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Independent Studying

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Independent Studying

Postby Deccius » Fri Jun 17, 2005 9:41 pm

Salvete omnes,

For the past year i have been studying both 1st year Latin with a teacher and class. I have been quite successful for my first year. Latin renewed my interest in languages. I bought Greek and Italian textbooks, so that I could study these two languages independently. I thought without a class I would work better because I could focus on my individual weaknesses. However, to my surprise my studies proved to be ineffective. :( I believe my troubles stemmed from the fact that I was not being tested on the material I was studying. So my question is: How do you study and practice effectively without the guidance of a teacher?

Thanks in advance,
Deccius
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Postby Geoff » Sat Jun 18, 2005 2:16 am

Its difficult, testing is one of the most difficult aspects. Try to find ways to test yourself, use flashcards, have a friend challenge you with them randomly. Teach someone else. Make your own notes. You could join a study Group online. Anything to break up just the reading. Periodically dive into random works in that language just to break up the monotony. You'll undoubtly find some idea to research out of curiosity and that will be helpful and force you to pool your resources.

Stay focused on one textbook, but pick another one up from time to time and plow into it and see how far you get on a different approach or it could raise some questions.
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Re: Independent Studying

Postby Democritus » Sat Jun 18, 2005 3:47 am

Deccius wrote:I thought without a class I would work better because I could focus on my individual weaknesses. However, to my surprise my studies proved to be ineffective. :( I believe my troubles stemmed from the fact that I was not being tested on the material I was studying. So my question is: How do you study and practice effectively without the guidance of a teacher?


Try to find a book that has lots of exercises, as well as an answer key. That way you can go back and check your work.

You can give yourself "tests" by trying to do exercises without the aid of any dictionary. Give yourself a "grade." You cannot aim to make progress, until you define what the progress is. You need something measurable. Once you have this, then you have yardstick for judging the effectiveness of various study techniques. You have to see which technique brings your "grade" up.

You should also consider scaling back your goals. Maybe your original expectations were too high. Self-teaching Greek and Italian is a no mean feat, particularly if you are already learning Latin in class. Perhaps it's too much. Sometimes students study too little, but sometimes they study too much, or set out with unrealistic goals. Sometimes they start out with a pace that is not maintainable over the long term. Learning a language is a long-term project. Go easy on yourself, and be happy with small steps. It's possible that you are already doing very well, and don't know it. :)
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Postby sisyphus » Sun Jun 19, 2005 1:03 am

i think i've been really lucky in finding the right text for me - i'm trying Latin and i wouldn't get past page one in most texts. They all seem to start "First learn this declension". (i didn't even know what a declension was.) "Now translate this". That's no way to teach any but chimps.

The second most important thing for me has been exercise. The (old, battered, second-hand and skipped) texts on my shelves may be crap, but taken together they have lots of text at an elementary level for me to practice with. Even dobbing about between texts i've consolidated my knowledge of conventional classical word order, because some texts seem to use a form which makes translation to English more natural. If i see the same sentence form with different word orders i find out why.

Everyone says "read, read, read", and i think they're right - you don't learn much by revisiting the same sentences over and again. And DON'T CHEAT. Make sure you think you're answers are right before you check them. Be ruthless in your honesty when you do check them - you are in the best position to identify your weaknesses and chase them up.

The biggest problem with using exercises from multiple texts seems to be vocabulary - but i learn strictly vocabulary from my one root text and don't worry too much about committing the others to memory. i figure they're just an exercise in exposure. Most of them tailor their vocabularies to a purpose - usually reading the author's own editions of classics (with attendant royalties). i believe my main text introduces the entire, unedited vocabulary of the first classic it targets. (Editing is a political tool, and i avoid it.) (Spotted the cynical streak yet?)

Good luck. If i can learn a language then so can my cat. And how would that make you feel? :lol:
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