Those who take a vocabulary-based approach or a self-tutorial program will have success for the first couple of months until a lack of motivation and feedback begin to bring progress to a standstill. Chat-room style tutorials may provide some structure and a few graded assignments plus a chance to ask an instructor questions. This will work until the languages get a bit harder. Students will lose their way when they don’t know which questions to ask.

Whatever approach you choose, keep in mind several things. Students must remember the details of these languages and be tested on them. If learners aren’t asked to memorize vocabulary, endings, principal parts, and grammar, find a new method or a new instructor. Students must practice translation weekly if not daily. They must have feedback, ask questions, and have help when questions don’t come easily. Students must be held accountable to maintain a pace that pushes them to read undiluted Latin or Greek in two years or fewer. Too slow a pace can kill enthusiasm and make everyone crazy.

Learning Latin or Greek will not be easy. Students accustomed to hard work will do well. But if you have a student accustomed to things coming easy, he may be surprised by a need to study and prepare. This is the perfect chance to help him persevere in times of difficulty so that you can celebrate times of success with even greater enthusiasm.

Amy Barr is a homeschool mom with an M.A. in Latin. As an archaeologist, she spent a decade excavating in the Mediterranean. Amy is co-founder of The Lukeion Project, providing expert instruction in Classics through live, online classes. She also co-leads tours to the Mediterranean. In 2010, 91% of Lukeion Latin students earned honors on the National Latin Exam as did 82% on the Greek Exam.

Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in Winter 2010-11 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at  or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Publication date: February 1, 2013