Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Picta Dicta Latin Review

Roman Roads Media is known for their classical education materials, but the good thing about homeschooling is that you don't have to specifically identify with a certain educational method to utilize a facet of it, and I was intrigued when offered the opportunity to review their Latin program, Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder.  We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, another philosophy that encourages the study of Latin, though I've held off as we've gotten our footing and reestablished our Charlotte Mason lifestyle.  When this review came up, I thought this year, middle school, would be a good time to introduce Latin, so I was excited to learn more about the program.

Roman Roads Media Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder

Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is an online Latin program for middle school, high school and college students, with a focus on reading proficiency.  It uses a multi-demensional approach with pictures, audio, definitions, and more, in order for students to gain a deeper understanding of the words.

There are different tracks with different difficulty levels, which allows all students to be both challenged and fulfilled with what is achievable and realistic for their skill and ability level.  Since this is our first foray into Latin, and we're on the young end of the intended grade range (I've been using with my 6th grader) I chose the Easy track. For an older student, especially one using this towards a credit, I would choose the Normal track, because it goes more in-depth.

The program is self-paced, so students can work as fast or slow as is appropriate for them.  We found about 15 minutes every day, or at least every other day, to be appropriate.  Each chapter focuses on one theme, and has three units to learn and review the material in different ways.  Following the first two chapters, cumulative reviews are worked in after every chapter.

Learn is where students learn new words and how they are used in context.  You see the definition, a corresponding picture, and you should be saying the word along with the program.  Choose is where the student can review and "test" their knowledge - you read/listen to the word, then choose the corresponding image from about half a dozen pictures.  Spell is just that, where you must recall the word from the picture, and spell it.

This is a straightforward program, but that makes it predictable and familiar, thus easy to use.  Essentially, this is a great way to learn Latin vocabulary, and understand English by default.  I have never studied Latin but as I sat in with my middle schooler, I'd catch myself going "Oh, I can remember that!" because I was seeing the connections to the English language so easily.  

I feel like this is the type of program that needs to be done a little every day, instead of large chunks once or twice a week.  I noticed a difference in performance if we took a day off or tried to start a new section after a weekend break.  (You can see the drop in stars at the beginning when we took a day off between sessions.)  It is hard to remember the words when you're not practicing or seeing/hearing/speaking them every day.  This is a multi-sensory program in that respect, because we see pictures, read definitions, speak the words, listen to them with the correct pronunciation and learn to spell them.  

For a student who doesn't like written work, an online program may be a good option.  It eliminates extra bookwork and allows the student to "break up" their bookwork by inserting the computer/tablet work - computers allow for audio assistance (pronunciation) that a textbook alone cannot provide, and engages the brain differently.  My middle schooler doesn't love the spelling section, but overall he sees the connection between Latin and English, so that's a good stepping stone to building appreciation.  I feel like this is a good introductory program for casual learning, but could really enhance another full curriculum.

Recently the Homeschool Review Crew also had the opportunity to review Picta Dicta Natural World for younger students, and Fitting Words - a rhetoric program for high schoolers.  I suggest checking out more reviews to get an even broader perspective of what Romans Roads Media has to offer!

Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

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