Tag Archives: learning Latin

Book Review #4: Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg

A few months ago, my students and I just finished another trip through Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, by Hans Orberg. 

Since I had to cancel class in April, we were a bit off schedule.  I promised students we would continue until we finished the book.

Every time I read this book, I am amazed. 

I am amazed at how well it teaches Latin.  And, I am amazed at how tough it is.

Did you catch that?  Let me repeat that.  

Lingua Latina is tough.

Hans Orberg wrote Lingua Latina in Latin.

That’s right.  If you have not seen the book yet, it is completely in Latin.

There is no English explanation.  There are no sidebars with English notes.  There are no grammar points in English at the end of each chapter.  Most shocking to my students, there is no “Latin to English” dictionary at the back.

Lingua Latina: Per Se Illustrata means: The Latin Language Illustrated through itself.

In other words, Latin will teach you Latin.  The reader will use the Latin he knows to learn the Latin he does not know.  

Chapter 1 begins with pictures of new words and a map of the Roman empire.  Students read Roma in Italia est. 

Looking at the map, students see that Rome is in Italy.  This simple sentence just taught four words in Latin.  Each sentence, each paragraph, and each chapter from this point forward will add to your knowledge.  

By the time you finish the book, you will know almost 2,000 words in Latin.  This is significant.  I’ve been studying languages for twenty years.  As best I can tell, a learner with about 2,000 to 3,000 words in another language possesses the foundation needed for basic conversation and possesses the foundation for more advanced reading.

By contrast, another text I use to teach Latin, First Year Latin by Robert Henle, teaches students about 400 words.  Really, that isn’t much.  When you finish the book, you are not going to be able to read much in Latin.

By chapter 28, in Lingua Latina, students are reading from the New Testament in Latin!  In other words, if you tackled a chapter a day, starting today, you could be reading the New Testament, in Latin, 28 days from now.  Admittedly, that would be one tough assignment to hand yourself, but… theoretically, it could be done.

At the end of the book, chapter 35, students read Latin poetry, Latin wit, and a few Latin jokes.  If you can understand jokes in another language, you are either fluent or almost fluent.

I think I have read almost every Latin textbook out there.  I spent years looking for something like Lingua Latina.  The day I found it, I was hooked.

Mr. Ørberg was brilliant.

He turned a tough subject, one almost always taught from a grammar-based approach into a novel.

Instead of reading dry disjointed sentences, students read about family squabbles, school fights, pirates, dramatic rescues, runaway slaves, and stolen money.

Not only is the story completely in Latin, it is actually interesting!

Lingua Latina takes the reader from completely ignorant in Latin to near fluency.  Keep that in mind.  When I tell you that this is one of the toughest books you will ever read in your life, I am not kidding.

If you are plowing through Lingua Latina and you are struggling, be encouraged.  You are supposed to struggle.  Push through.

Soon you will be able to read in Latin.

That, my friends, is worth the struggle.

Of course, if you don’t want to tackle this book on your own, you are welcome to join me as I read it again.  We start over in September.

To read my other book reviews, go here: https://dwanethomas.com/bookreviews/

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Too many people idealize Latin. Here is the truth.

I recently received an inquiry about my online classes.  The woman who emailed me added an interesting sentence in her email.

I’m realistic and don’t want to idealize Latin into something it’s not.  

Wow.  She nailed it.

Too many people idealize Latin.  Here is the truth.

With almost every curriculum, you are going to spend 5 – 6 years studying Latin.  When you finish, you will possess a language you can practice with almost no one.  You will have no one to speak to, and no Latin-speaking country to visit.  As a bonus, you will find yourself involved in very frustrating, pointless arguments about the proper pronunciation of a language no longer spoken.  Fun. 

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies.

I have spent over 20 years studying Latin.  I now live in a world of dry, dusty, and mostly boring books.  My wife doesn’t get my job.  My friends don’t get my job.  My kids don’t get my job.  Every week, I spend 20 hours or more reading old books hardly anyone cares about anymore.  Another 30 hours, or so, grading.  It’s lonely.  

On the other hand, if you study Spanish, French, German, Italian, or any other modern language, you will be able to speak to native speakers within a year, maybe less.  Plus, there are many beautiful countries you could visit.  That really is fun.  

Here’s the dirty little secret Latin teachers never tell.  If you learn Spanish (or French, Italian, Portuguese, or a dozen other European languages), and then you tackle Latin, you will find Latin much, much easier.  My very best Latin students are Spanish speakers.  Why? Easy.  Spanish came from Latin.  

So, what if you study Spanish, but never make it to Latin?   You will still speak Spanish!  Or, Italian.  Or, French.  You get my point.

A lot of kids are required to take Latin in school.  I feel for them.  That is why I helped create Visual Latin.  I wanted to take one of the dullest subjects on the planet and make it interesting… maybe even fun.  

If you must study Latin, start with Visual Latin.  Then, join one of my Lingua Latina classes.  I do everything in my power to make these classes enjoyable.  I also do everything I can to get students through Latin as rapidly as possible.  With either Visual Latin or Lingua Latina, students will be able to read the New Testament within two years.  

After achieving that incredible goal, you could move on to a modern language.  

But, if you have a choice… start with a modern language and then tackle Latin.

Where do I start?

I received this question:

Dear Dwane, I’m looking to learn Latin. What is the best way to satart? which course i need to take. And,as I dont live in USA can I have my lesson any time that suit to me?

Here is my reply:

I am so embarrassed.  Last week, I discovered that my site was hiding over 800 comments and questions from me.  I have not responded to literally hundreds of questions.   This is not like me.  Scrambling to catch up over the next few days.  

There are many ways to learn Latin.   If you already speak another romance language, like Spanish or Italian, it will be even easier for you.

If you want to do it on your own, all you will need is a grammar, a dictionary, and a copy of the New Testament in Latin.   All of these are available for free online.  

Here is a grammar: https://books.google.com/books?id=b40AAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=latin&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjMjen1mJfOAhXM7CYKHSStA-wQ6AEIHjAA#v=onepage&q=latin&f=false

Here is my favorite online Latin to English dictionary: http://www.archives.nd.edu/words.html

And here is a copy of the Bible in Latin: http://www.latinvulgate.com/

If you would like to learn Latin via video, you can do this anytime with my series: Visual Latin.

If you would like to learn Latin via live classes, I teach them every year on my own site: http://dwanethomas.wpengine.com/.  

I apologize for the long delay.   Please let me know if you have any more questions.

Have a happy Thursday!

Resources for Latin

I received this question:

Since you have been kind to reply, in your experience with Henle and CC, are there any other tools you have found that would make learning the Latin easier for me or my students?

Here is my reply:

If you join any of my classes, you will learn all my tricks.  I hold nothing back.  That said, here are a few resources I think everyone needs while learning Latin.

1. Wine.  

2. Beer.

Okay, I am kidding.  The first two were jokes.  Kind of.  But, not really.  Seriously.  I’m kidding.  Confused?  Me too.

Okay, for real this time…

1. Whitaker’s Words: http://archives.nd.edu/words.html (Leep this open while you work.  Nothing like it.)

2. Latin-Dictionary: http://latin-dictionary.net/ (a back-up in case Whitaker’s Words goes down)

3. The Latin Dictionary:  http://latindictionary.wikidot.com/verb:vocare (powerful verb conjugator)

4. The Latin tutorial:  https://www.youtube.com/user/latintutorial (lots of helpful videos)

5. The Audio Vulgate: http://www.bible.is/LTNNVV/Matt/1 (The Bible as a free, dramatized audio book.  Imitate pronunciation)

6. Via: https://dwanethomas.com/downloads/via-latin-lost/ (all my best secrets for learning Latin, or almost anything)

7. Visual Latin (one of only two comprehensive Latin DVD courses on the planet.  Here is the other one:  http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/latin-101-learning-a-classical-language.html)

I am turning this into a blog post.  As I think of more ideas, I will add them.

This should get you going, though.

Have a happy Wednesday!

Dwane Thomas