Friday, August 24, 2012

Beginning Grammar in English and Latin

In the two months that Willow has been studying grammar, she really hasn't moved beyond noun/subject, verb, and complete sentence identification and labeling. She'd gotten the hang of it, and then we moved on to doing Mad Libs for a couple of weeks (per the child's request), and when we came back to it and I set her a review of subject/verb identification she had a LOT of trouble, which means that she might have gotten the hang of it in the short term, but the concept is certainly not internalized.

This is okay, of course. First of all, the child is barely eight years old--she's got ample time to learn her grammar. But second of all, I have the feeling that once Willow REALLY understands the concept of subjects and verbs, and what they are and how to spot them, it will be the key to unlocking grammar for her, and I don't think it will be such a struggle, then, to understand the concept of the adjective, the preposition, the conjunction, etc.

To keep the process from becoming tedious, to deepen Willow's understanding of the concepts, and, of course, to further her foreign language study, we've switched over more or less from using Minimus for Latin (Minimus is fun, and we still do it occasionally, but I want a more systematic, academic study) to duplicating Will's study of English grammar with Latin.

It goes like this:

1. As part of Will's study of nouns and verbs, I taught her how to conjugate verbs in the present tense in English, including recognizing the tense and voice:

Notice the Southern translation of second person plural, much to be preferred on account of its specificity.

NOTE: I taught her "to be" in English, because it's critical for verb identification, but not yet in Latin (although we'll do that before we start Latin nouns, I think).

2. I taught her how to conjugate a-verbs in Latin in the present tense. She's memorized two so far ("amare" and "laborare"), and once she's memorized a third, I'll show her the pattern that will enable her to conjugate any a-verb.

Verb translation is good to start with, since you can translate a complete sentence with just one verb:

3. When Will's got the conjugation of a-verbs down pat, it's back to English we go! I think this will be a good time to use KISS Grammar, and whatever other resources I can come up with to supplement it, to learn all the uses of nouns, so that Willow can decline a noun, with understanding, in English.

As she learns the uses for nouns, I'll also teach her how to diagram them.

4. When Will can decline nouns in English, I'll teach her first declension nouns in Latin, the same way that I taught her to conjugate a-verbs.

And that sounds about like third grade grammar!

After that there are so many ways to go, of course. There are adjectives and adverbs, in English and Latin, and prepositions and conjunctions, and then Latin and English will eventually have to deviate, so that Willow can study more conjugations and declensions, and learn more vocabulary, etc., while she moves to different subjects in English grammar.

And perhaps then Willow will want additional languages, as well--Spanish? Greek? French? Middle Welsh?

I really, REALLY hope that my child becomes an even bigger language nerd than me.

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