Category Archives: Visual Latin

Visual Latin and the AP Latin exam.

I received this email:

Hello Mr. Thomas.
I really really love your courses and videos. As a matter of fact your videos convinced me to take Latin as a second language in school. Although in school, the class is slow and I like fast paces in language learning. As my parents say, I have a gift in language-learning and I love linguistics and the study of languages. So I want to purchase your Visual Latin course to speed the learning process up although I have two questions. The first is, will this course get me ready for AP Latin for my Junior Year (if you recommend doing AP). I want to really challenge myself. My second question is, will I be able to read texts like De Bello Gallico or Natural History by Pliny? I forgot to mention that I also read that you are now teaching Italian. I have a big interest in Italian and I’m currently studying it on Duolingo. Do you have any books or videos on Italian? Thank you so much! I really enjoy watching your videos and I can’t wait to watch more with the Visual Latin!
Here is my reply:

I am happy to hear that you are enjoying Visual Latin.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that Visual Latin, will not prepare you for the AP Latin exam.  To pass that exam, you will need to be very familiar with Caesar’s Gallic Wars and Vergil’s Aeneid.  Visual Latin is designed to teach students the basics of Latin grammar.

I do teach advanced online classes for those who would like to go beyond Visual Latin.  You can find out about them on my site: www.dwanethomas.com.

However, you may not need me to help you.  I recommend you read Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg.  You can find it by clicking here: Lingua Latina.  From there, read the second book in the series, Roma Aeterna.  Once you read these, you will be ready for the Gallic Wars and for Vergil’s Aeneid. 

It’s going to be a long road, my friend.  I like Latin… but, at some point, you may ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”  I did. Then I started studying Italian.

If you would like to learn Italian, then I recommend you download the book L’italiano secondo il «metodo natura».  If the link does not work, then it is available on this page: http://lingualatina-orberg.blogspot.com/2012/06/el-metodo-directo-aplicado-las-lenguas.html.

First Year Latin by Robert Henle versus Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg.

I received this question:

Here’s a question that you might not have time to address, although I would say you are qualified. Which Latin curriculum do you prefer? Although we have been doing Henle for three years, I find it does not offer enough instruction for either me or my son to fully grasp the material. I saw you offer Lingua Latina and Roma Aeterna (so?)courses, and wonder how those stack up to Henle Latin.

Here is my reply:

I was actually writing an e-book/e-report on this last month but was derailed by Thanksgiving.  Not sure when I will get back to it.

There is nothing like Lingua Latina and Roma Aeterna.  I have never encountered a language series so thorough.  For example, First Year Latin by Robert Henle teaches students 497 words.  Much of them gruesome.  Lingua Latina teaches students almost 2,000 words.

As best I can tell, once you know about 3,000 words, you are approaching fluency in a language.

Lingua Latina comes close.  First Year Latin by Robert Henle falls far short.

It’s simply a numbers game.

Unfortunately, Lingua Latina contains no English instruction.  It is designed to be used worldwide, not just by English speakers.  In fact, my Greek tutor in Athens, who spoke broken English, was able to explain grammatical concepts to me in Latin.  He had learned Latin from Lingua Latina.  Common ground for us both.

The fact that the book contains no English instruction deters many students, I am afraid.  Fortunately, the two books can easily be used together.  Learn Latin grammar from First Year Latin by Robert Henle, any other Latin grammar book, or, Visual Latin and then use Lingua Latina as a reader.  This is a powerful combination.

Visual Latin and Lingua Latina?

I received this question:

My daughter is taking your visual Latin year one. According to the syllabus, it says that in lesson 10 to start reading one chapter in lingua Latina every two visual Latin lessons. Would you please describe what this looks like or give me an example of how she is supposed to interact with this book.

Here is my reply:

If I were you, I would wait until she finishes lesson 10, or so, in Visual Latin.

At that point, I would recommend she start reading Lingua Latina.  Just treat it like a novel, which is what it is.  This will give her a lot of extra practice with the language. 

After lesson 10, in Visual Latin, have her read a chapter one of Lingua Latina.  Have her take her time.  It is not going easy.  Lingua Latina is a tough, tough book.  But, it is well worth it.  There is nothing quite like it. 

If she finds herself overwhelmed by Lingua Latina at some point in the future, you are more than welcome to join one of my online classes.  I take students through Lingua Latina every year.

You can find more information about that here: https://dwanethomas.com/subscribe/

Lesson 5 confusion

Some time ago, I received this message:

Love the program so far.

However, confused with Lesson 5 answers. 

The charts in teacher’s worksheet do not match students’ and we are confused by answers for:

#1 Why not ablative and vocative too?

#2 Why just nominative singular?

#5 Why not vocative plural?

#9 Why not also nominative/vocative plural?

#12 Why not also vocative sing/plural, ablative sing, accusative plural, nominative plural?

#14 Why not also vocative plural?

#16 nominative plural, vocative sing/plu, accusative plural?

Thank you!

After an embarrassingly long delay, here is my reply:

Visual Latin lesson 4

I received this question:

Today I completed Latin Worksheet 4C and I had a question concerning it. There were 20 or so Latin sentences for me to translate into English, and one of them was: “Terra non est.” My translation was: “Earth is not”, but the Answers said that the correct translation was “There is no earth.” Could you please explain to me when it is appropriate to add the word “there” (or “the”) into a Latin-English translation?

Here is my reply:

Your translation works.  Just sounds a little off in English, you know?

Est is annoying.  It can be translated three ways. 

  • Est = is
  • Est = there is
  • Est = he, she, or it is.

Same with sunt.

  • Sunt = are
  • Sunt = they are
  • Sunt = there are

Whenever you are translating these words, just pick the one that works best. 

Better than flash cards?

I received this question:

My question: my 10-year-old son and I are super enjoying VL1. You are a brilliant teacher. Now that we are on lesson 10 he has a lot of vocab words to memorize. He writes out the flash cards and reviews them almost daily. Are there any better strategies to learning the vocab?

For example, one of the things I’ve learned is that straight memorization of math facts doesn’t always work long term. Having a good number sense and being able to relate to the numbers conceptually works better in the long term. Is there anything similar in Latin? Is there a better way to learn the vocab than just old fashioned flash cards?

Here is my reply:

I agree with you completely.  While there is nothing at all wrong with memorizing, it is not always effective.  I feel this is especially true with language vocabulary.

There is a reason I based the readings on the Bible (the most influential and most read book on the planet). The Bible is a great language learning tool.  The vocabulary is rather basic and is highly repetitive. 

It turns out, one of the very best ways to learn vocabulary is via frequent reading.  In order to master Latin, I have read the books over and over and over again.  The stories help me remember the vocabulary.  For example, I have read Lingua Latina perhaps twenty times.  Maybe more.  I’ve lost count.  Whenever I see a hill as I drive, I think of the hill (collis) in that book.  There is a tree (arbor) on that hill.  Nearby is a shepherd (pastor) with his sheep (oves).  The sheep are eating grass (herba) and one of them wanders off toward the stream (rivus) near the forest (silva). 

As you can see, it is the story that carries the vocabulary.  This happens when I read the New Testament as well.  Because I have listened to the story in Latin so many times, I can’t help but think, “Ubi est qui natus est rex Iudaeorum?” (Where is he born king of the Jews?) every time I hear the story of the birth of Christ.  Because of this story, Ubi (where) is never a problematic word for me.  The story carries the vocabulary for me. 

We get it backward.  We tell kids, learn the grammar.  Learn the vocabulary.  Learn the exceptions.  When you have all of that down, we will start reading in Latin. 

We should turn this on its head.  Start reading in Latin now.  We will learn the vocabulary, grammar, and exceptions as we go. 

Flash cards are not bad.  I use them.  I am on Memrise every day.  I use the site to learn Greek and Italian vocabulary.  But, alone, it is just not enough.  To truly learn Greek and Italian, I read in those languages every day.  It doesn’t matter that I struggle to do so.  I do it anyway.  As I read, the vocabulary comes.  The stories are the channels that solidify the grammar and vocabulary for me.

Since you are in Visual Latin, I would recommend reading and re-reading the stories.  Doing so will embed the vocabulary in the brain.

I hope this answered your question.  Let me know if you need more help!