Learn Latin Faster. Have More Fun.
You can go from zero Latin knowledge to being able to read the great Latin texts fluently much faster than you think.
But not with the usual methods.
The Ancient Language Institute offers the fastest Latin language learning program in the world. Most programs and methods treat Latin like a museum artifact, fit to be handled only by white-gloved experts.
The Ancient Language Institute treats Latin like what it actually is – a language fit for anyone to learn and master. We throw out the endless memorization and grammar drills and use active pedagogy and comprehensible input to get you reading as soon as possible.
What Level of Latin Student Are You?
You’re just getting started on your Latin journey.
Read, write, and speak in Latin from day one. ALI uses interactive software and fun books to build your vocabulary and immerse you in Latin grammar.
You have some Latin experience, but you aren’t comfortable reading primary Latin texts.
Learn to read and speak fluently – by the end, you’ll be ready to tackle the great Latin primary texts.
You can read many Latin texts, but haven’t tackled the Aeneid yet.
Customize your curriculum and focus on the texts you want to read. No Latin text – ancient, medieval, or early modern – will stand in your way again.
How We Teach Latin
Most Latin teaching methods require you to memorize the intricacies of Latin grammar before you get to read anything. And once you do finally begin to read, you start with brain-melting, expert-level texts.
That’s like forcing you to memorize a cookbook-full of intricate recipes before you ever step foot in a kitchen. And what’s even worse: When you do memorize those recipes, the first thing you cook is the hardest recipe in the book.
There’s a better way. That’s why the Ancient Language Institute exists.
Jonathan Roberts, Founder and Director of the Ancient Language Institute
Many people think that Latin belongs in the Dark Ages. The only thing that belongs in the Dark Ages is the boring, repetitive, memorization-heavy way that Latin is usually taught. I created the Ancient Language Institute to make Latin learning fast, easy, and fun.
If you want to learn Latin (or pick up from where you left off), I'd love to talk with you! We run live, online classes with flexible scheduling, we build course curriculum around YOUR goals, and we avoid busy work and useless grammar drills like the plague. Even if you're not sure, don't hesitate to reach out!
The ALI Latin Method
The ALI curriculum is built around Active Pedagogy and Comprehensible Input.
- Active Pedagogy: Language students should read, write, and speak the target language as soon as possible – not spend time memorizing long vocabulary lists and intricate grammar rules.
- Comprehensible Input: Language students should read texts that they understand and enjoy – not pore over complicated texts that require a dictionary at every turn.
All ALI Courses Are Live, Online Classes
We are a student-first educational institution, 100% of the time.
What does it mean to be student-first?
- We schedule classes using Doodle polls to ensure convenient class times that work for every student. After all, if we can’t find a time to get you in the door, we won’t have a class. This is about your convenience, not ours.
- We conduct individual consultations with every new or prospective student to learn about their personal language goals, and structure the curriculum to help them accomplish their goals. You are learning Latin to achieve your own goals. Why should we force our own goals on you?
- We only assign work that is useful for achieving fluency as fast as possible, as backed up by leading research on second-language acquisition. Nascentes morimur. Life is short and fate is coming for us all. Wasting your time with busywork is almost criminal.
The Eras of Latin (You Can Learn Them All)
The differences between Classical Latin and Ecclesiastical Latin are overstated. Whether you aim to learn how to read Virgil’s classical poetry, Erasmus’ modern prose, or anything in between, the Ancient Language Institute will prepare you for it.
Our Beginner Course prepares future Latin scholars of any time period. Starting in the Intermediate Course, you can choose an era to specialize in and continue that area of study into your Advanced Course.
Why Learn Latin Anyways?
Still not convinced that you should learn Latin?
Just imagine reading the speeches Cicero delivered in the Roman Senate. Or the epochal Latin poetry that earned Virgil his immortality.
Or imagine reading the divine meditations that earned Thomas Aquinas the name “Angelic Doctor.” Or the epic poem that a Spanish priest wrote – in Latin – set in 18th century Mexico.
Of course, you could read all of these in translation. Some will be pretty good. Others… not so much.
Or you could learn Latin.
Then you could read the actual words that Cicero spoke aloud in the Senate, and the gorgeous poetry that Virgil composed. You could grapple with Thomas’ theology in the language that the Angelic Doctor himself wrote and thought in.
Isn't Latin Dead?
That all sounds nice. But isn’t Latin a dead language? Why not study something useful, like one of the Romance languages?
This is why a lot of people write Latin off. But before you decide to do something “practical,” make sure you know what it means for Latin to be a dead language.
For a supposedly “dead” language, Latin is actually doing pretty well for itself. It is the official language of Vatican City – you can even follow the Pope’s tweets in Latin (his Latin language handle is @pontifex_ln). The international community of Latin speakers is growing too – new meetups and conferences are springing up everywhere. And there are many new works published in Latin every year.
What is Latin?
Like Greek, Latin is a language that will be worth learning as long as the liberal arts are worth pursuing. All in all, that’s the best argument for studying it.
And Cicero and Virgil and Thomas Aquinas are really just scratching the surface. Whether you are interested in history, philosophy, literature, science, law, warfare, education (or a dozen other subjects!) Latin has something for you.
What gives the language such a wide appeal?
Well, a little bit of history helps. Latin was first spoken in Latium (central Italy) six centuries before Julius Caesar was assassinated and seven centuries before Pontius Pilate ever asked Christ, “Quid est veritas?” (That’s “What is truth?” for you beginners).
We usually think of Latin as the language of the Roman Empire. But it remained the lingua franca of the intellectual community for over 1,000 years after the fall of Rome.
And Latin served as the single shared language for writers and thinkers longer than you might think.
Sure, Latin didn’t have any native speakers left in the 20th century. But even in 1947 – as just one example – the Italian priest Don Giovanni Calabria wrote a letter to Oxford professor and writer C.S. Lewis. Calabria didn’t know English – and he rightly guessed that Lewis didn’t know Italian. But he assumed that since Lewis was a scholar, he must know Latin. And he was right.
So that’s what he did – wrote Lewis a letter in Latin. And the pair kept up their Latin correspondence for the rest of Calabria’s life.
Latin, due to its history, will always belong to the international community of letters. And who knows? It might actually be useful to you someday, just like it was for Don Giovanni Calabria and C.S. Lewis.
What is the Best Way to Learn Latin?
Everyone knows that Latin is difficult, cold, and inaccessible. Besides being a (sorta) dead language, it’s also associated with towering intellects and complicated poetry and prose. Normal people, we all know, aren’t smart enough to master Latin.
Lucky for you, everyone is wrong.
First of all, when people think about learning Latin, they often think of memorizing tedious charts and vocabulary lists and then spending hours trying to decipher small portions of text. If learning Latin this way sounds impossible, that’s because it is.
There’s a better way.
What if you could learn grammar and vocabulary in a more intuitive and permanent way, instead of putting your brain to sleep while chanting declension patterns or verb conjugations?
What if you could read and understand Latin from Day One?
That’s what the Ancient Language Institute exists to do – help students read and understand Latin from Day One. More on that below.
Here’s a second reason Latin is easier to learn than everybody tells you: Latin grammar is highly regular.
You probably remember learning all the grammatical “exceptions” in French or Spanish class. Latin has a lot fewer. This means that you’ll start recognizing and understanding grammatical patterns a lot faster than you did in high school Spanish.
And a third reason: Latin is especially easy to learn for English speakers.
Why? Well, English derives much of its vocabulary from Latin (just take a look at these Latin words and see if you can guess their meaning: fama, fortuna, canis, nauta, aqua, femina).
So if your native language is English, when you read Latin, you get to do a lot of informed guesswork.
Why Do People Hate Learning Latin?
Still, we have to admit that Latin has a reputation for being difficult. It’s been claimed – in the pages of The New York Times no less – that “the chief virtue of Latin is in its instilling a virtue long dormant in our society: patience under drudgery.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Latin has been taught and is still taught in ways that require a lot of work and result in very little success. But that’s not because of the language – it’s because of the common methods used to teach a new language.
What are those methods? They usually go something like this:
1) You memorize a long list of Latin terms and their English translation.
2) You read an article about Latin grammar.
3) You work on grammar exercises such as drilling declension or conjugation paradigms.
4) You (try to) translate Latin texts that include both vocabulary terms and grammar concepts you have never encountered before.
This method, the so-called “Grammar-Translation Method,” certainly teaches patience under drudgery. But it doesn’t actually teach Latin very well. Instead, this theoretical and memorization-focused way of teaching trains you to treat Latin as a clunky and codified version of English. This is no way to learn Latin – or any other language.
ALI: The Right Way to Learn Latin
Fortunately, there is no need to learn Latin using dysfunctional methods and materials. Latin might be an ancient language. But your learning methods don’t have to be!
The Ancient Language Institute uses the best contemporary research and technology to unlock the languages of the past. Our courses are characterized by:
- Intuitive introductions to vocabulary
- Simplified approach to Latin grammar
- Extensive exposure to comprehensible input
- Active pedagogy
Sounds like a lot of jargon. What does all this mean? And how does it make us different from the “patience-under-drudgery” Latin classes of yore? Let’s break down each bullet point and explain what a Latin class with the Ancient Language Institute entails.
We use an interactive digital vocabulary-building platform to introduce students to new Latin terms. This software combines images and sounds with the target term, always used in a memorable context. The combination of sounds and images allows students to quickly and enjoyably understand Latin words, in the ways that ancient and medieval Latin writers used them. Our vocabulary learning platform is what flashcards want to be when they grow up!
In most courses, students are so burdened by grammar that they hardly get to enjoy actually reading in Latin. Our Latin grammar software is the perfect tool for fixing this. Our platform grants students access to short lectures on Latin grammar that are characterized by clear explanations and helpful images. Then, you complete intuitive drill exercises that creatively combine sounds and images. All in all, it adds up to make the mastery of Latin grammar more attainable and enjoyable than in any other language course.
All of our classes are live, virtual classes. Learning a language with other live people, plus the combination and careful sequencing of materials we employ, allows our classes to be highly productive and fun. In class, students see the vocabulary and grammar they have studied that week in a fresh and creative way, which prepares them to read their assigned texts with ease and success.
Further, in every class session, students are also exposed to additional comprehensible input in a way that prepares and allows students to interact with Latin actively. The best way to learn to read Latin is to speak and to write it! Thus, students will also learn to compose and speak in Latin.
The work of one of our heroes, the linguist Stephen Krashen (who has made all of his research on second language acquisition available for free), has convinced us that students acquire languages through extensive exposure to comprehensible input.
What does that mean? Basically, the more information in the target language that you encounter, the faster you’ll learn. Therefore, for our introductory course we have put together a sequence of readings that will allow you to read over 1,000 pages of Latin with success and ease (and without a Latin dictionary)! And that’s just the introductory course.
Ready to learn Latin? Cicero, Julius Caesar, Virgil, and Thomas Aquinas (and many more!) are waiting…