In 2017 Andy and I started making instructional videos to help others navigate learning Latin as a novice. At the time, Andy was 17 years old and heading into his Junior year of high school. We launched Latin with Andy to possibly help pay for his college, and he’s entering his senior year debt free. We’ve been so amazed by the community of learners that have joined us in this crazy endeavor. Thank you all who have been a part of this with us.
New Vocab Videos
This summer, we devised a new idea to encourage our friends to keep pressing forward in memorizing vocabulary. Andy made simple flashcard videos with a basic setup years ago. We thought we could reuse the audio but possibly make them more engaging. Why not Minecraft and vocabulary?
My daughter got me into playing Minecraft as she finished up her Challenge B year in 2020. Like most of you, we were missing community from all of the Covid shutdowns, and I finally gave in to her request to play with her. Our family joined the same world and listened to audiobooks while building. I was so impressed with the creativity and ingenuity required to play Minecraft!
I’ve often used sports analogies to help students understand the concepts of Classical Education. When you learn a sport, you must practice the fundamentals repeatedly to use them effortlessly in a game. Basketball players will lift weights, run sprints, and shoot endless free throws to practice. However, you will never see a basketball player on the court with dumbells.
Minecrafters Do Hard Things
Minecraft offers a whole new world of relatability to doing hard things. If you’re playing in survival mode, you must mine all of the resources you need to craft them into the materials you want to build. This takes an incredible amount of time! But Minecrafters are not phased by the grind. They know they must put in the time to get the desired results.
It’s so helpful to have those experiences to know that you’re capable of the work required and to see the results of doing hard things. Minecrafters know this!
While it would have been fun to represent all the vocabulary words directly with visual memory cues like going through a portal for “porta, portae” which means gate, not all terms lent themselves to this type of representation. The vocab lists quickly became more abstract, so we decided to carry out the storyline of building and improving our Minecraft base while Andy talked through the words for each lesson.
It is surprising how your mind connects ideas to images to help them stick. In ancient Rome, orators would walk around gardens filled with statues to make memory gardens to recall their speeches when they delivered them. As they spoke, they’d walk back through the garden in their mind to help them remember each point.
I can specifically remember events from Starship Troopers connected to a Minecraft build we were working on while we listened. If I ever run back through that area, the events become just as vivid as they were when we read the book. We hope these simple builds help retain attention while viewing so the vocabulary can stick.
Wholesome Learning Enviornment
Caesar’s battles also lend themselves to a lot of war ideas. We decided to leave out the intense battle scenes because Andy wanted to provide a safe and wholesome environment for learning something so difficult. While many Minecrafters are used to the battle scenes, he wanted to make this series more about creative building.
Lessons 1 through 9 are available for review, and a new lesson will be added each week on Monday mornings. Consider subscribing to Andy’s YouTube channel to be notified when the new videos are released!
If you’d like more help with Latin, you can join the Latin learning community: Latin with Andy.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.