After having successfully learned one modern foreign language within the shortest amount of time - given the amount of time I had, methodologies I applied, and materials I used, I went on to learn another one, and I can already see positive results. However, as I am planning on learning Latin by myself next year, I fail to come to a final draft as to what would be the most effective and efficient way to go about learning Latin. Just to contextualize:

I mixed many methodologies and strategies to learn the first language which helped me achieve a native-like level, the main ones being (1) a 4-skill-based comprehensive input system, and (2) a gradual exposure to intensive grammar lessons.

There is a lot of science behind many of the strategies I used, nevertheless I am not sure how I should start Latin mainly because it is not a spoken language anymore - at least for the most part. I would assume that since that is the case, my only objective while learning Latin would be learning as many words as possible while understanding the grammar for me to develop "reading knowledge." However, when I think of all the things I have studied about vocabulary learning, one thing that comes to my mind is that scientifically one's brain learns languages faster if there is a combination of orthography and phonology - the latter being almost nonexistent since there are no materials out there with recordings in Latin. In my estimation, the lack of the spoken language would be a major setback. If I am right and the only possible outcome would be having reading knowledge in Latin, how should I do that efficiently? Has anyone gotten stuck at learning classical languages because they are not spoken anymore - and also because the materials are scarce? If you have, feel free to share your experience and opinion.

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    Welcome. For listening, There are some Latin sources. Few of them can be found in this question. Ceterum, for all practical intents and purposes, Latin is spoken today.
    – d_e
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 14:20
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    > > the latter being almost nonexistent since there are no materials out there with recordings in Latin. < < Oh, but there are. There are Latin YouTubers today. I have made some YouTube videos in Latin, the latest one being about afterlife. And there is a transcript of that video. Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 17:03
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    "...the materials are scarce..." Are they really, though? I don't think so.
    – cmw
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 17:18
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    I once told a Latin professor of mine that I was struggling, and his advice was "well you know how to speak English, right? Just do that but in Latin." Whatever the answer to your question is, it's not that. :-p
    – yshavit
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 22:43
  • You mean efficient, not effective. A method is either effective or it is not, i.e. either it makes you learn Latin or it does not. Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 8:01

3 Answers 3


You get to choose what your goal is with learning Latin. Different people have very different reasons: some want to be able to read specific things in Latin (e.g. Caesar or Vulgate or Horace), some want to be able read anything in Latin, some want to be able speak Latin fluently, some want to write something in Latin, some just enjoy spending time with the language, some need it for their degree, and some have yet other reasons. The methods you need will depend on your goal, so put some thought into it. Reading knowledge is certainly not the only possible outcome, so don't choose it as your goal because you feel you have to.

You mention that different skills are related, and my own experience strongly confirms that. Even if your final goal is just reading, I strongly recommend doing other things with Latin as well: writing, speaking, listening, singing, anything. Any active usage helps drill in the basics and make them instinctive, and that makes reading much more fluent. And variety often simply makes it more enjoyable.

Latin is still spoken today. You get to choose whether you speak it or not, but at least a little bit of it will be helpful. You choose whether you learn Latin as a living language or as a dead one.


Most people learn Latin in order to read classical works, not speak it. Even speaking it is challenging, but reading it is even harder. For example, when learning, say Spanish, there is a big difference between learning enough Spanish to order dinner at a restaurant and learning Spanish well enough to read Don Quixote. It's similar in Latin where even the easiest works, Caesar and Nepos, are challenging. For example: I studied Latin for 3 years in high school, 1 year in college, then in the last 2 years I have put in about 10 hours a week at least or over 1000 hours minimum and only now can read Caesar fairly fluently (but still make mistakes). So, plan on spending about 2500 hours bare minimum to get to that point. To be able to read more advanced works probably you need about 4000 hours of study and practice.

The best procedure is to read and keep notes as you do so. Start with super easy synthetic Latin like the books by Andrew Olimpi. Then tackle Fabulae Faciles. I would reread FF several times until you know all the vocabulary in it cold and keep notes because there are a lot of confusing words. For example, there are two different words spelled comparo that mean totally different things and there is also a word compareo which is very similar, yet means something totally different again. Until you read a lot of different examples, it is hard to understand what words mean.

You can and should study words individually. One way to do this is to search a word on the Loeb Classical Library and see how it is translated. For example following from the above, you could search for the word comparet and then look at how every instance of that word is translated and you start to get a feel for it.

After you master FF, then I recommend reading an annotated The Life of Hannibal or other Nepos works. At that point you might start trying Caesar.

I generally do not recommend the Familia Romana simply because it is boring.


the way I have been learning is by reading Familia Romana and joining a discord server were people speak exclusively Latin

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    Hi historylover, and welcome to the site! This is the seed of a good answer, but more detail would make it even better. How well did this work for you? Are there particular points you struggled with?
    – Draconis
    Commented Dec 16, 2023 at 4:12

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