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.