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Which book to learn Latin is best? 

Latin may be a dead language, but it is still a very rewarding language to study and learn. Since it is required in many schools’ curricula all around the country, Latin is still a very in-demand foreign language. 

Whether or not you’re wanting to learn Latin on your own or if you’re having to learn it for a class, having the right tools at your disposal is a must. The top pick, Wheelock’s Latin 7th Edition, is a tried and true Latin learning resource that has helped instruct and inspire students of classical studies for years. Wheelock’s Latin even has an accompanying workbook for extra study. 

What to know before you buy a Latin textbook 

Why learn Latin? 

Latin, originally spoken by the Romans, may be a dead language, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t left its mark on our modern society. Latin went on to influence several languages, namely those of the Romance language family which includes languages such as French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Latin also had a large impact on English, and many English words have Latin roots. 

So, not only can learning Latin help speakers of English understand and study Romance languages, Latin can help English speakers understand their own language on a deeper level. In fact, one of the main reasons that Latin is still taught in schools today is because it challenges students to understand language in a different context and can ultimately help increase English vocabulary. 

How to self-study with a Latin textbook

When it comes to self-studying any language, every individual person will have their own unique process. However, with the help of a well-organized textbook, making your own study plan or routine will be a breeze. Simply follow the lesson as it is presented to you and then check your understanding with language exercises. 

Common issues for English speakers learning Latin 

English speakers will often struggle with Latin’s case system, as this is a grammatical feature that we do not have in English. Since cases are a fundamental and ever-present part of Latin, it’s important to find a textbook that explains cases clearly and concisely. 

Another common issue that English speakers may face while learning Latin is vocabulary retention. While some Latin words are recognizable to us through English, others may seem very complex and foreign. The best way to study and retain vocabulary is to have a textbook or language exercises that involve using the word independent of its English translation. 

What to look for in a quality Latin textbook 

Lesson layout and formatting 

The most important qualities of any language textbook are its layout, presentation and formatting. If a textbook is too dense or only presents new material in blocks of texts, it will be difficult to self-study with. It’s best to look for a textbook that presents each lesson or chapter in a way that is laid out clearly and that breaks up the lesson into different sections. 

For example, it’s helpful to find a Latin textbook that has designated sections for new grammar points, new vocabulary and new supplemental readings in each chapter or lesson. 

Ample exercises for practice 

Since Latin is effectively a dead language, you won’t find many opportunities to use it out and about. That’s where language exercises come in. 

Language exercises are a great way to practice and cement new grammar points, vocabulary and more. Look for a Latin textbook that either has ample exercises or an accompanying workbook. 

Accompanying classical texts for immersion 

Again, Latin’s status as a dead language affects how it should be learned. With living languages, most immersion can come from watching TV shows, listening to music or having conversations in the target language. With Latin, however, the most immersion that you will get is from the readings that your textbook presents. 

How much you can expect to spend on books to learn Latin 

Latin textbooks can range from around $20-$50 depending on the book. 

Latin textbook FAQ

What can I use Latin for professionally? 

A. Latin is an excellent language for med students, law students, linguistics students and classical students to learn for use in their fields. 

Is Latin easier to learn if you know a Romance language? 

A. Yes. Because Latin directly influenced the modern Romance languages, Latin will be easier to understand if you have knowledge of or fluency in a Romance language. 

What’s the best Latin textbook to buy?

Top Latin textbook

Wheelocks Latin 7th Edition

“Wheelock’s Latin,” 7th Edition 

What you need to know: “Wheelock’s Latin” is a classic Latin textbook that has been used by students worldwide for decades. It’s perfect for self-studying. 

What you’ll love: “Wheelock’s Latin” presents new material in each of its 40 chapters and contains original, classical texts as well as ample language exercises for additional practice. 

What you should consider: This is a more traditional language textbook and may be a bit bland for some. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top Latin textbook for the money

Henle Latin First Year

Henle Latin First Year”

What you need to know: Henle Latin First Year is a tried and true Latin resource with the objective of getting students comfortable reading classical Latin texts. 

What you’ll love: The book presents new material clearly and concisely, so it is easy to understand. The books guide you through several classical Latin texts. 

What you should consider: These books may be hard to follow if you are self-studying and are not as comprehensive as Wheelock’s Latin since Henle’s Latin is a series of four books. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

Getting Started with Latin

Getting Started with Latin”

What you need to know: This comprehensive textbook is more modern than its competition and is great for beginners. 

What you’ll love: This book goes above and beyond with helping anyone to learn Latin. The book has a website and application that can help students practice through exercises and pronunciation guides. 

What you should consider: Since this textbook is meant for beginners, it may not be the best choice for those that are learning Latin for their higher education or future career. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 


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