Minimus Latin

On a recent post, an internet friend commented, “I noticed you use Minimus Latin. How do you like it?”

My response grew much too lengthy for the purposes of a comment box and has morphed into the following informal review:)

Latin

My children (ages 8 and 10) beg to do “Minimus.” They giggle at the silly stories and retain a reasonable amount of the material. By the way, you may view and purchase Minimus materials at Amazon.

Minimus introduces Latin via comic strip stories. Children can guess at the meaning of many of the Latin words by the vibrant expressions of the comic characters. We use the accompanying audio CD (optional, but extremely useful to us) to listen to the words of the “picture story” as we read it. The English translation of the “picture story” is listed in the teacher’s guide. Some of the words are defined in the student book in “Words to Help” sections. Each chapter also includes “Grasp the Grammar” and “Latin Roots” sections to bolster the impact of the picture story.

We appreciate the manner in which Minimus Latin weaves history within the language lessons. The following quote was taken directly from the Minimus Latin website.

The course centres on a real family who lived at Vindolanda in 100AD: Flavius, the fort commander, his wife Lepidina, their three children, assorted household slaves, their cat Vibrissa – and Minimus the mouse! It features many of the artefacts and writing tablets from the Vindolanda excavations.

Students learn about history through the main storyline and from segments of each chapter called “Roman Report.” Greek and Roman myths are also referenced in each chapter.

The Minimus Latin Teacher’s Guide provides reproducible worksheets which correspond with each chapter. Most of them have been useful and even enjoyable. A few have been difficult to complete, as noted with further evaluation below.

Although my children eagerly learn with Minimus, the curriculum doesn’t match my learning (or teaching) style. I suspect that a more traditional approach would satisfy my craving for seeing “the big picture” rather than only piecework. However, I must admit that the traditional approach would probably have bored my elementary students to tears.

I find Minimus Latin a bit cumbersome to teach. The teacher’s guide and the student book seem disjointed at times. I find myself often flipping back and forth between the two texts. I am disappointed that the glossary does not include all the Latin words taught. For example, if a word was introduced in chapter 2 and again used in a worksheet for chapter 6, we might stumble around for quite a while before we can continue. The lack of a worksheet answer key adds further complication for this teacher with absolutely nonexistent Latin background.

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Interestingly, I did not originally expect to teach Latin in our homeschool. Circuit and Button were enthralled with our ancient history studies last year. When we covered Roman culture, we learned several Latin phrases. Our ensuing conversation went something like this:

Mom: “Would you like to learn the Latin language?”

Circuit and Button (in chorus): “Sure!”

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One day last week my children ran off with their Minimus worksheets. During free time! They wanted to use the Roman cursive script chart for writing code messages to each other. Strange, I know!

We will complete our Minimus lessons by the end of May. We plan to continue learning the Latin language, but I question whether Minimus Secundus (the next level of this curriculum) is right for us. I imagine that Circuit and Button would like to follow the further adventures of Minimus, though. Where do we go from here? I’m not sure. I have heard and read positive reviews for both Latina Christiana and Lively Latin. Any ideas?

In conclusion, Minimus Latin is certainly not a traditional curriculum. The unique presentation has enticed my children. For us, Minimus Latin has been an effective launching pad into progressive Latin study. We welcome comments/suggestions from fellow Latin teachers/students!

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