Forget direct comparisons to other Latin programs; this one is really different. It combines instruction in English grammar with Latin, eliminating the need to use anything else for those subjects in most situations. The author states that students as young as fourth grade level have successfully worked through Volume I, although it will be more appropriate for most students who are at fifth grade level or beyond. It should work well with students beginning at junior or senior high levels.
Some of Barbara Beers' experience comes from teaching The Writing Road to Reading, so we find that methodology incorporated as children compile their own notebooks of everything they are learning. The student text comes in a binder. Students create ten sections in their binders for vocabulary, pronunciation, definitions, grammar, cases/declensions, conjugations, text work (answers to text questions/exercises), work sheets, word study, and tests. Even though information is presented in the student text, children record it in their notebooks to enhance learning and provide a ready-reference tool. The student binder for Volume I also includes a Latin Comprehensive Reference Guide that shows grammar tables for all that will be covered over the three years, with color coding to indicate which concepts are covered in which volume.
The complete student package for each level includes the text/binder, plus blue, pink, and yellow notebook paper sufficient for constructing that year's notebook to coordinate with vocabulary cards. In addition, the student package has five colored ink pens to complete the color coordination.
The student notebook package is for those who already have the textbook with worksheets and tests (this would be the Extra Textbook). It completes the package with binder, reference tabs, Reference Guide, notebook paper, and colored pens.
You can also purchase Extra Textbook packages with just the text, tests, and worksheets.
Finally, you can purchase only the consumable worksheets and tests.
New concepts come at a shotgun pace in this program. For example, in Chapter 1, children briefly review the eight principal parts of speech (nine if you separate articles from adjectives). In the next day's lesson, they are working with syntax, covering subjects, predicates, direct and indirect objects, linking verbs, predicate adjectives, and predicate nominatives. Latin syntax structures are presented immediately following the English syntax. While much of this is introduced superficially—as material for a student to copy into his notebook for now—it accumulates quickly. I think that most students will be more successful in this program if they have already studied basic grammar. Treating the English grammar coverage here as review and application seems the most practical. (This means that you might use one grammar text at upper elementary or a higher level before beginning this course. For students in grades 3 through 6, you might also want to check out Schola Publication's The Bridge to the Latin Road, which serves as a one-year introduction to prepare both teach and student with basics of English grammar and beginning study of latin roots.)
The course includes plans for 140 daily lessons. If you take extra time where needed, it will definitely take a year to get through Volume I.
English grammar is usually taught simultaneously with the Latin as structural similarities are noted. This method is very efficient. It is also a positive motivator for students to see that this grammar knowledge does serve an immediate purpose.
Coverage of English grammar in Volume I includes parts of speech, syntax, gender, number, voice, mood, tense, person, principal parts of verbs (stressed more in Latin than in English), types of sentences, prefixes, adjective/noun agreement, and subject/verb agreement.
Latin instruction encompasses all of the above plus case, stems, distinctions in ablative case usage, enclitics, and word particles while teaching through the second declension nouns and first conjugation verbs (six tenses).
Volume II continues with all of the above, working through the third declension nouns and adjectives, pronouns, demonstrative adjectives, and third conjugation verbs. Students continue to drill and build upon all they have learned in the first volume.
The third volume completes Latin coverage equivalent to about two years of standard courses, so the progression on Latin is slower here. (This is certainly very appropriate for pre-high school students.) When coupled with the in-depth coverage of English grammar, the program is moving at a pace that should be appropriate for most students, but possibly too quick for some.
The program for each level comes as a Curriculum Set with additional textbooks, worksheets, and tests available separately. The set includes the teacher's binder, two CDs (three CDs for Volume II and four CDs for Volume III), flash cards, and a student textbook.
The teacher's binder has daily lesson plans and teaching directions, answer keys, charts to be used with lesson presentation (and posted for reference), and reproducible tests and map. On the CDs, Barbara pronounces the Latin sounds and the words pertinent to the various lessons using ecclesiastical or "church latin" pronunciation.
The flash cards are printed on heavy card stock and are color coded to identify parts of speech as well as gender of nouns. (These cards are great for drilling declension and conjugation endings as well as vocabulary.)
The first half of each student book is the text, which has instruction and exercises. (No writing in the book in this section.) Reading practice material in latin, such as The Lord's Prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the song, "O Come All Ye Faithful," is incorporated into the student texts. Latin/English and English/Latin glossaries are in the middle. Perforated, tear-out worksheets comprise the last half of the book. You can reuse the text part of a student book, purchasing only replacement worksheets for subsequent students to save money.
The program is designed to be taught rather than used for independent study. Some lesson preparation is necessary. According to the author, those without Latin background can teach this course, but I suspect that those without a solid English grammar background will have difficulty. Parents who have an adequate grammar background as well as the time to teach this course properly should find it an excellent tool for building a thorough, solid foundation in both English grammar and Latin.
New from Schola are Teacher Training Videos on 3 DVD's for each of the first two volumes. Volume III is not yet available. Each set of DVDs provides about five hours of assistance as Barbara walks you through the lessons.
Complete sets for Volumes I and II include the teacher's set, the student package, the training DVDs, an English/Latin Dictionary, and a Complete Reference Guide.