Don’t groan–this is a highly-powered mega-vitamin for your Latin skills!
There is no better way I know to feel like Latin is a spoken language than having a repertoire of pieces in your mind that you can hear with your “mind’s ear.” You’ve learned some Latin words with your textbook–very good. But you probably didn’t learn how to use them.
Why should you memorize whole texts when lists of vocabulary words should do just fine? Because they don’t. Words are just words, not meanings. Meanings come from how words are used: context. And that is what you get when you memorize Latin phrases, sentences, and texts: lots and lots of context.
And so, with whole Latin poems and hymns in your brain, you will mull over them in a personal way. Latin becomes a real part of you, the way that English is.
Enough from me–just try it. It’s easy: see the free printable memory cards below.
Memory Cards to Print and Use:
***Use cardstock for these unless you want to go crazy***
- Easiest of all: Psalm 133 with the Gloria Patri; last psalm of Sunday Compline. (Print file in LANDSCAPE mode on your printer)
- Very Easy: Anima Christi, beautiful prayer especially appropriate for use after receiving Holy Communion. (Print file in PORTRAIT mode on your printer)
- Easy: Magnificat, Our Lady’s own canticle. (This is formatted the way it is used in the Divine Office, at Vespers.) (Print file in LANDSCAPE mode on your printer)
How to Use the Memory Cards
Step 1: Select your piece to memorize. Print and cut out cards.
Step 2: Read and repeat card #1 until you can recite it flawlessly without looking at it. (Take a whole day to work with just one card–a slow tempo is just fine.)
Step 3: Recite card #1 to begin with, and then read and repeat card #2 until you know it by heart. (Again, if it takes a day or more to memorize each card, that is absolutely a-okay!)
Step 4: As you finish memorizing each card, add a new one to continue with. (Important: Each time, always recite the piece the whole way through from card #1 until you reach your current card.)
Step 5: Yay! You made it all the way through! Now you have a “completed” pile! Each week (or twice a week, if you want to be very sure what you’ve already learned sticks with you forever) begin practicing your new memory piece only after first running through your previous ones.
Going sentence by sentence in this way, memorizing Latin texts will not seem like a tedious overload. It will be short, simple, and sweet. Such a small, consistent pace will get the Latin in there so deeply it will really stick.
Watch what happens when you are studying or reading other Latin texts after you have these in your memory. Phrases will pop into relief and make sense, flow together, and make sense at a subconscious level. You will relate to Latin words and sentences more like they are in a familiar language, rather than feeling like they are part of a difficult, artificial exercise. And the feeling of accomplishment of having stocked your mind with these prayers is absolutely grand too!