Top positive review
22 people found this helpful
... is an old fashioned text book and all the better for that
on 22 August 2015
Wheelock's Latin is an old fashioned text book and all the better for that. As a an Englishman I was not aware that it is/was very popular in the USA. Having read the Amazon reviews I decided to give it a go.
I learned Latin for many years until I was 16, which is a long time ago. However I still retain the memory of some of the basics such as the declension of the word 'this' - hic, haec, hoc - etc, but subjunctives have completely slipped from the memory.
One disconcerting feature of Wheelock for us Brits is that nouns and adjectives are declined in this order - nominative, vocative, genitive, dative , accusative and ablative while us Brits know it as - nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative and ablative. Disconcerting but not insuperable. When I practise declensions in my head I do it the British way.
I have studied more than half of the Wheelock so I can begin to assess it.
One way to look at this book is to compare it with some of the alternative Latin text books, especially the Cambridge course and Teach Yourself
Latin by Gavin Betts. The Cambridge course seems to be best for those who have a teacher but not so good for those who are self learning.
The Wheelock scores over the Betts book in that it gives you grammar in smaller chunks. 40 chapters by Wheelock compared to 30 by Betts. For example very early on Betts throws at you all four verb conjugations in one go in the present and imperfect tenses. Wheelock give your one chapter with just the first and second conjugations and another with the remaining conjugations. I think the Wheelock approach is better. Wheelock gives you lists of new vocabulary in every chapter. Betts starts by doing the same but doesn't take long to only provide vocabulary at the back of the book. Betts also gives you quite difficult passages quite early on including in Chapter 16 a hefty dose of Virgil, which is really tricky for a beginner. In short I think that Betts packs too much into each chapter making it really hard going for the beginner. That said once I have finished the Wheelock I will probably revise by doing the Betts book.
Wheelock puts a lot of emphasis on correct pronunciation, and indeed you can get some (rather expensive) CDs to go with the course. Even without the CDs it is worth it to be aware of the correct pronunciation because it helps you remember the meanings of words by putting them in their correct contexts.
What will be really interesting about Wheelock is where you go from here once you have finished the book. Some good Readers books will be essential so I hope that Wheelock's Reader will provide a good follow up to the textbook.
In short I commend this book highly.