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While technically Latin may not be the native language of any people living today, it's still ever present in the world. Latin especially comes alive in English. Our alphabet is the Latin alphabet. Many of our prefixes, suffixes, and quite a few of our common phrases are, or come from, Latin. It's an official language of Vatican City, and it is used as the language of reference for translating important religious documents into modern languages.
Many scholars believe learning Latin is good brain exercise and can help you increase your vocabulary as half the English language is based on Latin words and roots. Ergo, studying Latin can help you learn more English vocabulary and master other languages.
Wednesday, May 25th
Rosetta Stone has been around since the 1990s and has such an elite reputation that when one wants to learn a language, one of the first questions is, "How's Rosetta Stone? I heard it's great." Yes, Rosetta Stone is definitely great, especially for Latin. Back in the day - well, the 1990s and early 2000s - Rosetta Stone offered CD-ROMs for you to buy. You couldn't get them from the library, and they weren't cheap. Today, you can take a Latin course online with either a year-long or lifetime subscription, and the lifetime subscription which includes all languages is a good value.
What's a Rosetta Stone?
The Rosetta Stone is the artifact that broke the code for understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics. How does that apply here? Rosetta Stone's creator, Allen Stoltzfus, had a hard time learning Russian as a youth. He realized that he had already learned his first language proficiently, as do we all, and wondered why it was so hard to learn a second language. He thought about the method in which we learned our first language, the way our mothers taught us: by listening to words and phrases in context. He applied that method to learning a second language. So, as the actual Rosetta Stone broke the code for understanding Egyptian communication, Allen Stoltzfus believed that his method similarly broke the code for learning second and third languages.
Latin isn't spoken since it's dead, right?
Latin may be considered a dead language, inasmuch as it isn't a spoken language in any country today. However, there are people who want to treat Latin as a modern language, desiring to listen, speak, read, and write it, and Rosetta Stone helps you do that.
You might want the free, 3-day trial to see if Rosetta Stone is the right fit for you. However, we saw that although Rosetta Stone says it offers a 3-day trial in Latin, when you are directed to scroll through languages to try for free, Latin isn't one of them. So, perhaps try a different language to see if the method is right for you, and then get the Latin subscription if the method is a good fit. Their method teaches Latin just like you learned your first language, a language in which you are already fluent.
Listen and speak from the beginning
If you'd like to have fun with conversational Latin, you'll be able to listen and speak right away. Rosetta Stone believes you don't need conjugation charts and a list of the tenses to be fluent. Did your mom drill you on conjugations as she rocked you on her knee? Nope. And you still learned English just fine.
What if I'm an adult and am accustomed to translation?
Learn from context. You did as a child, and Rosetta Stone believes you can do it now, too. In the beginning, there are some options for hints via English translation or explanation, but soon you are weaned off of it, being encouraged to use context cues. Relying on translation can, in fact, hinder speaking abilities. By translating the Latin to English, and your answer back to Latin, it not only takes away authentic communication, it takes too much time and mental energy. Drop the translation and go for the context, and see if you don't have better-quality communication. However, if you're really insistent on conjugation charts and frequent grammar explanations in English, perhaps try something else.
Rosetta Stone's Latin is highly rated by other reviewers, but has a few complaints. One is that there weren't sandwiches back in Caesar's day, so why are they teaching us the Latin word for sandwich? Well, if you want conversational Latin at the lunch table, and you want a word for sandwich, they have one for you. Another complaint is the speaker's accent. One reviewer said that the accent of the Latin speaker is more like that of someone from Spain. Another said that the Classical Latin person's accent is a bit off. We believe that since Latin isn't "alive" in any particular area of the globe, there aren't native speakers who will glower at you if your accent is a bit off.
Rosetta Stone is still our top choice
Their method is tried and true, and Rosetta Stone is the well-known gold standard for language learning. That said, it isn't perfect. If you're looking for the perfect Latin accent in their recorded voices, you may not find it. And sadly, and quite importantly, you may not find a free trial for Latin. Still, at the end of the day, we're confident that Rosetta Stone offers the best method for studying Latin and we give this program our highest ranking.
Italki has been around since 2006. It started as a social network for people around the world to practice their language skills and learn from each other. Two years later, they expanded into a marketplace where those who wanted to learn a language would pay someone to teach it to them. It was a new idea and it worked. Today, there are over 150 languages you can learn, more than 20,000 teachers, and there have been over five million people from more than 180 countries who have chosen to learn through Italki.
The teachers on italki are tested or must prove native proficiency in that language through certification, and they're required to speak in that language for you in their introduction video. This way, you know you have people who really can communicate well in the language you want to learn.
How to select your teacher
Well, one thing is done for you: you know that they are certified in Latin. Most, if not all, speak English, so that's helpful for you. Next, you can watch their video to learn about them and hear them speak Latin. You can also see how many students they have had, how many lessons given, and reviews. The detailed reviews are useful to see if what these students liked or disliked are the same features you're looking for in a teacher as well.
You can change teachers
You can stick with the same teacher if you like them and your schedules work together. Or you can change teachers at any time - you're not locked in or committed in any way. Heck, you can even change teachers for each Latin lesson, though we wouldn't recommend it. We'd suggest giving a teacher two to three tries so you both can get to know each other as well as their teaching style and your learning style.
Three trial lessons
Italki wants you to give them a try, so you have three discounted classes available to you. Use your three trial Latin lessons with the same teacher, different teachers, or even try a different language while you've got a deep discount.
Now get going and take your lesson
Choose the time and date you want your lesson. Each teacher has a calendar with their availability, so find a teacher and time slot that works. No worries if your teacher is in a different country or time zone: the calendar is for the time zone you set for yourself. At the class time, enter your Student Dashboard, find today's lesson, click to enter, share your screen, and start to learn Latin. If you're concerned about the wifi signal on your part or that of your instructor, you can do a pre-lesson check - no class time wasted in the old, can you hear me now? After your lesson, you can submit a review.
More expensive may not indicate better
The teachers with teaching degrees, university degrees, and actual teaching experience are permitted to charge more. Some italki students have found that there are excellent instructors in the lower price bracket, so you'll just need to try for yourself.
Confusing payment structure
You don't pay directly in dollars; instead, you use credits that you purchase. Converting your actual dollars to credits and vice-versa might be a bit catchy. You should also know that there is a 4% processing fee, whether you use a credit card or PayPal.
You can submit your writing sample to the italki community. Anyone in the Latin community can make comments and suggestions on your work. Italki asks that you not only receive help, but also offer help to those learning English or other languages you may already know. You can also find exercises to complete under the Community tab. Since the Community is made of people, you can ask questions, share your learning stories and milestones, and meet and connect with others through discussions on language and culture. Aside from the Community, italki admin is available to answer your questions, and they assure you a response within 48 hours.
You'll talk-i with italki
Your teacher is a real person in real time. During your lesson, they will want to interact with you to make sure you have understood or to ask you where you are stuck. They will also want to converse with you. If you're not awake and ready to go, or if you are camera shy and would rather learn more passively, it's not fair to you or the teacher. There are other language programs out there where you match images to words or phrases, and speak into a microphone rather than to a real person. If you like that, and prefer no face-to-face interaction, you might try another of our other highly-rated Latin platforms. However, given that with italki you're learning from an expert in Latin who can work directly with you one-on-one, plus you have a community of members you can interact with, we rate italki highly.
With Mondly, Latin is one of the newest of the 33 languages you can learn. If you choose the yearly subscription where you can have access to all the languages, you can switch between languages at any time, all for only $4 per month. Mondly is fun and is best suited for a beginning language learner or for a polyglot choosing one more language to add to the list.
You can choose either a monthly subscription or between two yearly subscriptions, all at $4 per month. There are no refunds, so be sure you really want the yearly subscription before you sign up. We've noticed that other languages Mondly teaches offer a lifetime subscription including Latin and all other languages, at about double the yearly subscription price, but we're not finding a lifetime subscription option with Latin.
You can have a free, albeit limited-access trial. After you choose the level, from beginner to advanced, you can have a lesson. They show you the units of study, such as travel, romance, seasons and weather, and core vocabulary. Sadly, you have no access to any of those fun sessions in the free trial - only the unit called Hello.
The lessons are fun
Mondly's Latin lessons are fun and move you from words to sentences in a matter of minutes. They set you up for success by giving you most of the sentence, and you fill in a missing word. If you need a hint, listen to the Latin of the sentence and you should be able to then hear the word that is missing. If you like a little competition, you can compete against yourself for the number of lessons completed and your score each time you jump in the program. You can also compete against others in your country or globally on the leaderboards.
Great for people who are already bilingual or more
If you already know more than one language, you may find Mondly right up your alley. When they present a sentence to you, you can click on the verb, and you will see that verb in several tenses. You can even note from the beginning how the sentence structure works. For example, we noted that the last word in the sentence would be the verb. All of the skills you've already acquired in language learning come together with Mondly.
Some of the latest technology
You can have fun and create your own "teacher" by choosing features for your avatar. This avatar, or chatbot, will be the image of the person who will teach you. One feature that is very helpful in language learning is that Mondly can recognize what you are typing. For example, older programs will only recognize your sentence as correct if every single letter, punctuation, and capitalization are 100% correct. If there's even a small, perhaps insignificant error, you are counted as wrong - as in all wrong. Mondly recognizes that you can be off by a few letters or there can even be a slightly different answer that's acceptable. This isn't as damaging to the ego and certainly not as frustrating as the older grading programs.
Missing Mondly's virtual reality
What Mondly's Latin is missing is the VR component. With some of the more popular languages to study, they offer virtual reality, where you can virtually go shopping or dine in a restaurant or cafe. Perhaps it's because there aren't any countries where people normally speak Latin to go out and interact with the clerk or server. It could also be because Latin is one of the newer languages for Mondly and they just haven't developed this feature yet. Either way, Mondly's virtual reality is fun, but you won't know that while you study Latin just yet.
Mondly's advantages are that it has updated technology for avatar chatbots and sentence correction. You also have access to your statistics to see how many days in a row you've practiced, for how long, how many words and phrases you've learned, and you can compete against yourself and others. Their methodology is quite good, gently carrying you from identifying words to creating sentences, even in the first lesson. However, the free access only allows you only the opportunity to greet someone. Mondly Latin doesn't have virtual reality, which we believe is quite an experience: fun and motivating. With the other languages, there was an option for a lifetime subscription, allowing access to not only your selected language, but all the other languages they teach as well. Despite those drawbacks, we encourage you to see if Mondly's Latin lessons are a good match for your learning style.
If you're tired of the typical online language learning where you match words and phrases to an image, use flashcards and multiple choice quizzes to assess your progress, and not interact with anyone, Preply might be what you're looking for. There are more than a dozen professional Latin tutors available for you to choose. Peruse their bio, see how many active students they have and how many Latin lessons they have taught with Preply. Read about what they are passionate about and what they believe they can do to help you learn.
Is this the first you've heard of Preply?
Preply started in 2012 in Ukraine as an online one-on-one tutoring platform to help students do well on standardized tests. Only a year later, they changed their focus to personalized language lessons. They have already earned over $4,000,000 and have thousands of tutors. One of the benefits of Preply is that they are expanding into not only teaching languages, but adding the arts, so if you're into music or art, peruse those possibilities as well.
You choose the teacher
Why do you want to learn Latin? Perhaps you want to learn conversational Latin, need help with your Latin homework, want to read ancient literature, or realize Latin could help with university preparation. Decide what your goals are and find a tutor to match. Also look at the price per hour to see if it meets your budget. Don't forget to view the tutors' reviews and check when they are available; you'll want someone whose schedule matches yours. Too many factors to consider? Go to the bottom of the tutor page and they will show you their top three.
You choose the price and lesson time
Given that there are more than a dozen Latin tutors from around the globe, a person is usually available when you would like your lesson. Some of the tutors are new to Preply, and others have taught over 1,000 lessons. Choose your instructor from the blurb they write, or if your budget is pretty tight, choose by price. If you have any questions, you can message the potential tutor. Your introductory lesson is 50% off, so it's a pretty good incentive to give Preply a try.
How to sign up for a trial lesson
Once you're on a teacher's profile page, you can set up a lesson by clicking on the "Book Trial Lesson" button where you set up the date and time. Then check out and pay via credit card or PayPal. Your class will be via their website in a Skype-type platform.
Preply has a help center where general assistance is offered to site users, including guidelines, but it also has an extensive collection of materials for you to supplement your language instruction. They even have helpful hints on how to find the best tutor for you.
Everyone deserves fair pay
When you take a discounted trial lesson, Preply takes all your money, and the tutor gets none. After your first lesson, Preply takes from 18% - 33% off the top, which is a big complaint. Those tutors with fewer than 20 lessons take the biggest hit; realize that without a large following, people may not choose them, so they may stay at the lower pay grade for quite a while. We realize that you would be a student and perhaps not signing up to be a teacher, but we felt you should know the cut Preply takes off the top.
We like Preply
Preply has only been around for about 10 years, but in that time, they have acquired thousands of teachers who are eager to teach you most any language. The fees range from $15 - $100, so you should find someone within your budget, and remember that the first lesson is 50% off. Preply is a solid option for Latin lessons, whether you're a beginner or already knowledgeable but want tutoring for a niche reason.
Udemy, developed in 2010, is the largest online learning platform of its kind. There are more than 1,000 courses and more than 35 million students have been enrolled. The goal of the founder was to bring reasonably-priced courses to those who might not have access to traditional education, whether due to location issues, time constraints, or financial hardship. Although the majority of Udemy's courses are in business and informational technology, there are some courses in language, and Latin is one of them.
Thousands of courses
Udemy has an open framework to allow teachers to create and sell their courses. Your course choices may seem random, as they are created by individuals rather than Udemy taking complete control, so you'll have to look carefully at the course title and objectives to see if it's what you want to learn. Be aware that some Latin lessons are based on specific textbooks, and it may be assumed you will have access to that text for reference. In total, there are thousands of Udemy courses, though there are more than 25 in Latin.
What's in a course?
Each course has a description, objectives, syllabus, and reviews to get a feel for it. The course modules can offer video, audio, and written lectures and seem to follow a similar layout and format so you can get used to it quickly. The videos are the core of the course, usually no longer than ten minutes in length. With this shorter video requirement, teachers must break down the material into digestible chunks. You have the option to repeat and review material you didn't quite catch. Oftentimes there are subtitles to the audio and/or video, and there can be quizzes for you as well. Although the courses can't be downloaded for viewing offline, the app will let you watch offline. You can also access the classes through Google Chromecast and Apple TV. Usually you can post and read questions and post reviews. Before you choose the course, you can get a quick taste for it by clicking on "preview this course." Note that when you purchase a course, you'll have lifetime access to it, so the course doesn't magically disappear after a certain date.
Because it's best to actually be in a course to know if it's right for you, Udemy offers a test drive, if you will, before you register for the class. As long as you haven't experienced or downloaded a majority of the course, you'll have 30 days to return it.
Most courses offer certificates upon completion. These certificates aren't university accredited, but may be helpful for your professional development or just nice to frame and hang on your wall.
You don't have to be on your own
You can learn the course on your own, or you can take advantage of an interactive platform. You can show your assignments to others and receive feedback, and many of the courses offer a discussion board for questions and comments about the material taught. The teacher and students can see the comments and all can respond. Some teachers offer resources like social media pages as additional ways to communicate and continue your professional development and academic improvement.
Communication might be scarce
Just as some of the instructors do respond to your questions, others just don't. And some have complained that Udemy's admin isn't good at responding to messages either.
It's a good option
Udemy offers more than 25 Latin courses, from beginning to advanced levels. You can peruse the course description, see the student reviews, and decide if the course is right for you within 30 days of purchase. With the video instruction plus the discussion board, it is a good method for learning Latin. Udemy has had over 35 million students since 2010, demonstrating that they are good courses at reasonable prices. If you like a more traditional approach, try Udemy; if you're looking for excitement, such as game-like instruction and assessment, speaking and recording options for when you speak Latin, and prizes when you reach a new level, you can try a different Latin lesson program from our list of recommendations.
If you've found traditional syllabi or textbooks quite restricting because you'd rather skip this chapter and add that one, LingQ gets you. After all, if you're learning a topic that you're interested in, you'll be more motivated to learn and continue learning. LingQ is very different in that regard: here, once you choose your level and click on the topic, you can start speaking and reading Latin.
Free vs. paid subscriptions
The free subscription gives you access to all the Latin lessons on the LingQ website and the app, a few of the imported ones, audio with transcript, flashcard review, and access to all 25 of the languages offered. The Premium level offers all of the imported lessons, lessons in print, and more activities. The Premium Plus level offers all of the aforementioned plus points you can use for premium lessons or tutors: live instruction or writing correction.
Vocabulary is presented in context
You'll have a "page" of a conversation or reading to learn that fits the topic you've chosen to study. If seeing the whole page at once is overwhelming, select the option to see only one sentence at once. Click on a word. LingQ gives you the English, or a few English words, for the meaning. Select the meaning you want to put to memory. Decide if it's a word you'll be able to learn easily, such as cognates - words that resemble their English counterpart - and highlight them in yellow. If the word will be more challenging to learn, highlight it in blue. Blue words will appear more often when you're quizzed so that with repetition, you'll learn it better. Yellow words won't need much, or any, repetition, so these words won't reappear over and over, wasting your time.
Context is helpful
As you work through the Latin words, looking at the English, you'll see how the word works in sentence form. You can see where the verb, subject, and adjective are placed in sentences. You can also derive and emphasize meaning when it's in context. Written form allows plenty of time for the brain to process the meaning and significance of these new words.
Upload your own articles or videos
You can upload your own readings or videos in Latin so that you can study them in the LingQ method. According to what you have studied so far in LingQ, it will tell you the percentage of words that are new to you, so you can decide if you're ready for the challenge. If it's a video you're uploading, LingQ will apply subtitles. You can choose when to keep the subtitles, and after viewing a few times, you might be ready to watch without the subtitle help. Note that if you upload content that is copyrighted, you will be the only one to see it. If it isn't copyrighted, whether a reading or video, you may be able to share it with other Latin language learners on LingQ.
Sharing is caring
Much of LingQ's content has been shared by students like you. There are pros and cons to this set-up. The advantage is that you have a wide variety of material from which to learn. The downside is that you're taking the student's word that it will be at your level of learning: there might be quite a high percentage of new words for you, making it perhaps more challenging than you expected.
What about grammar?
There is a tab for grammar, where you can learn the grammar suggested for this unit. Look it over all at once, or as it appears in your readings or videos. It's very self-directed. The challenge with LingQ not being linear, meaning that the authors aren't purposely placing an easier unit in front of a more challenging one, is that you might jump in head first into a higher level of proficiency - as the topics are random - instead of starting with the easier ones first.
LingQ community + tutors
There's a chat room of sorts for Latin. You can post and reply to posts about any of the Latin or LingQ topics. You can also hire a Latin tutor by the hour. They can review a lesson with you or they can correct your writing sample. Choose your tutor by reading about them. They have a photo, profile, and tell you which languages they speak fluently. They charge per hour, and you can choose the tutor that fits your budget.
Perhaps not enough structure
LingQ is best if you already know some Latin. They may not start out with the basic ABCs and 123s and gradually move you up. At the beginning level, when you can choose the alphabet, The Founding of Rome, the Roman Empire, or Psalms as your first experience with Latin, it might take more effort than you had at first thought or are willing to exert. Some reviewers have recommended LingQ when the student already knows some of the language before jumping in. When you advance to the next level, whatever that may be, it may be a bit daunting when there isn't a lesson to segue from one level to another.
Interesting features, but not suitable for everyone
We like that LingQ lets you choose your unit topic and the order in which you study your Latin lessons. We also like that you can decide whether every vocabulary word is challenging or not so much, so that you don't waste your time on the easy stuff. You can study material uploaded by others, you can upload material yourself, and it's good that tutors are offered. The downside is that learning whole sentences at once can be overwhelming for the beginner. And if you're not an experienced language learner, you might not realize you should take the time to deduce the sentence structure, tense, and other grammatical parts. LingQ's Latin lessons are good, but not appropriate for every language learner.
Originally, Latin was spoken in Rome, and morphed over the years, from Old Latin to New Latin and even Contemporary Latin, which is used in the Catholic church. Pope Francis often tweets in Latin to his over 900,000 followers. With the spread of the Roman empire, Latin was transformed into the many Romance languages we know today: Spanish, Catalan, French, Romanian, Portuguese, and Italian. So, some people would say that Latin lives on.
Latin certainly isn't dead in science. Latin terminologies are widespread in medicine, names of body parts, and names of diseases. The system used for naming plants and animals is founded in both Latin and Greek, and Latin terms form the roots of philosophical study.
Latin is quite alive in legal terms. Habeas corpus, ex post facto, and pro bono are familiar terms in real court cases as well as popular TV and online legal dramas.
Do you still need more reasons to learn Latin? It will surely help you in the fields of science, philosophy, law, and some theology. It can also help you with the study of other languages, especially the Romance languages mentioned above. Latin's not conversational? Julius Caesar would disagree.
Which Latin lessons are right for you? You've got a lot of options! Here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you narrow them down:
TopConsumerReviews.com has tested and reviewed the top options for Latin lessons available today. We're confident that with this information, you'll find no reason not to carpe diem -seize the day-and take your first Latin lesson!
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