For all those eager to learn Latin

Salvete !

I saw that quite some people on this site would like to learn Latin, which is really great I think. Unfortunately, Duolingo doesn't have a Latin course yet, and it seems that they are in no hurry to build one, although people have been asking for it for a long time. However, for those of you who are really motivated and can't wait to start learning Latin, I can really recommend these two books by Hans Orberg:

  • Hans Orberg, Lingua Latina per se illustrata, Pars I: Familia Romana
  • Hans Orberg, Lingua Latina per se illustrata, Pars II: Roma Aeterna

These books are written entirely in Latin and take a so-called “natural approach", i.e. they try to teach you Latin by using Latin. Words are explained by using synonyms, antonyms, or short paraphrases in Latin or by simply showing a small picture of what is meant. If you come to think about it, this is actually how you learned your native language: by getting short explanations, synonyms, and antonyms in the same language and by having pictures shown to you. That is the reason why this is called the "natural approach". It is, in fact, a much better way to learn a language than the method Duolingo uses, which is based on constantly translating back and forth between two languages. You will never become fluent that way. To become fluent in a language, you should strive to think in that language, and that is what this series helps you to achieve for Latin.

The series starts at a basic level and gradually builds from there. Each chapter of the books has some exercises at the end (pensa), which help you exercise the vocabulary and grammar of that chapter and also challenge you to use Latin in an active way by asking questions about what you read. The books themselves don't have an answer key though, but the CD-ROM versions do. Although the CD-ROM versions are fairly dated, they still work fine (also with Windows 8.1 or 10) if you download the patches from this site. Another advantage of the digital versions is that they also have audio recordings. If you prefer, there's also the option to subscribe to an online version on this site. (The same site also has an online version of the more traditional Cambridge beginner's course, should you really want to start with an English-Latin course).

Additionally, there are two books by the same author with extra exercises that go with each volume:

  • Hans Orberg, Exercitia Latina Pars I
  • Hans Orberg, Exercitia Latina Pars II

I would again recommend the CD-ROM versions here as they allow you to practice interactively and give you the solutions right away. Alternatively, you could simply buy the teacher's manual which contains all the solutions (both to the exercises (pensa) of the original books and to the exercises of the extra ones): see here for more info

There’s also a student’s manual to the first book in Latin. This manual has been translated into English and the author has elaborated the Latin original extensively, so if you feel unsure about the immersion method, I would recommend to get this manual as your backup source to go along with the book. It’s very detailed (over 300 pages!) and it allows you to get a full grasp of what you possibly didn’t understand from the books in Latin. It guides you through each chapter, contains English translations of all the vocabulary and also has a grammatical overview included in the back.

  • The Latin version: Hans Orberg, Lingua Latina per se illustrate: Latine Disco
  • The English version: Jeanne Marie Neumann, A College Companion: Based on Hans Orberg’s Latine Disco

Last but not least, there’s also a nice grammar book in Latin to complete the whole series. It’s not necessary to get it, but it’s very handy as it gives a nice overview, in Latin, of all the grammar that is explained over the chapters of the books.

I really can’t recommend this method enough and I hope this info will be helpful to at least some of you. As a final note, I can tell you that there are courses on sites such as Memrise (check here) to help you practice the vocabulary of each chapter. Some vocabularies are also downloadable for free from this site. I would, however, recommend to use apps like Anki to build your own vocabulary list and to try to do so by using Latin as much as you can, just like the books do, and to put one or two example sentences from the texts in there for each word you want to practice.

I wish you all the best on your individual language journeys :)

Curate ut quam optime valeatis!

NB :

I forgot to mention that there's literature available for extra reading practice while you're going through each chapter of the main books. This is the extra literature for the first book (Pars I Familia Romana):

Below is a list with the extra titles for the second part (Roma Aeterna). These are all separate volumes, and don't go with any specific chapters from Pars II. You should be able to read them independently and according to your own taste and preference, once you have finished the first book (Pars I Familia Romana).

September 13, 2015


I forgot to mention that there's literature available for extra reading practice (using the same method). I've updated the OP to include this. Almost all titles are available on amazon. Also, you can download some vocabularies for free from here:

September 19, 2015

People interested in Latin on Duolingo vote here
-- --

Probably better to vote (and comment) here: far more votes, more lingots, more comments and far older. ;)

If you want to make a [course] suggestion, we encourage you to visit the forums and making a search for suggestions that have been made in the past, and adding your vote and comments to those existing posts [and thus not creating a new one]. That will make the request more popular and make it stand out more, encouraging more people to add their votes. :)

From Help Center: "How can I suggest a new language course?"
Note: Texts in between square brackets are additions of mine.

September 14, 2015
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October 13, 2015

Yes, link corrected, thx!
I had forgotten the https:// and Markdown then don't get it (for link internal to Duo) ;)

October 13, 2015

Gratias tibi ago!

September 14, 2015

We have those books at home!

September 13, 2015

Quam fortunata es! Utere illis libris et loquere Latine nam lingua pulcherrima est :p

September 13, 2015

Ita vero! (That's how you say yes in Latin, right?)

September 14, 2015

Sic. Recte dicis :)

September 14, 2015

Thank you very much! Gratias tibi ago! I've been wanting to learn Latin for a while but I couldn't find any good resources until now. :)

September 13, 2015

This has been discussed umpteen million times on Duo. The trouble is, it's hard to find the discussions once they are more than a few days old. Here is a thread from last week and here is a thread from a month ago. If you would like more information, just ask.

September 13, 2015

Thanks for the links! :)

September 13, 2015

You're welcome. And here's another thread from today where jrikhal links to a good discussion from a year ago.

September 13, 2015

Libenter feci. Bene eveniat! :)

September 13, 2015
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