Goldlisting Grammar

I spoke in yesterday’s post about the spoken grammar practice as a means of absorbing the basic features of grammar. This has a number of positives, among it a compulsion to produce the language off the cuff. But as a method I recommend against applying it before you have some familiarity with the language under your belt (I suggested at least two months of reading and listening before turning to spoken grammar).

The second method of learning grammar, the method I’m going to talk about today, is what I called ‘goldlisting grammar.’ As you may have guessed, this approach to grammar uses the Goldlist method - I’ve talked about that here, though, so I won’t go into detail on what that is. But if you’re not familiar with it, I recommend reading that blog post first, then come back here.

So, goldlisting grammar is really quite simple:

First, get a book with good number of basic - preferably natural - sentences, with the translation. You can use the same books I mentioned in my post on spoken grammar - Gwynne, Wheelock’s, Bradley’s Arnold, anything at all, so long as it has a good number of basic (i.e. fundamental or common) sentences that aren’t too long (at least in the beginning). Unlike the spoken grammar method, however, there’s no need for these sentences to be exercises - you can use the example sentences from a grammar book such as Kennedy’s, or you can just take a book in Latin (preferably something not too complex) and use the sentences in that.

Second, you simply go through the book using the Goldlist method for each sentence or phrase (depending on length). It’s as if you’re reading the book, but reading it via the Goldlist method. Once again, there’s no need to look at the grammar explanation (if you’re using a grammar book). Remember that grammar comes from language, not the other way around - it’s all well and good to know the grammar rules explicitly, but they’re best left for later!

This approach works because the Goldlist method stores those sentences (or phrases if the sentences are too long) in your long-term memory, which means the sentence patterns become second nature, almost paradigmatic in your relationship with the language - which is, after all, exactly how you learnt your native tongue.

One advantage of this approach to grammar is that it can be used in conjunction with any other approach - you can use it at the same time as spoken grammar, yes, but more interestingly it can be used from day one, meaning you start work on absorbing the sentence patterns quite early, which will supplement your reading.

Some recommended resources for goldlisting grammar:

  • Latin Can Be Fun by George Capellanus (translated by Peter Needham)

  • The Complete Latin Course by G. D. A. Sharpley

  • Writing Latin by James Morwood & Richard Ashdowne (key to exercises sold separately)

  • Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, by J. K. Rowling (translated by Peter Needham), useful because it’s got a lot of conversational Latin.

  • Ritchie’s Fabulae Faciles (I’ll be releasing a ‘decoded’ version of this which is great for goldlisting in the next few weeks)

  • Wilby’s Guide to Latin Conversation, available here as a free resource.

As always, make this material your own, feel free to use what interests you and to ignore what doesn’t! Hope this helps!

Alexander Westenberg