Thursday, July 23, 2009

Latin for Speaking

The rabbit trail I'm on right now, as you know, is conversational Latin. I've been compiling a list of online resources.

It was kind of timely, then, that on the LCC list, Drew Campbell posted a link to this Latinum podcast site. It turns out to be based on a book I just found online yesterday through a Wiki entry on Spoken Latin, called A Practical Grammar of Latin by G Adler.

There's also this Lingua Latina Aeterna site, and Quizlet has at least one Conversational Latin quiz.

Finally I found this YouTube talk on Conversational Latin (by a schoolteacher) telling how he immerses his classes in spoken Latin, and more related videos show up on the youtube sidebar, though I don't vouch for any of them (how did Pokemon get in there anyway? : )).

It used to seem sort of artificial to me to speak a dead language, but knowing from experience the truth first articulated to me by John Holt, that academic learning builds best on a wider foundation, I am thinking about it differently now.

Also, I have been studying all my books on how the Ignatian lessons went and from what I am understanding, they started almost right in on translating good quality, simple Latin texts. Not twaddly stuff, but Bible stories and "lives" of ancient Romans, and Aesop's Fables, that kind of thing.

It actually reminds me a bit of how CM and Romalda Spalding and some others recommended for early reading. Some basic phonics, going right into "real" readings of good, though simple prose, as soon as possible, with phonics or "spelling" lessons continuing alongside.

With the Latin readings, they also memorized grammar paradigms from a book. I am hoping to be able to use this First Latin Book for Catholic Schools since it's meant for middle schoolers. It seems compatible with the Ignatian approach to learning classical languages -- it says it's a simplified form of the regular grammar text that high schoolers use, and it recommends starting reading simple texts at somewhere around lesson 30 of the book. My kid has already done a year or so of Latin using LC1 and then a bit of Latin is Fun last year, so I may start reading even earlier than that. Today I was trying to read some of the Lhomond bible stories to myself to see how much trouble I would have with Latin prosody. Church has helped me here -- even though we go to a regular NO mass, I've been to enough Latin masses to have a sense of the prosody of ecclesiastical Latin, at least. (But that's why I was looking at You-Tube, just to reinforce that -- I also found the Pater Noster chanted, and looks like there is more on there as well).

Edited to add:

Lindsay asked whether Muzzy for Latin would be helpful. Anyone have any experience with that program?

Also, if anyone has another resource that they've found useful for teaching Latin in a more conversational or literary way, you are most welcome to leave a comment.


  1. I liked the Latin Prep books from Galore Park ( precisely because they had the student reading Latin from the beginning. LC1 drove me bananas because it was so artificial. How could they expect a child to get through the entire book without reading anything that made any sense?

  2. Latin is not a dead language! That is what my Latin teacher says, anyway! There are people out there, in the Vatican, Latin teachers, lovers of languages, who still love speaking Latin. If you go looking you will find people who speak Latin. And she also says, that Latin is a 'real' language. It was really learned by children at their mother's knee. If those toddlers can learn to speak Latin than so can we!


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!