Richard A. LaFleur and Brad Tillery, Vocabulary Cards and Grammatical Forms Summary for Wheelock’s Latin, 2d ed. Mundelein, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2020. ISBN 13: 978-0-86516-771-1. $35.00
Despite the popularity and utility of flashcard apps such as Anki, physical vocabulary cards continue to serve as a mainstay for language students. In the seminary world, we are perhaps spoiled by the high-quality thousand-card Greek and Hebrew vocabulary sets produced by Zondervan, which are helpful even if you do not make use of the accompanying grammars. Vocabulary card sets outside of the biblical languages—many seminary students will find themselves working on research languages such as French and German—are often disappointing in comparison. This review is written from the perspective of a seminary professor looking for useful language helps for graduate-level seminary students studying Latin, which is perhaps a review from a more demanding perspective.
Despite the inevitable groans that might escape the lips of some language instructors (we all have our preferences), I like Wheelock’s Latin as an introductory grammar at the graduate level, especially for students who have already learned some Greek and/or Hebrew. It sits somewhere between a purely reference grammar like Gildersleeve and a proficiency developer like Ørberg's Lingua Latina: Familia Romana. Surprisingly, Collins does not produce a set of vocabulary cards to accompany the grammar. To fill that gap, Richard A. LaFleur and Bradley Tillery have produced a 900-card set of vocabulary cards through Bolchazy-Carducci. The 877 vocabulary words (3 of the cards are blank) are keyed to the 7th edition of Wheelock’s Latin, the final word being vereor from chapter 40. On the Latin side of the card are found the chapter number (upper left), card number (upper right). Macrons and accents are included with the Latin terms and some terms are grouped together (e.g., ego and nos or is, ea, id). On the English side are definitions and English cognates. For example, for the ego and nos card the definitions are “I and we” and the cognates are “(ego, egotism, egotistical)”.
Physically, this vocabulary set is a far cry from what seminary students have come to expect based on the Zondervan-style card sets. It comes in book form, with each page containing ten lightly perforated cards. Four pages are reserved for a “box” you can create to store the cards, made from the same stock as the cards themselves. This stock, which is sturdier than 20lb printer paper but weaker than 80lb business card paper, is the major disappointment with this set. The cards are flimsy by comparison to a Zondervan set and are easily bent in the hand. As a result, one feels a great deal of trepidation in tearing out the 900 cards, for fear of simply tearing them. This aspect of the cards is enough to dissuade me from recommending them to students. Yes, it would be time-consuming to make your own 877 cards as you work your way through Wheelock. It would also be slightly more expensive to make your own cards; I use the Avery 28391 Matte White Business Cards (2" x 3½") to make my own cards (typically just over $5 per 100 cards). But having cards that last is important. And, as they say, qui scribit bis discit. When Zondervan can make a good-quality set of Greek vocabulary cards—with a solid box and sturdy cards—for $27.89 (the current Amazon price), it is painful to pay $35 for neither a solid box nor sturdy cards.