Yet another new hobby (sort of): Learning Latin


Because studying 2 languages wasn’t enough. Recently, my wife and I were thinking that it would be cool to teach our daughter Latin. Like her father, she likes languages1 and already knows Japanese and English. But also, learning Latin is a great way to learn the “science” of language, any language. Knowing Latin, you can see how things work in other languages, plus you enjoy the historical tradition. So in order to teach my daughter, I decided I need to learn it too.

About 10 years ago, before studying Japanese, I did study Latin on my own using Peter Jones’s awesome introduction, and finished the book, twice. It really helped me learn the basics, and it was nice being able to passages from the Latin Vulgate and such. After reading that book, I finally understood why this scene from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” was so funny:2

However, I’m very rusty now. Also, Peter Jones’s book is more of an introduction.

Also, having learned Japanese and Korean, my methods for studying language are better than they were 10 years ago, thanks to technology like Anki, and more modern study methods like AJATT teaches. So I feel I can learn Latin more effectively than I did years ago because I have more experience in the process of learning a language. I don’t study it nearly as much as Korean and Japanese but it has become a hobby on the side. Plus there is no speaking/listening required. So I can listen to a Korean podcast while doing a little Latin review. 🙂

So, I went to the local bookstore for books on Latin and settled on a couple options:

  • Wheelock’s famous textbook. It’s still the best textbook after 50 years. It’s a good balance of depth, challenge and interesting content.
  • Latin for Dummies which provides a good supplement. It has very helpful explanations and good summaries but not as much depth as

I also bought another copy of Peter Jones’s book. My old copy was completely worn out. You can see the old copy above. It’s stained, worn out and got lots of usage. 🙂

But one other critical tool is Anki. How do I populate Anki though? I’ve seen some discussions on it and people seem to have different ideas because Latin is so heavy with conjugations. Some people suggest many, small cards. Some suggest fewer cards and focus on learning the rules, not the usage.

I have been experimenting with both, but haven’t really found a good format for verbs and nouns. Still a work in progress.

Anki works best when you keep your deck efficient and remove cards that are cumbersome, not straight-foward, or just not very useful, so this process may get refined further.

As with other languages, I’ll write more as time goes on. 🙂

P.S. This photo shows various “language” books on my desk. Smart engineers know that “DNS” isn’t a language, but it does have plenty of technical “jargon” you have to learn. It feels like a language sometimes.

1 She does a really great impersonation of Girls’ Generation’s song “Gee“, both the dance and lyrics. She really picked up the Korean lyrics surprisingly fast. Pretty clever for a 5 year old.

2 Instead of punishing Brian for writing “Romans go home!”, the Roman soldiers correct his bad Latin grammar. It shows how complicated Latin grammar is.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

3 thoughts on “Yet another new hobby (sort of): Learning Latin”

  1. LOVE this post as I studied linguistics in university (really, really dry but good for understanding syntax, morphology, and structures), your post definitely helps as I aim to acquire Arabic. 😀 Thank you!



    1. Hi Pink,

      I seriously thought about linguistics in college too but went with something different. Funny you should mention that.


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