As I said in a recent post, if you’re here because you want to start worshiping at the Traditional Latin Mass, the most important thing I want to tell you is that with a good Latin Mass Missal, you don’t need to actually know Latin to worship well.
But there are so many good reasons to learn Latin that I hope you will commit to Latin mastery. I want to encourage each of you to take heart, and get going with your Latin studies no matter what discouragements or difficulties you may have met before.
The secret to mastery of Latin (or anything) is putting in the time sticking to an effective study plan. “Effective” will mean something different for each student, but “sticking to” is going to be the same. My advice? Come up with a bare minimum for each study day: Read (or write) one sentence. Drill through the flash card stack once. Fill out half a paradigm sheet for one verb. Commit to this, so that even if all else–schedule, motivation, sanity?–fail you, you will do this one thing. Success will build from there.
Your time in school provided you with “incentives,” shall we say, to stick to a learning routine. Likely your lessons weren’t very effective, or as effective as they could have been if you had designed them for yourself. But that’s what you get the chance to try now. And be sure to design in some ways to have fun…
Nothing succeeds like success…and having a good time. So make sure to find as many ways as you possibly can to have fun developing your Latin skills. I love checking off daily boxes to record my efforts, such as with the Latin Study Habits Tracker. You might enjoy playing games with flash cards, or testing your translation abilities with award-winning film titles.
Common sense isn’t so common any more, so I’m going to say this, too: Besides making Latin study fun, make it pleasant. Sit in your favorite chair, eat your favorite snack, play your favorite instrumental music. Make study time a very good time, and you will faithfully persist and steadily progress.
In order to get somewhere, you have to first know where you’re going and how to get there. And then–monitor your progress to your destination. The curriculum or method you have chosen provides the destination and map for learning Latin, but it is up to you to mark your progress toward your goal of Latin mastery. Doing so will keep you filled with pride, hope, and eagerness to finish–all necessary to persisting faithfully. More suggestions: Check off the chapters at the Table of Contents one-by-one, as you finish them. Have your favorite dessert when you get to the halfway-point of your reader. Announce the completion of your first year/book/program here–e-mail me or post below! Think about how you usually like to keep your successes and achievements visible, and do that for your Latin studies.
Latin mastery–the way there is simple: Pick a Latin study method that works for you, and then have fun while sticking to it. I’m here to help, if I can. Get started and keep on going!