Has Latin class left you behind? Have you the desire to catch up but no idea where to begin? Carey Smith (B.A. Classics, Georgetown University; M.A. Classics, University of Virginia) is the Latin tutor for you!
With over twenty years’ experience teaching Latin, including a fifteen-year tenure at Georgetown Preparatory School, Carey has developed a systematic and clear overview of Latin inflection (“endings”), usage, and vocabulary that will lift the fog surrounding your grasp of these fundamentals and provide you the confidence to make Latin your strongest class.
The Weakness of Current Lower Level Latin Instruction
Latin pedagogy these days, particularly in high schools, suffers from an over-dependence on textbooks whose random manner of presentation leaves most teenagers overwhelmed by the seemingly endless parade of word forms. Terms like “declension,” “conjugation,” “mood,” “person,” “voice” et al., menace students daily with their unfamiliarity and abundance like wild animals in a vast and mysterious forest.
In truth, the Latin system of endings is quite simple in comparison to other ancient languages and can be tamed by first defining the limits of the endings to be learned. Nouns and verbs are the only words with inflected forms, the former having only 8 patterns, the latter 5. Latin vocabulary too is remarkably small, though a simple system of prepositional compounds offers the illusion of magnitude. Current textbooks’ dizzying supply of case usages can be reduced to 3 or less per case and thus provide the student a perspective from which more nuanced usages can be addressed. Recognizing Latin’s simplicity before memorizing its forms and usages allows the student to convert his textbook’s wilderness into a petting zoo.
Most Latin tutors unfortunately employ the same scattered presentation of the language that they themselves suffered when learning its rudiments from current textbooks. They tend to treat topically the symptoms of the student’s overall misunderstanding by helping with the completion of assignments, whether homework or test preparation. While Carey likewise begins with the student’s current crisis, he shows precisely how the misunderstood information at hand fits within the total system of knowledge required to begin the healing process. As the new steward of your Latin development, he will fix past problems and empower you to process new material appropriately within a new and clearly delineated conception of Latin.
Are you struggling with your A.P. Virgil Latin class? Do you feel as though your Latin skills have nearly disappeared while you spend hours memorizing lines of Virgil in English and trying to see some correspondence between these lines and the Latin on the page before you? Have you come to hate the language you once enjoyed? You’re not alone. With over a decade of experience teaching A.P. Latin (Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, Horace and Catullus), Carey has engineered a system of study habits that allows students to advance their Latin skills in spite of the misdirected and unrealistic demands of the A.P. Latin curriculum. By internalizing a more simple conception of Latin grammar, students are able to recover their lost skills and use them to memorize the lines of Virgil and Caesar included on the A.P. Syllabus.
Mr. Smith was my Latin teacher in high school for my Junior and Senior years. His emphasis on memorization of the basics provided me with the tools and confidence needed to tackle more difficult texts. This in turn made translation more straightforward as I was able to focus on and appreciate the art and literature of Latin authors like Catullus, Cicero, and Virgil. Additionally, Mr. Smith's approach to Latin syntax and grammar was incredibly simple; I always found his approach easier to apply than methods taught in textbooks. In fact, a grammar guide he developed for his students was my most valued resource as a Latin major in college. Mr. Smith's guidance in Latin (and beyond) was invaluable, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have had him as a teacher.