Latin Explained

Welcome to Latin Explained

Welcome to the website of Latin Explained, the comprehensive course in ecclesiastical Latin designed for adults by Peter Day-Milne.

For all enquiries please write to enquiries@latinexplained.com

My Programme: A Thorough Education

My teaching programme consists of six modules. Each module runs for eight weeks, with two hour-long online classes per week. The programme is designed to take intelligent adult learners from zero knowledge of Latin to a good general competence in the grammar of the language, whilst giving them a core vocabulary of fundamental and ecclesiastical words. The pace of instruction is brisk but not frenetic.

All instruction is delivered live, and is designed to be self-contained—homework is available for those that request it, but is entirely optional. My classes are highly interactive, and include plenty of time for translation exercises, both from Latin into English and English into Latin, and for the reading of original texts.

My Approach: The Best of the Old and the New

In my teaching, I aim to combine traditional rigour with a ‘grown up’ approach that takes account of modern insights about education. I get students speaking and writing Latin early, but I do not ask them to guess at things that I haven’t properly explained. I teach the grammatical ‘rules’ but I try not to let them seem arbitrary; instead, I try to show why the rules are as they are, and to explain the higher-level patterns that help intelligent adult learners to cut out some of the tedium of traditional Latin learning.

My complete six-module course is designed to familiarize students with a core vocabulary of around 1,000 words: this includes many fundamental basic words, and also a selection of words that are common in liturgical, theological, and other ecclesiastical texts.

Modules and Syllabus

The complete syllabus may be downloaded here.

Module 1: Fundamentals of Latin. In this module, students learn the core grammatical features of Latin, whilst tackling basic English-Latin and Latin-English practice sentences. The module aims to help students to start to enjoy reading Latin with accuracy, and to gain a satisfying understanding of the deeper grammatical patterns that are typically ignored in the dry ‘amo amas amat’ of school-type rote learning.

Module 2: Further Basics of Latin. In this module students learn fundamental constructions including basic if-clauses, questions, the forms and use of the passive voice and deponent verbs, the forms and use of the present and past participles; and they take a closer look at the function of the subjunctive. Alongside this work, students begin to read some short passages from the Vulgate and other ecclesiastical sources.

Module 3: The Vulgate (Intermediate Latin 1). In this module students learn some further fundamental constructions, including final (purpose) and consecutive (result) clauses, adverbs, comparatives, superlatives and counterfactuals. Students also read from the Gospels in the Vulgate, most of the grammar of which should make sense by the end of the module.

Module 4: The Mass (Intermediate Latin 2). In this module students learn about some of the more difficult features of the Latin that one will encounter every day in liturgical texts: clauses of time (including cum- and dum- clauses), indirect and deliberative questions, basic causal clauses, and infinitive object clauses. Time permitting, students also begin to study the gerund and gerundive. Meanwhile, students begin to tackle the propers of the Mass—usually, we focus on those of forthcoming Sundays and holydays.

Module 5: The Divine Office (Advanced Latin 1). In this module students study indirect speech about the future, clauses of fear and prevention, impersonal passives, infinitive subject clauses, and correlative constructions, whilst completing their study of the gerund and gerundive. Students also begin to tackle some of the homilies from Mattins in the traditional Roman Breviary.

Module 6: The Fathers (Advanced Latin 2). In this module students study some of the more difficult and subtle points of grammar that one will regularly encounter when reading a Latin Father or scholastic writer, namely: the supine, characteristic relative clauses, quod and quia clauses with verbs of emotion and analogous verbs, the future imperative, and some advanced principles for indirect speech, including the subjunctive of virtual indirect speech. Meanwhile, students undertake some continuous reading of passages from St Augustine and St Anselm (chosen authors may vary).

Teaching Materials

In a lieu of a whiteboard, I provide students with worksheets that give a summary of the grammatical points taught in each lesson, plus exercises. Students also receive a spreadsheet with the wordlist for the entire course, broken down by the worksheet in which each word is introduced. Lastly, a cumulative grammatical reference-booklet is distributed at the end of each lesson.

The first worksheet of module 1 may be downloaded here.

About Me

I read Classics at Trinity College, Oxford, took an M.Litt. in Philosophy at the University of St Andrews (where my dissertation was the top-scoring in my cohort of 33), and then undertook some further study at Peterhouse, Cambridge. I have been teaching Latin for the LMS since 2022. In recent years I have also written essays and articles for various publications including The European Conservative and Adoremus, and I was a contributor to A Defence of Monarchy: Catholics under a Protestant King, the recently-published essay collection edited for Angelico Press by the LMS' President Dr Joseph Shaw.

Since August I have have taught thirteen modules of this online course or early versions of it, plus the Latin Mass Society residential summer school last year, and a continuation reading class for his students from that. This gives me a total of 189 hours’ experience of teaching Latin (as of 25th March 2024).

Pricing and Scholarships

My eight-week modules can be purchased individually; each costs £260, or £240 for members of the Latin Mass Society (i.e. £15 for each one-hour class). Payment is accepted in GBP, EUR, USD, CAD, AUD, and NZD.

The Latin Mass Society provides generous bursaries for clergy, religious and seminaries based in, or hailing from, England and Wales. The bursary rate is approximately the same pro-rata as that for the former 12-week courses jointly offered by me and Matthew Spencer.

Testimonials

My sincere thanks for your excellent teaching these last few weeks. Please God we may cross paths on a future module. (A priest, Dec 2023).

The course was demanding, but the teaching has been excellent throughout, and I am amazed at how far I have come and how much I have learnt. Thank you for all that you have done. (A priest, Nov 2023).

And thank you again for your enlightening and energetic teaching last week... I spoke to [the LMS President] to make sure he understood how we valued your course, and I told him there was real appetite to have your tuition again. (Aug 2023, a retired manager, for the LMS residential course).

I’m very glad to have made your acquaintance this week, and to have benefited from your teaching and company. The course worked out well for me: a review of some things I already knew, albeit with a more penetrating clarity than formerly, and new material on the passive, subjunctive, and a variety of Latin constructions. (Aug 2023, a seminarian, for the LMS residential course).

I really enjoyed our sessions and would be delighted to work with you again in the future. I will certainly feed back very positive comments. (Aug 2023, a lawyer, for the LMS residential course).

He is very knowledgeable, is confident and has a good grasp of both subject and teaching method. I found the course challenging, informative, well structured and delivered in a mature and adult fashion. Peter was always willing to respond to my questions and offered help and support when needed (a retired Anglican clergyman, spring 2023).

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude as you have made this Latin course very enjoyable and have excited me to take it much for serious then I first anticipated. You have been a very good teacher who was able to explain the abstract concepts of Latin in an easy way. I wish I had teachers like you when I was a child. (a Czech/German businesswoman, spring 2023).

Very good introductory course with helpful worksheets and patient explanations from our teacher. (a Spanish priest and canon lawyer, early 2023).

Speaking for myself, I have never had a language teacher who was so thoughtful in method and approach. (an associate professor at a Japanese university, late 2022).

I enjoyed the Latin class with Peter, and it did help me review much of what I was supposed to learn decades ago… I am grateful that this sort of class is being offered to promote the traditional Liturgy through learning the traditional language. (an American priest, late 2022).