Familia Romana, Paperback
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Although when one starts to work one's way through this Latin grammar and reader, it will seem like the Latin equivalent of "Dick and Jane" at first, this is by far the best introduction to Latin I've ever encountered. Orberg employs the Direct, or Natural Method of language instruction. Lingua Latina is entirely written in Latin. As the subtitle, "per se illustrata," states, this is Latin explained through itself. Through constant repetition, rephrasing, and the graduated addition of new and more complex grammar and vocabulary the student is immersed step by step in Latin. From the start you find yourself actually reading and understanding Latin without first having to translate the text into your native language, and without having first to memorize daunting paradigms of noun, pronoun, and adjective declensions and verb conjugations. You're having so much fun being able to understand Latin right from the get-go, you don't mind the "See Spot Run" simplicity of the first stories. The difference in using Orberg vs. traditional Latin grammars is the difference between reading with understanding right from the start and painstakingly decoding, as amother reviewer put it.Most of the entertaining, simple stories, that Orberg wrote himself, center around a well-off Roman family and their household slaves. Through the adventures of the members of this household the reader is introduced to Roman life and culture, at least as Orberg understood it.In addition to the stories, vocabulary and grammar are illuminated through notes (in Latin) and drawings in the margins. Each of the 35 chapters concludes with an easy to follow (Latin) explanation of the main grammar points introduced in the chapter, followed by three exercises. In the first, you just add the correct inflection to the words in the sentences; in the second, you add the correctly inflected words to the sentences; the third exercise is a series of questions about the story, that you answer by formulating your own Latin sentences. When you run into difficulty in completing the exercises, you learn what you don't know, and you can then go back and look up what you're confused about. These exercises can be done together with small groups of students in a classroom, or in a group of other Latin learners. In the back of the book are the usual, helpful paradigms of all the declensions and conjugations, the numerals, and all the vocabulary used in the text.Start with this book if you want to learn Latin as painlessly as this difficult language can be learned. Orberg has also written a companion book of stories to those in the text, Colloquia Personarum. When you're ready to get into real Latin literature, Orberg has prepared a Pars II, which contains a graduated collection of classical Latin texts.