Comparison table of self-paced communicative Latin courses


TL;DR? Click here to jump straight to the table without any preamble.

We’ve had a look at the options for taking live online Latin classes in 2023, but what if the pressure of keeping up with a cohort of students is not best suited to you? What if you need something more flexible to your pacing needs?

Self-paced, asynchronous Latin courses offer you the ability to learn Latin form the comfort of your own home with the help of pre-recorded video lessons, audio lessons, or large curated content libraries.

(For the record: I have not been paid to promote any of these courses, and I was not involved in creating any of them. These are my honest opinions, and I invite people to write reviews of the courses if they have taken any.)

Which is better: live classes or self-paced learning?

There are a variety of reasons why someone might choose either live classes or self-paced courses. There is no one format that is best for everyone, but each person needs to weigh up their needs.

Live classes encourage you to cover the same content as a peer-group of fellow-learners while your teacher guides you through the content in live group lessons. For some people, the expectation and pressure to “keep up” with the class helps motivate them to devote time each day to study Latin. Particularly if you are used to having your life ordered around the external accountability of having to show up to commitments with other people, classes can help keep up the momentum in learners who worry about their ability to stick to a routine.

And as I commented in my previous post on online Latin classes, learning at a more intense pace can potentially help you power through the beginner stage faster as you have more frequent exposure to the language and less time to forget recent information. This may help you reach more interesting intermediate texts sooner.

In addition, live classes can foster a sense of community as learners approach the same content together and share their thoughts about what they found difficult. The joy of learning together with others can be a powerful internal motivator.

However, many learners do not learn at the same rate as others, and this is very often through no fault of their own: some people have less time to commit to daily study, some face more personal stresses (stress hinders language learning), and some simply take longer to absorb things. The pressure to stick to an externally-set pace for language learning might be a hindrance rather than a help for people who just need more time.

If a learner falls behind the class but the course keeps moving on despite them not being ready, the learner will get less value out of later lessons where they are out of their depth. In addition, the stress of failing to keep up with the class and the temptation to compare one’s learning pace to others can make it harder to focus on just doing what you need to do to learn the language.

For some learners, their ideal pace may be slower than the pace set by available Latin classes. For others, their ideal pace may vary throughout the year as their workloads vary – there may be some weeks where they can power through lots of content, and other weeks where they just stick to the bare minimum. A self-paced course allows the learner to match the pacing to their needs and adapt it to periods where they move faster or slower than normal.

Some learners may be shy and not want to introduce themselves to a new social group in the form of a class, or commit themselves to regular live interactions over Zoom. In the post-pandemic world, some of us have a kind of “Zoom fatigue” where we just can’t stand having to go to another online social meeting.

In summary, your situation may be different from other people’s situations. For some, the accountability and community of live classes is helpful; for others, the flexibility and independence of self-paced courses is more suitable.

Definition of an introductory course

As in my previous post about live classes, I define an “introductory course” as a course that takes a learner from zero knowledge to roughly the end of Familia Romana, or an equivalent level expected at the end of other beginner textbook series. Introductory courses typically introduce all major grammar features.

However, a course that takes you through “all the grammar” does not and cannot teach you “all the language”: in practice, introductory langauge courses bring you up through the beginner stage and into the intermediate plateau, where language learning slows down as the vocabulary learning starts to expand into less and less frequent, but more specialised, words. The intermediate plateau is where learners find most textbooks too boring or easy, and yet most authentic texts are still too hard without support. At that intermediate point, learners need to extensively consume large amounts of material that gradually expose them to authentic language. Tiered texts such as my upcoming 30,000 word tiered reader of Aeneid 4 can be very helpful in that space.

So essentially, introductory courses do half the work: they bring you from total beginner up to the intermediate plateau, and hopefully give you the tools to continue learning and enjoying Latin more independently as an intermediate learner. But they do not promise to make you fluently read every and any piece of Latin without support at the immediate conclusion of the course.

Comparison chart of self-paced communicative Latin courses

Update Jan 28: Updated information for Satura Lanx’s Gustatio, Schola Classica’s Curso de Latim, and Molendinarius’s Latinum.

I’ve filled in the information as best as I can as of January 2023, but some details may change over time as courses are added to or pricing schemes are updated. If you are from one of these institutions and you notice an inaccuracy on the table, please contact me and I’ll update it as soon as I can.

This is a big chart that’s unlikely to display correctly on all devices if I put it straight into html, so I’ve made it as an image file and as a pdf download below:

The pdf has clickable links to the course offerings pages of each of these institutions:

Because all these self-paced courses/resource libraries are quite different from one another, I’ve written some further notes about each one.

Satura Lanx: The Gustatio Linguae Latinae course uses Familia Romana and offers video lessons on the chapters in combination with extra handouts – tiered readings of classical texts keyed to the chapters of FR. This course opens at several points in the year. Since it is not open for 2023 yet, I used the details from last September to fill out this table, including price and total instruction time, which may change slightly. I’m not sure how long the four live workshops are, so I estimated they were 1 hour long each and included them in the total instruction time. I had not included the weekly zoom conversational sessions in the total instruction time.

Latin Per Diem: This course in Familia Romana is currently being developed. As of January 2023, the first unit is published (with video lessons on chapters 1-9), while the other units are planned. The cost per instruction hour is variable because the $250 fee includes a 1-year subscription to a 1 hour weekly zoom meeting with the teacher, and each learner may end up using a different total number of 1 hour weekly zoom meetings.

StoryLearning: This course does not use Familia Romana but instead uses original content developed for StoryLearning.  The second course, Latin Uncovered (Level 2 – Pre-intermediate), has not been offered yet as of January 2023, but it is being planned. It’s fairly likely to have the same prices and course structure as the Beginner course, but we don’t know yet.

Schola Clasica: Curso de Latim uses Familia Romana, provides video lessons, and offers tutoring with a teacher, but there isn’t any obvious indication of how many hours of instruction are included. The course package also includes pdf support materials, exercise answers, and certification.

Latinitium: The Legentibus app is more like a library of resources than a linear course, but it contains Familia Romana within it, with tools to make the learning process smoother. Each text includes audio narration which highlights the sentences it is up to in the text. You can read with or without audio, pause the audio, or restart the audio from an arbitrary sentence within the text. It also includes an interlinear translation you can turn on or off, and language/grammar notes. As of January 2023, in addition to Familia Romana, Legentibus’s library contains 19 beginner stories, 15 beginner-intermediate stories, 7 intermediate-advanced texts, and 26 advanced texts.

Latinum: Molendinarius’ Latinum is a very large content library, including audio recordings of many public domain Latin textbooks. Some of these textbooks follow the Direct Method, some of them are based around English explanation of grammar rules, and some are interlinear texts with sentences alternating between Latin and English. Browsing through the library is like taking a tour through a museum of late 19th and early 20th-century language learning methods – over here you find a resource referencing the old audio-lingual method, and over there another one based on some other fascinating methodology which was either big at the time or sworn to be the next big thing but which is now utterly obscure. When you think you’ve seen all the beginner textbooks, up pops another one you’ve never heard of containing over a hundred chapters of graded content. It’s quite a large and sprawling library, but the creator does provide a flow-chart to give a suggested reading order about 75% of the way down this page (keep scrolling, it has colourful arrows). Even with that chart, compared to other courses where everything is arranged in a clear line and you can easily navigate to the next step with as much confidence as turning the pages of a book, I feel like I have spent much more time thinking about where to go, what to click on, what I’m looking at, what is this? How did I get here? with this course than with any other Latin course I’ve researched for this list. What you do with the textbooks is fairly open-ended – you could simply listen and understand, or you could do the drills and exercises, or make your own routine around the texts. This library is probably a bit overwhelming for someone who needs some simple current advice on how to go about learning a language. This is not super user-friendly for newcomers to language learning. But it is a treasure trove for an autodidact working through public domain Latin textbooks.

Also note: The cost of any required physical textbook has NOT been included in the total cost of the language course in this comparison table. For reference, Familia Romana is normally about $60.

Reviews of online self-paced courses

If you have written a review of an online Latin course (either self-paced or a live class), please let me know by commenting below or contacting me here. If your review is short, you can paste it here in the comment box below the blog post. Otherwise, you can post it anywhere (eg. reddit, or a personal blog), send me the link to your review, and I’ll link to it here.

Final remarks

You do not strictly have to purchase curated, pre-recorded video lessons to work through a Latin course such as Familia Romana. However, many people find it valuable to get the extra support from a course. Some of these courses offer opportunities to touch base with a teacher and get your questions answered as you work through the materials at your own pace. Many of these courses expand upon the core text and build in extra support in places where they know the learners need it. And some of these services contain very large libraries of content that will continue to serve you well as you move up into intermediate texts.

You could also think of buying a self-paced course as similar to buying a gym membership: putting down real money for something which you desire to commit yourself to doing may help you to stick to your commitments to the get the most value out of what you paid for.

On the other hand, some people would prefer not to pay much at all when studying independently, and that is completely up to the preferences and life circumstances of the learner. In a future blog post I’ll talk about some strategies for independently learning beginner Latin on a shoestring budget.

And what if you’ve already completed an introductory course and you’re finding yourself in the doldrums of the intermediate plateau? Textbooks are too easy for you but the really fascinating authentic works like Vergil’s Aeneid are too hard? I’m going to be publishing a 30,000 word tiered reader that will offer lots of extensive reading practice and increased exposure to authentic Latin for learners in the intermediate plateau. Check out The Lover’s Curse: a Tiered Reader of Aeneid 4 and subscribe to my email list to receive a free ebook version of the text once it is published. I look forward to reading Vergil with you through this book!

The Lover’s Curse: a Tiered Reader of Aeneid 4

Subscribe to my email newsletter to receive a free digital copy upon release! (More info)

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3 responses to “Comparison table of self-paced communicative Latin courses”

  1. Thank you SO much, Carla, for these articles about online courses! Really helpful. A few comments:

    

Satura Lanx’s Gustatio Linguae Latinae course: I finished it a few months ago. I have to say it was the best language course I’ve ever had. I wish I could hire her as a consultant to help improve the Arabic and English school I’ve run for the past 25 years! Her course is offered several times a year, not just once. The best parts of the course, for me, are the 70 videos and texts about Roman culture and the selections of Latin prose and poetry, each taught in three different versions, eventually with the students reading the original. It’s VERY motivating. The LLPSI part is excellent, but it’s the culture and original text parts that make it unique. There is also a daily chat group that’s great, and weekly zoom meetings to practice conversation. The teacher participates in the chat when needed, and we have email access to ask her anything for a full year. I am now in week 4 of her intermediate/advanced class (YPLC), which is also superb…but very challenging! Like a full-time job!! 🙂 



    Legentibus: I’ve been using it daily for over a year now. They have a great “reading plan” that takes you through the books in order. I’ve gone through all the beginning, intermediate and upper-intermediate books, and now have read five original texts by Nepos, Caesar, & Seneca. This is the most effective language-learning app I’ve ever used or seen. It teaches you to read fluently, as well as vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar, but there’s no speaking or writing, so it doesn’t take the place of a class or teacher. Still, it does what it’s meant to do brilliantly. 


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