Elizabeth Heimbach, Word Mastery through derivatives

Elizabeth Heimbach, Word Mastery through derivatives – designed for students of Latin, paperback, 163 pages, Bolchazy-Carducci, Illinois (2017), $24, 978-0-86516-853-4.

This workbook is designed to help students practise word-building in both Latin and English, to consolidate their understanding of vocabulary and to interpret unfamiliar words. Two chapters are devoted to affixes, twelve chapters present special topics like mythology, animals and colours and eleven chapters focus on grammar-related derivatives like prepositions and adverbs.

The book relies on users knowing a significant amount of Latin vocabulary at the outset. For example, in chapter 1, exercise V, readers are asked to give the meaning of both the Latin root word and the suffix e.g. clarify/elocution/frustrate/malediction. There is no Latin vocabulary help provided in the chapter or as an appendix, so readers must use their existing knowledge or use this book in conjunction with a dictionary/wordlist. In the UK, I would suggest that this book would be most useful for teachers to use with students who had already completed learning the GCSE defined vocabulary list.

In addition to written exercises, the book includes ‘Just for Fun’ exercises which seek to bring learning to life. For example, Chapter 9 encourages readers to make a model clepsydra (water clock) and measure the length of time it takes for water to drip from one container to the other. A model sundial is another suggested project for integrating active learning across the curriculum. Teachers can choose whether to make use of these activities or not.

The book is intended for a US audience, with references to the US Constitution, US senate, the Big Dipper constellation and a whole chapter on derivatives which are suitable for use during Thanksgiving holidays. Teachers in Europe could use these as an opportunity to highlight some of the differences in US English language and culture, as part of English studies. Equally, they may prefer to skip these references and rather select the exercises which are most conducive to the intended Latin/English language learning outcomes.

This is not a textbook for learning Latin or English. Rather, it provides a range of interesting and varied word-building exercises which explore the rich complexities of word formation and meaning. Exercise types include: matching, odd one out, choose the best answer, paraphrasing, research questions, defining, translating and fill in the blanks. This book is a useful classroom resource for Classics teachers, and teachers of other subjects with linguistic competency in Latin.

Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.