About this blogger:
Veronica Brandt holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering. As editor, she has produced fine publications (as well as valuable reprints) dealing with Gregorian chant, hymnody, Latin, and other subjects. These publications are distinguished on account of their tastefulness. She lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her husband Peter and six children.
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"This was first breach in the walls of a fortress, centuries old, stoutly built, strong and robust, but no longer capable of responding to the spiritual needs of the age." [N.B. the "fortress" is a liturgy which nourished countless great saints.]
— Annibale Bugnini (19 March 1966)

Learning Latin in the new millennium
published 30 August 2014 by Veronica Brandt

Ave Maria cards HAT BETTER WAY TO SPEND A Saturday than by preparing lessons for next week. There is a common misunderstanding that teachers have short working days and lots of holidays, but any teacher will tell you that the preparations make up for that completely.

They are right.

I have posted before about my attempts teaching a little Latin to children in order to understand the prayers we sing in choir. We have made flashcards, had class quizzes, played bingo, made crossword puzzles, all to try to reach that point where I can ask a child “What does Sanctus mean” to hear the reply “Holy”.

Memrise That wonderful goal – Psallite sapienter – praying with understanding. To see young children catch a glimpse of the amazing reality of prayer, that is the aim.

These two photos show two very different approaches. One shows old fashioned cards with my own handwritten Latin illustrated with pictures cut from old calendars and magazines. This was surprisingly effective, with the younger class insisting on laying them all out in order, checking what each one meant.

The other photo shows a screenshot from a online course on memrise which is much the same sort of thing, except in a shiny webpage.

Memrise uses spaced repetition to make sure each new piece of information soaks into your brain. It sends out reminders by email to return and reinforce vocabulary little by little, bit by bit. It has the patience of a mindless computer, enhanced by ultra-cute design and social features to help keep you engaged.

I put together the course on the Salve Regina fairly quickly over the space of a few hours. It was very easy to add terms and then record audio for each one. One of my sons was curious so I set him up to try it out. He wasn’t very enthusiastic – it seems there is a certain demographic that requires explosions and fast cars to really pull them in, but even he completed the given session. It is made to be very easy to take.

So, there you go. Two ideas for learning the Latin of prayers. Neither is very exhausting or exhaustive. They simply show how one word corresponds to another in meaning. They won’t turn out Latin scholars, but maybe this is the sort of ground work that makes later studies a little easier.

And maybe help someone answer the perennial question “What does Sanctus mean?”