Tag Archives: Visual Latin

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!

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: www.dwanethomas.com.  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: https://dwanethomas.com/schedule/
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.

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.

After The Latin Road?

I received this question:

I have a son who is almost 12 and has completed The Latin Road volume 1 and most of volume 2. His brain seems to compute Latin well. Do you think he would be a candidate for one of your classes, or should he hold off? I was planning on him doing a Second Form Latin class with Memoria Press, but your class seems so much more appealing.

Here is my reply:

Unfortunately, I am not too familiar with the Latin road.  I need to order that series.  

All of my classes start at the beginning.  So, it is quite possible he could jump in and keep up.  My classes are aggressive.  My goal is to have students reading the New Testament in Latin within two years.  It can be done.  I have taken thousands of students across this line.  But… it isn’t easy.

Fortunately, I record every class I teach.  This provides students with a bit of insurance.  If class becomes too much, they can always slow down and move at their own pace.  

You can get a feel for the classes by checking out the book Lingua Latina.  It’s the toughest Latin book out there, but it is the best, by far.  (Anyone who says differently is selling something.)  It is also the most entertaining.  

After Visual Latin?

I received this question:


We have used the Visual Latin for the past 2 years and are sad that it’s ending. My son is going to be in high school and wants to continue his study of Latin… so what would be a good next step for us?


Here is my reply:

Good morning!

If he wants to go beyond Visual Latin, I would recommend one of the next level online Latin classes on my site: www.dwanethomas.com.  I designed these classes precisely for students who wanted to go beyond Visual Latin.

You can find out more here: https://dwanethomas.com/subscribe/

And, here is the schedule for next year: https://dwanethomas.com/schedule/



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