I’m almost through the first book of Hans Orberg’s groundbreaking Latin curriculum, Lingua Latina. The program consists of two primary text books, two supplementary (but essential!) workbooks, and an answer key as well as optional miscellaneous stuff like CDs of the chapters so one can hear how the Latin is supposed to be pronounced and vocabularly lists. The first text is 35 chapters about a Latin family in the first century A.D. The second is a History of Rome, which I am eager to get into!

The entirety of the book is written in Latin, without any English. The student learns inductively without too much difficulty (at first at least!) since the chapters begin at a low level and gradually increase. Each chapter focuses on a particular grammatical concept, but that always comes second to the story. The story itself is quite engaging and promotes desire to learn what happens next – a motivation that is needed immensely once the more difficult verb forms are introduced.

The advantage to this method is that one thinks in Latin as one goes along. I have to admit, I fall into translating more than I ought to because I’m in a bit of a hurry to learn the language. However, I can still read up to a paragraph and understand what is going on in the Latin by itself – given that the paragraph isn’t too difficult!

I find it takes me about 4-5 hours to complete each chapter and all the exercises in the exercise book, which are invaluable. The exercise book is also all in Latin, but is quite straightforward. The hardest exercises are those in which questions are asked in Latin with a complete sentence response expected in Latin. The answer key does not have even suggested answer to these, which is understandable, though frustrating!

I hear that one is able to pick up any Latin church father and most classical historians once he has completed the second book. I’ll let you know at the new year (when I expect to be done with the series) if such a claim is true! I can read familiar passages in the Vulgate at this point, so I’m pleased at the progress the curriculum has allowed me to make.
As a matter of fact, I need to be off now to read chapter 31. If you want more info, go to the publisher’s website here.
By the way, the author is apparently a Christian and has a great chapter in which a Christian slave witnesses to a bunch of sailors using the stories of Jesus calming the sea and walking on the water. It was great fun!

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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