Learn Latin

10 Tips for Learning Latin at Home

This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.

Stuck at home? Let’s look at 10 com­mon and uncom­mon sug­ges­tions for improv­ing your Latin with­out leav­ing your house.

Strange times are upon us. The world is clos­ing around us. Every­one is told to stay at home, wash their hands and keep social­iz­ing to a minimum. 

Wher­ev­er you are and what restric­tions you have to fol­low – the times are hard. 

In our newslet­ter and week­ly mes­sage on our mem­ber­ship site the oth­er Fri­day, we talked about what you can do when locked inside to pass the time. 

I thought it might be a good idea to share it here too. 

So here are some tips (all regard­ing Latin, of course) about what to do while you keep your dis­tance from every­one else. They might keep your mind off things and help you improve your Latin at the same time: 

1. Read A Book: Make It A Habit

This first tip is per­haps the most obvi­ous one, but it is also one of the best ones as read­ing plen­ty of Latin will pro­vide you with a lot of input which in turn makes you inevitably bet­ter at Latin. So, find a book at your lev­el of Latin and read. If pos­si­ble, try some­thing amus­ing or fun­ny – choose a com­e­dy! In these times, a lit­tle fun input is extra valuable.

For extra cred­its, decide on a read­ing goal or set up a dai­ly read­ing habit, for instance, that you should read Latin for 20 min­utes. It’s eas­i­er to estab­lish and keep a read­ing habit, if you (1) make the habit itself very easy (start small) so as to pre­vent pro­cras­ti­na­tion, (2) make doing the habit easy, by plac­ing the book and nec­es­sary aids where you are going to be read­ing every day, e.g. in your favorite chair, (3) stick the new habit onto anoth­er dai­ly rou­tine or habit you have so that the old habit reminds you of your new read­ing habit. You can read more about set­ting study goals and cre­at­ing habits in this arti­cle: How to Learn Latin: Part 1.

I’ll give you an exam­ple from home. Every day after break­fast, Daniel sits down in our liv­ing room and picks up the Latin book that he left there the night before. Right now, he’s read­ing Plau­tus’ play Casi­na aloud and record­ing it.

2. Keep A Journal

Keep­ing a jour­nal is a great way to prac­tice your Latin while at the same time doc­u­ment­ing this odd peri­od in our lives. Don’t wor­ry if you think you’re not good enough at Latin yet, or don’t know enough. Write at your level—if you’re a begin­ner, you don’t have to ven­ture into long peri­ods of thought and descrip­tions. It’s enough with Hodie domi sum. Valeo. (“Today I am home. I am well.”) Use it either as a way to learn how to express new things or as a way to test what you already know and put it into practice. 

A red feathered pen with ink and a leather bound notebook.

3. Word Of The Day 

When I was a child, we used to have a cal­en­dar in our kitchen. It was one of those cal­en­dars that dis­played only one day at the time, and when a new day arrived, you tore away yesterday’s leaf. What was great about this was that every day had writ­ten on it a new word that you could learn; “the word of the day.” So, for my tip, instead of a pre­made cal­en­dar, take out your favorite dic­tio­nary and choose a word at ran­dom and learn it and learn about it. A dic­tio­nary is so much bet­ter than a cal­en­dar with a word and half a sen­tence explain­ing it as you get to learn so much more from a good dictionary.

Once you’ve got your word, chal­lenge your­self to use it in sen­tences through­out the day. 

4. Talk To A Friend

Keep­ing your­self iso­lat­ed is tough for most peo­ple if you’re not used to soli­tude before, so try­ing to find ways around the lone­li­ness is key. There­fore, make it a habit to talk to a friend. If you know peo­ple who, like you, are into Latin—call them up! Make it a thing to speak in Latin for part of the con­ver­sa­tion. If you’re not inter­est­ed in learn­ing to speak Latin – don’t. Talk about Latin or Rome. Decide that you should both read a par­tic­u­lar book, or look up a spe­cif­ic event in his­to­ry or learn about a cer­tain author, then talk about that. Learn­ing Latin is not sole­ly about learn­ing words, gram­mar, and style; it is also about cul­ture, his­to­ry, and literature. 

5. Go On A Virtual Date Or Lunch

This tip is tak­ing tip no 4 and tun­ing it up a notch. For this tip, you will need a good inter­net con­nec­tion. Do exact­ly like in tip 4, only this time make a video call using Skype or Face­time and have cof­fee (or tea, or beer, or wine, or din­ner) togeth­er. Make it a date. Pre­pare your cof­fee before­hand or decide that you’re going to have lunch or din­ner togeth­er. Now, this is nice just as it is, but just as in tip 4 – do all of this in Latin or while talk­ing about some­thing to do with Latin.

6. Take Out Your Board Games

Scrabble with the words Learn Latin spelled our on top of the game.

Board games are great! Take out your favorite one and play it using only Latin. The most suit­able one for this might be Scrab­ble (you might have to make some cus­tom let­ters for it). If you’re alone in your house­hold or if your fam­i­ly isn’t inter­est­ed in Latin – play it with a friend online. As sug­gest­ed in no 5 use Skype or Face­time and play togeth­er over a video call. 

7. Listen To Some Good Stories

Lis­ten­ing to audio­books, music, or any kind of sto­ry is a great way to not only pass the time but learn some­thing new or repeat some­thing old. Lis­ten­ing to Latin is also a great way to acti­vate the lan­guage and force you to accept its struc­ture. You can’t look ahead for key­words or verbs when lis­ten­ing; you have to under­stand as you go, which is great prac­tice. So for tip no 7, I sug­gest you look through our Audio Archive and the first chap­ters of the Latin Anthol­o­gy 2000 years of Latin Prose and chose some texts that call out to you. If you’re feel­ing bold, chal­lenge your­self to go through the entire Archive (you’ll find it here).

8. Watch Videos

What is more appeal­ing than binge-watch­ing your favorite show with a cup of tea/chocolate/wine/whisky when feel­ing a lit­tle bit down and lone­ly? Watch­ing the dumb box is an easy way out of bore­dom, and it’s easy to get trapped (trust me, I know). Why not com­bine our lust for the mag­ic box with mov­ing pic­tures with our desire for learn­ing Latin?

Through­out the years, we have pro­duced a library of videos in Latin rang­ing from the series Loci et Locu­tiones where Daniel explains an expres­sion or goes through a pas­sage from Latin lit­er­a­ture to videos about Roman authors and Hal­loween spe­cials – all in Latin. You can find all of our videos in Latin here. And, if you can’t get enough, on our mem­ber­ship site, we have over 200 videos in Latin, and we pub­lish new ones every Friday. 

9. Find An Online Teacher/Tutor

Some­times we need a lit­tle bit of guid­ance. Many of you are auto­di­dacts by choice and per­haps not that for­eign to be learn­ing Latin on your own, oth­ers have just found them­selves cut off from cours­es. Either way, there are times when we need a lit­tle help, a lit­tle kick-in-the-butt. Luck­i­ly, we live in the 2020’s where tech­nol­o­gy is amaz­ing, and you don’t need a phys­i­cal class­room to have access to a teacher. There are plen­ty online. So pull up your dig­i­tal sleeves and search for an online teacher/tutor. 

10. Take An Online Course 

In tip no 9, I sug­gest­ed find­ing an online teacher. How­ev­er, there is one draw­back con­cern­ing online teach­ers and tutors – you have to book a cer­tain time, and then you’re bound to that time. If you have chil­dren, this might be dif­fi­cult (impos­si­ble even), and if your tutor lives in a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent part of the world, time zones might also be an issue. 

So instead of find­ing a teacher, you can take an on-demand Video Course where every­thing is pre-record­ed; that way, you can take it at what­ev­er time suits you. In the morn­ing, in the evening, while hav­ing lunch, when the kids are asleep, or togeth­er with your kids. You can repeat the same les­son as many times as you like and yet get the feel­ing of being in a class­room. You can learn more about the Online Course that we cre­at­ed for the book Pugio Bru­ti – A Crime Sto­ry in Easy Latin here if you think an online course is some­thing for you. 

I hope you’ve found some of these tips use­ful. When stuck at home, I find it help­ful to try to think out­side of the box and see if I can do what I usu­al­ly do differently.

Be cre­ative, be imag­i­na­tive and most impor­tant­ly: stay safe!

Amelie Rosengren

Amelie Rosengren

Amelie Rosengren, M.A. and co-founder of Latinitium, is a published author, illustrator and historian. She specializes in daily life, has a soft spot for historic curiosities, and works as a museum educator at the world’s oldest open air museum, Skansen.
Written by Amelie Rosengren

Written by Amelie Rosengren

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