The first golden key is the attitude of the learner. Ask yourself the following questions:
– Do you want to learn the language?
– Do you like the language you are trying to learn?
– Do you believe you can achieve fluency in the language?
– Are you happy just to communicate, without worrying about pronunciation or correct grammar?
– Are you prepared to congratulate yourself for whatever you are able to achieve in the language?
– Are you determined to succeed?
If the answer to these questions is yes then you are ready to succeed, and ready to move to the next golden key.
On the first day of Latin class Fr. Foster began with an ominous warning: Be careful, friend. Because if you’re not careful you’re going to fall in love with this language, and then you’ll spend the rest of your life with your nose in a dictionary. The two great motivators for language learners are love and necessity, and the best of all situations is when the two are combined: The student not only is compelled to study the language, but loves it, its sound, its feel, how it puts things, how it provides a passport to communicate with great portions of the world and history.
Latin will rarely be needed for survival. An old priest mentor of mine told the story of a trip to a foreign country, I forget which, in his younger days, when he knocked at the door of an unknown rectory seeking a place to spend the night. Not knowing the local language, he thought it sensible to greet the pastor, and to make his request, in Latin, it being the Church’s official language, and the implosion of Latin still being in the distant future. Little did he know that the cleric who answered the door was British. Greeting and request having been made, the Brit turned to his fellows and stated: “There is an American priest at the door who wants to stay here for the night, and he only speaks Latin.”
Latin may not be necessary for travel but it is necessary in the Church, primarily for the scholarly study of theology, for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, and for preservation of an identifiable Catholic culture, without which the present condition of Ecclesial Amnesia will become terminal. Language binds a people together more than food, clothing and other cultural customs. We have been in danger of losing Latin, like a ship run aground on a shoal, the pumps barely keeping up with the influx of water. The questions quoted from The Linguist above are really important to think about. Do you want this? Are you willing to relax and enjoy it? Will you stick with it? Will you celebrate your accomplishments? You can’t make the whole Church learn Latin, but you can learn it.
Latin is a deeply beautiful language and is amanda, to be loved, for its beauty and for the way it enables us to communicate with the past and with the future. Enthusiasm is often contagious and for that reason, to learn Latin, it behooves us to seek like-minded companions. Anyone can learn Latin. Are you determined to succeed?
I humbly submit that the great Fr. Foster’s advice may be enhanced at least in this: These days, the nose-in-dictionary method may be supplemented by the numerous technological aids available, such as Perseus, Whitaker, Memrise and LingQ.