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Advice for Intermediate Latin Learner

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Advice for Intermediate Latin Learner

Postby chodorov » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:38 am

Lingua Latina book two is turning out to be a much greater challenge than I thought it would be. I’m not having much trouble with learning the new vocabulary, but the writing is a whole level above book one grammatically. I read through the first chapter, which describes the city of Rome, with relative ease, but the second chapter, an adaptation from Vergil, was more difficult and I really struggled through it.

My original plan was to cover one chapter every two days, memorizing the vocab on the first day and reading the chapter on the second (I prefer to memorize the vocab beforehand). I’ve now decided to add one if not two extra days to each chapter. The new plan will be: learn vocab on day one, read on day two, transcribe on day three. The possible fourth day will be for finishing the transcribing on the longer chapters. I had heard that transcibing Lingua Latina was a great way to nail down the grammar and syntax of Latin, but I was pretty confident, and still am, that I didn’t need it for book one. I plan on transcribing the chapters of book two until I reach a comfort zone with the reading like I had in the second half of book one.

Does anyone have any comments, advice, suggestions, etc. on this plan? I’m open to suggestions of different reading material that might help me as well. (I have my own copy of Caesar’s Gallic War because the D’Ooge textbook was geared towards it, but I decided that reading Lingua Latina was a better idea).
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Re: Advice for Intermediate Latin Learner

Postby thesaurus » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:02 pm

I think you're on the right track. If anything, I would recommend reading chapters more than once, perhaps out loud the second time after you have a good sense of the meaning. This should allow you to move through the Latin more quickly while absorbing the language's structures and grammar. Heck, read the chapter three times if you need to. I think transcribing is a great idea, as it forces you to deal with every word and sentence and not miss any details.

You aren't the first to notice that LL2 is significantly more difficult that LL1. Part of the reason is that Orberg is more determined to adapt authentic Latin texts rather than write them himself, so you are often dealing with new forms of expression (which vary from author to author). For example, it takes time to get used to Vergil if you've been reading Livy, and vice versa. Also, the payoff of mastering the material in LL2 is huge. Whereas LL1 will get you comfortable with basic Latin, by the end of LL2 you are essentially reading original Latin texts from the likes of Cicero.

In other words, you can make progress fairly quickly through the more basic material, but getting comfortable reading Latin texts takes a lot more time and practice. As you progress, you need to spend increasing amounts of time to make smaller gains--this is the basic issue with gaining mastery in something. For example, there might not be a large difference in performance between a "good" violinist and a "world-class" one, but they say that it takes many, many more hours of practice to move from good to excellent.

I am a strong believer in the need to get as much exposure as possible. Even if you understand all of the words and grammar, it takes a while until you've internalized grammatical and syntactical structures. Latin sentence/clause structures and modes of expression are something that you just need to get used to through repeated exposure and practice. Then, rather than sorting through all the possible meanings and cases of a word, you will be able to interpret it quickly given the context of the sentence it occurs in.

In my case, I had a pretty good grounding in Latin by the time I finished my undergraduate studies. I had studied it for a few years and could get through Cicero and other texts, but with difficulty. While I was working a job afterwards, I had a one hour bus commute each way. I spent this time reading Latin (usually some philosophical text of Cicero). I would also often reread chapters. After a few months my reading speed and comprehension had increased noticeably (at least with regard to the authors in question). There was never a single "aha" moment when my abilities jumped ahead--it was a slow increase over time.
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: Advice for Intermediate Latin Learner

Postby chodorov » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:01 pm

Thanks, Thesaurus, great post.

I think I got ahead of myself when I finished LL part 1. I felt like I would be able to get through Part 2 just as quickly and move on to the classical authors in no time. I still have plenty of time though, so I'll take your advice and slow myself down significantly, although it is a little frustrating because I'm also eager to start learning Greek.
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Re: Advice for Intermediate Latin Learner

Postby Scribo » Sun Nov 06, 2011 3:49 pm

I had a similar experience, the first 5/6 chapters were really easy but then they got annoying. Since I was already having to read through A LOT of original Latin for my degree at the time you can understand how annoyed I was. I dropped LL2 and just grabbed a composition textbook and carried on reading the stuff I had too.

Oh and since you probably have a decent grasp of Latin, feel free to start some Greek alongside it. It's good to give your mind a change of pace here and there.
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Re: Advice for Intermediate Latin Learner

Postby marcofurio » Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:34 am

I started latin on my own about 4 years ago together with ancient greek (Athenaze method, italian version). I got through Familia Romana in about one and a half years (all Pensa and Exercitia done and self-corrected with textbook). Sermones Romani and De Bello Gallico are an absolute must before Roma Aeterna, and probably also Menaechmi (although I found this a lot easier). When I got to the point your refer to (first few chapters of Roma Aeterna) I felt more or less as you describe. Not that I did not understand the general sense but I noticed I was loosing a lot of details. I thought the problem was with verbs and drilled through all the tenses and most importantly through Familia Romana again.

Familia Romana is the real key to LLPSI: Again and again I consult the Indices book I am surprised how often a word or idiom I thought was new from Roma Aeterna had already appeared in Ch XXVII or XXXII !

I advice you to re-do (or do for the first time) all the exercitia and Pensa in Familia Romana. After this I retook Roma Aeterna and got to fairly good speed of learning (of course there are setbacks but nothing compared with Ch XVI Tempestas, that was a shock!), here is my routine:

1. Read whole chapter noticing new words (not memorizing them by heart).
2. Record audio lectio prima, do excercises, correct them listening to audio.
3. Proceed in the same way with lectio altera, tertia...
4. Postremo respondo pensa capituli antepaenultimi vel paenultimi.

I put some colour in my study reading Ars Amatoria or Aeneis (I ended up a little bit tired of Dido and Aeneas and chose A Amatoria but after chapter XL Aeneis in LLPSI edition is quite easy). Personally I do not think transcribing is a good idea, too tedious and maybe not so efficient.

Cupio tibi utile sit quod scripsi, Salve Chodorove!
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