September 20, 2008

An Evening with Familia Romana

So what does a mother of five do an a Saturday evening? She could do a number of things, like watch a movie, eat out, read, relax after a difficult week. Well, this mother of five spent her Saturday night, in addition to feeding 5 mouths, wiping two bottoms, correcting 4 Kumon worksheet packets, picking up toys again and again, washing dishes (the normal evening routine), well she spent more than an hour looking in the Latin-English dictionary, finding unknown words to translate a 3 page Latin text for her darling 5th grader who just announced her that he has Latin homework.

See, the book that Teddy and his classmates use for Latin, Lingua Latina Part 1 (Familia Romana) was meant for high school and college level. With my pretty strong Latin background (5 years including Latin Olympiads) I still have trouble translating my 10 year old's Latin texts, meaning I need to use the dictionary and to review my Latin grammar. I try to do all the deciphering myself and once I'm very familiar with the text, then start working with Teddy, so he doesn't get too frustrated.

There are times when I think that this is way too hard for him but I have been amazed at how much he learned. He is in his 3rd (or maybe 4th?) year of Latin and I could safely say that he knows as many words as I do (I still know more grammar than him though...thank goodness). The problem is that if he wants to find a word in the dictionary, if that word has a different grammatical form than the one in the dictionary, he'll never find it. Take for example "eam". You can try to find the word in the dictionary but will not find it if you don't know that "eam" is the singular Accusative of the feminine form of the demonstrative pronoun (or whatever that's called in English) is (as in is, ea,id,eius, eius eius etc., I can still recite part of this after 13 years). To make a long story short, the kid needs help in looking up words in the dictionary and I volunteered.

To finish studying the chapter for the test, which will probably take place in a couple of weeks, we will spend a few hours, first reading and translating the text, learning whatever grammar topic is introduced in the lesson and then doing all the exercises in the textbook and in the workbook. Doing all this will probably secure a B for Teddy. C's are the norm and A is probably a one in a school year event (I'm only talking about Latin). In other words it is extremely challenging for both mother and child.

The good part is that not only does Teddy learn a lot of Latin at an early age, but I also get to review my Latin and even improve it.

Here is a little paragraph from the 3 pages of text from ch. 9 (the material I worked on tonight).

"Dum ceterae oves a pastore numerantur, ovis nigra in magna silva, ubi via nulla est, errat. Ovis, quae iam procul a pastore ceterisque ovibus abest, neque caelum neque solem supra se videt. Sub arboribus sol non lucet. Ovis nigra in umbra est."

After looking for about 6 words in the dictionary, I came up with this translation:

"While the rest of the sheep are being counted by the shepherd, the black sheep wanders off in the big forest, where there are no pathways (or trails). The sheep, which is now far away from the shepherd and the rest (ceteris= the rest as in etcetera= and the rest) of the sheep, doesn't see the sky or the sun above itself. The sun doesn't shine under the trees. The black sheep is in the shade."

This is only one out of 21 paragraphs in the chapter. We'll see how Teddy does tomorrow with the translation. I usually only offer minimum help but I do like to be familiar with the text before I work with him.

Among the many interesting things I learned from Teddy's Latin book are the animal sounds in Latin.
Did you now that in Latin "Canis latrat: Baubau, lupus ululat: Uhu, and ovis balat: Baba". How funny!

Now would anyone dare tell me that we, stay at home mommies are not intellectually stimulated?!


Anonymous said...

Draga Irina, sint mindru de tine si de Teddy si ma bucur ca in urma cu vreo 15 ani am insistat sa fac zilnic cite 20 de minute de latina cu tine. Uite ce rezultat minunat! Chiar ma ambitionezi sa ma reapuc si eu.
Sunetele animalelor ne-au distrat f. tare.
Un exemplu din araba: camila cind bea apa face: shibi, shibi iar cioara croncane: ghaqi, ghaqi.

Tirzah said...

You are WAY more intellectual and far better educated than, like, almost any other mommy I know.

Irina S. said...

Oh, come on Tirzah, I just happen to have learned some Latin in high school and remember, Romanian is like 75% Latin so it's much easier for me to learn it than it is for an American. But ask me a few questions about current events and politics and you'll see how non-intellectual I am. Dominic is so frustrated with my ignorance in those matters... Thanks for the compliments though!