The method and the course
It is our common opinion, based on our studies and experience, that Lingua Latina per se illustrata, by Hans Henning Ørberg, is the most effective of all Latin courses, for learners of at least 12 years of age.
The aim of this course is to allow the student to read fluently and understand correctly Latin classics: active use of the language – writing and speaking in Latin – is strongly recommended, because it is a very important and effective means to achieve that goal; but speaking Latin is certainly not the final goal of our course.
The Latin course Lingua Latina per se illustrata is divided into two volumes, Familia Romana (for the basic level) and Roma aeterna (for the advanced level).
It follows the inductive-contextual method (or nature method), which is based on the text and the context, from which students draw forms and constructions, and the meaning of words and phrases. Morphology and syntax are first inductively assimilated, by the identification of recurrent structures and the necessary reflection, and then organized in a systematic manner.
Learners are constantly exposed to the language: initially, in Familia Romana, a very simple – yet true and authentic – Latin, and then, gradually, a more complex and elaborate language: most of Roma aeterna, the second volume, contains original texts of classical authors, with their refined language and style (but already in the first volume students read some excerpts from the Gospels, the poets Catullus, Ovid, and Martial, and the grammarian Donatus). Students are thus gradually and effectively introduced to the reading and understanding of classics.
Students are strongly involved, with their active abilities too: they are invited to read and understand, to do exercises of comprehension, and also to use the language themselves, both speaking and writing.
They are always required to understand the Latin text; if they are asked to translate it, translation will have to follow understanding, not the other way round, as it sometimes happens at school!
Finally, the book’s continuous story line, besides being in itself a mnemonic help to learn words and constructions, clearly illustrates Roman life.
The first volume, Familia Romana, tells the story of a Roman familia of the 2nd century AD, and of its members’ daily life and activities.
Students are thus presented not with out-of-context sentences and grammar rules, but with real-life situations.
In the second volume, Roma aeterna, they can at last read the fascinating events of Roman history, from its mythic beginnings to the end of the republic in 27 BC. Again, the bulk of this second volume is made up of unmodified classical texts (Livy, Sallust, Cicero and others).
The exercises at the end of each chapter help to strengthen the learning of both grammar and vocabulary, and to verify text comprehension.