Category Archives: World Languages

Duolingo (Val)

Break down communication barriers by learning a world language. Which communities do you want to interact with a little more? Choose a language in the free Duolingo app and work at your own pace to earn your language credit. Share one new phrase when you report your weekly progress to Val!

Required texts/materials: Duolingo App Students will be responsible for obtaining their own texts/materials. Materials should be procured by: Before the first class

Natural Latin (Michael J. Coffey)

Avete, discipuli!  Nomen mihi est Michael!  Magister matematicus sum.

The ancient Latin language is all around us, hiding in plain sight. That exit sign?  “Exit” is a Latin sentence meaning “it goes out.” Someone named Amanda?  “She should be loved.”  And these words mean essentially the same thing in English today as they did to Julius Caesar almost 2100 years ago:  senator, viaduct, animal, clamor, color, error, onus, cornucopia, victor, forum, honor, furor, vacant, and dictator.  And with slight spelling changes, you could add:  absent, tempest, necessity, nature, and corpse.

But Latin also does things differently than English, so it makes us think about language more deeply. For example, the word conflagravit is a whole sentence meaning “It has been destroyed by a fire.” Why does English use so many more words? How does Latin say it in such a compact way? 

Using a book based on a newer approach to language learning, we’ll learn Latin “naturally.” It’ll almost be like we just got magically transported* to ancient Rome and are learning from what’s going on around us. It starts simply with sentences you can probably guess (“Rōma in Italiā est. Italia in Eurōpā est.”). Then, each sentence or two adds something new that we can figure out through context or illustrations. Before you know it, you’ll know the family of Julius and Aemilia, their parenting challenges, what their home is like, and which of their servants they can trust…and which ones they can’t! All without a single word of English.

To truly cement the language in your memory, however, you will need to practice outside of class on a regular basis, using various tools we’ll talk about as the class progresses.

If you would like, you can buy your own copy of Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, Pars I: Familia Romana by Hans Orberg. This is entirely optional, however.

* magus = magician; trans + portat = he carries it across to the other side