Every eighth week is a review unit, but for all other weeks students will learn 20 to 25 words. This is a large amount of vocabulary! Note that many of the vocabulary words are taught in the Latin Primer series from the same publisher. In my opinion, Kraken Latin will work best for those who have used either that series or any other introductory Latin course since students will then already be familiar with much of the vocabulary.
Over the course of Book One, students will learn all five conjugations of verbs (indicative mood, active and passive), all five of the noun declensions, and adjectives up through the third declension.
Since it is written for students at the logic stage, they are given activities and exercises that require them to think and analyze rather than simply memorize. For example, they begin each week’s lesson by thinking up English derivatives for the week’s Latin vocabulary words. However, students DO learn some chants to help them remember conjugations and declensions, and they do memorize the Pater Noster (The Our Father), the Magnificat, the Nicene Creed, and Psalm 23 in Latin during the course.
While the course has a guide for classical pronunciation, you are encouraged to choose whatever form of pronunciation you prefer and then stick with it.
The course consists of a teacher edition and a student book. This is not a self-teaching course; it is intended to be presented by a teacher. Consequently, the teacher edition intersperses pages of teaching notes between the pages showing student activities (as presented in the student books). The course is well organized and easy to follow. It includes extra teaching notes that address the kinds of questions students might ask on confusing issues. While parents or teachers with no Latin background can teach the course, they will have to prepare in advance for each lesson and put in study time of their own to keep up with students. (I think the course probably works best when taught by a teacher who knows Latin.)
Student activities in the teacher edition have answers included. Weekly quizzes and unit tests are included in the teacher edition and can be copied for the class. However these are also available to be printed directly from the publisher’s website for free. Answer keys are included in the teacher edition.
Student books have plenty of space for them to write directly in their books, even for the lengthier translation passages. Both books have appendices with chant charts (showing all of the conjugations and declensions learned) and English to Latin and Latin to English glossaries. The student book includes a “Grammatical Concept Index” in the appendix while the teacher edition has ten pages summarizing “Latin Grammar Basics” near the front of the book. The author leaves it to the parent or teacher whether or not to cover any of this information before starting into the course.
Upon completion of both volumes of Kraken Latin, according to the author, “This will prepare students to enter into the Poetic or rhetoric stage of their Latin study, where they can work on translating Latin into polished English and appreciating the beauty and form of the original language” (p. viii). So it seems to me, based on this comment as well as the content of Book One, that after students complete Kraken Latin Book Two, they might well be ready for a third year Latin course at high school level. However, I cannot say this with certainty without seeing Book Two.
Kraken Latin should be great for students in junior high who have already studied some Latin. It is likely to be a challenging course, even for those with previous background. Students beginning Kraken Latin without previous background will need to spend extra time mastering the vocabulary and basic concepts, perhaps moving more slowly through the beginning lessons until they have developed some confidence. High schoolers with no background will likely find the course quite challenging, but manageable.