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214 of 225 people found the following review helpful
I first learned Latin using Wheelock's text (as have many, many students over the years) nearing 30 years ago, with the 3rd edition. While going through the text, the teacher or professor would add many items of consideration not in the text, as the text to be as comprehensive as it should be would need to be twice the size.

When I picked up my copy of Wheelock years later to refresh my knowledge of Latin, I discovered just how valuable the instructors' input had been been, as I kept coming across questions of grammar, tense, declension, etc. that were not fully explained, or clearly explained, in Wheelock. For a good eighty to ninety percent, the Wheelock explanations were sufficient, but for those who need a mastery of the language, eighty to ninety percent is not enough.

The sixth edition, which I bought to see what improvements had been made, is essentially the same text with additions. It is still divided into forty chapters, with each dedicated to one major grammar section; it has sentences (often from original sources) that need to be translated (without a key in the back), and other sentences (often constructed sentences) with a key in the back. The sixth edition has additional readings from primary sources in Latin above and beyond what were included in the third edition; also, the page layout and size of the book is different (and I must confess, I preferred the smaller format book to the workbook-size of the sixth edition).

If using Wheelock as a self-study, I particularly recommend Grote for assistance when Wheelock is talking about the various voices and verb conjugation issues, and the spelling/vowel changes that occur in conjugation or declension, Grote's notes are very valuable. Also, Grote seems to have more a sense for the modern student, adding little flourishes in the text, both in the description as well as the examples, to make things more fun and interesting. Sometimes I wondered in Wheelock if the only thing Latin was good for was writing funeral dirges or speeches about duty (I wonder how Gilbert & Sullivan would sound in Latin, since they are all about duty? But I digress...)

As Grote says in the introduction to his book, students are having increasing difficulties with mastering Latin grammar because they have less training (it seems) in English grammar. Studying Latin becomes a formal training not only in the foreign language, but also in general language structures. I must say I am envious of his students, having two semesters to get through the forty chapters of Wheelock; when I took the course, we did the whole thing in one semester, and it was an abbreviated summer term at that!

One very useful piece of Wheelock is that students learning Latin from it will simultaneously learn English grammar structure much more thoroughly. Wheelock is one of the better books available as a base text for the learning of Latin, in any edition.
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384 of 410 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2008
"Wheelock's Latin" is perhaps the best conservative book of its type -- that is, it's the best of grammar-before-understanding Latin textbooks, and it shows. It thoroughly explains the grammar in ways most college textbooks don't, and it has plenty of selections from the original authors, which, if quickly understood, helps build enthusiasm: "Look, Mom! After 1/2 an hour of sweating, I finally understand these three sentences!" Moreover, there are additional readings in the back, in case you'd like to test (or brush up on) your knowledge of mechanical decoding.

But, that's where the fun ends. I used this book in a summer intensive course, and loved it. We finished most of in 8 weeks, and I, too, was pretty confident like the hypothetical student above. Soon, though, I noticed that learning Latin felt unnatural. After a semester of prose, we moved on to Ovid, and something became clear: I wasn't "reading," but decoding.. Wheelock and subsequent instruction trained me to do exactly that.

Decoding -- it's when a student looks at a sentence, and hunts: there's a noun, there's the adjective, but, they're in different cases; oh, the adjective probably goes with this noun, then. Verb, adverb, subject.. and, ECCE! Puzzle solved.

Is this reading? Why are students of German, or Russian (a more difficult language, by the way) able to build the kind of proficiency in 2 years that many 5-year students of Latin only daydream about? The difference is in the approach: German and Russian are taught as languages, while Latin is usually taught as a synthetic, mechanical puzzle. And, don't try to say that German and Russian are still spoken -- that's not an excuse, considering that it's possible to at least approximate Latin fluency by constructing artificial social situations: audio, continuous prose composition at very early levels and beyond, and exposure to low-level readings.

Wheelock does not help this problem. Instead, Wheelock does the following: he gives you a great grammatical introduction, and then throws sentences at you, which you either translate into English or into Latin. These exercises are graded by difficulty, but there's no continuous reading.. there's no introduction of "baby prose," of substantial narrative-nuggets that might get the student thinking in Latin, and thinking of Latin *as* Latin -- that is, as an individual language, one that should not be forced into an Anglicized word order, or puzzled out, piece by piece.

Now, there's certainly nothing wrong with the above if it's immediately followed by a different approach. But, Wheelock is not designed with an alternative in mind -- high schools and colleges start you with Wheelock, and then throw you into advanced prose or poetry. There is no side-step, or, even more helpful, a step back.

Students that are just starting out, like me, at one time, don't realize the following: they will never learn to read Latin properly with such an approach. Sure, they may learn to read Latin properly if they do something on their own *in conjunction* with typical formal instruction, but, I suspect the formal approach then becomes a burden, a distraction from the student's "real work."

Obviously, that's a problem.. the student never really gets used to Latin word order, among other things, because he's never around enough of it in quick, digestible chunks. Moreover, if he never practices generating Latin quickly and proficiently, there will always be a barrier between the original Latin text and his true abilities, especially in terms of reading speed. Although we have only a tiny portion of original Latin literature extant, it's pretty much inconceivable for a student to ever get through those works in his entire lifetime, if, that is, he never leaves the Wheelock approach.

Instead, I'd recommend Orberg's "Lingua Latina." It's an excellent book designed for Latin fluency, if used in conjunction with other materials. It's all written in Latin, as one continuous narrative broken into different scenes and chapters. Although it starts out very simple, it moves up to real sophistication, but slowly enough that, with a little patience and review, the student is reading the final chapters (which approximate unadapted Latin, by the way) at a respectable speed, and only sometimes hunting for objects, subjects, etc., in some of the more difficult or unclear sentences. At the end of the first chapter, you will have done several pages of solid reading, which might be more reading than in all of Wheelock's chapters combined. Interestingly, your reading speed, while it will decrease as you move on to the harder stuff, won't decrease significantly. And eventually, you can get it back, and move beyond your initial stages.

I'd also recommend Adler's "Practical Latin Grammar," which is out of print, but nonetheless available on Google Books. Adler's textbook is especially good as a supplement to "Lingua Latina," since it eventually covers every important point of grammar, including complex subordination. It's focused on *conversational* Latin, which forces the student to generate and verbalize good Latin sentences from the very beginning. The entire book has been rendered into audio on Evan Millner's "Latinum Podcast" site, which -- at least a few hundred hours worth, if not more -- is available for free. In this way, you're doing two things: you're practicing complex prose with proper reading skills with Orberg's book, and practicing listening and speaking Latin with Adler and Millner.

An article criticizing the typical Latin-teaching approaches mentioned something interesting and revealing: in the Renaissance, students were first taught conversational Latin for five or six years before ever cracking open some Caesar or Cicero. And only years later, perhaps, did they ever touch poetry. Doesn't this seem sensible? To truly understand a language, or even to simply be competent enough to read at a decent speed, from the start of a sentence to the end, without juggling endless case endings and objects in your mind, requires this kind of approach. Sure, if you're doing Latin academically, there may be no time -- you're expected to have decoded at least a couple of hundred of pages of Latin by the time you hit your Ph.D. stage, in some schools. But, if you're interested in doing well and improving every day, and visibly, for that matter, forget about Latin literature for as long as you can tolerate it, and start with the basics: easy reading, and conversation.

And it's not all bad: I'm glad I did Wheelock, because "Lingua Latina" was much easier for me, given the vocabulary and abstract grammatical knowledge I had. So, if you're completing Wheelock now, or about to start it, consider it preparation for what comes ahead.

For more information, read William Dowling's homepage -- a fluent reader of Latin, he first turned me on to this "natural method" of language acquisition. He doesn't accept e-mails, but you can write some snail mail to him, as I did:

[Author of Woody Allen: Reel to Real (Digidialogues)]
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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2006
The 6th edition hardcover is a handsome book, filled with huge amounts of information. The method employed in this book is different than other instructional texts; it presents you with a vast number of grammatical rules early on, and then forces you to translate. It is a baptism by fire, and can be pretty challenging.

However, the reading selections are delightful, many taken from Roman authors of the first century B.C. There is even some Horace to keep you on your toes.

One thing you will need to do, is get the answer key from Harpers, since not every exercise in the book has one. This wasn't a problem for me -I simply emailed the publisher and they sent me the answer key. I had it within 4 days. If the key was included in the text, it would be 100 pages longer at least.

If you are studying Latin, I also recommend the book "501 Latin Verbs" as another resource. If you are brand new to the language, you may want to start with the Cambridge Latin course, units 1 & 2, and then read the Wheelock's.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2006
I just finished the book after 3 months of very disciplined self study. I lost many hours of sleep, doing latin until 3 am having to wake up just a few hours later. I used

1. This book

2. The workbook

3. Grote's notes.

I do not think that this book on its own is enough for self study. You definitely need all three books. Then, you just have to plow ahead until you are done. And, do I mean plow ahead. Forty identical in format chapters that inexorably and mercilessly introduce a point, then translation drills, then some text. Some "fun" material has been added, but you have better things to do: the next chapter.

You see, this book I find is for people who have an enormous left brain hemisphere. If you are into inductive learning, stay away! This is not the book for you!

So, yes, this book is the best as far I am concerned, but it is not for everyone. No, it is not difficult, but unless grammar is a favourite pasttime of yours or have some natural inclination for it, this book will be boring.

So, do I feel that I know latin now? Hmmm.... Tricky question. Latin grammar I know like the back of my hand, but I feel that my reading level is not at the same level (which makes sense, if you ask me). I think that this is quite a common remark when it comes to this book.

But, for this reason, he has the second book in the series where you hone your reading skills. One goal at a time.

Guess what I am doing next?
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2009
Wheelock's Latin is traditionally the dominant system for learning the classical language, and I think it maintains that position solely because some people haven't tried anything better, namely the Cambridge Latin series (four-part). I've learned Latin as an adult on my own, meaning I don't have hours a day to spend on exercises. I started with the Wheelock's book and never got anywhere. I started making progress with Cambridge right away. Why is the Cambridge system better?

1) Wheelock's throws all the conjugations of a given declension - sometimes more than one declension - at you in a chapter. So for the pronouns, for example, you have to learn all five cases for masculine, feminine and neuter at once. Unless you have about four hours a day to spend on this for days on end, it is maddening. The Cambridge system focuses on text rather than grammar drills, and then incorporates the grammar as you go along. For the adult learner, that is the only way to go.

2) Lack of text - because Wheelock's is overwhelmingly focused on grammar, you don't get much contextual understanding. With the Cambridge system, you start reading basic texts right away.

3) Culture & history: each chapter has a section in English on some point of Roman culture and history, which is especially good if this is for children.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2006
I bought this book to refresh my Latin knowledge so I could place higher in college classes, and was very pleased. Over the summer I did an exercise every day, and probably spared myself a year of Latin.

The exercises are straightforward yet informative, and the examples of Roman literature are well chosen. Even in chapter one you are translating Cicero and learning about Roman culture.

Do a chapter every few days, and before you know it you'll be able to read Latin. If you already know some Latin, this is a great refresher course.
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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2006
If you're serious about learning Latin, this is the book for you. If you just want to flirt with the language and waste your time and money, buy one of the other slick, superficial courses. But if you want to be reading Latin in a year, Wheelock's is the only option. Bolchazy-Carducci have an entire line of books, CDs, software, and flashcards to support this course. It makes the whole process so efficient and productive.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2006
As a graduate student studying western Medieval History, Latin is a necessity for my studies. When one of my professors requested that I buy this book for a guided study, I was excited. I had heard of this book and the success stories that came from its use. I am happy to say that I am another success story. I feel that this book has more than prepared me for the language exams I will be taking in the first semesters of my Ph. D program. If you are looking for a book that is easy to read, follow, and understand, this is the book for you. One suggestion...do the exercises in each chapter and repeat everything you do aloud. You will be happy you did.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2007
This is a decent textbook...

However, it is rather dated, and LaFleur's additions aren't very helpful. The 3rd edition (used) of this book is by far the best...

Instead of going all the way through this book and still not being able to READ actual Latin, buy the textbook _Learn to Read Latin_ by Andrew Keller and Stephanie Russel. No synthetic Latin passages to read, and quite a large variety of readings (Propertius, Ennius, Vergil, Quintillian etc...) The best of Moreland and Fleischer and Wheelock combined, minus the flaws of both. And the workbook exercises are checked against the PHI cd-rom for syntax and correlation with actual usage in the Latin text corpus.

Add in a PDF answer key from the authors, and you are good to go.

No, I'm not affiliated with the authors, I am a former UMass Amherst student who just got frustrated with inferior textbooks (Athenaze, OLC/CLC, etc!)
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2007
The two most common methods of learning Latin are the 'grammar-translation' approach and the 'reading' approach. Each has its merits; Wheelock's Latin Grammar takes the former approach. It contains ample practice and drill work. The workbook by Paul Comeau is helpful. For people concerned that there isn't enough extended reading material, there is Groton and May's "Thirty-eight Latin Stories." After completing this text, Wheelock's Latin Reader provides more practice. And the price is right.
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