||Make sure you study
every day. You will learn much more if you can study for 30
minutes, or even just 15 minutes, every single day. Make Latin
part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth. In fact, make toothbrush
time work for you! Write out one of your Latin stories in nice, big letters
and tape it to the bathroom mirror and read it out loud as your perform
your ablutions. Yes, that may make you the most eccentric person in your
neighborhood. But it will also make you learn Latin.
||Make REVIEW a regular
part of your study routine. With language learning, constant
review and repetition is the key to success. So make sure that you begin
each study session by reviewing what you learned in the previous
session. Also, you should set aside one day each week dedicated 100%
to review. Do not new material - just review what you have studied in
the previous week, praising yourself lavishly for all that you have learned.
||Learn with stories
and poems. As soon as possible, start studying Latin by reading
stories and poems, instead of just relying on a textbook presentation
of the vocabulary and grammar rules. You will get so much more out of
reading Latin stories and poems than you will ever get out of a textbook!
Stories and poems are something you can go back and read again (and then
again and again), learning the vocabulary and grammar in context.
||Copying Latin: learning
with your hands and fingers. It is a great idea to copy out
Latin by hand, sounding out the Latin as you write it. The sheer act
of moving - moving your fingers, moving your tongue, moving your brain
- is a great way to become more and more familiar with the Latin. So
after you have read a text, any text, in Latin, copy it out by hand,
word by word, reading it aloud as you copy. Then copy it again. And then
copy it again. You will be learning with every word you copy.
||Keep a learning diary.
You will learn best if you can study Latin every day, even if you just
study for 15 minutes each day! To make sure you are studying every day,
create a learning diary where you can make notes about what you have practiced
each day. You can buy an engagement calendar or journal if you want to
keep a pen-and-paper diary, or you can create a free online blog at blogger.com if
you want to keep your learning diary online.
||Keep a Latin quotations
diary. A great way to remember vocabulary and grammatical forms
is by memorizing your favorite Latin phrases and quotations. There are
thousands of wonderful proverbs in Latin, and you can also memorize pithy
phrases from Latin poetry and prose that you are reading. If you write
down your favorites phrases in a Latin quotations diary, you will be
able to look back months or even years from now and enjoy the Latin again
||Create a Grammar
Gallery notebook. Grammar is best learned
by example! So start keeping a Grammar Gallery Notebook where you can
write down specific sentences and phrases that give concrete examples
which you understand of the different grammatical features of Latin.
If you have learned that there is an "ablative absolute" in
Latin, for example, then create an "ablative absolute" page
in your Grammar Gallery Notebook where you can write down sentences that
contain ablative absolutes (you may, or may not, write out an English
translation to go with the Latin sentence).
||Use a Study Guide
for each story or poem you read. You should use a Study Guide
for each story or poem that you read. There might be a Study Guide supplied
with the story or poem (many textbooks have study questions, and there
are study guides for many of the stories at poems at BestLatin.net) -
but you can also make up a Study Guide based on your own study habits.
Take a look at this sample
Study Guide to get a sense of what components a good Study Guide
||Archive your notes! As
you study, save ALL your notes. Save your vocabulary flash cards, save
the texts of any story or any poem that you read, save the Study Guides
you use, save the texts that you copy by hand - save everything! That way,
you will be able to go back and review your past work. Language learning
is just 10% new learning... and 90% review. Anything that you learn, you
will need to re-learn and re-learn, over and over again, until it becomes
automatic. If you save all your notes and papers, you will be able to easily
go back and review all your old work again in the future.
||Praise yourself constantly.
Yes, you ARE doing a good job. Every time you sit down to study and work
on Latin, you are making progress - and you need to praise yourself lavishly
for every bit of progress that you make. Here are some Latin adverbs you
can use for recognizing your wonderful work: bene! optime! egregie! praeclare!
eximie! lepide! magnifice! pulchre! excellenter! praecellenter! laudabiliter!
||Say EVERYTHING out loud.
You will always learn more if you make noise! Speaking and listening are primary
language activities - reading and writing are secondary. So say everything
out loud while you read, while you drill with flashcards, etc. The more noise
you make, the more Latin you will learn.
||Don't worry about your "accent" in
Latin. Let's face it: Latin is a dead language! There is nobody
left among the living who has any right to criticize how you choose to
pronounce the Latin. Most schools teach a Roman or modified-Roman pronunciation,
but over the past three thousand years Latin has been pronounced in thousands
of different ways by the many different communities of Latin speakers.
The only thing that is important to remember is that there are no silent
letters in Latin the way there are in English. So as long as you are pronouncing
every letter in Latin, don't worry about too much about your "accent" -
the important thing is to read with confidence, which only comes with practice,
practice and more practice.
||Listen to the news
in Latin. Yes, you can listen to the news in Latin thanks to the
folks at Nuntii
Latini, a weekly news show produced in Latin by the folks
at Radio Finland. The audio is available each week in RealAudio format,
and there is also a transcript of the broadcast.
||Create your own audio
dictation exercises. You can create your own audio dictation exercises
by creating your own audio recordings with a cheap cassette recorder. Take
your current vocabulary list, for example, and create an audio recording
where you say - very slowly - the English meaning of the word
(pause) and then the Latin word. You can use this tape as dictation practice
- you can try to write the Latin word based on the English meaning, and
then use the Latin to either correct what you wrote or prompt you if you
were not able to write the Latin on your own.
||Create your own flash
You can get 1000 blank flash cards for $6 from vis-ed.com -
and make sure you create your own flash cards. Do not buy a pre-packaged set.
A big part of learning from flash cards is the vocabulary acquisition that
takes place while you are writing out the cards to begin with!
||Use flash cards to drill
word forms. Most people are used to using flash cards to drill vocabulary,
with Latin on one side, and English on the other - but you can also use flash
cards to practice word forms! For example, write the first principal part
of a verb on one side of the card, and then write the other principal parts
on the reverse of the card.
||Carry flash cards with
you everywhere you go. If you carry flash cards with you, you are
ready to make use of every odd moment to reinforce your Latin skills. Plus
it's a great conversation starter... especially if you are muttering to yourself
in Latin while you drill the cards (and you should always say the words out
loud when you drill with flash cards, even if you just whisper them).
||Think IN LATIN, instead
of translating into English. If you are serious about learning Latin,
you should focus on understanding the Latin in Latin, "thinking in Latin,"
rather than constantly translating the Latin into English. Latin and English
are very different languages, and there are some aspects of Latin - especially
the word order - which can never be fully conveyed in English. So when you
read in Latin, make sure you understand the meaning of what you are reading...
but do not spend too much time writing out translations in English. Your
goal is to read Latin - not to write English.
||Rewrite Latin in English
word order. Since Latin
word order is extremely free, you can let this work to your advantage. Whenever
you want, just take a Latin sentence and write it out in English word order:
Subject-Verb-Object. The S-V-O word order is not extremely common in Latin,
but it is a perfectly acceptable kind of sentence. You will
learn and remember more by re-writing the Latin out in English word
order instead of trying to write out an English translation.
||Learn vocabulary in
context. You should only study vocabulary that you are using in
stories and sentences. Do not just make vocabulary lists for their own
sake! Instead, compile lists of stories and sentences that you read (and
read those stories and sentences again, and then read them again and again).
Use these stories and sentences to learn the meaning of the vocabulary,
and use flash cards only to practice words that you are reading in context.
You should be learning vocabulary in order to help you understand the meaning
of actual Latin stories and sentences.
||Keep a good paperback
dictionary at hand. You want a dictionary that is big, but not too
big, which you can have at hand. A good choice is John Traupman's Bantam
New College Latin & English Dictionary, although any of the standard
paperback Latin dictionaries will probably suit your needs. You should use
this paperback dictionary to do your first look-up, and then be prepared
to turn to a bigger dictionary (like the Lewis
& Short dictionary at Perseus)
when the paperback dictionary is not able to give you the answer you need.
||Latin roots and English
vocabulary. It is a fantastic idea to connect your Latin vocabulary
to English words that are built from the same Latin root. Many English
dictionaries (like dictionary.com or Merriam-Webster
online) given information about English word origins, so that you can
see if an English word comes from Latin. So when you learn a new Latin
word, take your best guess at an English word that might come
from the Latin - and then look up the English word online to see if you
||Learn how to use the
online Latin Tools at Perseus. The Latin Tools at Perseus are invaluable.
They are not perfect... but they can provide you with an incredible amount
of help. You need to learn how to use the Latin
Morphological Tool, the Dictionary
Look-Up (make sure you select "Latin" - because the default is "Greek"),
and the English-Latin
Dictionary Search. The user interface is not exactly
designed for beginners, but it's worth your while to take some time to browse
around the site and learn to use the Tools. They are fabulous!
||Read the Latin dictionary
for fun. You can discover amazing things simply by reading through
the Latin dictionary for fun. You can read through a paperback dictionary
to learn some basics about Latin vocabulary, but the real fun begins with
you start reading through the entries in a big Latin dictionary, like the
Lewis & Short dictionary online at Perseus. Just look up some English word,
any English word, in the English-Latin
version of the dictionary and see
what you can learn from looking at the various Latin dictionary entries.