Tag Archives: vocabulary

Which meaning?

I received this question:

My son came across a problem on Visual Latin 1 Lesson 15. On the answer sheet it says that the word “feminam” means wife and “feminas” means wives but on the vocabulary list, it is not listed. It is listed as woman.

Also, we ran into issues with “bestiarum” which means beast but on the answer sheet it says animals towards the end of the second paragraph.

Here is my reply:

I apologize for the delay. August is the busiest month of the year for me.  Finally catching up this morning…

English has over a million words in its vocabulary.  And, it is climbing at the rate of about 150 words a day, or so I have heard.  We have a word for everything.  In fact, we sometimes have multiple words for everything.

Latin, on the other hand, has a vocabulary of about 75,000 words.  Compared to English, Latin is puny, tiny, small, or itty bitty.  (See what I did there?)

Anyway, Latin words have to work extra hard.  Sometimes one word will have many meanings.  So, yes.  Bestia means beast.  It can also mean animal, creature; wild beast/animal, beast of prey in arena.  

Femina means woman.  It can also mean woman, and sometimes wife.  

I hope this clears it all up!

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!

How to learn all the vocabulary…

Estimates vary… but, it seems you need at least a few thousand words in your head to be able to speak fluently in another language.

Since there is no way to nail down an exact number, I am going with 2,000.

If you learn just 50 words a week, you would possess those 2,000 words in just 40 weeks.   40 weeks = one school year.

Great.  But, how are you going to learn those 2,000 words?  Do you really want to sit down and create 2,000
flash cards?  How many trees must die so that you can order a Margherita Pizza in Italian?

Fortunately, one of my students reminded me of a digital flash card site.  And in doing so, she potentially increased the world’s cognitive surplus and simultaneously saved the planet.  Pretty impressive, Amie.

Here is her note to me:

I have been working through your Lingua Latina classes for the past two months. Great class! Thanks for making it affordable!

Right around lesson10, I realized that the vocabulary was getting to be a bit much for me. I just wanted to share that I found a great resource for learning the vocabulary for Lingua Latina. I have been using Memrise for the last two weeks and it is making this much much easier. It is free. Well, they try to sell me a subscription when I use my iPhone but I have since downloaded the app on my Kindle and it is totally free!”

Somehow, I had forgotten about Memrise.  I spent some time on the site this morning.

She is right.  Memrise is an impressive flash card site.  There are numerous courses, languages, and subjects.  You can even set challenges for yourself and you can follow friends who also use Memrise.

If you, like Amie, are having trouble with the more than 1,800 words in Lingua Latina, then use this link:
https://www.memrise.com/course/252632/lingua-latina-pars-i-familia-romana/

If you are having trouble with the 497 words in First Year Latin by Robert Henle, then use this link: 
https://www.memrise.com/course/198250/henle-first-year-latin/

Of course, there is much more than Latin on the site.  If you are plodding through a course and you need to learn a pile of new words, check out Memrise!

Have a happy Saturday!
Dwane Thomas

P.S. This Thursday (July 27, 2017) at 7 PM central time, I am going to be testing out a live Q and A.  If you are confused about the classes I am offering, Visual Latin, or just Latin in general, feel free to stop by!

Register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7024812059890156289

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:

A note to a discouraged student…

I received this email:

I am very worried that I am not doing well with my Latin. Up until around Chapter 32, I can read most of the chapters pretty well, even if I read pretty slowly. But I can hardly read Chapter 32 at all, and I know we’re supposed to be starting Chapter 33 now, but I can’t even begin to read and understand it. I don’t have any problems with understanding the grammar: I think it’s just vocabulary. Is there anything you could suggest that would help me study and memorize the vocabulary for Chapters 32 and up? I am afraid I am going to fall behind and get abysmal grades otherwise…

Here is my reply:

The process of learning a language is more a marathon than a sprint.  It takes a long time.  The reason I choose Lingua Latina is that, believe it or not, it actually speeds the process. 

For example, First Year Latin by Robert Henle is really a grammar book with a lot of English explanation.  Students finish the book knowing only learn about 400 words.  That’s not enough.

On the other hand, Lingua Latina teaches students about 2,000 words.  2,000 to 3000 words is about all you need in a language to be fluent in the language.  Of course, you can continue studying vocabulary as much as you want for the rest of your life.  That’s what I am doing.

The problem is, getting to those 2,000 words, especially in Latin, is tough.  I have found that the best way to achieve the goal is via repetition. 

This is why I suggest that my students read the book again each month. On the first day of the month, read chapter 1. On the second day of the month, chapter 2.  On the third day of the month, chapter 3.  You get the idea.  When you stall out, and you will, pause and focus on the problem causing chapter for the rest of the month. For example, if chapter 17 trips you up, spend the rest of the month reading chapter 17. Read it over and over again until you master the chapter.  Then… move on. 

Don’t be afraid to repeat. Just as you can’t train for a marathon by running around the block a couple of times, you can’t learn Latin by reading a book just once. You must repeat the process over and over again. You may be able to pass standardized tests in school, with one reading, but to truly own the language, you are simply going to have to repeat the process multiple times. This is why I choose Lingua Latina.  It’s a novel.  At least it’s interesting. I don’t mind reading interesting books multiple times, and chances are, neither do you.

No one wants to read First Year Latin by Robert Henle, or books like it, twice.

Another thing students sometimes ignore is vocabulary. The vocabulary in Linga Latina is aggressive. Each chapter teaches you about 50 words. That’s quite a lot. This is why I emphasize to my students over and over again that they cannot skip vocabulary training. Review the vocabulary every day. Review the vocabulary for the chapter that you’re currently in. For example, if you’re studying chapter 17, and if you are struggling with Chapter 17, then master the vocabulary for chapter 17.  Study the vocabulary for chapter 17 over and over and over again.

You can create flashcards for yourself if you like.   Or, you can use the flash cards over at quizlet. You can also learn the vocabulary by looking up each difficult word you encounter in the chapter.

This is my favorite way to learn new vocabulary. You learn in context.  Best of all, with Lingua Latina you learn vocabulary via a story. This story helps you remember the vocabulary. This is why I emphasize strongly that students who have learned Latin read the New Testament in Latin.

The New Testament is the most famous story on the planet. You can learn so much and vocabulary so fast if the New Testament is the first book you read once you know the grammar of a language. I do this with every language I study.

I know that you’re discouraged by the final chapters. That’s fine. I, too, was discouraged by the higher chapters when I first read the book. But, I kept coming back. Over and over and over again. Now, Latin is a skill and a knowledge that I will possess the rest of my life. Some things are worth building. A lot of girls from your generation have memorized the lines and lines of the Gilmore girls. Probably nothing wrong with that. I don’t know.  I have never seen an episode. 

However, it will not have the long-term benefits that mastering another language will have.

 

Vocabulary for Visual Latin 2?

I received this question:

My daughter is enjoying her Latin study with your fun and engaging lessons. We bought the Visual Latin 2 printed course materials. We have not been able to find a place where there is a copy of all the latin vocab from volume 2 (lessons 31-60). Is there a master list for the visual Latin 2 or better yet a visual latin 1 & 2 combined vocabulary list? Thank you for your materials. They are appreciated!

Here is my reply:

Hi!  

Unfortunately, no.  There is a master list for Visual Latin 1, but there is not a master list for Visual Latin 2.  Don’t know how I managed to do that.  That is something I am planning to solve this summer.  

Meanwhile, I recommend these online tools when looking up Latin words:

Whitaker’s Words: http://archives.nd.edu/words.html

The Latin Dictionary: http://latin-dictionary.net/

Another Latin Dictionary (this one is really good for conjugating verbs): http://latindictionary.wikidot.com/verb:vocare

Verbix (a bit complicated and difficult to use, but not bad as a last resort): http://www.verbix.com/languages/latin.shtml

Visual Latin vocabulary organized into lists of flashcards: https://quizlet.com/CompassClassroom/folders/visual-latin/sets

I hope this helps!

Dwane

=================================================

Want to join a class?  Click the blue button below: 

  • Billed once per month, 36 times

Add to Cart

Air

As I blog my way through my study of Italian, I am considering bring the “Word of the Day” back.

For several years, I posted consistently.  Then, in the craziness that was for me 2016, I dropped the ball.  But, I miss it.

I am going to attempt to resurrect the habit.  We shall see.

I will attempt to blog my way through the “language museum” located at the end of the Loom of Language.

Here goes:

Air: the invisible gasses that make up the atmosphere.  Air comes from Old French, air.  which came from Latin aer (atmosphere, sky; cloud).  The Latin word is related to the Greek αέρ (modern αέρας).

The word Air looks familiar in many modern Latin-derived languages.

  • French – l’air
  • Italian – l’aria
  • Spanish – el aire
  • Portuguese – o ar

Beyond Word Up….

I received this question:

I have a few of questions about Beyond Word Up:

Is it in the same format as Word Up?

How many lessons are there?

Since it’s not a live class, do you have to sign up for a year or just a couple months?

Here is my reply:

No. Unfortunately, it is not the same format as Word Up.  I wish it were.  Word Up was a lot of fun to create.  

The classes on my site are screen casts.  They’re not all that exciting.  Basically, the students simply see the word I am talking about on the screen in front of them.  Each class adds about 20 new words.  In this respect, the material is the same as Word Up, but the delivery is quite different.

There are 24 lessons.  This means that students would learn the history of and the etymology of about 500 words.

And, yes. I have set my site up in such a way that you can subscribe and cancel at anytime.