In college too many decades ago, First French Reader for Beginners: Bilingual for Speakers of English PDF was a classics and ancient history Ph,D. I did not stay in the field and did not keep up with the languages. But a little more than a year ago, beginning to plan for retirement, I decided to resurrect my Greek and Latin.
This book is Volume 2 of First French Reader for Beginners. There are simple and funny French texts for easy reading. The book consists of Elementary course with parallel French-English texts. The author maintains learners’ motivation with funny stories about real life situations such as meeting people, studying, job searches, working etc. The ALARM method (Approved Learning Automatic Remembering Method) utilize natural human ability to remember words used in texts repeatedly and systematically. Audio tracks are available on lppbooks.com free of charge.
I have been pretty successful, teaching myself. First, if you have no experience whatsoever with a highly inflected language, or don’t know what « highly inflected » means, you should seriously consider having a teacher rather than relying entirely on self-learning. Second, I am well aware there are many books and resources besides those I mention. The ones I mention seem to be among the most popular ones, but they are by no means the only ones. Third, in my experience, I can divide folks who want to teach themselves Latin or Greek into three types I will call Dabbler, Serious, and Intense.
Serious wants to have a foundation in the language as a means of understanding the culture. Serious wants to be able to read quotations as well as selections from a limited number of authors, perhaps largely in bilingual editions. Latin or Greek, Serious or Intense, there is one indispensable resource: PATIENCE. Other than keep-you-motivated quotes from classical authors or the New Testament, you’re not going to be reading unadapted Homer or Plato, Cicero or Ovid, in six months.
And, especially if you are Intense, decide right now you don’t want to be reading them in six months. In resurrecting my Latin, I came to know of two fundamentally different approaches. As manifested in actual textbooks and resources, the difference isn’t always hard and fast. Probably not all textbook authors make the distinction or are even aware of it, and I’m sure some teaching professionals find it a false or simplistic one, but nevertheless I find the difference profound. We can call these the grammar-first approach and the natural-language approach. In the grammar-first approach, you learn the grammar first, while staying motivated via etymological tidbits and quotes from classical authors. You follow that with guided readings, that is, selections from ancient authors generously glossed with word definitions and explanations of grammar, idioms, and context.
After that, it is assumed you can « read » the language. Latin or Greek as the everyday languages they were. This is not a function purely of grammar. It’s more like if you were going on a year’s assignment to Poland and decided to learn Polish.
Going back to what I said about patience, what you want after six months of Latin or Greek is to be well on your way to a bottoms-up natural feeling for the language, a confidence that with continued effort you could read the daily Athenian or Roman newspaper and converse with the sausage seller. So let me start with Latin. The epitome of grammar-first is Wheelock’s Latin, by Frederick M. As i write this in May, 2011, I see a seventh edition scheduled for availability in June. The sixth edition of Wheelock explicitly caters to independent study as well as to the classroom. For Serious, I think it works fine, and being in its sixth edition, it clearly has worked for many others, not just Serious. In my quest to resurrect my Latin, I started with Wheelock.
However, for Intense, I soon became aware of the natural-language approach, which in my experience yields superior, I would say far superior, results, provided you have the patience. This approach is sometimes also referred to as the immersion method, as it is similar to the immersion methods often used in learning a contemporary language. They explain the problem better than I could. Adler refers to an 1858 Latin grammar by George J.
The Latin content in each Adler chapter includes forms and vocabulary that haven’t been covered yet but whose meaning can be induced from the context and from knowledge of cognates and similar forms. This method of inductive learning is employed to one degree or another by all the natural-language or immersion approaches. Familia Romana, « Roma in Italia est. The sophistication of the Latin and your Latin reading skill progressively build as you work your way through the fictional stories about Julius, Aemilia, and their family.
The only quotes from classical authors are brief selections from Ovid and Catullus, recited in a later chapter by family and guests at a family-hosted convivium. In sum, obviously you need to learn Latin grammar in order to read Latin. You can learn grammar first, as an exercise largely unto itself, or in the process of learning to speak and read the everyday language. Dowling points out the danger in the grammar-first approach – not the inevitability, but the danger – i. One way or the other, you’ll learn the grammar and want to begin reading the ancient authors. And one way or the other, you’ll need to go through an intermediate stage before confronting Latin in its full nakedness, say in a Teubner or Oxford Classical Text edition.
Of course there are numerous contemporary textbooks for doing this, not to mention the proliferation of reprints of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century student editions. Roma Aeterna provides the dual benefits of solidifying your Latin while teaching you Roman history. The first chapter is Ørberg’s walking tour of the ancient buildings and monuments of the eternal city through the reign of Antoninus Pius. The remaining chapters are slightly adapted selections from Vergil, Livy, Sallust, Cicero, and others that cover the history in chronological order from the mythical foundations through the fall of the Republic.
For some reason Roma Aeterna, unlike Familia Romana, doesn’t contain an index to the vocabulary. You’ll want to get from Focus Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata: Indices, which indexes the vocabulary for both volumes. Hans Ørberg passed away in February, 2010, almost to the day when I began Familia Romana. I am very sad I cannot email my eternal gratitude to this great and warmhearted humanist. Wheelock’s Latin Reader contains mostly unadapted selections from Cicero, Livy, Ovid, Pliny the Younger, and, what I especially like, some Vulgate and Medieval Latin.