The Gregory Jay Blog

The Minimus latin Course

The Minumus Latin Course is two books: Minimus and Minimus Secondus by Cambridge University Press. They are aimed at primary aged children. They are a very gentle introduction to the Latin language with very little reading, very little vocabulary and few exercises. If you are wanting a rigorous Latin course, this isn't it. If on the other hand you want a course that isn't going to scare off an easily frustrated child, this might be it.

Brandon started using this course when he was six, we completed the two books in about a year. Each chapter has a comic style dialogue, a vocabulary list, some (light) grammar explanations with exercises and some historical or cultural background. Other than the dialogue the book is entirely in English.

Initially I decided to use this course because I had planned to continue on the The Cambridge Latin Course once we had finished (as that was the Latin course I had used when I was at school.) Minimus did keep him entertained and enjoying the story, though I did feel that a little more grammar could have been included. The dialogues were short, often too short so that we could finish reading it in less than a minute. I thought that this also was an issue as I felt he wasn't getting enough input per lesson.

By the end of the course though, Brandon had made good progress, learning all the vocabulary in the book and getting a good feel for the language, including naturally learning some grammar that wasn't explicitly taught. We achieved this (and avoided the problems with the course) using the method below:

1. Each class we would read three dialogues: The new chapter we were on and the two preceeding chapters for review.

2. Each dialogue we read twice, changing the character parts each time.

3. He translated the dialogue into English.

4. We read through any grammar explanations.

5. He did the corrosponding exercises.

6. He read the myth or other cultural text that accompanyed the chapter.


The repetitive reading was the main factor in Brandon's success using this curriculum, in a classroom setting it would be unlikely that a child would be able to read one character part of one chapter, Brandon was reading and hearing a full dialogue six times through per class. In total he read each dialogue 18 times (6 times when it was new, 6 times when it was a week old and 6 times when it was two weeks old)

We purposefully did much more reading than translating, in line with our goal of reading fluency instead of just being able to translate.

We didn't do any specific vocabulary memorising, the amount and frequency of his reading took care of that.

We did this 3 times a week. Moving on to a new chapter of the book every week - 24 chapters took us about a year to complete (I don't know exactly)

After completing the first course we used a week to review every chapter before moving on to Minimus Secundus.

After completing the whole course we spent two weeks reviewing both books before I gave him an exam.

I wanted Brandon to have a sense of achievement after finishing the course and to mark it somehow. The exam was a challenge but still based on what he had already learned in the course. After completing the exam I sent it off and within a week or two he got a certificate back. He was very pleased and proud to receive it, I could tell.

Greg is a true Sinophile, fluent in Chinese and proficient in Tibetan he is a homeschooling Dad that also consults on the side. You'll often find him cigar in mouth, book in hand, waiting for someone to finish their work or for the coffee to brew.