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Tips for reading Latin sentences at a normal pace

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Tips for reading Latin sentences at a normal pace

Postby TonyLoco23 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:04 pm

I am about 3/4 done with Wheelock's Latin, and I am beginning to get a good vocabulary base and a thorough understanding of the grammar.

However it still takes me forever to translate a sentence, just going through the 10 or so sentences in the practice and review section of a chapter takes me about half an hour! And it is a real headache. Sometimes when I look at the answer I find that I will get one of the declensions wrong even though I knew the right declension, I was just not concentrating enough.

The way I stumble through the sentences is by finding the nominative, then scanning forward to the end of the sentence to look for the verb, and then trying to decipher the other parts, including trying to differentitate the ablatives from the datives based on the context of the semi-translated sentence. :roll:

And these are just single, short sentences! I cannot begin to imagine how difficult reading an entire book will be.

Is my technique wrong? Are there any tips someone can give me for comprehending latin sentences at a more normal pace?
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Re: Tips for reading Latin sentences at a normal pace

Postby adrianus » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:02 pm

TonyLoco23 wrote:Is my technique wrong? Are there any tips someone can give me for comprehending latin sentences at a more normal pace?

That sound normal to me, TonyLoco23. Only with practice and immersion can you speed things up, but I'm far from fluent, myself, so I can speak only theoretically.

Id mihi cotidianum videtur, TonyLoco23. Nisi per exercitationes immersionemque non citiùs prodibis, at theoreticae modò meae sententiae quia longè absum ut facundus sim.
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: Tips for reading Latin sentences at a normal pace

Postby furrykef » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:38 pm

TonyLoco23 wrote:However it still takes me forever to translate a sentence, just going through the 10 or so sentences in the practice and review section of a chapter takes me about half an hour! And it is a real headache.

This is one reason I use flash cards with a program like Anki, and I always make cards out of complete sentences. When you drill these cards every day over a span of months, you really get used to the declensions, conjugations, and sentence structures.

This isn't to say that it's always easy. Latin poetry in particular throws me for a loop quite easily... believe me, you're not the only one who finds it hard to parse Latin sentences, especially at your level. :) Until your Latin becomes very advanced, at times you'll just have no choice but to mentally break down the sentence into parts and figure out how those parts relate to one another. But as you advance, you'll need to do it less and less often...

TonyLoco23 wrote:Sometimes when I look at the answer I find that I will get one of the declensions wrong even though I knew the right declension, I was just not concentrating enough.

This is normal. I have this sort of problem with every language I learn and I imagine everyone else does too. Spanish declension is much easier -- you just gotta match number and gender -- but I still make stupid mistakes from time to time. You'll never iron out all the stupid mistakes except through practice, practice, practice. Japanese has no noun declension or verb agreement at all, but I still find ways to make stupid mistakes.
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I also have a lang-8 journal where I practice Spanish and Japanese.
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Re: Tips for reading Latin sentences at a normal pace

Postby modus.irrealis » Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:16 pm

One thing you could try is incorporating speech because there you don't have the option to look back or forward and have to understand things as they come to you. One thing I've tried is recording myself saying the textbook sentences and then listening to them afterwards. There's a good chance hearing the words will help with declension problems -- at least for me, things that are wrong start sounding wrong and that's very effective.

But I agree about practice. I mean, with the textbooks I've thought were good, I had to go through them twice before I felt that I had really learned the material.
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Re: Tips for reading Latin sentences at a normal pace

Postby thesaurus » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:26 am

To echo what everyone else has said, reading starts out as brutally hard and it only becomes easier after much practice. This is the hard fact of life, and it's true of all languages. The good news is that it will become easier! Almost imperceptibly you will begin to read with less effort. Eventually you'll look back and see that you've made a lot of progress. Keep up the daily practice.

Also, as you haven't even finished Wheelock's yet, you don't need to worry. The hardest part of learning Latin (I think) is simply getting down the basic grammar. Little of it will really make sense until you get through it all; once you've covered the basics, when you no longer have to memorize paradigms, the language will begin to coalesce and you'll keep reinforcing it.
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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Re: Tips for reading Latin sentences at a normal pace

Postby dlb » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:15 am

TonyLoco23 wrote:I am about 3/4 done with Wheelock's Latin, and I am beginning to get a good vocabulary base and a thorough understanding of the grammar. However it still takes me forever to translate a sentence, just going through the 10 or so sentences in the practice and review section of a chapter takes me about half an hour!

In the words of one famous investor, "Diversify!" Expand what you are reading/learning from - don't spend all of your time in one source.
You will have an easier time translating from one source and a harder time from another, but it sounds as if you need to get your confidence level up which can be accomplished by reading/studying from various books.
Good Luck,
dlb
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Deus me ducet, non ratio.
Observito Quam Educatio Melius Est.
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Re: Tips for reading Latin sentences at a normal pace

Postby LaurentiusH » Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:05 am

Hi,

I am a semi-beginner myself (and it's my 1st post here, so Salvete) but, for what it's worth, here's what helps me:

1. Read a lot. A fun and useful starting point, once you know the basics, is the "Latin history narratives" and "Latin mythology narratives" compiled by John Piazza, available in PDF form here: http://www.johnpiazza.net/comprehensible_input (the whole page is worth reading).

2. You say:

TonyLoco23 wrote:The way I stumble through the sentences is by finding the nominative, then scanning forward to the end of the sentence to look for the verb, and then trying to decipher the other parts, including trying to differentitate the ablatives from the datives based on the context of the semi-translated sentence. :roll:


There is another method: linear reading. I don't know whether it's better, maybe it depends on how everyone's brain is wired. However, I'm applying this method to read Oerberg's Caesar edition and I have the impression that it truly helps to learn to think in latin. The method is explained here (p. 2-5):
http://www.camws.org/cpl/cplonline/McFa ... online.pdf

Have fun
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Re: Tips for reading Latin sentences at a normal pace

Postby thesaurus » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:05 pm

dlb wrote:
TonyLoco23 wrote:I am about 3/4 done with Wheelock's Latin, and I am beginning to get a good vocabulary base and a thorough understanding of the grammar. However it still takes me forever to translate a sentence, just going through the 10 or so sentences in the practice and review section of a chapter takes me about half an hour!

In the words of one famous investor, "Diversify!" Expand what you are reading/learning from - don't spend all of your time in one source.
You will have an easier time translating from one source and a harder time from another, but it sounds as if you need to get your confidence level up which can be accomplished by reading/studying from various books.
Good Luck,
dlb
.


I agree that you should diversify your studies, with the caveat that you finish Wheelock's course first. For most learners, switching between textbooks at an early stage in their studies is a good way to get mixed up and lose momentum. After you have a foundation, variety keeps your studies interesting.

As LaurentiusH suggested, you should look into Orberg's Lingua Latina series after you've finished Wheelock's. By chance I did something more or less like this and I think it benefited me greatly. After Wheelock's you'll have the basics of the grammar down but will lack "linear" reading, i.e., you are analyzing sentences grammatically rather than reading them naturally. Your other great challenge is vocabulary; even if you memorize all of the vocabulary introduced in Wheelock's, attempting to read new texts will be very frustrating, as you have to look up maybe every other word. Lingua Latina Vol. 1, Familia Romana, will introduce you to linear reading, gradually and naturally increase your ability, reinforce (in context) all of the grammar you've learned, and teach you loads of new words. Don't be deceived: it's still hard work, but if you put in the hours, you'll make substantial progress. It's also a much more pleasant transition than jumping from Wheelock straight into Caesar or other Latin authors, the shock of which unnerves many students.

After I finished Wheelock's in an intensive course, I struggled through a semester of Caeser (via Orberg's helpful edition, which is best used after you've completed vol. 1 of Lingua Latina) and then read Lingua Latina (both volumes) on my own. The difference in my reading ability was night and day, and I noticed that I was far ahead of other students when I enrolled in a course on Cicero. I attribute this almost entirely to using Lingua Latina after Wheelock's. If I were to become a Latin teacher, I would favor a crash course in Wheelock's (or a similar course) followed by a long study of Lingua Latina; I'd incorporate external texts (like Orberg's Caesar) upon finishing the first volume. (I think this is similar to the "Dowling Method," but I don't think many people have the stomach or endurance to memorize all of the paradigms by rote.)
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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