Switching from Henle to Latin Alive—a Letter

by Suzanne Lichtenstein

This letter was forwarded to us by a co-op leader who received it from a former Classical Conversations tutor and homeschool mom. It is posted here with the permission of the author. Please note that Classical Conversations is an organization that we esteem greatly and the Henle Latin curriculum is a competing product that we also hold in high regard. The Henle Latin series is a strong upper-school Latin curriculum, but differs in some ways from the aim and approach of our Latin Alive series.

“Regarding the Latin Alive program, I thought I should mention that it is very easy to jump from Henle to Latin Alive . . . Latin Alive seems to take all the best that Henle and Wheelock offered, and lays it all out in a much more presentable, easy-to-follow format. The books are wonderful to behold.

I examined all of the Latin Alive levels, and flipped through all of the books. Not only was I comparing the program to Henle, but I was also comparing it to the 4 years of Latin I took in high school. For the first two years, we used Jenney and AMSCO concurrently. Third year, we read Catullus and Horace from the original Latin in AP Latin 1. Fourth year, we read The Aeneid from the original Latin in AP Latin 2.

To tell the truth, I didn’t think it was possible to have a better Latin education than I was offered. But my mind went wild with the Latin Alive! Reader book that comes after, or perhaps with, level 3 of the series. I would have loved that book!!!

My son and I have jumped right in with Latin Alive! Book 1 this summer. Last school year, he completed the first pass of Henle in Classical Conversation’s Challenge A program. Already, though, just working a little over the summer with Latin Alive, we are much happier with this new program. Furthermore, I can see that my son is understanding and retaining more readily with Latin Alive. This is a much better program than Henle—which I always held in high regard before.

In short, although I know it might seem awkward for the co-op to change plans . . . I highly encourage you to leave Henle behind and. . . try Latin Alive this coming fall.

  • Drawback: Cost of books, if the investment has already been made in Henle.
  • Neutral: Teacher preparation in switching curricula. Latin Alive is amazingly easy to teach. The teacher book is literally the student’s book, with these things added in:
  • All the answers are written in. In the same book, not a separate book! In the same lesson, not at the back of the book!
  • Helpful teaching points are in side boxes, located right where the students’ questions are likely to pop up.
  • Interesting tidbits to share with students appear in each lesson, to liven things up.
  • The layout of the book is so beautifully done; the teacher follows along page-by-page with the students. It is so easy!!! And everything feels clean and spacious, easy on the eye.
  • Benefits:
  • The Latin Alive texts are easy to understand, follow, and teach. No one should have any problem at all.
  • The students should begin understanding and retaining Latin much more quickly.
  • The visual layout is invitingly clear and engaging.
  • Verbs are presented much, much, much more clearly in Latin Alive. Henle’s greatest weakness is how verbs are taught.
  • In Latin Alive, verb endings are presented clearly and fully, right from the beginning.
  • The glossary at the back of the book lists all four principal parts for the student. No more guessing. No more hampered learning. Plus, a quick glance at the glossary firms up memorization of all four principal parts. I can’t stress how important this is.

Sorry to go into so much detail. Also, I should explain that I don’t work for Classical Academic Press . . . I’m simply excited because this program is exactly what I have wished for these last 10 years while teaching Latin to my children.

Also, the teacher’s edition for Latin Alive is more useful than any teacher’s edition of any textbook I have ever seen. Usually, I opt not to buy teacher’s editions for any course; most of them feel like a waste of money. The Latin Alive Teacher’s Edition, however, is like a dream come true. I can open it up, take a quick glance at it, and be ready to teach. This is so much easier to use than Henle that I will never go back.

I honestly believe that if a former Henle teacher, who is new to the Latin Alive program, invests approximately one hour before the semester starts, looking through the Latin Alive book, she will be more than ready to begin teaching the program. And it will be a joy to teach Latin this way. It is so much easier for the teacher. The students won’t be confused, and they will memorize more quickly. The homework assignments are much clearer than in Henle, and the students will be able to complete their assignments more readily. And the lessons take less prep time, because the teacher’s edition is so clear and helpful.

Okay, I think I’m in danger of saying too much, and maybe I did already. I sure do like the Latin Alive program! I’m no expert, and you might prefer to talk to the staff at Classical Academic Press. Even so, I am formerly a Henle person, and therefore know what the transition is like.”

We here at CAP deeply appreciated having received this unsolicited letter. Please know that it is our hope first and foremost that your children and students study Latin, whichever program works best for them! We do often get asked for a chapter-by-chapter content comparison between Henle and Latin Alive, so we have posted that here for your use.

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