Introduction to Lingua Latīna per sē Illustrāta

Hans Ørberg was a Danish pioneer in teaching Latin using the natural method. Rather than first memorizing grammar rules and then applying them to practice sentences (as with Wheelock's Latin Grammar or any other common grammar-translation text), students would first read Latin sentences whose meaning could be inferred by context clues and margin notes and then the grammar rules and paradigms would be learned and memorized afterward (or along the way). 

To accomplish this goal, he wrote two books which carefully and systematically introduced all the Latin grammar and vocabulary (around 3500 words) a student would need to actually read (and not just translate) almost any classical Latin text. These two books are called Lingua Latīna per sē Illustrāta: Pars Prīma (Familia Rōmāna) and Lingua Latīna per sē Illustrāta: Pars Secunda (Rōma Aeterna).

I am aware of no other Latin text, and there are literally hundreds of Latin textbooks out there, which will allow a student to develop real fluency in the Latin language. By that I mean that Ørberg's texts alone will facilitate the acquisition of reading, writing, and speaking skills in the language. Moreover, they will enable a student to actually read, and not just translate, Latin texts. As a testimony to the efficiency and efficacy of this text series, the premier world educational institution of spoken Latin, Vivarium Novum, a school where Latin alone, and no vulgar language, is spoken, uses Ørberg's texts to instruct its students.

After the two instructional texts, multiple other readers are available to continue a student's Latin education. These include Vergil, Caesar, Lucretius, Ovid, Petronius, Cicero, and others. Just using Ørberg's texts, a student could complete a college undergraduate degree in Latin (or at least the equivalent of a minor).

All of this makes the LLPSI series (an acronym which stands for Lingua Latīna per sē Illustrāta) a tempting choice for teachers and schools around the world, including homeschoolers and other independent learners. This site is aimed primarily at those independent students. Every effort has been made here to make these texts accessible to everyone, even those with no previous Latin experience and no access to a Latin teacher. 

If you started learning Latin using another textbook, I hope that you will give Hans Ørberg's texts a try. After a lesson or two, I'm sure you'll be hooked, as I was.

The LLPSI texts are distributed worldwide, and each world region has a different publisher. In the United States, the texts were formerly distributed by Focus. Recently, Focus was acquired by Hackett Publishing Company. Right now Hackett holds the exclusive publishing rights in North America, and I recommend that all texts be purchased directly from them to ensure that you are getting the correct, most recent edition of the materials you need.

You can get everything you need by going to the following site (which will open in a new window, so you won't lose your place here):

To begin, you will need three texts:
1. The Lingua Latīna per sē Illustrāta: Pars I: Familia Rōmāna textbook. You will be using this text for many years, so buy the full-color, hardcover edition of the book.

2. The Lingua Latīna: A Companion to Familia Romana text. This contains the grammar charts (Grammatica), grammar explanations (Disco), and vocabulary you will need to study LLPSI on your own. If you have the funds, also invest in Patrick Owen's Glossarium. It contains not only the vocabulary from Familia Romana, but also from ancillary texts like the Colloquia Persōnārum which you may choose to use later in your Latin studies. It's also a lot smaller than the Companion and can be transported more easily.

3. The Lingua Latina: Pars I: Exercitia Latina text. This contains all the practice exercises which accompany the main textbook. There is a CD-ROM version of these exercises (I love the old CD-ROM), but it does not work on most modern computer operating systems and it does not keep track of your progress (no grades). There is an online version of the exercises, which are partially graded, but they don't provide immediate feedback, and the all-important margin notes and Latin-Latin answers are not included. So, I recommend the paper version of the exercises.

Of course, if you're learning independently, you'll need access to the lessons and resources provided on this site. The resources here will help you fully utilize the texts pro

The pages of this blog reflect my own personal educational philosophy and predilections. My method has developed primarily in response to need. My students needed to learn independently. Many of them were in integrated classes with multiple levels of Latin being taught at the same time. Others only met with me once per week. Some met even less frequently. They needed materials which would help them develop real linguistic fluency, but as independently as possible. So I made what they needed. And I'm sharing what I made.

I see value in both inductive (natural) and deductive (grammar-translation) teaching and learning methods. I use a hybrid approach. While LLPSI leans toward the natural method, it does not exclusively embrace that methodology. Grammatical paradigms are learned and applied in their entirety as the chapters progress. Some teachers are purists. I am not. And I don't believe that Hans Ørberg was, either. I personally chose to front-load a lot of grammatical material, having found greater success when students have the big grammatical picture in mind before they get to the grammar lessons.

You may choose to follow my learning schedule (on the next tab), or you may pick and choose the resources you find most helpful. I'm sharing what works for me and my students. I hope that some of it will work for you.

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