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Workbook for Wheelock’s Latin 3rd Edition Review: A Guide for Learning Latin on Your Own

written by: John Garger • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 4/5/2012

Learn about the Workbook that accompanies Wheelock’s Latin language program and whether self-learners of the language will benefit from using it.

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    Since the 1950s, Wheelock’s Latin has been the program of choice for many high school and college language departments. Its completeness and organization make it one of the best Latin language programs available.

    Many people are not interested in spending thousands of dollars to study Latin and opt for self-learning tools such as Wheelock’s Latin to gain elementary proficiency in the language. To aid Latin students, the Workbook for Wheelock’s Latin is an invaluable resource to further examine lessons from the main text and gain practical experience in translating the language.

    Self-learners will find that they are at a disadvantage if they do not take the time to work through the lessons in this workbook since the exercises in the main text are not as complete as they could be. Read on to learn whether the Workbook for Wheelock’s Latin Third Edition is for you as a self-learner of Latin.

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    There is no doubt that the Workbook for Wheelock’s Latin is a complete as a source of exercises that reiterate concepts learned in the main text of Wheelock’s Latin. The workbook offers so many opportunities to make learning concrete that about the only negative aspect to the workbook is that it may be too complete.

    One of the difficulties of self-learning Latin is that there is no teacher present to fill in the learning gaps. No matter how complete the Wheelock’s Latin main text may be, each student’s strengths and weaknesses could not possibly be addressed in a book. Absent a teacher, the Workbook for Wheelock’s Latin is a close second to the exposure to Latin a student needs to master concepts that will be built on later in the program.

    As with the main text, there is no answer key offered with the workbook. This is its one weakness. Without an answer key, students are left wondering whether they truly got the answer right or whether more study is necessary. This is the one fault of the workbook in terms of its completeness.

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    Workbook for Wheelock’s Latin is a must-have for those completely uninitiated in Latin. It is true that some self-learners, such as those who took Latin in high school, may not need to solidify the concepts in the main text with the workbook because their study is more a refresher course than first-time exposure to the language.

    More than just a bunch of paragraphs to translate, the workbook sets up various tables into which students must place the correct word stems, word ending, and translations. This system of learning is perfect for Latin because most English speakers are not familiar with an inflected language such as Latin. For example, one section asks the student to take a Latin sentence and change everything from singular (subject, direct objects, indirect objects, etc.) to plural. This kind of exercise is most valuable to the student, especially when later chapters introduce the different forms of the five declensions and four conjugations.

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    Ease of Use

    Each chapter in the workbook starts with an “intellegenda" or “objectives" list. This list indicates what the student ought to know and be able to do at the completion of the lesson. At the end of each lesson, students can compare what they learned with the objectives of the lesson and decide for themselves whether to move on or to revisit the concepts taught in the current chapter.

    This pedagogical style not only makes it that much easier for the student to understand key concepts, it takes the mystery out of what is to come so often present in other language learning systems. As far as ease of use, it is quite possible that astute students could learn elementary Latin with just the main text and the workbook alone.

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    As I have mentioned in another review of Wheelock’s Latin, the main text can be stoic. Admittedly, the workbook is devoid of long paragraphs on Latin and its history, jumping right in to the lessons. Students expecting more on Latin may wish to look elsewhere.

    As with the main text and in line with the Wheelock paradigm, the workbook makes use of macrons to aid the student in identifying the forms of words. For example, the word “puella" could be either nominative singular or ablative singular. A macron over the “a" instantly clues the student in that the word is in its ablative rather than nominative form. This paradigm adopted by the Wheelock tradition is most useful to the beginning student, especially without a teacher standing by to help.

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    Overall Impressions of the Workbook for Wheelock’s Latin 3rd Edition

    Overall, the authors of this workbook are to be commended for offering such a complete and easy-to-use addition to the already phenomenal Wheelock Latin program. Together with the main text, the workbook creates a complete Latin learning system with little need for much else save for perhaps a dictionary. On its own, the workbook gently walks the student over some of Latin’s rough spots making the seemingly difficult into a possibility for the self-learner.

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