Vocabulary builds on itself through many avenues, one of which is knowing the languages that English originates from. One of those languages that is a foundation for English is Latin and Miss E and I have been reviewing a product from Roman Roads Media called Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder. This is an online program that helps introduce and build vocabulary in Latin.
Roman Roads Media has a large number of products to support a classical education in the home. The goal of Roman Roads Media to make curriculum available that is high quality, affordable, and flexible.
Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is a subscription (14 months) to a self-paced study of Latin vocabulary. There are currently two levels available to choose from – easy and normal. The easy level works more with the visual correlation of the printed word to the spoken word with a picture to help facilitate the connection. The normal level does the same but also adds more written – writing out forms, giving gender, participles, or genetive forms. In the easy level, there are three activities per chapter. In the normal level, there are five activities per chapter.
Each chapter begins with the vocabulary. Learn is what they call this activity. There is a picture given with the word, the definition, and, when appropriate, a sentence or phrase for context. The program pronounces the word and it is expected that the student will repeat the pronunciation of the word while studying the page. After becoming familiar with the information, the student clicks the thumbs up in the bottom right corner. (I also found that a simple enter key stroke will move the program forward.)
There will be several words given and then a quiz feature will appear. The student completes the short quiz and then continues with more vocabulary. This will continue until the student has successfully completed the activity. There is a small icon in the upper right corner that shows the progress within that activity. This is mastery based so missing something will trigger the program to provide the student with more practice opportunities.
After Learn comes Choose. This is another matching type of activity where the student is creating the connection between the spoken word, the written word, and the picture.
Next is Spell. This is where things start to get tricky and more difficult and where the normal level really differs from the easy one. In this activity, the student is expected to spell the word, typing it out. It goes over the word more than once when you miss it, which is helpful and really encourages the student to commit the word to memory. It takes time. I have done this lesson multiple times in chapter 1 and I am still not happy with my score.
After Spell the student takes on Forms. Enter the REALLY tricky part if you do not already know Latin forms. This is more of an experimental part for us since we don’t have any instruction in forms, yet. At least, not with these vocabulary words. But, that’s okay. It just takes longer to go through it and to learn the forms. Repetition is key here and repeating until an acceptable score is received takes time. This is not in the easy level.
The final activity is Test Forms. This is just a double check to see if you remember what you learned in the activity before. After completion, you can go back and repeat or train on any of the activities or move on to the next chapter. This is also not in the easy level.
Our Use and Thoughts
The program is simple and straight forward, though it is not easy to do. The site itself, the program? I give it a thumbs up! I find it a fun and easy way to work on Latin when I am not feeling up to a full-fledged curriculum of Latin.
Miss E, age 14 and in 9th grade, has been using this program, as well. She is spending about 20 minutes per day with the program and is progressing well. She is finding it relatively easy to work through, though the spelling and the forms are making her work. She has made it through chapter 4 and is working on chapter 5 now – basic actions. She seems to be doing well and I like that it is a Latin program that makes sense for her learning style.
The dashboard for the learner is simple to navigate. Login and then click go. It takes you right to where you left off. Even if you stopped in the middle of an activity. The thumbs up in the lower right corner will move you on to the next page that you need. There is a question mark that appears during the activity if you need some more help or review. Click on the word and the program will read it for you. If you want more practice, you click the picture of the dumb bell and it takes you to some training exercises that do not score. Log out when you are done. Easy-peasy.
The dashboard for the parent or instructor has a bit more to it but it is still simple enough to figure out. From the main dashboard, just click Go or Play to go to you own work. If you want to see how your class is doing, click on learners. It will tell you where the students are at and what their last activity was, how long they spent on it, and what their score was. You can look at those stats for the day, the week, the month or the course.
I really like this program. It is an effective way to easy a student into learning Latin that is not strong in the classical memorization styles. Our plan is to finish out the program with Miss E on the easy level, where she has been working. Then, we will start again but move her up to the normal level. (Our subscription is for 14 months so we should have time to at least work on it some.) Since you can go back and repeat, practice and train as much as is needed during this time, I am hoping to continue beefing up my own Latin vocabulary. I took Latin in high school and loved it. I haven’t had much practice with it in the years since so this has been a lot of fun for me. I definitely recommend you check out Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is you are working on Latin or have a student who might need a different type of Latin course. Roman Roads Media also has a couple of other products you might be interested in – another vocabulary program called Picta Dicta Natural World and a rhetoric program titled Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric.
Want to know more? Check out this video from Roman Roads Media about this program.
Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read other reviews on the Picta Dicta program we used, as well as the other program and the rhetoric course. Click on the banner below.