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Latin for Beginners

By Christopher, published on 15/10/2019 Blog > Languages > Latin > The Basics: Learning Latin

To many, learning Latin is considered meaningless as it is now a ‘dead’ language. However, such a pronouncement will be sure to make academics and those who specialize in arts, history, and languages to denounce such a view.

There is a wealth of unique benefits associated with studying this once globally prominent language. And don’t forget to check out What to expect when learning Latin and Finding Latin lessons online to further support you in your journey.

Latin is a Mother Language!

That’s right! Many of the world’s most popular, Romanic languages stem from the roots of Latin, from French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian.

The world’s mother tongue (English) is also said to comprise 40% Latin-based words. Therefore, a strong understanding of Latin will enable you to develop a richer level of vocabulary as well as gaining a stronger awareness of the etymology (the study of the origin of words) of the language itself.

It can also act as a base to explore many of these European languages which are so prominent within culture today. It is said over 90% of the languages aforementioned contain words of which are of Latin origin.

So, if you are fluent within one of the Romanic languages i.e. Spanish, it will be a more seamless task learning Portuguese or Italian if you already have a fundamental knowledge of Latin.

Yet, it is no straight forward task. Unless you are enrolled within extra-curricular courses or you have majored within the language at undergraduate/postgraduate level, it can be a challenge in gaining fluency.

A number of high schools and collegiate establishments also offer the chance for students to learn the Latin language; however, this opportunity is mostly associated with private educational establishments as opposed to public.

Let this not deter any motivation, for there are multiple ways to help brush up your Latin skills. From online courses to specialized tutors, the options really are endless.

Learning Latin Online

A book and a laptop Students now have the choice of embarking upon online Latin courses. (Source: Visualhunt)

In this day and age, we are incredibly fortunate to possess limitless knowledge at our fingertips. Indeed, the internet is a mechanism that has effectively shaped the 21st Century, influencing how people access news, knowledge, and opportunities.

Of course, acknowledging the fact that everything we find online may not be deemed reliable, it is, of course, important that we are accessing information from liable sources.

To ensure this, there is a wealth of online courses that prospective Latin students can embark upon that are certified by recognizable affiliations.

Of course, there is an abundance of online resources that come for free, but it depends entirely on the individual’s circumstances and how they learn most effectively.

The Classics Library offers online Latin courses for anyone to access. On their website, they have a range of resources that can be used by members of the site and they can be effectively downloaded and stored onto your home computer so they can be reused at any point in time.

As well as resources to help support one’s learning, it also has a shared network in which students and teachers can share insight and learning resources with each other. These can also be reviewed and discussed by previous users to identify the effectiveness of the lessons which are uploaded onto the website.

Udemy also offers a wealth of Latin courses which can be accessed through their homepage. By simply typing ‘Latin’ into the ‘What do you want to learn?’ search bar presents a number of options at varying prices.

A selection of introductory seminars and lectures can be downloaded as well as more specific courses for advanced students. There are also courses that focus specifically on the pronunciation and overall conversation of Latin.

Exploring Undergraduate/Postgraduate Opportunities

library room Universities across the country have classical departments that specialize in roman history and the Latin language. (Source: Visualhunt)

Before starting college/university, students have a significant amount of points to consider.

If you are someone that remains interested in learning Latin, you do not have to necessarily choose it as your major.

There is a wealth of subjects that give students the opportunity to choose the learning of the Latin language as a module within their degree, for example, Roman History, Art & History, and Romanic Languages.

Universities across the country, including New York, offer such courses within their prospectus. From the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern, Dartmouth College to the University of Chicago, most states within the US contain higher educational establishments that offer Latin based undergraduate programs. A number of high schools across America also offer the chance for students to study Latin!

Post Graduate Search is a great website that highlights masters and Ph.D. courses that are available across the country. Here, students have the chance to continue their studies in more specific areas. Such Masters and PhD programs include:

-Greek & Latin PGDip

-Postgraduate Diploma in Latin

-Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Latin with Classics) PGCE

The Romanic period, spanning across almost five hundred years, was one of the most influential and divisive empires in history and this is what makes the Latin language so prevalent to this day.

Especially when it comes to those who major in History; to truly understand that time you must gain a stronger understanding of the language which was spoken. The quote below effectively summarises this notion:

Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people came from and where they are going. – Rita Mae Brown

Perseverance: The Vital Component to Language Learning

A student prepares for an exam. Adopting a study schedule is a great way to stay motivated. (Source: Visualhunt)

Throughout history, there have been a number of different principles that have been voiced by linguists and established educators as to the best techniques in learning a new language.

What becomes apparent throughout these various approaches is consistency upon the learner. Spending five hours over one day learning Latin and then leaving it two weeks until you next revisit the same learning principles will create a time period which is likely for the main points of learning to be forgotten.

To prevent this from occurring, it is important that learners have regular studying sessions that will help to enforce such learning points. Daily studying allows opportunities to consolidate and strengthen knowledge within particular areas, allowing more confidence and understanding.

Overcoming the barriers to language learning

It is no secret that learning a new language is challenging and there will always be multiple barriers that will have to be overcome in order to gain fluency.

From tenses, new vocabulary, prepositions to figurative language, it can take years to grasp a strong understanding of Latin and this requires the learner to be perseverant.

There are many ways in which you can expose yourself to Latin without it necessarily being taken from a textbook.

From archaic literature to films and documentaries on such platforms as Youtube – an aspiring Latin speaker has many options in their quest for fluent speaking.

A simply search on Vimeo or Youtube and you will be able to find a list of documentaries and dramas in the Latin language.

This way of learning also allows access to information about the Romans and the history of the language itself. Enhancing a stronger understanding of the origins of the language may help in inspiring a faster rate of learning.

Also, heading down to the local library is always an effective place to start.

Especially larger public libraries often have Latin books which span across Romanic history and across a range of other subject areas.

Libraries will often contain educational textbooks in which can be rented or requested on a temporary but extendable basis.

Again, the internet can be used to purchase physical textbooks and many of these will be titled in alignment with their difficulty.

You will find that a number of organizations and book publishers offer introductory textbooks to the Latin language so it is sensible to research them prior to purchasing any of their resources.

There are a wealth of ways to learn languages through mobile applications, videos, CDs, textbooks and online language games.

Online Latin tutors and 1:1 Latin tutoring can also be arranged as you may well be surprised at the scale of people within your local vicinity which speaks fluent Latin and can lend their expertise for your own personal development.

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