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What to Expect When Learning Latin

By Fay, published on 10/07/2018 Blog > Academia > Latin > Latin Basics 101

At school, you’re more likely to have learned languages that are still alive today like French, German and Spanish. But although a dead language, learning Latin isn’t any different.

First, you start with learning vocabulary (get yourself an English-Latin dictionary!), before you move on to learning sentence structures and stock phrases.

Making the choice to learn Latin is not an easy one, it takes hard work and dedication. You should know what’s ahead before you begin.

And that’s where we come in! We’ll give you a run-down of what to expect when learning Latin and what you need to be an A* student.

Beginner’s Latin 

As you’re discovering the language in your first year of learning you’ll want to ease yourself into lessons. This year is about you enjoying Latin and wanting to learn more so don’t put yourself off by trying to learn everything at once! With just 2 hours of lessons a week you’ll progress steadily.

As with any subject, you should start at the beginning, learning about the history of Latin and its influence across the world. On the programme:

From legend to history

The origins of Rome and its heroic figures

  • The foundation of a city
  • From Troy to Lazio
  • The city of Rome
  • the first kings of Rome

The Republic: history and institutions

  • The birth of the republic, the famous first centuries of the Republic
    • Assemblies, deliberations, and votes in the ancient world
    • The great political figures of the Republic

Private and public life

• Daily life
• Masters and slaves in ancient times
• Education and training in ancient times
• Roman religion, divinities, rites, and feasts; Greek figures and Roman figures of deities
• Theatre, games and public recreation

The Ancient Mediterranean world

Carthage and the Punic Wars

  • Alliances and conflicts between cities in the ancient world
  • Powers on land and sea in the ancient world

Even learning for 2 hours per week you’ll get a great understanding of the history of Latin before attacking more difficult notions such as the possessive, nominative, interrogative or Latin lexicon.

By learning Latin you are keeping this ancient language alive Learn about the history of Latin and its influence on other languages (Source: visualhunt.com)

Is There a Typical Profile of a Latin Student?

Once thought of as an elitist language reserved only for the rich and private schools, Latin is becoming more accessible. Nowadays, instead of having to attend exclusive schools to get access to the language, you’ll find plenty of different places to learn Latin wherever you are.  And if you’re learning another language like French or Spanish, Latin can be a great support as it has massive influences on many of the languages we speak today.

Latin, for everyone

Like we said, Latin is opening up, not bad for a dead language. Latin is accessible to anyone at any level, as long as you put the work in…

You should start upping your Latin learning hours from 2 hours a week to 4. Whether those hours are all in a classroom or with extra work at home is up to you.

Set out with this extra work in mind. It’s good practice to prepare yourself for the work ahead so you can keep your motivation and determination.

Motivation, Essential for Progress

In all disciplines (intellectual or physical) there is one key ingredient for progression, and it’s essential for Latin too: motivation.

Motivation will make sure you want to read Latin texts pick up new vocabulary, to learn all the conjugations and to learn different phrases in Latin.

Always keep your goals in mind. Why did you get started in Latin? Don’t lose sight that it was your choice to learn the language.

This reflection is difficult to find of course when you are struggling to progress but try to keep focused.

You’ve got this far so don’t give up now!

Be More Comfortable in Other Subjects

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Latin is not reserved for the elite. It is accessible to everyone as long as they are willing to learn. But beware, it’s not easy, it takes time and investment.

Once you’ve got a strong base in Latin it can help in other subjects especially languages like French, Italian, and Spanish.

Use a latin declensions table to help you remember them. Study with others to support your progression in Latin

Get Help From Others

When learning Latin you need help. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you when you’re finding it hard.

Family, Friends, and Classmates

When learning Latin, you’ll need some advice. Ask your friends and family for their advice on getting motivated, on different ways of learning. Make sure they’re involved in your learning so they can hold you accountable. We’ll all more likely to work harder if we know someone is keeping watch! The people around you want you to succeed and so will encourage you to get studying! Going it alone is a difficult road so rely on friends and family for help.

The same goes for your classmates, keep each other on track by asking how their studying is going or doing extra study together. Try to find the best conditions to study, maybe studying at home isn’t for you, maybe you need to go to a library to work or you need to do a group study with your classmates. Working conditions are an important factor in your learning.

Make time in your schedule to dedicate to studying. Finding the time can be difficult but try to arrange study sessions with your classmates so you know someone is counting on you to show up! Taking these steps will make sure you stay motivated and progress quickly in Latin.

The role of your Latin teacher

Of course, your Latin teacher also plays a strong role in your progression.  They’re there to make sure the workload is manageable, that you’re studying effectively and that they help you with difficult grammar points that may take you time to understand.

With one hour of beginner’s lessons a week you can easily find the time for extra studying at home. So, outside of your Latin lessons, you can work on the points that you find difficult so when you go to class the next week you can move on to the next topic without wasting time.

Your teacher can’t put in the work for you. They are there just to teach you the topic or grammar point, it’s up to you to revise it in your own time.

Your teacher will give you the confidence to tackle difficult points by yourself, and will give you the support in class when you need help.

Is There a Secret Recipe for Mastering Latin?

Unfortunately, like most things in life, there is no quick fix or secret recipe for mastering Latin. There’s just one secret ingredient that counts and that’s work. All you have to do is put the work in and you’ll succeed!

Anticipate the work that lies ahead and give it your all.

Count on your classmates for help and ask your teacher questions when you need to. Once you’re in the swing of things you’ll see Latin as a pleasure, not a chore.

Check out Superprof to find a Latin teacher near you.

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