Stuck in Visual Latin

I received this comment:

I have been taking visual Latin for almost over a year and I am not seeing a very large improvement in my learning the language. I don’t know if I am doing something wrong or if I’m missing a step or two but I am having some trouble. I am on Lesson 17 and I can’t read the Latin very fluently and I get lost in some of the lessons on the DVD. I am having to constantly look up words to understand what sentences mean and I cannot read the Lingva Latina book very well. Could you help me understand what I’m doing incorrectly so I can try to correct my mistakes?

Here is my reply:

Good morning!

Foreign languages are tough to learn.  Latin is especially tough.  This is because you can’t just go hang out with friends who speak Latin.  As a result, it is difficult to find a fun way to practice.

Don’t be too discouraged.  This is a common problem.

If you are young (not yet in high school)… that could be part of the problem.  Younger students seem to struggle more with Latin.  If this is the case, I would recommend you take a break from Latin.  Go check out duolingo.  Start learning Spanish, French, or Italian.  DuoLingo is free and (according to my students) fun.  Many of my students use it.  One student used it for a year.  She practiced 5 minutes a day.  In one year, she was 41% fluent in French.  (DuoLingo keeps track.)

After a year, or so in another language, come back to Latin.  You will find that it is easier.  Your brain will be more receptive to Latin after time in another language.

As for vocabulary, don’t feel bad about looking up words.  I have been studying Latin for 20 years, and I am still looking up words.  This is simply part of the process.  It never goes away.  Don’t think that because you have to look up words you are not doing well.

As for Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg, don’t feel bad about confusion there either.  That is a tough, tough, tough book.  In fact, I think it is probably one of the toughest Latin books out there.  Many Latin teachers can’t even handle it.  I recommend it often because it is, in my opinion, the very best Latin book out there.  Just because it’s the best does not mean it is easy.  If you are struggling with Lingua Latina, don’t feel bad.  Everyone struggles.

If you ever want help with Lingua Latina, I take students through the book every year over on my website: https://dwanethomas.com/.

Also, if you ever have specific sentences that you are struggling with, send them to me.  I often create extra explanatory videos for my students.  There are quite a few already over here: https://www.youtube.com/user/visuallatin.

Let me know if you need more help!

Dwane Thomas