Access Cambridge Latin Online for Free

For a limited time, you can access the Cambridge Latin course, online, for free (link is at the bottom of this post). This is a terrific opportunity to take an in-depth look at their materials. Cambridge Latin is one of the Latin resources I used with Otter, and I really liked it a lot! It’s very easy to understand and has lots of resources to help you learn Latin, even without a Latin background. The textbooks are designed for schools, but I found the online course perfect for our homeschool. I love the interactive online practice items that really help you retain the material. I also really like how the online program has an audio narration, to help you with pronunciation (classical style).

A yearly subscription gets you access to terrific materials like an online version of the textbook. Here is a screenshot of one of the very beginning pages from Unit 1 / Stage 1:

cambridge latin

The online textbook is a mix of comic-book style stories, reading passages (immersion style learning), history information (with photographs), and exercises / explanations.

Immersion style learning means you are almost immediately reading longer passages of Latin and naturally learning the language without drowning in all the grammar rules. You pick up Latin “naturally” and learn a lot of the grammar just by reading and listening to it. You actually start reading and comprehending Latin right from the start!

You also get access to online exercises. The screenshot below shows the “Listen, Read, Think, and Derive” panel:

Cambridge Latin

With this panel you can read the story, listen to it read out loud, do the think exercises where you respond to questions about the passage, or study the words and phrases in more depth via the derive tab.

There is also a vocabulary tester:

Homeschool latin program

You can also play around with the word sorter to practice vocabulary and check your understanding of words & concepts:

Latin for homeschool

Homeschool Latin course

Another resource is an interactive digital version of the student workbooks with plenty of exercises to practice the textbook material:

Homeschool Latin The entire site is being restructured, so the new version that’s coming out may be even better than what I’ve posted above.

Click here to take a look! I can’t find a price for the online course subscription listed at this time (probably since they are in the process of restructuring their website), but I remember it was very reasonable.

Cambridge also offers online distance courses and other materials which are available via their official site: . They even have webcam lessons!

If you are interested in teaching or learning Latin, Cambridge Latin is one of my favorite resources!  I really enjoyed it and benefited immensely from the immersion style of learning. Cambridge Latin, in my opinion, is most appropriate for high schoolers or adults, although a motivated middle schooler could probably use it successfully with a parent’s help . I used it in combination with a few other programs (when learning languages I find I learn best with a multitude of resources), and still have it on my shelf for myself, even though I am now officially “retired” from homeschooling. wink

Happy homeschooling!


A giveaway!!

giveaway2It’s that time of year again, when everyone is planning for the new school year next fall (for those of you who don’t school year round, lol). This is the first year that I’m not participating in that process myself, but in honor of all those hours I spent pouring over curricula and thinking of our homeschool budget, here’s a giveaway to help make things a little easier on someone’s pocketbook!

I’ve always loved Compass Classroom’s products. I started using their Visual Latin program way back when they were just a new, baby company (lol), and have watched them grow over the years with lots of high quality offerings. I love that you can stream a lot of their products, and you can also purchase a monthly subscription that allows you to stream a multitude of homeschool curricula without committing to a huge upfront purchase price.  You can try a curriculum out and cancel if it’s not a fit for your family, or just pay for it a month at a time!

In this giveaway, you have your choice of any one of the streaming versions of the following:

All I ask for each entry is that you spread the word about Guest Hollow! Pin one of our graphics, post about us on your blog, share the news or like us on Facebook, tell someone in your homeschool playgroup, etc. Just spread the Guest Hollow love. 🙂 Now that I’m no longer homeschooling, I need my little Guest Hollow home business to pick up, or it will have to be a hobby instead of a business. Please help our site thrive by spreading the word, so I can do this full-time and bring you LOTS of new curricula and printables!  I have tons of new ideas that are just waiting to be created!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Free Latin Reader and MP3’s

Cornelia - a Latin Reader

For a limited time, you can get a free Latin reader with the entire story narrated a chapter at a time by Dwane Thomas of the Visual Latin Curriculum. Cornelia was written in 1933 by Mima Maxy and is about a young girl living in the U.S. in the early 1900’s. The book is entirely in Latin and makes a great supplement for your Latin studies!

Click here and enter in the code FEBCOR to get this $9 item for FREE!

P.S. We love Visual Latin. You can read my review about it here.

Visual Latin

Visual Latin

I’ve become somewhat of a connoisseur of Latin programs. We’ve tried quite a few and I definitely have my favorites (along with some real duds). One of the best programs I’ve recently seen and tried out with my son is Visual Latin. Visual Latin breaks out of the usual Latin program mold and interjects a much needed dose of fun, humor and solid Latin instruction that sticks!

While I have loved learning Latin ever since we started, Otter has been a much more reluctant student. Latin has almost always elicited groans and a general disposition of one attending a funeral, or at least having to eat a heaping plate of brussel sprouts (no offense to you who love that vegetable). It’s always difficult when you love a subject and your child doesn’t. I’ve wanted to somehow inject the my own soul-felt knowledge that Latin is AWESOME, beautiful and a worthy pursuit of time. He wasn’t buying it. He was learning (painfully), but not liking.

Enter Visual Latin on the scene. I was skeptical. “Laugh through Latin…” Hmmm, I doubted it. As much as I love Latin, I’ve certainly never run into any program or material that makes me want to laugh while learning it. Let me tell you right from the beginning, it’s true. We have been laughing through our Latin lessons and for the first time, Otter is ENJOYING them! This program is a gold mine in that regard. He actually wants to….continue. You know that parent’s dream of seeing your homeschooled child who hates a subject change his opinion to actually wanting to spend time doing it, without pouting and even, *gasp*, looking forward to it… That’s what’s happened in our house thanks to Visual Latin. I’ve even caught my college-aged daughter peeking at a lesson and laughing along.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think all learning has to be fun. There are certainly some things you just have to do, whether you like them or not. How much nicer it is though, when a way to learn something kindles that fire in you and makes you hungry for more. Provides you with a little humor and smiles to boot? That’s a really special bonus!

While Visual Latin delivers with the laughs, it also delivers with content. From the very beginning you are exposed to grammar concepts, vocabulary and the way Latin works. We’ve just finished with the 10th set of lessons (each set has 3 videos with 3 corresponding worksheets) and Otter is translating controlled vocabulary paragraphs with ease. Visual Latin also has a knack for presenting things in a way that seems so natural and easy to learn. Nothing ever feels overwhelming (think of endless drills/chants/tables that are a drudge with other programs). There really is an easier way. This isn’t to say that Visual Latin is too easy (Otter rates it at a medium level of difficulty), but the creators of the program have a terrific insight to how kids learn and offer up lessons of the perfect duration and presentation (at least for us!). Maybe that’s because the teacher and producer have 8 homeschooled children between them.

For the purpose of this review I was able to obtain the first 10 lessons. Each lesson has 3 videos and 3 worksheets. So with the first 10 lessons you get 30 videos. Each video is usually about 8-10 minutes long. Each worksheet is usually just a single page (with the exception of later translation exercises that may span two pages to make room for a box of vocabulary words). We usually take 15 to 20 minutes to finish our entire Visual Latin lesson, although it can sometimes run a little shorter. You get the idea.

The lessons are broken down into 3 bite-sized pieces of material. First Dwayne Thomas (that’s the guy teaching the lessons in the video) introduces a grammar concept. The 2nd day you see these grammar concepts illustrated in sentences. The 3rd day has you working from a Latin text (abridged stories from the Latin Vulgate). Otter just recently (and easily) translated the following from worksheet 10 C (30 days worth of lessons for us) after first watching it being read in the video and repeating it out loud:

“Est dies septimus. Caeli et terra sunt perfecti. Opus Dei
est completus. Deus est laetus. Opus est bonus. Terra
est bella et bona. Caelum est bellum et bonum. Adam est
laetus. Hava est laeta. Hortus est bonus et pulcher.
Animalia sunt laeti. Est multa herba in terra. Herba est
cibum bestiarum in terra nova. Cibum Adami et Havae est
fructus aut holus. Omnes sunt laeti in terra nova. Opus
Dei est bonus. Deus complet opus. Deus requiescit.”

Compare this to what was being translated after nearly a year with a different program when you FINALLY get to a chunk of text vs. the sentences and phrases you’ve been dealing with all year long:

“Lavinia femina est. Lavinia agricola est. In terrā laborat.
Equī et taurī in terrā habitant. Sunt gallinae et gallī et porcī.
Est frumentum in terrā. Sempronia amica est. Hodiē Sempronia visitat. Heri Lavinia laborābat. Hodiē Lavinia nōn laborābat.
Hodiē amicae in silvīs ambulant. In silvīs explorant. Lavinia et Sempronia in fluviō natant. In silvīs cenant. Crās Lavinia in terrā laborābit.”

Don’t worry if you don’t understand a word of Latin in the examples above. What I wanted to show you is that with Visual Latin you are translating large chunks of text every 3 days from the beginning and understanding what you are reading without spending tons of time trying to memorize vocabulary. The vocabulary is learned in context and retained without a lot of effort. It’s a very similar approach (the immersion approach) that is found in Lingua Latina, a program Dwayne Thomas of Visual Latin recommends, and one that Otter and I have also been working through very slowly. In fact, Visual Latin has really enhanced our study of Lingua Latina and added a bit of insight that has made it easier and clearer.

Another great thing about Visual Latin is that it employs a variety of ways to get the material in your head. You listen, watch, read, say and write Latin. It’s also very approachable. It doesn’t feel like some stuffy Latin scholar is force feeding you lessons. Dwayne Thomas makes mistakes and catches himself and just comes across as real. I think it’s reassuring to Otter to see a teacher make a mistake and then correct it. You can also tell that Dwayne loves Latin. It really comes across in the lessons and is infectious.

Latin is one of those subjects a lot of people aren’t sure how to approach. I’m happy to say that Visual Latin has made it not only very approachable, but even entertaining. It’s given Otter a confidence I’ve not seen with any other program we’ve tried and it’s made our Latin time something we BOTH look forward to. I’m happy to report that we have the rest of the lessons that are available and are looking forward to the next batch (Visual Latin 2) as soon as it is out. I’d be ecstatic if they would consider continuing on and creating even more lessons beyond that!! We’ll continue to use every last scrap of what is created because quite simply, it works and we really, really like it.

If you are thinking about purchasing a Latin program, take a look at Visual Latin! The website has some freebies for you to try (4 introduction lessons and 2 “real” lessons). The program gets even better as you move through the lessons beyond lesson 2. Also, so you know, we were provided with the first set of lessons for free in exchange for this review. All of the above is my real opinion and I’m not pedaling their program because I received a freebie. I’m sharing a real and true love for Visual Latin of my own accord. Check it out!

*Note: The above comments reflect our personal opinion(s) of materials. We aren’t experts! We’re just a homeschooling family with ideas of our own about what works and what doesn’t for US.

Latin Help Sheet

We are getting ready to wrap up our year with Lively Latin Big Book 1. This is the first program where we’ve actually experienced Latin success that goes beyond vocabulary! I LOVE it. This is one of my favorite finds in years. Seriously. I’m not a Latin failure anymore! smile

One of the things I did to make our year easier was create a Latin help sheet that covers all of the main lesson concepts and then lists vocabulary. Neither one of us likes to flip through Otter’s huge notebook of printed papers to hunt down a lesson, so we just pull out this sheet instead and have the answer in seconds. “Magistra” Catherine Drown generously granted me permission to share it (as it contains some items from her much more detailed lessons), so here it is:

Lively Latin Help Sheet PDF

Lively Latin Help Sheet Doc (You can change/tweak it to suit what you need to focus on)

Each file is 8 pages long with the first 3 pages containing “lesson” helps and the last 5 list the vocabulary from the entire program broken into categories (adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, nouns, verbs, etc.).

Latin help sheet

Lively Latin

American History 2 is up and (mostly) running. I’ve updated the schedule with more resources for the optional American artist study. There are also sections that list activities and recipes for the year.

So now that I’m getting closer to being completely finished with American history 2, I’m starting to think about the next thing Otter is going to study: ancient history. I’m already gathering up items and looking at some old schedules I made for Emily and Bear years ago.

In other news, we switched our Latin program from Latin for Children to Lively Latin.

Lively Latin

I’ve been wanting to do Latin for YEARS now and it’s never worked out. First I started out with a vocabulary program English From the Roots Up. That was great for vocabulary, but it wasn’t really a Latin program. Then Bear and Emily tried The Latin Road to English Grammar. No one liked it or learned (I should say retained) much from it. I personally thought it was incredibly boring and a chore to get through, although I’ve read a lot of other families really love it. It just didn’t click for us.
After a bit, I was able to borrow Ecci Romani, but then Emily and Bear decided to study German instead.

Otter did a little bit of Prima Latina when he was in 1st or 2nd grade and Bear tagged along for a little while. We only had part of the program though since a friend gave it to us. After doing a bit of it, we put it aside so he could focus more on reading and writing good-old-regular english. Otter has some dyslexic tendencies and so Prima Latina had to sit on the shelf for awhile. I have no idea where it is now….lol…I think our 70+ linear feet of bookshelves ate it up and we’ll probably stumble across it 15 years from now stuffed behind the encyclopedias or something.

When I started thinking about resuming our Latin studies I was able to get Latin for Children Level A. This is what Otter and I were doing up until recently. It was working GREAT for vocabulary. However, when we started translating things, I started to feel we were lacking a lot of understanding and things just weren’t totally obvious from our lessons. I needed/wanted more explanations and exercises. I also was reading some posts about Latin programs on the Well Trained Mind forums. Someone was posting about macrons (the little lines over some vowels in Latin) and some other things that I realized I had NO idea about. Google came to the rescue and I started exploring quite a few Latin related things.

While doing some research, I took a look at Lively Latin. This month we took the plunge and….we LOVE it. THIS is the Latin program I’ve been looking for. It has clear explanations, audio recordings in both ecclesiastical and classical pronunciations, activities, great word derivative studies, links to games and websites, activity ideas, history, mapping assignments, an art study, printable flashcards, and more. There is also a “Your History of Rome” project where you create your own illustrated version of Roman history as you move along through the course. It fits our learning style perfectly (yes, I’m learning right along with Otter).

I also corresponded briefly with the author and she was very accessible and helpful – a real plus.

If you are looking into trying Latin or if your current program isn’t working out, you may want to pop over and check out some of the free samples of Lively Latin. I’m really glad I made the switch.

*Note: The above comments reflect our personal opinion(s) of materials. We aren’t experts! We’re just a homeschooling family with 3 kids and ideas of our own about what works and what doesn’t for US.