Einhard wrote:I used Wheelock to get to grips with the basic grammar and pick up some vocabulary, but rather than then launcing into Cicero et al immediately, I read through Orberg's LL series. I had the grammar so it was really just a manner of getting used to the language, absorbing as much as I could in a relatively relaxed, easy manner. once I had finished that, I moved onto some Latin readers with extracts from a wide range of sources. I personally think it's the best method. It''ll takes years to gain a good knowledge of latin if you decide to use Orberg alone. It took me a few hours to get through the more difficult chapters later on in the series, and that's with a good knowledge of grammar. I shudder to hink how long it would have taken were I picking it up as I went along.
My background is similar to Einhard's, except that I also had the benefit of some classes. I learned the rudiments of the language with a summer crash course in Wheelock's Latin. It took a few months and involved about three hours of class a day with equally as much homework. After that I read from (Orberg's edition of) Caesar's Gallic Wars, but it was always slow going. However, I then worked my way through most of the Lingua Latina series (I got through half of volume two) and my Latin really began to progress. Having the grammatical background, it was pleasant to read LL and soak up a lot of words and get a more intuitive feel for the language. I took a course on Cicero before I graduated from university, and I found that the LL background really put me ahead of the curve in reading proficiency.
If I had stopped then, my Latin would undoubtedly have slipped quickly, but I resolved to keep practicing when out of school. I moved and got a job in a big city with an hour bus commute each way, and I decided to treat it as study time. I would read Cicero or another author in the morning and usually study Greek on the way back. After doing this for months, my grip of the language was greatly facilitated. Since then, I've tried to read some Latin as often as I can, everyday if possible.
Regardless of the methods you use, just be really regular with your studies. If you study (almost) everyday you'll make progress. If you study occasionally, maybe a heavy session every weekend, you'll spin your wheels indefinitely.