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.
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
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!