We have been so privileged to review Roman Roads Media before. You can read our review of Old Western Culture here. This time around, we got to review an online offering from the company - Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder. Spoiler alert - we love this one almost as much as we loved Old Western Culture (well, Henry and I love it anyway).
Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is a Latin grammar and vocabulary program that manages to cram a *lot* of material into very short sessions. There are 214 total units, reviews inclusive.
Each unit has several parts to it:
In "Learn," new vocabulary is introduced using pictures with voice over pronunciation. In "Choose," you are essentially quizzed on what was learned in "Learn." You are presented with the word and you choose the picture that matches its meaning. In "Spell," you are given the picture that matches the vocabulary word and you have to type it out. "Forms" turns up the heat by asking you for the plural, the gender, and the case (depending on the word). Again, you type your answers.
Finally, "Test Forms" is the same as forms, but a test. After each section, you get a star rating based on how you did:
See the icons at the top right of that screenshot? Go leads you through the exercises as I've described. Train offers you reviews. You can review as many lessons at a time as you wish.
What We Thought
The first day I installed this program, my husband was immediately intrigued as he heard me using it. He sat next to me and watched me as I worked through it. He thought it was a great way to learn Latin. Because I had three years of Latin in high school, none of what is in Picta Dicta was new to me. Instead it was an awesome review. I was so impressed with what Roman Roads managed to get into a short, short session. I have enjoyed working on this program, and I will continue to work all the way through it.
I have to confess that my children have not been such big fans, but because I want them to like this program (which I love), and because I want them to learn the Latin that will help them so much with vocabulary, I have been easing them into it by letting them sit with me while I work through it. That way, they get the overview of the program without having the stakes of doing it for themselves. Then, when I asked them to sign on to their own accounts, they had more confidence in their ability. Why not just have them do the work themselves the first time? If you have perfectionist kids, you understand. When my kids don't know how to do something, or they don't know that they'll do well on it, they don't want to do it. A bad experience with a homeschool program can make them swear it off forever. There are many things in life that I make them do that they don't want to, and there are many things in life that I make them do that they aren't always successful at. When I can control it, though, and when it is as important as this, I work with their personalities!
They just started doing the program on their own, and they like it much more than they did the first time they saw it. Therese (17) has had Latin before, and this program is part review and part new information (the program begins teaching grammar concepts in the very first unit, so if you have had more vocabulary-heavy Latin in the past, you will begin learning new things very early in Picta Dicta). Nicholas (15) has actually had more Latin than Therese. The structure of the language works very well with his OCD. As he has watched me with Picta Dicta, he has learned two things: it's okay to take notes so you remember everything, and it's okay to do a unit more than once. He has committed to working all the way through Picta Dicta. Michael and Mary-Catherine (both 13) are my most reluctant users. They have had the least Latin. Again, though, my strategy of having them sit with me and watch me has paid off, as they have started Picta Dicta, too. If you have a reluctant learner, you might consider the same strategy. Letting your kids see you doing a program (and erring while doing it!) is a great way for them to see that success is possible. Please note, though, that you do need to purchase a license for each user of the program. You need your own subscription because without you being the one typing the answers and selecting the graphics, you won't learn (not to mention it's immoral). My goal was not to have my children learn from my subscription, but to demystify the program for them. I have had too many experiences of my kids refusing to continue with a homeschool program because their first experience was off-putting. This program is wonderful, but it does ask you to assimilate a lot of information fairly quickly. I wanted my kids to want to do it. And now they do.
If you want to introduce Latin into your classroom with no work on your part, a short time investment every day, and a lot of information taught, Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is for you. To see other opinions, click the banner below.