Category Archives: Visual Latin

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!

Visual Latin may not be right for you.

Visual Latin is now 8 years old.

Honestly, I have to face reality.  Visual Latin is not for everyone.  It just isn’t.

You should be able to complete Visual Latin in two years.  By the end of those two years, you will know how to read the New Testament gospels in Latin.

If you want to spend 7 to 10 years learning Latin, then Visual Latin may not be right for you.

Many books and programs spread Latin out for five, six, seven or even ten years.  This is not a new development.  In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis mentions the same thing.  One teacher drilled Lewis and the other students constantly with Latin endings.  But, he says, they never got within sight of a Roman author.

I once received a very sad email from a student who had spent 10 years learning Latin.  He still couldn’t read in Latin.  He emailed me to ask for help.  He had just discovered Visual Latin.  I could have saved him a lot of time, but it was too late.  He had already spent 10 years learning Latin.

If you don’t want to be reading Latin two years from now, avoid Visual Latin.

Also, If you prefer to learn Latin from a book alone, then Visual Latin may not be for you.

Almost every Latin program is based on books.  This makes sense.  Latin existed long before DVD’s and downloads were invented.   If you prefer to learn Latin (and Latin pronunciation) from a book, then Visual Latin is definitely not for you.

I have taught from most of those Latin books. I may have read them all.   It certainly feels that way.  I’ve been doing this for 20 years. Many of the explanations in the books are actually quite confusing.  I spent 20 years explaining those tough concepts to children.   Over time, I figured out how to explain tough Latin concepts in a clear, understandable way.  If you don’t want clear, understandable explanations, Visual Latin may not be for you.

Have you ever tried to explain a very complicated concept to a room full of 12-year-olds?  I have.  I did it for decades.  Would you like to know the secret?  Humor.  Use humor.  Tell some jokes.  Tell some good jokes.  Tell some lame jokes.  Tell some terrible jokes.  Use humor to diffuse the complicated concepts.  The concepts are still complicated.  No way around that.  But, if you are going to sit in a room full of complicated concepts, you might as well enjoy it.  Humor helps.  I use a lot of humor in Visual Latin.

But, if you would rather learn Latin using books made from sandpaper, perhaps Visual Latin is not for you.  Or, if you are the type of person who suspects that laughter in a classroom indicates that learning is not taking place, then Visual Latin is definitely not for you.

There are a lot of do-it-yourselfers out there.  I know the temptation.  I feel more manly when I can repair a car.  When my car acts up, I often attempt to fix the problem myself.  My wife walks out, asks me what in the world I am trying to do, and then tells me to call the mechanic.  If I can get any of the work done before she shows up, I am usually able to make sure the repair costs much more than it would have had I just called the mechanic.  This is good.  It keeps us from saving too much money.  This makes me a better citizen.  The government doesn’t like it when we save money.  Just watch Economics for Everybody.

As I said, I have taught Latin for twenty years.  I know what I am doing.  But, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, Visual Latin is not for you.

One more thing, Latin is tough.  It is going to make your kids angry.  You probably need this.  It is hard to make your children angry.  I know.  I have five.  They are always delightfully happy.  Obnoxiously cheerful, really. They are rarely angry.  Someone had to do something.  This is why I began teaching them Latin.  I teach them myself.   I don’t let them use Visual Latin.   Visual Latin makes people happy.  I know.  I have seen the emails.  I need my kids to be angry.   Prepares them for the world, you know?

As I said, Visual Latin is not for everyone.  But, if you would like to be reading in Latin soon, if you would like clear explanations, and if you would like to laugh while you are learning, then you should check out Visual Latin.

Also, it’s on sale this week.  You could save some money.  Then, you could use that money to repair your car.

The sale ends on Wednesday, August 9.  If you are interested, click the picture on the right.  You know.  The one with the little boy holding up a sign that says, “Back to school sale”.


Now’s your chance…

Every Saturday, I send out a tip of the week.  I also include announcements, upcoming classes, and so on.  If you would like to hear from me every weekend, sign up for my weekly updates here:


I don’t like to use my email list to advertise.  Instead, I like to let you all know about new tips and tricks I have discovered.

But, today, I thought I should let you know that Visual Latin is on sale.  Just click on the sale link to the right, if you are interested.

Compass Classroom is having a “Back to School Sale” from now until August 9.

I know some of you are confused.  I have a DVD series for Latin, but, I also teach live Latin classes.  What gives?

Let me explain.  No.  There is too much.  Let me sum up.

Visual Latin stands on its own.  It is a two year Latin course.  It will take you from zero Latin to reading the gospels in Latin.  I recommend Visual Latin as a complete Latin course for middle school, or early high school.   I can now safely say that people really like Visual Latin.  I know.  I have seen the emails.  Hundreds of emails from happy, happy mothers whose children now like Latin.

I recommend Visual Latin to anyone who wants to learn Latin.

After Visual Latin, I recommend you tackle something like Spanish, French, or Italian.  Learn something spoken by millions of people.  Then, go talk to them.

However, some people just can’t get enough of my voice.  If you are done with Visual Latin and you are one of those people, I offer “next level” classes on my site:  If you liked Visual Latin and you want more Latin, I can take you there.

I recommend this route to those who have finished Visual Latin and want something more.

But, perhaps you have a copy of First Year Latin by Robert Henle on your kitchen table, and you yourself are on the bathroom floor with your knees pulled up, biting your nails, glancing nervously toward the kitchen, I can help.  Henle Latin is intimidating.  I know.  I have seen the emails.  Hundreds of emails from frightened, frustrated mothers facing Henle Latin.

I recommend this route ONLY to those in Classical Conversations who feel they could use help with Henle Latin.

If you are just starting out in Latin, check out the sale going on over at Compass Classroom.  It ends Wednesday.

Have a happy Saturday!
Dwane Thomas

P.S. If you are joining me live this fall I am offering orientation classes every week in August.

This Tuesday (August 8, 2017) at 6 PM central time, I am offering an orientation class.  If you are confused about upcoming classes, or if you have any general questions, join me here for free:

Also, If you have already signed up, you may need the registration links for class.

If you have subscribed, but have not registered for the upcoming classes, please email me and ask for the registration links.  After verifying your subscription, I will send them to you.

Okay.   I’m done.  Have a great weekend!

After Visual Latin?

I received this comment:
My 12 yr old has finished visual latin. What class should he go to next school year? Why do you suggest on classs over the other. Why do you teach Henle latin if you don’t suggest it?
Here is my reply:
Honestly, I suggest French, Spanish, Italian, or some other modern language.  You can learn all of them for free using DuoLingo.  You can even follow me over there if you want too.  My username is Enawd.
If you want to continue with Latin, and if you want my help, I suggest reading Lingua Latina, and I suggest joining one of my online classes.  The schedule is here:
I teach Henle Latin to help those who have to study Latin using Henle Latin.  Simple as that.  I am just trying to help the students who are stuck reading it.

Latin Lite

I received this letter:

I am a 17-year-old high schooler (homeschooled) taking your Visual Latin course (I just finished VL1 and will soon be starting VL2). To start, I would like to say that your course is a lot of fun, and I am thoroughly enjoying learning Latin. Before your course, I didn’t think much of learning a new language beyond what I have to for high school, but given how much fun this course has been you have inspired me to try to continue learning languages beyond my required high school course and see how far I can get.

My first question is one of reading Latin. I have been trying to read one of the Latin primers designed for this task, Carolus et Maria, however, I am having trouble with a specific part. Verbs going at the end of sentences often makes it difficult for me to read a sentence well because I won’t be able to tell what’s going on until the very last word. I was wondering if you had any advice, tips, or tricks when it comes to being able to read more comprehensively and hopefully be able to read faster. Is there a shift in mindset? Is it because the endings aren’t memorized yet? Is this something you delve more into in Visual Latin 2 or in any of your other courses? Does it just require more practice? Any help here would make my Latin reading experience much easier.

My second question to you is a bit broader. Like I have said I hope to continue practicing Latin and learning other languages, my current plan is to start Spanish after I have finished the bulk of Latin and work my way through many of the Romantic and other European languages before I take on a language with a completely new alphabet such as Greek. I was wondering what you thought of this plan and was wondering if you had any other advice as I move ahead in my adventure.
Here is my reply:

Continue reading Latin Lite