Tag Archives: How to learn Latin

Latin 3 and 4?

I received this inquiry (It is multifaceted, and quite long.  You have been warned):

Thanks for offering these online classes–it has been a great experience for our daughter (Henle I, Wed. @ 3pm CST)!  She has loved learning Latin with you, and would like to continue!  Thanks, too, for sending her info. on what’s coming up next.  We will plan on continuing in July and August for finishing Henle 1 though I am not yet sure if she will be away at orchestra/harp camp during any of that time.  Do we have to sign up for this anywhere?

We would like for our daughter to continue with Latin for the rest of High School (Junior and Senior year).  She started in 9th grade with Henle 1 when we were exploring Classical Conversations, and is grateful to complete it with you this year (10th grade).  Our original thought was to go through Henle 1 – 4, though it doesn’t look like that is an option and perhaps not best any how.  Others have recommended Cambridge or Oxford Latin for upper levels, but we would like to stick with you (any plans to offer either of these?  Any thoughts about them?).  

We could sign her up for Henle 2 with you this fall (11th grade), however she is not in CC now so we are not married to continuing with Henle and would like to do whatever would be best for continued learning.  She is thinking that Lingua Latina 1 & 2 online are equivalent to Henle 1 online– is that true?  Though LL would be a great review, signing up for the Lingua Latina 2 online class for year 2 doesn’t really make sense at this point then?  
So is Henle 2 the only Latin year 2 option this fall?  Foundations and Fables sounds great–is it equivalent of Latin 2 or  Latin 3/4?  Would it be better to take Foundations and Fables in place of Henle 2 or after Henle 2 in the following year for Latin 3 (12th grade)

Our daughter has some interest in Classical Language, Literature & History so we are wanting her to have preparation should she decide to go that route in college.  I am wondering what your recommendation would be for the best use of these next two years so that we could legitimately claim 3 years of High School Latin (Latin 1, 2, 3/4), and possibly take and pass the National Latin Exam for each level (see bottom of email for exam details).  Though we are more concerned with facility in reading and using Latin (and it’s benefits related to English Language, grammar, vocabulary, logic and preparation for learning other languages) than teaching purely to testing, I think the tests help colleges know that you have indeed acquired the requisite skill level.  The National Latin Exams were recommended to us by a friend because of her interest in Classical Studies.  Have you taken any of these exams?  Do you recommend them?

Here is my reply:


Your daughter is a phenomenal student.  I am always shocked when I grade her work.  She is definitely among the very best of my many students.  So, whatever you guys are doing… well done.

I will try to answer your questions in order.

First, no need to sign up anywhere.  I will simply extend the class on my end.  Go To Meeting should keep sending the reminders to you.

Cambridge and Oxford Latin are similar to Henle Latin.  They are textbooks.  A bit dry.  No worse than Henle, I don’t suppose.  As they are both secular textbooks, the authors steer away from all the references to Christianity so common in Henle Latin.

I have added content to the Foundations and Fables class.  In the second semester, we will read Caesar’s Gallic Wars: http://www.amazon.com/Caesaris-Commentarii-Gallico-Lingua-Latina/dp/1585102326  This does turn the class into the equivalent of Latin 3.

I have also decided to teach Roma Aeterna next year.  This is part 2 of the Lingua Latina series.  It includes the writings of Vergil, Tacitus, Cicero, etc.  It more than satisfies the requirements for Latin 4.  I also like your idea of reading through some of Augustine’s writings.  But, we will see.

As for the National Latin Exam, I am sure your daughter will do extremely well.  I have considered offering a class for this, too.  But, you know… time.  Sigh.  I will keep looking for time in my schedule.  Meanwhile, if she wants to practice… here are all the old exams:  http://www.nle.org/exams.html#accessfiles

You may have to scroll up or down a bit to find the exams.

I am sorry for the delay!  Have an excellent Sunday!


Latin 3

I received this inquiry:

I watched your YouTube video about online class offerings and the sibling discounts, and was excited to learn you’re considering a class that could be an alternative to Henle 2 (which we’ve signed up for already). If that class becomes available, would I be able to “transfer” my son from Henle 2 into that one? 

As background, my son started with Wheelock’s, but has now nearly finished Lingua Latina with another provider. For a few reasons, the most significant being a time conflict, he won’t be continuing with that provider next year. We’re familiar with Henle and know it will be a fine class, but a less boring option is always better. 🙂

Here is my reply:

If the time works, you could switch over to Fables and Foundations. I have adjusted the content of the class.  We will read through a book of the Greek and Latin myths in the fall.  In the spring, we will tackle the book of Genesis.  We will finish class with Caesar’s Gallic Wars. This class will be the equivalent of the Henle 2 class, and will count as Latin 3.  

What does Visual Latin cover?

Well, Latin, of course!


Every now and then I get a question about the content of Visual Latin.

Here is what the course covers:

Specific lessons include:
A. Why Study Latin?
B. How Does Visual Latin Work?
1. Being Verbs Basics | To Be and Not to Be
2. Being Verbs Basics | Predicate Nominatives and Adjectives
3. Gender | Boy Words and Girl Words
4. Singular and Plural | E Pluribus Unum
5. Declensions | Meet the Cases
6. Adjectives Learn to Agree with Nouns
7. The Case Files | Nominative and Genitive
8. Counting to 10 in Latin
9. Active Verb Basics | Indicative Mood
10. The Case Files | Accusative
11. The Case Files | Vocative
12. Changing Your Moods | Imperative & Indicative
13. The Case Files | Ablative
14. Meet the Pronouns & Question Words
15. Pronouns | Relative
16. Accusing Prepositions of Accusative Case
17. Verbs | Active & Passive
18. The Case Files | Dative
19. Pronouns | 1st & 2nd Person Personal
20. Pronouns | 3rd Person Personal
21. Pronouns | Demonstratives: this, these
22. Pronouns | Demonstratives: that, those
23. Pronouns | Relative and Interrogative
24. Pronouns | Possessive
25. Nouns | 3rd Declension
26. Verbs | Infinitives – Active & Passive
27. Verbs | Infinitives – Ability, Negation & Indirect
28. Nouns | 3rd Declension – Neuter
29. Nouns | 4th Declension
30. Adjectives | Positive & Comparative

That is it for Visual Latin 1,

In the second year, Visual Latin 2 covers:

 31. Nouns | 5th Declension & Superlative Adjectives

32. Adjectives | Irregular Comparison
33. 1 to 100 | Cardinals, Ordinals, and Fractions
34. Pronouns | Reflexive
35. Adjectives | Indefinite & Irregular
36. Conjugations and Macrons
37. Verbs | Present Tense
38. Verbs | Imperfect Tense
39. Verbs | Future Tense
40. Verbs | Four Principle Parts Review
41. Present Participles
42. The Rest of the Participles
43. Supine
44. More Infinitives
45. Perfect Tense
46. Pluperfect Tense
47. Future Perfect Tense
48. Volo, Nolo, Marco Polo
49. Deponent Verbs
50. Impersonal Verbs
51. Gerunds
52. Adverbs
53. Introduction to Subjunctive
54. Ut and Ne
55. Imperfect Subjunctive
56. Gerundives
57. Perfect, Fear and Cum
58. Pluperfect, Indirect Discourse
59. Verbs | Ablative Absolute
60. Verbs | Fio, Comparative Subjunctive

English to Latin with Henle

This summer, some of my Latin students and I will finish up a year long slog through First Year Latin, by Robert Henle.

Even in a year long course, there is no way to get to it all.

For a while, I have been working my way through the book, creating videos using the English to Latin exercises.  These are, by far, the toughest exercises in the book.  They are tough because students are to think in Latin, as they translate from English.

When there are no native speakers to practice with, going from English to Latin is a tough assignment.

I started a free You Tube series to help these Henle students, but, after a while, I became too busy and stopped.

I also became discouraged with the project.  Why?

Simple.  I got tired of creating videos with some of the lovely sentences that Mr. Henle throws in from time to time.

Here are a few:

After a victory, there is a slaughter of part of the leaders of the tribe.  Exercise 47, page 46.

There are bodies and swords in the river.  Exercise 57, page 52

The Gauls often killed themselves after the victories of the Romans.  Exercise 154, page 137

Soldiers, lay waste to the fields of the barbarians.  Burn their corps.  Attack their towns.  Kill their hostages.  Seize their towns, hills, and bridges!  Exercise 310, page 298

Sigh.  This book is filled with more killing, slaughtering, and dead bodies than many Hollywood movies.

No wonder Latin has such a bad reputation.

Is that really the track we want our kids to run on as they learn Latin?

I’ve said it hundreds of times.  The Henle series will teach you Latin. You will learn the language.  The books work.  It just isn’t the most inspiring way to learn Latin.  On the contrary, the books can be very discouraging.

Which is why, for a while, I stopped producing videos like this one:



What to read in Latin…

Yesterday was a long day.  Just before I fell asleep, I posted a quick note about alternative Latin reading material.  Here it is: https://dwanethomas.com/instead-of-caesar/

A few days ago, I publicly declared that reading Caesar’s commentary on the Gallic Wars may not be the best use of your time. That post is here:  https://dwanethomas.com/are-we-all-penguins/

If you have read both posts, you now know that I care little for Caesar or his writings.  You know that I believe the Vulgate is a bit more important in the history of the world, than the geographical and political machinations of an isolated dictatorial maniac.

Read Caesar’s writings if you like.  I have.  I will read them again.  I actually do find them interesting.  But, that may very well be due to the fact that I grew up in Europe and due to the fact that I teach Latin.  Unless you are fascinated by European history, or unless you are a Latin teacher, you may be wasting a lot of time pouring over the ancient writings of an ancient dictator.

As an aside, no one questions Caesar’s authorship of the commentaries.  And, yet the earliest copy of the book shows up 900 years after his death!  There are only about a dozen copies in existence.  Meanwhile, the New Testament is under constant attack, and yet, there were hundreds of copies in existence before the Roman Empire collapsed.

Anyway, back to the point…

If you jettison Caesar’s Gallic Wars, what will you read instead?

I recommend you start in the shallow end of the pool.  Start with the easy stuff.

Here is an excerpt from my ebook, Via:


Not sure what to read in Latin?  Here is a recommended reading list:

For Beginners:

1.  Cornelia by Mima Maxey

2.  Carolus et Maria by Marjorie Fay

3.  Julia by Maud Reed

4. Lingua Latina by Hans Orberg

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.

Read your favorite books in Latin. 

Once you have completed the list above, you may want to read something more fun.  One of my favorite things to do is read pleasure books in other languages.  I have read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Spanish, and The Hobbit in German. 

(WARNING: These are tough books to read.  This list is presented simply to demonstrate what is available.  Attempt this list only after you have read all of the books on the previous list.)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

The Hobbit

Winnie the Pooh

Alice in Wonderland

Charlotte’s Web

Often it is this kind of book that I will read as I fall asleep.  This is the fun stuff.  The material is light.  It’s a great way to fall asleep. 


The point of this post is simple.  There is plenty to read out there if you want to read in Latin.

Schools and teachers should stop acting as if there are only three Latin authors, Caesar, Cicero, and Virgil.  There are plenty of other authors who have written in Latin.  These three guys just happen to be the most difficult to read.

Yet, these are the three we thrust upon young students.

And we wonder why Latin has such a bad reputation.

Finish Henle, or no?

I received this comment:

Thanks for all you do.

CC family here with a 15 year old sophomore finishing up Challenge B. It sounds like you’re very familiar with the Challenge B Henle pace – they finished up lessons 1-25 out of 42. My question is – do you think we should continue with Henle (if so, which of your classes) or make a switch over to Lingua Latina? Given next year is her junior year, we want a rigorous study. So, which of your three online Latin courses do you think would best suit her previous experience and needs in upper high school?
Thank you so much for your thoughts!

Here is my reply:


If you must continue with Henle, go with Henle. However, I am not entirely sure the online Henle course I offer will be of much help. I take students through the entire book in one year. After all, it is “First Year Latin, by Robert Henle.” For those not in Classical Conversations, I always recommend Lingua Latina. It is just so much better. And, it is a lot of fun to read. Students really enjoy getting to know the characters.

So, perhaps you are wondering, how does this help you? What step should you take?

Here is my recommendation. Recommendations, rather. You have some options.

First, your daughter could join the Henle class next fall, repeat the first 25 chapters, wrapping up the last chapters in the final months of the school year.

Or, you could order Lingua Latina for your daughter, have her read (or attempt to read) the first 19 chapters and then join the Lingua Latina 2 class next year. In the second class, we finish the book.

If you go with the second option, I am happy to allow her into the Henle 1 class as well. No charge. My guess is, she would not really want to join until we reached chapter 25 anyway. At that point, she would just be wrapping up the Henle 1 book.

Does this all make sense?