“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” Julia Child, American Cook and Author
I love you Julia Child! But can one learn how to cook online? Not likely. You need to be in the action, touching the fresh produce, smelling the ingredients and tasting the flavours of your newly learnt dish. The same can be thought about learning Latin online. Is it really possible?
It actually can be done and is not as crazy of an idea as you might have previously thought. Obviously, barely anyone in our group of friends or colleagues, or anyone in the world for that matter, knows how to speak Latin. With this information, we could think that studying an ancient language, like Latin, is very difficult after you are done with secondary school and no longer following a curriculum.
Yet, just as for all languages that are commonly spoken today, there are numerous solutions that exist to learn Latin, even if it is a dead language. Many of these solutions also enable you to learn about the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations by doing various activities such as:
- Exercises to learn Latin grammar and vocabulary,
- Translation of Latin phrases,
- Courses for studying Roman mythology,
- Study sheets about the grandiose Roman civilization,
- Revision sheets about spelling and reminders of the Latin lexicon, etc.
In any situation, learning a new language is never an easy task, especially Latin: even if some letters from the English alphabet or other Latin-based languages such as French, Italian or Spanish are supposed to be similar to the letters in the Latin alphabet, translated text from English to Latin does not appear out of thin air!
Work needs to be done and some tears need to shed in order to succeed. But it can be done and there is a well-known slogan that says:
Have fun learning and learning while having fun
It can be done! We have looked for solutions available online and found ways for beginners to learn Latin while having fun.
Some Sites for Learning Latin
Finding ancient Latin or Greek native speakers on planet earth today is like looking for water molecules on the sun. Doesn't exist!
However, due to its strong liturgical past, the Roman Catholic Church has kept Latin as its language of use. Vatican City is the only country in the world to have Latin among its official languages.
In by virtue of the many languages, Latin has birthed (French, Italian, Romanian, Spanish and Portuguese), many Latinists have taken to the internet to try and resuscitate ancient languages such as Greek and of course Latin.
It is, therefore, possible, thanks to them, that you can learn self-teach yourself Latin at home and at your own rhythm. Here are a few sites to kickstart your Latin learning.
A very general website to learn all the basics of Latin such as vocabulary, phrases, grammar, basic words and letters. This site comes recommended because it teaches you only what you really need to learn. Their teaching philosophy is:
"We think that people can learn better when they're presented with simple words that they're likely to use daily."
That's a very honest philosophy. When learning a new language, the last thing you want is to be overloaded with information that you will not use right away. If you learn something that you can make use of right away you will be more encouraged to keep going and continue learning.
A very useful tool on that website is the flashcards. There are 220 flashcards filled with valuable phrases and words. When you click on the flashcards it brings you to a new page with a learning table called "the vocabulary trainer." With this vocabulary trainer, you can choose between different categories (vocabulary, grammar, phrases or the choice to have them all mixed) and different languages (English or Latin). On the table, you click next to get a new word and try to think of the word in Latin before clicking answer to see if you got it right.
It sounds very basic but if you memorize all of the words and phrases from those flashcards you will be able to speak using 70% of the daily Latin vocabulary and expressions. Very useful indeed, go check it out!
This learning resource has a very similar platform to the aforementioned site. It is very user-friendly and great for learning Latin grammar. How much you want to learn depends completely on you but remember that short daily sessions of 15-20 minutes are far more effective than a weekly session of 3 hours!
Necessary grammar found on this website:
- The six cases: learning the difference between the nominative and the ablative or vocative and dative is essential Latin grammar!
- The declensions: you will learn the five different declensions and the three most commonly used. Remember, in Latin, every noun's ending is determined by its case and its declension.
- How to ask a proper question without looking like a fool!
- Pronouns, nouns, adverbs and adjectives.
There is a lot to analyze but it can all be revised at your rhythm without feeling rushed. A piece of cake!
If you have been doing too many Latin grammar exercises and you need a change, Latin verbs are the solution! Learning verbs is necessary if you want to be able to decipher ancient texts written by Cicero or Horace.
There are many learning resources available online to help you correctly conjugate Latin verbs. A great find is a website called Orbilat where they walk you through the forms of the Latin verb. You are taught how to conjugate the different tenses (present, imperfect, future, perfect, pluperfect, and the future perfect) with examples that are extremely useful.
The webpage is not that entertaining because it looks like a boring page out of a website but the information provided there is invaluable.
Other Web Pages
Here are a couple other resources to improve Latin syntax, phonetics, reading and even learn your alphabet:
- Latin Library: brush up on your reading by looking at classic texts from of Augustus, Ovid, Caesar, Horace and Livy or complete many lingua latina lesson plans about grammar, verbs and vocabulary.
- Quia: quiz yourself about prepositions, vocabulary, verb conjugations and even Roman gods and goddesses,
- Alpha Dictionary: learn all the necessary phrases and proverbs of ancient Latin.
Check out onlineuniversities' blog article about 50 fun and educational websites keeping Latin alive where most of the abovementioned articles and references were found.
For those who are more comfortable surfing the web and finding their own resources, videos are a great help to integrate new Latin words and phrases into your vocabulary.
What websites are useful? Ladies and gentlemen I present to you the most visited video web page in the universe: Youtube.
Just type "learn Latin" or "Latin classes" in the query bar and you will be redirected to a pedagogical goldmine of Latinists offering free Latin lessons.
There you can find videos about everything from learning to rap in Latin (yo, yo, yo Cicero in da house), learning Latin for children, introduction to Latin, a Mooc of Latin pronunciation, the Latin alphabet, interviews for or against teaching Latin in secondary schools, etc.
Discover other Latin learning apps you'll love...
Download Method Books
Latin is a very ancient language, over 2000 years old. However, many writings are available to the public because they have been safeguarded for further study and examination.
That means we can legally download method books to help us learn to read classical Latin texts and understand more of the grammar.
Here are a few method books, that will enable you to get by in the language of the Romans:
- Latin for Beginners by Benjamin L. D'Ooge
- Ahn's method: a key to the exercises of the second Latin course published by A.H Monteith
- Methods of Teaching Latin by H.C Nutting
- Riemann and Goelzer's comparative grammar of Greek and Latin
The internet portal of textkit has a string of method books from well-known authors from the past:
- New Latin Grammar by Allen and Greenough
- A New Latin Prose Composition by Charles E. Bennett
- Caesar's Civil War in Latin, Charles E. Moberly etc.,
Many of these ancient texts permit us to practice our Latin verb tenses, vocabulary and basic grammar such as the six cases but they also allow us to read the writings from authors and emperors of the past such as Lucretius, Seneca the Younger, Julius Caesar, Plautus, Pliny the Elder and Virgil.
It should be noted that in the Roman Empire, the literacy rate is estimated at 30% for adult males. On the other hand, girls and boys from the upper classes all learned to read and write, from 7-11 years old with the magister ludi, the teacher in ancient Rome.
This is very remarkable for an ancient society because after the fall of the Roman Empire (476), only a tiny part of the population could read and write: the clergy and the upper class.
It was not until the 15th century and the invention of the Gutenberg printing press (1453) that illiteracy began to decline in Europe, and until the 19th century for illiteracy to lose ground ...
Tired of looking at e-books on a computer screen? We understand. In that case, we'll look at different software systems available.
Now join the discussion: what do you think of Latin being taught in schools?
5 Softwares for Learning Latin
Develop your linguistic skills in just a few clicks, that is the purpose of an interactive software that can be easily downloaded from a CD-ROM or MP3 audio files.
Here are five to chose from:
Probably the most famous software on the list, Rosetta Stone is a great service known for learning European, Asian and even ancient languages such as Greek and Latin.
Three levels of are offered to learn to read and write, and to identify various vocabulary words. It is a great way to learn a language and all from the comfort of your own home.
The only downside: the lingua latina opus is a very complete but also very expensive option costing a whopping £90 for a yearly (12-month subscription). However, if you break it down per month it comes to about £7.50 per month, which is not that bad for something as valuable as learning Latin.
Has similar multi-level language learning platform just like Rosetta Stone and is compatible with Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac with OSX 10.6- 10.9.
Learn the basic and essential Latin words in the categories such as food, numbers, shopping and time using virtual flashcards, games and record yourself saying the new words to practice your pronunciation. Has a very interactive atmosphere that makes learning online fun and keeps students coming back. Also offers a free 30 minute Skype tutoring session to make sure your learning process is tailor fit to your needs.
The above-mentioned reasons are all great but a major motivator to download this software is that it is priced at only around £26!
A great language learning software that has many attractive features such as:
- The "Welcome" Lesson: walks you through a quick, basic lesson to have you learn a few keywords and how to familiarize yourself with the program.
- Available for use on virtually every internet connected device from a Samsung Tablet to an Apple iPhone.
- Flexible Learning Path: follow the path that the company suggests or if you feel confident, move ahead at your own pace.
- Grammar lessons, speaking practice, alphabet lessons and supplemental vocabulary.
What's great is that before you open up your wallet and dish out about £150 (I know, very pricey!) you can try out the software for free.
Also follow Superprof's tips for learning Latin fast!
Power-Glide Children's Course for Latin
Want your child to become a polyglot? Now is the time to start! Children are like sponges. They absorb the things that surround them and learn languages with enviable ease.
Power-Glide has created an interactive software program to have students from kindergarten to grade four learn Latin while having fun. The cost is not too steep either at only about £60 and it includes matching games, storytelling, speaking, drawing, creative thinking and guessing. By the end of this course, your child will able to understand and retell stories in the lingua latina.
This can also be a very useful resource for teachers who are teaching Latin to younger students in primary school.
Another brilliant option for adults to learn Latin that proposes free lessons to have you try the software before committing and buying. Also offers a 15% discount which makes the price £28.80. Pretty groovy!
Key features include:
- Latin talking dictionary,
- Language lessons can be printed out for further use,
- Voice recognition to improve your accent,
- Practice simple grammar and vocabulary tasks many times until the software believes that you have learnt the lessons in sufficient depth to proceed to the next level
The reviews are stunning and the price is right, what are you waiting for?
With all of these different options provided, it is now impossible to claim that we do not know how to learn the Latin language!