Where to start?

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Where to start?

Post by MissNicolae » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:38 am

Just in case you missed my intro, I'm Nicole! I would like to learn Latin (as well as I possibly can) before I transfer to a University.

For those of you who have already started learning Latin, which textbook would you recommend?

Also, any advice on study tricks would be greatly appreciated!!!!


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Re: Where to start?

Post by metrodorus » Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:29 am

Take a look at my free course on YouTube.....Adler's textbook is also pretty good, if you actually do the exercises.
I run http://latinum.org.uk which provides the Adler Audio Latin Course, other audio materials, and additional free materials on YouTube.

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Re: Where to start?

Post by Carolus Raeticus » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:01 am

Hello Nicole!

I believe that the choice of textbook is not that important. They all teach basic grammar tolerably well. What is more important, instead, is the availability of help for the textbook chosen by you. So opt for one which is either used by somebody you know (and can ask for help if necessary) or one of those supported by Textkit (see the board index).

Far more important is that you use what you are learning, and do so from the very beginning. So start reading at once. And I really mean at once. As soon as you open your textbook, also open a Latin reader. There are various readers for this purpose. I put a list of a few introductory readers (some indeed suitable for the very first steps) on my homepage (I'm not deeplinking as I plan to redesign the site in the near future. As of July 2012 you can find them in the section Reading material).

There is also Lingua Latina per se illustrata: Familia Romana by Hans Orberg (Latin only, no English). It is designed to be used instead of a normal textbook. But I would not recommend it as a self-study book (only my opinion of course, as some seem to use it exactly for that purpose). But it is useful as a beginner's Latin reader (also from the very first beginning).

My motto is: Read, read, read. Some say: Non multa (parum), sed (pauca) multum legenda (freely: read a few things in-depth instead of a lot but only superficially). Sorry for being blunt, but I believe that that is a truckload of dung. Of course, by all means do choose a few texts and read them especially carefully. That is where you do the actual work, but you should read considerably more at leisure to strengthen what has been learned. To freely quote Coleridge: Work without Repetition draws nectar in a sieve.

Good luck and keep at it even though it may seem rather daunting at first. Latin opens up a treasure trove of books fortunately available now thanks to the scanning campaigns of Google, Microsoft and various universities.


Carolus Raeticus
Sperate miseri, cavete felices.

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Re: Where to start?

Post by ivanus » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:20 pm

I have spent a lot of time collecting resources from the web. What is available is extensive and amazing. The problem is that collecting doesn't drive you into the language and doesn't, of itself, promote learning. My recommendation would be that you find one resource of each type that you want to work with. One grammar, one reader, one dictionary and stay with that until you have been able to cover the full scope of the language. The right one, at the end of the day, is the one you use.

"Well, then," you may reasonably ask, "what do I pick?" I would suggest you pick what you can get support on; what the community you are going to work with can help you with. Learning a new language is challenging. Learning on your own is doubly so as you don't know if you've gotten it right and it's hard to even know if you know how to pronounce a word without hearing it and having an instructor to correct you. The community really matters. If you can find a course locally where you can work with a teacher, take it. If you can't, work on-line.

So, as we are on Textkit, there are forums for D'Ooge and Wheelock. If you want a modern edition, use Wheelock. If you are comfortable with 19th/early 20th Century English usage or need a free edition, use D'Ooge. Join the forum for the one you want and use it to ask questions as you work through the book. The key thing is to work through the book and all the exercises and make sure you understand the concepts before moving on. The exercises are the heart of the learning, as they are where you have to apply what you've been learning. Don't skip them.

What about all the other resources on the web? Use them as support and as different media learning. Metrodorus' videos, for example, will give you a chance to hear the language and see the concepts presented differently (they are almost entirely in Latin). It can provide reinforcement using different learning channels and a degree of immersion. You can quickly find social networks, audio downloads, newspapers and picture books as well, all of which may be helpful. Just keep in mind that your progress is going to come from learning the grammar, the vocabulary and idiom and that you need to walk that path to the end before you are going to be able to freely enjoy the literature and life of Rome and of Europe.

Good luck!

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Re: Where to start?

Post by chodorov » Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:55 am

"Latin For Beginners" by D'Ooge is available for free on the website. That's what I used and I never had any complaints about it. I also agree with the recommendation of Lingua Latina. Unfortunately, I waited until I was all the way through D'Ooge before I started reading. If I could start over, the one thing I would change would be to start reading it right from the beginning along with working through the textbook. good luck!

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Re: Where to start?

Post by hlawson38 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:56 pm

First, I'm 73, in retirement, and studying Latin is my main hobby. Starting in October of 2009, I worked my way through most of Wheelock. Then I also worked my way through Moreland & Fleischer.

Beginning in early 2010, I got a Loeb Classical Caesar's Gallic War. Since then I've worked on Virgil, Boethius, Cicero, Augustine ( a little), and Lucretius. I've also sampled some neo-Latin works available on the web (e.g., snippets of Descartes and Francis Bacon). I'm now on Book 4 or De Rerum Natura, with two more books to go afterwards. I work on this every day (retirement is great, except for being old!).

I don't strive for mastery of each text. I just keep plowing ahead, confident that eventually I will be able to read literature. As things stand now, I think of this project as solving the logic puzzles the Romans left behind in their sentences, one sentence at the time.

My process:

1. Try to read the next sentence.

2. If baffled, write the sentence down, do some dictionary work, and try again.

3. If still baffled, read the translation, and go over the sentence again, parsing it carefully, and considering the grammar points I missed. Mostly I read the Loeb Classical Library versions.

4. If, after reading the translation, I still can't parse the hard sentence, then as a last resort I post the sentence here.

I don't worry if a text previously studied seems almost as hard when I look at it again. That's just the way it is with literary language.

It took about two weeks at the beginning to form the habit of daily work. Those first two weeks required real will power; but now that the habit is formed, little will power is required to keep plowing ahead.

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Re: Where to start?

Post by Vitance » Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:49 am

Hey Nicole.

I've tried out many different texts over the years, and the one I absolutely loved was Jenney's First Year Latin.

Jenney's book explains all the grammar clearly, and has a ton of exercises and reading built right in. Each lesson presents new information, then Drills on form to let the new information sink in, then sentence-length translation exercises (Latin to English, then English to Latin), and ends with a paragraph or so of reading.

It takes a lot of hard work and persistence, but the best part is the payoff, after all the work, when you're reading Latin at 100 wpm and it doesn't even faze you that you understood everything.

There's also a follow-up, Second Year Latin. It's essentially a guided reader that's perfectly suited for those who have finished the first book.

As for study tips, I think the most important thing I do while studying Latin is draw. Seriously. I draw almost every new word I encounter. If it can be drawn, I try.

I draw because if you think of Latin words as a translation of other words, you're almost certainly doomed to failure, or at least sluggishness and boredom. But if you think of Latin words as verbal expressions of images and concepts—which is how you use a living language—then it will become second nature.

In my Latin notebook I avoid English whenever possible. For drills, yes, just do the drills and translate. But for memorizing vocabulary lists, I recommend drawing, or at least using your imagination. And when you encounter that word while reading, recall your mental image of its meaning, picture your drawing, and you'll learn the word much faster.

I think that with all reading, English or Latin, if you aren't watching a movie in your head you aren't doing it right. In the very least it helps tremendously with recall! :)

And send me a message if you want any help studying. I'd love to review more basic stuff regularly, and teaching information always helps it to sink it. :D

Best of luck, Nicole! Or as the Japanese say, 頑張って!("Work hard!")
This thing which they call love, O Cupid,
Unite or else dissolve entire:
Inspire both with equal passion,
Or else inspire neither.

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