One of the first things you have to decide once you’ve made the great decision to learn Latin is whether you should do it on your own or with the help of a teacher or a tutor.
Choosing between teaching yourself and having a teacher is a matter of preference. There is no “right” answer; it ultimately comes down to how you as a student learn best. That said, this can still be a hard decision to make, as there are different aspects to consider.
So to help you choose, I’ve listed some pros and cons. Keep in mind that you might rank among the cons some of what I consider to be pros. Read through the pros and cons of each and consider – with an open mind – which aspects seem relevant to you.
Learning Latin on your own: pros & cons
- If you learn Latin on your own, you will have complete autonomy to choose the method, materials, and pace.
- You get to make your own schedule and study when it suits you (2 pm? 8 am?).
- Studying a language on your own gives a great sense of achievement when you succeed—you did it on your own!
- Studying Latin on your own requires great dedication, patience, and discipline. If things get difficult, or you lose interest for some reason, quitting is a definite risk.
- Studying on your own can get lonely: you won’t be around people doing the same thing, struggling with, or enjoying the same texts.
Suggested reading: First day of learning Latin: What to do
Having a Latin teacher, taking a class: pros & cons
- If you take a Latin class, you don’t have to worry about what method and materials to choose.
- With a Latin teacher to guide you, you will have someone to ask as soon as you run into a problem.
- You will have classmates to talk with about your studies, practice with, and keep the motivation going.
- If you partake in a Latin class, you usually have little say in the method, pacing, and materials.
- Depending on your location, it might cost quite a lot to take classes in Latin.
- You have to follow a schedule which might be difficult if you’re working or are busy with other things.
Private Latin tutor or coach: pros & cons
- Having a private tutor means that you don’t have to worry about deciding on method, materials, and pace.
- With a tutor, you can usually plan your sessions around your other activities.
- You can try different tutors and see what method and materials you like; you are not bound to one.
- A private tutor can help you every step of the way, which is not possible in a class of 10–20 students.
- You can get answers to all your questions quickly—however silly you might find them.
- You’ll have to decide among a plethora of teachers and coaches, especially if you are learning online. To figure out who truly knows what they are doing can be difficult, and take a little time.
- Having a private tutor will usually cost much more than regular classes.
Teach yourself Latin or have a teacher or a tutor: My recommendations
This is first and foremost your decision, and you need to be brutally honest with yourself regarding what you like and what actually makes you study. While learning Latin on your own might seem the most fun, if you know by experience that you tend to lose focus, then perhaps attending a class or hiring a tutor will be better for you.
Consider all of your preferences and think about how you actually study and how you function.
With that said, my recommendation for everyone – if means are of no issue – is to combine them all into one great learning-Latin-combination.
You would then study Latin on your own but use a tutor or coach to help you plan your studies, answer questions, and help practice your speaking. I would then take the odd Latin class to meet fellow Latin students and perhaps even go to a Latin immersion course where you drench yourself in the language for days.