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Beginner self-study

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Beginner self-study

Postby jamesee0106.latin » Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:13 pm


I would like to begin a Latin self-study soon, and I am not sure about what materials should I get:

(1) Wheelock's Latin seems a good buy, but do you have any other suggestions for Latin grammar guides?
(2) 38 Latin Stories works with Wheelock's Latin, so should I get this reader, or Wheelock's Latin reader? Is the latter too challenging for a beginner? What other readers are there? Which should I start with first?
(3) Should I get Wheelock Latin's workbook? Is it useful?

Thank You!

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Re: Beginner self-study

Postby MatthaeusLatinus » Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:57 am

I would get all the Wheelock's materials. It's not firſt rate, but it'll do for any beginner. I uſed it myſelf.

As for grammar, there are quite ſeveral. Allen & Greenough is good, ſo is Gilderſleeve. there is alſo a great deal of Latin grammars at Google books.
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Re: Beginner self-study

Postby adrianus » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:20 am

Get ahold also of Orberg's Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata.
Cape et opus Orbergensis auctoris, Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata nomine
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Beginner self-study

Postby procrastinator » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:11 am

Salve jamesee0106.latin,

I'm also self-studying. I have a third suggestion. It's called First Latin Lessons by Harry Fletcher Scott. It was published so long ago that now it's in the public domain, and can be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/details/firstlatinlesso00scotgoog (specifically the PDF version is at http://www.archive.org/download/firstlatinlesso00scotgoog/firstlatinlesso00scotgoog.pdf.)

The good thing is that even if you find you don't like it later, it's free so no money lost. Here's why I like it:
  • There are many small lessons (64 to be precise). They're small in the sense that the reading passage is only a few paragraphs.
  • Grammar points are explained and new words are translated into English
  • There isn't a lot of new vocabulary every lesson
  • Later in the book are longer stories to read
  • There are even latin songs included!

I bought Wheelock's Latin book a while back but found it tough-going. Wheelock believed it was a good idea to get you reading actual classic prose, but of course it was too difficult for a beginner to read, so he simplified the sentences. The only problem is there's no context for the sentences (they're not part of a story) and he had to add in some complex vocab that's just used once in that sentence. The result is a bit of a mess. At least with "First Latin Lessons" you're getting simple text passages that only use the vocab covered so far. Plus the passages are a cohesive whole and once sentence builds on the previous.

I've also tried Lingua Latina per se illustrata, it's very well put together, but perhaps I rushed too fast and felt overwhelmed with the density of new words. I'll go back to it later as it's great for vocab.

Oh, and I should mention that there's a follow-on book to First Latin Lessons called A Junior Latin Reader at http://www.archive.org/details/juniorlatinreade00sanfrich which has 35 more lessons.
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Re: Beginner self-study

Postby jamesee0106.latin » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:37 am

Thanks for the advice. I have checked the Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, and I discovered that there are several book parts, such as Part 1: Familia Romana, and Part 2.?May I know what book are you referring to? Thanks!
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Re: Beginner self-study

Postby adrianus » Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:44 pm

The lot.
Ad istos omnes.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Beginner self-study

Postby ragnar_deerslayer » Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:34 pm

A quick guide to Lingua Latina textbook series:

What you need to start:
Lingua Latina Pars I Familia Romana (the textbook itself)
Lingua Latina Pars I Exercitia Latina (the exercise workbook for drilling the material)
Lingua Latina: Teachers’ Materials & Answer Keys (for checking your work)

Optional helps:
Lingua Latina: Colloquia Personarum (supplementary readings to the first half of Familia Romana)
Lingua Latina: Fabulae Syrai (supplementary readings to the second half of Familia Romana)
Lingua Latina: A College Companion $15 (This is a guide to the vocabulary and grammar of Familia Romana in English. It might be good if you get lost, but I'd try the "Latine Disco" pdf and the vocabulary guide that the publishing company has as a free download on their website first.)
Lingua Latina Audio CD (the first ten chapters of Familia Romana read by the author)
Lingua Latina PC-CDROM (dated [Win95?] computerized version of the book, but does include MP3s of nearly the entire book being read by the author)

Second-Year Latin
Lingua Latina Pars II Roma Aeterna (the follow-up textbook)
Lingua Latina Pars II Exercitia Latina II (answer keys in the Teachers' Materials book you already bought)

Additional Lingua Latina Supplementary Readings
Easy - for when you've completed Familia Romana
Caesaris: Commentarii De Bello Gallico
Sermones Romani
Plautus: Amphitryo Comoedia

Intermediate - for while you're doing Roma Aeterna
Ovid: Ars Amatoria
Vergil Aeneid
Petronius: Cena Trimalchionis

Hard - for after you've completed Roma Aeterna
Sallustus & Cicero, Catilina

Hope this helps.

Read my blog! --> Study Greek
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Re: Beginner self-study

Postby hlawson38 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:09 pm

Here is a review of my recent Latin study.

At age 70, two years ago, I resumed the study of Latin, having left it off about 55 years earlier, after second year high school latin. First I tried to read some Cicero with the aid of a dictionary. I had forgotten nearly everything, so I gave up on this and started over.

Step two: I worked my way through most of Wheelock. I still felt pretty shaky, so I then worked my way through most of Moreland and Fleisher's Latin: an Intensive Course. This required several months, even though I worked every day.

Step three: I worked my way through most of Caesar's Gallic War.

Step four: I worked my way through Cicero's orations against Cataline.

I'm now in step five, the Aeneid. I use the Loeb Classical Library text, and read the poem as if it were prose, sentence by sentence. I don't worry much about my grasp of the overall picture of the Aeneid; I just try to understand the literal meaning, one sentence after the other. When baffled by the sentence, I look at the English on the facing page. After I understand the meaning of the sentence in English, I can nearly always parse the Latin sentence. I can usually tell when I have weak understanding of a grammatical issue, and when I have run into a problem because the Aeneid is poetry and not prose. Allen and Greenough is at hand for reference.

Some days I look back at Caesar, a gratifying experience, for I can see that I have made progress. But I still cannot just open a literary work in Latin and read it, with occasional dictionary lookups. But I believe I will do this some day.

I have not tried brute-force memorization of word lists. I suspect this might speed things up a little, but since I find such work annoying, I just keep plowing forward in Virgil.
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Re: Beginner self-study

Postby jamesee0106.latin » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:33 am

Thanks for the advice... I'm planning to begin with Wheelock's Latin, then try the Lingua Latina materials.
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Re: Beginner self-study

Postby howard » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:03 pm

I have found Prof. Dale Grote's A Comprehensive Guide to Wheelock's Latin to be invaluable when working with Wheelock. Some of the Wheelock sections are quite short and don't explain the concepts so well, while Prof. Grote takes the time to fully explain not only the what but the why.
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Re: Beginner self-study

Postby thesaurus » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:51 pm

I learned the basics of Latin by plowing through Wheelock's in a quick summer course. I was pretty shaky afterwards, and reading Caesar was tough going. I later went through Lingua Latina on my own and really solidified and expanded on what I had learned (especially in terms of vocabulary and reading speed). After working through most of the two Lingua Latina books (Familia Romana and Roma Aeterna), I was able to read Latin prose much, much easier, and I credit this series with allowing me to actually "read" Latin (as opposed to decoding it slowly). At the same time, had I not first completed Wheelock's, I probably would not have been able to work through Lingua Latina so quickly.

My point is that you might want to combine several approaches. Don't feel as if you must limit yourself to a certain course. However, whatever course you first embark on, try to complete it before stopping and jumping into another book. I would say it's better to finish a course and be shaky on a lot of the details (but have a general understanding of all the major grammar) than to go half way through and start over somewhere else. It's important to maintain momentum in your studies at the beginning, even if you are only covering a little material each day.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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