Teaching Latin to young children

This fall, as part of a co-op among local Catholic families, I will be teaching introductory Latin to first through third graders (all together). I plan on using Prima Latina – Introduction to Christian Latin by Leigh Lowe.

Does anyone have any experience with such an undertaking, or any comments or suggestions? Thanks in advance!

As things progress in the fall I’ll try to keep you all posted.

“There are no uneducated people. Everybody … is educated, only most people are educated wrong.” G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong With the World

I have not used Prima Latina myself, but I have heard good things about it from others.

We are a multi-lingual family & the age group you’ve got are like sponges. Best time to learn, even earlier too!

I homeschool and have this Latin also to use with my 7 year old. What do you think of it? I haven’t used it yet.

I am really impressed that you would try this. Don’t have any advice but will pray for the success of your venture!

God bless:)

Wow! Good luck, that is impressive!

The young ones are little sponges. I have been teaching my 7 year old some Greek. Not in a structured setting, and not the grammar either, but just teaching him words that intrest him, and some of the important theological words. The little guy remembers it!

I can’t wait till he corrects some Bible thumping protestant on theology by refering to the Greek!

I too have never used Prima Latina.
However, I have used Latina Christiana, also published by Memoria Press, in classrooms for nearly three years now and I think it is the best beginning Latin text for its age group. If Prima Latina is at all like Latina Christiana I think you’ll find it an excellent tool.

As for teaching young children Latin: one piece of advice- don’t be afraid to review more often than your textbook does. And yes, prepare to be surprised the younger children; they have an incredible capacity for learning languages!

Hello all,

I just wanted to praise you all for your enthusiasm! I too would like to teach my kids latin one day and seeing as I study both latin and ancient greek I don’t really have much of an excuse. Ha ha! But I wanted to know, what are others’ reasons for doing so? Just curious!

Pax Christi

I strongly encourage you not to teach your children Church Latin. They must learn classical Latin first. No serious program of education since the Middle Ages taught Church Latin first. You want your kids to read Cicero and Catullus. Erasmus and Saint Thomas More studied classical Latin.

Ancient Greek before Koine Greek, too.

Chris C.

[quote=Chris C.]I strongly encourage you not to teach your children Church Latin. They must learn classical Latin first. No serious program of education since the Middle Ages taught Church Latin first. You want your kids to read Cicero and Catullus. Erasmus and Saint Thomas More studied classical Latin.

Ancient Greek before Koine Greek, too.

Chris C.

Any recommended texts?

[quote=Chris C.]I strongly encourage you not to teach your children Church Latin. They must learn classical Latin first. No serious program of education since the Middle Ages taught Church Latin first. You want your kids to read Cicero and Catullus. Erasmus and Saint Thomas More studied classical Latin.

Ancient Greek before Koine Greek, too.

Chris C.

Interesting! I took 4 years Classical Latin in high school. I didn’t even know there was a difference until I started homeschooling. I always wondered why the Latin always sounded different on the rare occasions I would hear it in Church :whacky:

Are there any other differences than pronunciation between Ecclesiastical Latin and Classical Latin?

I have used Latina Christiana with my kids in grades 5 & 6. I have browsed the Prima Latina, but am still debating. It seems to have the same vocabulary and lessons as LC-I, but in smaller lessons. I thought the LC-I went slowly, but it’s a good pace for young students. I do think the kids should have some basics in English Grammar before tackling Latin, or they’ll never understand all those cases and case endings, let alone declensions! Perhaps Prima Latina teaches more of this? Don’t know.

I do like the Catholicism incorporated into the program :slight_smile: My kids liked learning the liturgical songs and prayers - helpful when it occasionally comes up in Mass. We recently heard our new bishop plans to someday hold Latin Masses at our parish, so we need to study some more…

That brings me to another question - has anyone used Lingua Angelica - the music program from the same company? Wondering if this might be good to use with my little ones, just to get them familiar with some of the hymns if the Latin Masses ever come to pass…

I absolutely disagree with the statement about learning classical Latin first. If you are Catholic Ecclesiastic Latin is MUCH more relevant to a child’s life. When they get t college IF they study Latin the differences are easy to pick up. The differences are mostly in pronunciation not grammer or vocabulary.
There are some good article at memoria press such as this here: memoriapress.com/articles/Bennett-intropage.html

My Friends

Classical Latin is essential to an education. Not only does it teach the child to think logically and critically, it teaches, through the concurrent study of the classical world, especially Rome, who we are as citizens of the West. Some homeschooling families ignore our pagan roots in Greece and Rome (mostly evangelicals–some RC’s); this is a grave mistake. When St. Thomas went to set down the methods for Christian Moral theology he didn’t go to Moses; he went to Aristotle.

Jenny’s FIRST YEAR LATIN is probably the best organized Latin text; there are PC aspects to it today which you can ignore. Or you can find an older edition, used, online. But even the new editions follow the same old fashioned method of learning the declensions and conjugations.

I attended a Catholic boys highschool: we studied classical Latin and Greek. I am afraid that the post disagreeing with this practice disagrees with centuries of education in Christendom.

If you don’t have classical Latin you will not be able to read human history’s greatest orators. If you do have it, your own writing and rhetoric will improve.

To understand the Tridentine Mass is a good thing, but I would not say it is the chief reason to learn Latin. There are differnces in pronunciation, vocabulary, and syntax between classical and Church Latin.

Chris C.

BTW–you will see your child improve in all subjects across the board through the study of Latin. Including math.



Nemo dat quod non habet!

Lean Latin so you can give it to your kids!

Chris C.


When you children go on to ecclesiastical latin they can read Alphonsus Ligouri, perhaps the greatest of the casuists–Sadly only small parts of his work are available in English.


That is kind of an interesting thought Chris, I had Whellock in college, but it is not remarkably different then Ecclesiastical my daughter is learning. BTW it was NOT what classical education used through the middle ages. “Classical” pronunciation is reconstructed and was done so rather late.

Again from memoria press please read: [


Dear Darcee–

I find wheelock very hard and incomplete. If someone had Latin and wanted to brush up, Wheelock might be good, but it assumes some prior training.

Obviously we do not know for sure how Cicero was pronounced but basing an argument for a certain style of pronunciation on a scene in a charming short story is a little thin. Cheryl Lowe, I am sure is a fine lady, and I have no doubt that her Latin is way better than mine. But she is not a classicist or even a linguist. Scores of both have researched this question carefully and I’m inclined to respect their findings and opinion. I do believe that students in the middle ages an beyond learned the latin of ancient Rome first. Certainly the educational system that trained the extraordinary men who founded this country emphasized classical Latin.

In any case, God Bless You for teaching your children Latin. It’s coming back and it may be the thing that saves education in America. (if that’s possible!).

Chris C.

I really liked Wheelock maybe I just had a fantastic teacher, but I didn’t feel lost with it. I still use it on occasion, but the cover has regrettably fallen off.

From what I have read, studied and my own education first in classics and then in theology, it doesn’t matter much which sort of Latin you teach the other will come easily enough to a ready student.

The main reason we teach ecclesiastical Latin is that it the Latin used in the church. I am much more concerned that my daughter read and understand *Casti Connubii *then the works of Cicero. Others who I love feel differently and that is cool.


:clapping: I highly congratulate you for teaching children Latin. It is NOT an old fasioned language for elderly catholics. 75% of the english language is based on latin roots. THIS present Pope has called for its wider study and use! Vatican II (as some laity and priests want people to think) did NOT downplay Latin, but instead exculted it. Do you know some mediocre seminaries ordain priests WITHOUT knowing ONE word in latin? What a disgrace.

I taught my 4th grade class in a catholic school latin, and i had the get a notebook which they would call “My Latin Notebook.” These children LOVED!!! Learning latin, and I would give then TWO latin words a week to memorize, after I explained on the chalkboard what it meant. They would actually say: “yepeee” Latin. The problem is many catholic school teachers can’t even say what is the Nicene Creed, what is the Salve, etc., actually mediocre principals (who are kumbayah liberal-women’s ordination type) love to HIRE “catholic” school teachers who (as one catholic school I knew) with only the MINIMUM degree requirements: such as ASSOCIATE DEGREES! Any principal who hires a teacher with an associate degree in a catholic school should be FIRED. If the teachers who are working for a catholic school don’t know the facts of their faith but are ONLY content with saying, “We don’t have to study all that theology, etc, we just FEEL Jesus in our hearts” then what kind of religion/theology are they teaching in catholic schools today? LATIN should be taught, and lets stop spoon feeding children with the “FEEL” good Jesus the social worker SEMI-Catholic religion. After all, is not religion the MOST important subject in a catholic school? IF IT IS NOT, then What’s the purpouse of a catholic school, to focus only on math? Public Schools would be better in that case.
The well educated Catholic knows at least ONE sentence of Latin.:wink: :clapping: :tiphat:

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