Let me start off my saying that I love ALL Latin textbooks. I love buying old Latin Textbooks at Book fairs. If I could find a school that would let me, I would love to spend the rest of my life teaching out of a new Latin book every year. Good, bad, boring, big....Latin textbooks are like women and pizza. All types are wonderful.
I was taught out of Oxford. I have taught Ecce Romani, Our Latin Heritage, Minimus, and a little Lingua Latina.
Rhodopeius wrote:you have to do it yourself. If someone doesn't progress as fast as they can as an autodidact, I seriously doubt it's the inherent fault of Wheelock's Latin.
Rhodopeius is on the money here. This applies to any and all textbooks. My own personal feelings toward Wheelock is more a reaction against the unreflective praise many have for the text simply because it is the only major traditional text holding its own against Cambridge, Oxford, Ecce, etc. (though I admit that Wheelock's is not that traditional).
It is a perfectly adequate textbook, and, like any textbook good or bad, can be successful in the hands of a good teacher. With that said, I have met a few Latin teachers who treat Wheelock's like the King James Bible and insist on introducing students to it at the youngest age possible. If one wants a traditional text for younger kids, Our Latin Heritage is a much better book, though getting your hands on a copy is work (and since schools buy textbooks with state funds from state approved lists, this might not be a possibility). I think that Wheelock's alone is kind of skimpy on exercises for a two year high school course. I always thought it was developed for students at college on the GI Bill who had no time on their hands.
Another problem I have with Wheelock's is that no 14 year old in their right mind truly likes this book (please withhold testimonials and note RIGHT MIND). With Latin being an elective, teachers need to "sell" it a little. Especially since Spanish class has all those fun parties. Many of the students in my area start Latin in the 8th grade. I used to teach at an all girl's school. I say let the 8th grade girls read stories about Flavia and Cornelia playing with dolls. They used to get into the stories and read ahead (Cornelia gets married to Valerius Maximus!).
On a side note, there is a really good good local Jesuit school where I am (they offer four years of Greek) that used Our Latin Heritage for years. They switched to Wheelock for a year or so, but then abandoned it, deciding that forcing 8th graders to Latin was hard enough without Wheelock.
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift