Latin: Tips for Learning


Senior Member
Canadian English
Hello everybody,

I need your help and advice. I'm currently taking a summer university course in Latin. Unfortunately, I was unable to take the recommended prequisite Latin 101, so now I've been thrust into Latin 102 - which normally wouldn't be a problem, only I was too busy working 80+ hours/week to sit down and study independently for all the chapters of Latin I was supposed to know before jumping headlong into Latin 102.

Basically, this is a cry for help. I'm a people person. The reason I'm now trilingual is that I am a talkaholic who loves people so much it interferes in her everyday life. At the end of the day all of these factors work against me to make me hate Latin, which has no available native speakers and is taught with a very dry and stiff approach, all grammar and non-contextual sentences. I am *capable* of handling this approach to language learning, it's simply that my life is a huge mess right now and I am finding myself entirely swamped and at the point of tears to realize that I'm on the verge of losing about 8000 dollars in scholarship money and possibly wrecking my transcript if I don't get my act together. The course is only 5 weeks long, and I've already flunked 2/4 quizzes and 1/5 assignments :-O simply because I'm too busy trying to find some food to put in my belly and liveable quarters to worry about doing my homework.

So anyways, do you guys have any ideas about how to make Latin *REAL* to me, and to make it exciting to study? I really need your help. At this point it's just pure memorisation and there's no fun at all...there's nothing to help it stick in my mind, no children's stories from original Latin authors, no fun jokes except plays on words...etc. HELP ME!

P.S. I understand grammatical concepts perfectly well, but I'm 20 chapters behind the other students so I'm floundering terribly...please take the time to read through my language learning woes and have pity on my poor soul because I'm studying 10 languages at once now :-O
  • la grive solitaire

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    Hi, Lainyn! :) Learning Latin can be dry... Is there anyone you could study with--perhaps someone who took the first half of the class and is doing well? Learning online might make it more palatable, too. Here are some links that might help:

    Latin and Greek Lessons and Resources: A wealth of info! :thumbsup:

    These files support vocabulary-learning with text and imagery. They rely on the visual presentation of everyday objects to provide that kind of "meaningful communication" that has been found to be important for language-acquisition.

    Advice for Learning Foreign-Language Vocabulary

    I hope these will help. Hang in there--we're with you! :) :) :)


    Senior Member
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    Not that I laugh at your situation, but I'm switching to Spanish because I found Latin so unbearably dry. I suggest you go ask at the textkit forums via the following URL: because it is a forum dedicated to Latin and Ancient Greek.

    Hope you resolve your situation because I've been in a similar one, and although it was not quite so dire, I know how much it sucks.

    Cheers and good luck,


    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Thanks for your comments (and the links, although it's not what I really need most [motivation, enthusiasm, and time, and native Latin speakers]),

    and Jonathon...I know that I am in love with Latin as a language, it's just too much although I feel hypocritical for saying that you should have stayed in Latin...I honestly think it's still a good idea to persevere.



    France; French

    I studied latin for years and I don't want to discourage you, but you're in the most difficult part : the beginning. :D
    For the moment, you have to learn all that grammar stuff by heart, mechanically; don't try to understand, don't try to compare with english, it's too soon. Just learn again, and again, again the declensions (and their meaning, of course : nominative, accusative, etc...) and at least some conjugations. Because you won't be able to translate a sentence if you don't know that perfectly.
    Vocabulory is not enough, in latin. It's a totally different way to structure a sentence, and so, to think. I opens some doors in your mind. :eek:
    And when you translate a sentence in french, sorry, english, it force you be rigourous, to avoid misinterpretation.
    Well, here's a tip :
    write a board, with all the 5 declensions, and stick the paper onto a wall at your home.
    In your bedroom, or the bathroom (lol), some place where you are very often.
    Cheer up !

    Falso queritur de natura sua genus humanum...


    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Merci de ton bon conseil, Depassage, ce sera tellement utile maintenant, quand mon latin me trompe beaucoup. Ces sont idées dont j'ai pensé, mais c'est tellement important å (mal accent, je sais) les souvenir, donc, je te remercie un grand merci!


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thoughtful and helpful advice, depassage. :thumbsup: . I studied Latin for years too, it cannot be approached in the same way you approach living languages, where fairly quickly you can reach a level of being able to float free and guess/gesticulate/approximate. Latin can be a bit more like solving a crossword puzzle, with such a range of endings and no clues in the word order. With nouns -a - could be nominative singular fem. or neuter plural acc., -um could be masc accusative 2nd decl or genitive plural. You can't run before you can walk and the list on the wall is a good idea. The key is not to panic.


    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    What if you tried to read some works in Latin while you are learning? Pick one of the classics and see how far you can get. Or you could try some comic stips, if you find the classics too difficult. Some famous comic strips are published in Latin, for example Astérix.

    Meanwhile, this Latin course seems good (perhaps a different approach to grammar can be helpful to you, as well).


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Outsider said:
    What if you tried to read some works in Latin while you are learning? Pick one of the classics and see how far you can get.
    I knew that one of the great classics of all time "Winnie the Pooh" had been translated into Latin - so I went looking for more information, and click here to see what I found

    There might be something there that would be helpful:)