Latin Textbook Question

Hello. I just recently decided to begin studying Latin. I’ve looked at several textbooks, including Wheelock’s which everyone seems to recommend the most. My problem with most of them is that they don’t teach Latin as a normal foreign language like coursebooks for other languages, like French or German. They teach it from a purely grammatical standpoint, using special terms which, to be honest, I’m not familiar with.

I understand grammar is important and I’m not trying to avoid the difficulties of Latin grammar, but is it necessary to do it this way? Can anyone recommend any Latin coursebooks which teach it like a modern foreign language, without me having to be a grammarian? I love Latin and want to learn it but this has been one of the biggest hindrances for me. Thank you and God bless. :slight_smile:

I’ve had a similar pain point with Latin. Trouble is, it’s a dead language, and you’re rarely going to encounter it in a situation where you are not translating. People don’t speak Latin, so it’s not taught the same way that a spoken language would be taught.

I’m afraid I’ve not found any good alternative textbooks that use a more speaking-oriented method of teaching.

I would say, start with something light like Latin Word for the Day.

My husband is a Latin teacher. You can’t get away without knowing grammar if you want to read it. If your intention is to learn roots of English words, you don’t need grammar.

I doubt if there is any language you can learn without learning grammar. I remember my German teacher of years ago being totally aghast that none of his students understood the rules of grammar. He had to teach us grammar before he could teach us German.

Husband’s analogy is this: You can have a beautiful car with all the latest features, but if it doesn’t have a motor, it isn’t going anywhere. Grammar is the motor for language - any language.

I have Wheelock’s, and it’s alright. It’s a good book for classical Latin, if that’s what you’re interested in learning. I eventually want to learn Liturgical Latin, but right now Hebrew is my focus. Learning the bit of Classical Latin I did from Wheelock’s actually tripped me up a little with learning the Latin songs and chants when I converted a couple of years ago. The pronunciation is considerably different on some things, like “ae” ( long “I” in classical Latin, long “A” in Liturgical Latin) C, and a few others.

This is a link to a much-copied version of Fr Most’ Latin by the Natural Method, which I found by looking for a different book. Memoria Press (?) seems to be reprinting it, just search for the title and it will come up.

Lingua Latina per se Illustrata is a set of two levels and I did use it with my children. I would use it with a good Latin grammar, but this is what I recommended to a friend who was complaining of having studied Latin for so long and yet only being able to translate. There is quite a lot of helpful supplementary material; it can be a little daunting to sort out completely.

ETA: I can’t link to one result, just search for it and you should everything you need and a little more :wink: Including a pdf version you can check out. I also used a similar book for French, which moved a bit too fast for my children at the time, but which I really liked.

I agree with St Francis. Lingua Latina per se illustrata is the way to go if you want to learn it as you would a living language. It’s a series of books. I would recommend starting with:
*]Familia Romana
*]Latine Disco
*]Grammatica Latina
*](I can’t remember the name of this one, but I’ll fill it in later when I go look at the book.)
It’s expensive, but these books are wonderful. After just a few chapters, I was already speaking the language better than my peers who used Wheelock or other books. This isn’t to say that those books are bad, just that Lingua Latina emphasizes all the aspects (speaking, reading, writing, grammar) better than those do, in my opinion. An instructor would also help immensely. I recommend the people at

501 Latin Verbs is a must book for those who want to be precise with conjugation.

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