Techniques To Improve Reading Proficiency

By AmericanOrpheus, in 'Reading Latin', Feb 7, 2018.

  1. AmericanOrpheus New Member

    Cari amici,
    My professor (who is an Italian classicist) tells me that there are no special techniques for reading latin save spending more time with Latin texts. While I appreciate her point, and no doubt it is an important one, I continue to struggle with mentally ordering latin sentences. I am taking Latin 3 this semester and would like to capitalize on the opportunity to improve my ability to read the beautiful texts under consideration.

    What are some systematic ways in which you approach the reading of Latin?
    How do you accommodate/recognize the logic of latin sentences?

    Thank you for your time.
    N
  2. Godmy A Monkey

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Bohemia
    There are some techniques how to read lineary (without having to search erratically for the syntactic elements inside the sentence), but one still needs to have a perfect morphological knowledge for any form of any word they encounter and be ready to generate them on the spot. That can be achieved only (not ideally) with an extensive use of some grammatical parser (such as Whitaker's Words) or by (ideally, or combination of the two) having read enough Latin to be able to generate some options in your brain automatically - to have the idea of the correct solution without having to cheat.

    So yes and no.
    Gutavulfus likes this.
  3. Mafalda Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Paulopolis
  4. AoM nulli numeri

    • Civis Illustris
  5. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    in orbe lacteo
    It is a good article. But the only way to really practice doing that is to keep reading as much as you possibly can. It will get a lot easier as you go. If you go through Latin texts trying to look at translations as little as possible and just go through in the Latin word order, you'll eventually start to get it.
    Iáson likes this.
  6. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    Location:
    litore aureo
    Obviously the more you read the better you will get. I think that it is a mistake, however, to ignore the other components of language learning. I would suggest you also spend time translating English to Latin, listening to Latin, and speaking in Latin.
  7. Araneus Umbraticus Lector

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Norvegia
    I pretty much agree you have to spend time reading and be patient about it. Initially you are going to spend a lot of time figuring out sentences. Finding verbs, recognising cases, mentally rearranging the syntax, etc., getting the feeling it's like algebra, getting dizzy. It's just very important to work with texts that are challenging for you, but not painfully difficult. And read things twice. Once to figure out the grammar and vocab, and once to appreciate it. I'm sure you'll feel yourself 'leveling up' and getting better as you go along.

    What kinds of texts are you going to read this semester?
  8. syntaxianus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I would have to disagree very strongly with your teacher. There are techniques, but teachers seem to have lost them. They have dis-invested in the pedagogy. It is not an interest that gets college profs tenure. They need to get published in a journal, many times over.

    Here are some things to try:

    1. Practice with the understanding of thousands and thousands of short and readily understandable PHRASES not just individual words (a certain number of which you have to do, I admit).

    2. Practice variations on those phrases.

    3. Work up to longer and longer units.

    4. Read sentences by understanding the phrases in sequence as they arise. If you have no idea in your head after the first intelligible word-grouping (3, 4, 5 words usually), you need to get that idea before you go on (if at all possible). Teachers usually do not teach people how to chunk the sentences. You need to learn to do this on your own, but some books are available that do this for you.

    5. Double-translation. (Translate a literary passage into English; wait; translate back into Latin; compare with the original.)

    6. Practice oral Latin and incorporate descriptions of sense-base realities (e.g., you learn the parts of a house, then you describe what each room is used for, going from concrete objects to descriptions of events and practices and uses).

    7. Listen to speakers of Latin. (E.g., search for Bas Bommel on Youtube.)

    8. Write something in Latin every day.


    9. Rehearse understanding of a passage. Don't just labor through it once or twice and think you are done. Can you understand it phrase by phrase in sequence smoothly and easily as you read it aloud?

    It is true, certainly, that lots of time is necessary, but you have to be doing the right things. I spent years copying vocabulary into a notebook and working through line by line of poetry. I got nowhere fast. I was the same at the end as at the beginning as far as I could tell, even with a knowledge of most of the vocabulary.

    Another tip: learn to read prose well before you spend much time on poetry.

    Many people learned to achieve great fluency in Latin over the centuries. We should be better by now...
  9. syntaxianus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    To the nine points I've given I would add:

    10. Learn the "particle-words": connectives (cum...tum), tone-words (quidem), conjunctions, prepositions. You can't have a feel for Latin or get the meaning of structures without these. The prepositions are a good place to start: the phrases they govern are usually very easy fragments that you can rapidly take in (if you know the words).

    11. Build your archive. Realize that language is not a "surface" thing. You have to have a large foundation of background experience that is not too far from your upper consciousness. Your mind processes sentences quickly if it has this background built up, neural connections and pathways already made.

    12. Continuity. You need to avoid long-separated spurts of activity. Retrieval becomes harder and harder with that kind of inconsistency in your language activity.
  10. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    Location:
    litore aureo
    Terry S. likes this.
  11. Terry S. flamen

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Hibernia
    What ap? How did you do that?
  12. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    Location:
    litore aureo
    LatinEdit. It is on the Apple AppStore. I haven't uploaded the uncovering version there yet though. I need to make sure all the bugs are ironed out first!
  13. Amy Ivanova New Member

    I found this video helpful. She lays out how to read in a way that does not require just translating and hoping for the best. After using it a few times, I can see some improvements. Maybe it can help you.

Share This Page

 

Our Latin forum is a community for discussion of all topics relating to Latin language, ancient and medieval world.

Latin Boards on this Forum:

English to Latin, Latin to English translation, general Latin language, Latin grammar, Latine loquere, ancient and medieval world links.