Category Archives: Ebook

Halfway there.

On October 27, 2017, I read the following article by author Bob Bly.  (Mr. Bly gives full permission to reprint his articles as long as you give him credit.)

I recommend you read the article in its entirety.  Here it is (Actually, this is only part of the article. He swore at the beginning.  A lot of students read my work.  I removed the swear word):

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Sometimes internet marketing is a pain.

You work hard on a product, launch it, and nobody is interested.

Now you have to salvage the product either by improving it or bundling it with other stuff.

Continue reading Halfway there.

A grammar a month?!?

I received this comment:

Quick question: I’m reading your book, Via, and I’m wondering what you mean by reading a grammar per month. Do you mean something like “Wheelock’s Latin”? That seems like a tall order each month! Could you please give an example of what you mean here?

Here is my reply:

Yes.  This is very difficult in the beginning.  But, eventually, you realize all of the books are saying the same thing.  The process becomes rapid.  I can read a Latin grammar in a week now.  I learned Anglo-Saxon grammar in two days about a month ago.  

When you begin, reading a grammar a month is almost impossible.  By the end of a year, it should be rather easy.

Praise for Via…

“What you do by telling others in a practical and efficient way how to learn Latin well is to tell them in a practical and efficient way how to do anything well. You obviously love language, and you can see in the resources you offer and the points you discuss that you’ve read and studied and thought carefully about the Latin language. Because you’ve created such a good book on learning Latin, you’ve created a good book on learning, period. ” 

– Robbie

You win.

I have confused too many people. Let’s see if I can clear this up.

 
You do not need to study Latin. It is a luxury, not a necessity. If you do it the traditional way, it may not even be a luxury. It will likely be torture.
 
Why would you pay thousands for torture? I wouldn’t. I would pay thousands to avoid torture, but that’s a post for another time.
 
Over the Christmas break, I changed my site. It is now a subscription site.
 
You win. I win. Here’s why.
 
In the past, I charged an average $300 per online class. Want to study Latin? That’s $300 per year, per class, per student. Want to add Greek? Now you are up to $600 per year, per class, per student. Need to add a vocabulary class to prepare for an upcoming standardized test? $900.
 
Got two kids? $1,800. Three kids? $2,700.
 
You lose. I win.
 
Just so you know, this is the way everyone operates. This is standard. Not only that, many online providers charge twice what I charge.
 
You could easily spend $1,000’s per year, per class, per student.
 
You lose. We online teachers win.
 
I have five children. I know that it feels. It feels… hmm… not good. Yeah. That’s it.
 
Over the break, I thought… how can we both win?
 
How can I win? How can you win?
 
Here is what I came up with.
 
My site now has a subscription option. Subscribe to my site and get everything.
 
Subscribe to my site for about $20 a month (if you subscribe annually), and you will have access to everything I teach.
 
Want to learn Latin? $250 per year, per family.
 
Want to add Greek? It is included in the subscription.
 
Need to add a vocabulary class to prepare for an upcoming standardized test? It is included in the subscription.
 
Want to attend special webinars that I offer from time to time? They are included in the subscription.
 
You could, theoretically, join every single class I teach and pay only $250 per year.
 
I have five children. I could subscribe for $250 per year and enroll all of my children in all of the classes I teach. But, that would be strange. They live in my house.
 
But, if YOU have five children, you could enroll all of them in all of my classes and pay only $250 per year.
 
There is a catch. If you want me to grade the work of your kids, the price doubles. Grading is time-consuming, and I am slowly pulling away from it. I will still do it, but it is going to cost more. If you want me to personally check your work, subscribe for $500 per year. That is $500 per year, per family. That is NOT $500 per student, per class.
 
I need a certain amount to provide for my family. I do not need enough to buy a helicopter. (Though I would love my own helicopter. It would be awesome to show up for family reunions in a helicopter.)
 
You are trying to provide for your family. You do not need to pay $1,000’s for Latin and Greek. Save money for your own helicopter.
 
If I get enough subscribers, I will be able to provide for my family. We will be fine. Besides, if I make too much money, my wife will give it all away. She is ridiculously generous.
 
Here is my goal. You win. I win. I provide for my family. You save money for yours.

Hey… why can’t we speak Latin?

Yesterday, during class, one of my students asked this question:

“Mr. Thomas. We’ve been studying Latin for three years. Why aren’t we fluent?”

I stopped class. “Let’s do some math on the board.”

Here is what I told them:

We are in school for 40 weeks.   Subtract one week for fall break. Subtract another week for Thanksgiving break.   Subtract two weeks for Christmas break.   Subtract a week for spring break.   And, let’s subtract one more week for field trips and standardized testing.

This leaves us with 35 weeks together.

We meet three times a week.  Classes last 45 minutes.   Let’s remove 10 minutes from each class for all of the interruptions, fire drills, bathroom break requests, lost homework shuffling, arguments between students, repeated instructions for students who never listen the first time, and general distractions.  This leaves us with about 35 minutes of class time.  (I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years. That is a very generous amount of time. in some classes, I bet I spend 15 minutes teaching.)

35 minutes times three days equals 105 minutes a week.   That’s about two hours a week. Again, I am being generous.

Two hours a week times 35 weeks equals 70 hours per year.   Over the course of four years, students spend about 280 hours with me.

So, why are they not fluent by the end of four years of Latin?

In my book, Via, I demonstrate that it takes about 1000 hours of language training to become fully proficient in a language.  To speak at a high fluency level, you will need to dedicate about 5000 hours to training.  To speak at near native levels, you will need to dedicate about 10,000 hours.

280 hours is a drop in the bucket.

After teaching in the classroom for almost 20 years, I am convinced classroom education is one of the worst ways to learn a language.

So, how do you do it?

It isn’t that complicated, really.

Though I go into more detail in my book Via, here is what I suggest:

Learn the grammar as quickly as you can.   Get it over with.    Rip the Band-Aid off! This is why Visual Latin is designed to take two years.   This is why my online Latin courses only take one to two years.   It is my supreme goal to teach you the grammar of Latin, or Greek, as fast as I possibly can.

Once you learn the grammar, start listening to the New Testament in your target language.   The New Testament is available as an audiobook in almost every language you want to learn. This includes Latin and Greek.   Listening daily will help you with pronunciation.   Turn the radio off.   Turn your target language into your background soundtrack.

Second, start reading the New Testament.   The New Testament is written at about a sixth-grade reading level. This makes it a perfect starting point after you have learned the grammar.

At this point, you will pass the required 1000 hours for proficiency.   Honestly, you could stop here. You have gone further than most people will ever go.

When you are done with the New Testament, start reading extensively in your target language.  Read, read, read.   You are now working toward fluency.

If possible, get out of the classroom.   I have been grading papers in the classroom for almost 20 years. I have been grading papers online for over five years. There is a stark difference. I’m becoming increasingly convinced that classroom education is inferior education, and that online education is far superior.

I believe that it is because, in online education, we have removed all of the interruptions, fire drills, bathroom break requests, lost homework shuffling, arguments between students, repeated instructions for students who never listen the first time, and general distractions.

For the rest of your life, you will meet people who say,  “I took two years of French in high school.   I can’t speak a word of French.”  In the past, this statement may have bewildered you. Now, it should make perfect sense.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Memorize the Latin Endings?

I received a question you are probably all asking:

I am wondering which things(lists/endings/etc) need to be memorized in Visual Latin I for High School? I do not want to kill the joy my daughter is experiencing with your program by memorizing every list; however, she is also very excited about learning Latin and has recently found the translations a little more challenging, so I want to be sure she has the tools she needs. To put it plainly, we are not trying to be overachievers, we just want to learn Latin ?.

Just to let you know where we are: We are about to start Ln 16, and so far, we have not incorporated Lingva Latina, Quizlet, or listening to the Bible in Latin, but plan to begin that-as soon as I figure out how to schedule that into the program.?

Thank you for your program and willingness to to answer your customers questions!

Here is my reply:

There is nothing at all wrong with memorizing all of the Latin endings.  Some of my best students are from the Classical Conversation world.  They have most of the Latin endings memorized.  

However, it is a bit strange to meet students with all of the Latin endings memorized who cannot read in Latin.  I run into that often.  It’s odd.  If you memorized the technical manual to your car, it would be impressive.  But, it would be strange if you had memorized the manual, and could rattle off the names of every gadget under the hood, but still did not know how to drive.  

In all of my classes, I flip the order.  I have students start reading in Latin.  We learn the endings as we go.  Some students memorize the endings, some don’t.  As we read, they all end up learning the endings in the end.

Instead of memorizing the endings, I would recommend more reading.  

Read Lingua Latina.  Read Cornelia.  Here is a reading list from my book, Via:

For Beginners:

1.  Cornelia by Mima Maxey

2.  Carolus et Maria by Marjorie Fay

3.  Julia by Maud Reed

4. Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg

For Intermediates:

1. Ora Maritima by E. A. Sonnenschein

2. Fabilae Faciles by Francis Ritchie

3. De America, by Herbert Nutting

4. Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg

5. Viri Romae by Charles Llomond

For more advanced students:

1. Gospel of Matthew by St. Matthew

2. Roma Aeterna by Hans Orberg

When you have finished this list, visit the Latin Library.com.  There you will find more Latin than you will ever read… and it’s all free.

If you do decide to memorize the endings (and it does not hurt to do so), I have a series on YouTube that may help: https://dwanethomas.com/memorize-latin/

And finally, I think the easiest thing you can do is simply keep the endings nearby as you read.  I have compiled all the Latin endings in one location.  Originally, this was going to be a Folder for my students, but, it never made it.  Since it was going to be a folder, I condensed all of the endings into four pages.  Print it out and keep it nearby as you work.  When you get stuck, simply refer to the charts.  Find the ending you need and compare it to what you are reading.  It will take time and practice, but it will come.   

Here are the charts.  They are free.  You can donate if you want, but it is not expected and is not necessary.  https://dwanethomas.com/downloads/latin-charts/

Let me know if you need more help!

A simple way to learn Latin.

Perhaps you are familiar with the book Carry On, Mr. Bowditch!, by Jean Lee Latham.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch! is the story of an early American merchant who spends quite a bit of his time at sea.  As Mr. Bowditch sails around the world selling his wares, he teaches himself various languages.  He began with Latin.   After Latin, he taught himself Portuguese, Spanish, and French.

How did he do it? 

He used a trick we can all imitate.  It’s a rather simple trick. I have used the same trick to teach myself Latin, Greek and Spanish.  These days, I am using it again to teach myself Italian and French.

So, what was the trick?

Simple.  Read the Bible in another language.

Modern educators complicate things. 

When we begin to learn a new language, the educators rush in.  They tell us that we need flashcards, videos, podcasts, books, audiobooks, notebooks, apps, posters, wall charts, immersion classes, grammar classes, and trips abroad.

The truth is, learning a new language is not as complicated as we like to think it is.  Nathaniel Bowditch was on to something.  It really does require only three cheap items. 

You are going to need a dictionary, a grammar, and the Bible.

I would add one thing to the list. I would add audio training. Nathaniel Bowditch didn’t have this in the 1700’s.  We have it these days. 

Until recently, there was almost no audio content available for Latin.

This changed in 2011.

In 2011, Faith Comes By hearing.com released biblium.is.

Here you will find the entire New Testament, fully dramatized as an audio book, in Latin, for free!  Thanks to biblium.is, you now have access to a massive Latin audio book.  This is significant.  Such an audio book has never been available in Latin before.

For Christian students, this is fantastic news.  You should be reading the Bible daily anyway,  Now you are able to read the Bible and learn Latin at the same time.

But, what if you are not a Christian?

You should listen to the Bible anyway.

Why?

The Bible has influenced our world profoundly.  It is impossible to estimate the impact this book has had in our world.  To be ignorant of the Bible is to be ignorant of the most influential book on the planet.

Just as you cannot fully understand the history of the Middle East without reading the Koran, you simply cannot fully understand the history of our world without some knowledge of the Bible.  It’s impact is undeniable.

There are other practical reasons to listen to the Bible in Latin.

First of all, the free audio version is the most audio content you will find in Latin.  I have personally scoured the internet looking for audio content in Latin.  Until the release of biblium.is, I was only able to find snippets.  Nothing comprehensive was available.

Second, the Bible is written at, roughly, a 6th-grade reading level.  This makes it a perfect first book in Latin.

Third, the Bible exists in so many other languages.  Do you already speak French?  Read the Bible in Latin and French simultaneously.  Your understanding of French and Latin will grow.

How exactly do you do this?

Simple.  Spend an hour or two just listening to one of the four gospels every day.  You may understand nothing in the beginning.  It doesn’t matter.  Do it anyway.

In time, you will understand.

Each day, spend half an hour, to an hour studying the grammar book.

By the end of one year, after working through the Latin grammar, listening to the Bible in Latin, and consulting the Latin dictionary as you go, you will understand most of what you hear.

Oh, there is one more thing Nathaniel Bowditch had that you are going to need. Though it is never mentioned in the book, it’s there all right. 

He had grit. 

Latin is not an easy language to learn.  He stuck to it.  He didn’t give up when it was difficult.

You, too, are going to need a heavy dose of grit as you learn Latin.

Combine a Latin grammar, a Latin dictionary, a Latin Bible, and a good dose of grit… and you could be reading in Latin by next summer.