Is Legentibus like Duolingo?


There are two main differences between Legentibus and Duolingo:

  1. Duolingo Latin is an easy-to-use app with limited learning goals designed to be the same as gaming goals. 
  2. Legentibus is a fully developed digital resource, with a growing library of the best textbooks, readers, novellas, original stories, and literature in Latin, with unlimited learning goals that lead to fluency.

Using Duolingo, you may have fun, hear and learn phrases like  Psittacus eius est ebrius (meaning: His/her parrot is drunk), which are limited to Present Tense and:

  • use vocabulary not commonly used or taught in any Latin program
  • create Latin sentences out of the context of the Latin language, history, and literature
  • lack sense

In Legentibus, you will listen to and read stories in attested language. At the easiest level, you'll hear phrases like 'O tempora! O mores!', and understand them in context. 

At the most difficult level, you will  learn to read Cicero and other authors from 2000+ years of Latin literature.

In this article:

Can Duolingo teach you Latin?

Duolingo Latin offers  two units of Latin in a gamified learning environment. Using Duolingo can be fun, but teaching yourself Latin using Duolingo has limitations.

You learn Latin when you gain  fluency in reading Latin. The goal of learning Latin is to be able to understand Latin sentences and texts. 

Apps designed to help you acquire vocabulary, phrases, sentences, pronunciation, and grammar in the appropriate context build Latin fluency.

In Duolingo, Latin lessons are based on the generic model of the lessons in modern languages. This means that Latin on Duolingo is not specifically designed for teaching Latin. The questions used for level placement and goals are generic. Same as with modern languages, Duolingo Latin promises to help you:

  • Converse with confidence
  • Build a large vocabulary, with practical words and phrases
  • Develop a learning habit

Duolingo also helps you set a daily learning goal, based on the time you spend using it.

What are "practical words and phrases" in Latin?

It's those that help you learn to understand Latin. They don't teach you everyday conversation (as in modern languages), because Latin is a dead language. This doesn't mean the language doesn't live. It means there are no native-speaking Romans alive that will, e.g. take your order of French fries in a restaurant (or sell you liquor for your parrot). 

You can learn to speak Latin, but it is a specific skill, that requires a lot of listening, reading and practice inside the context of the Latin language, and not random or obscure translations into it.

Conversation in Latin based on sentences from Duolingo, such as

Tabellarius portat, sed aedificium non construit

translated as The courier carries but does not build a building, could make a conversation odd. 

Learners practice words and phrases so that they can  read better and understand the Latin language of a specific period (e.g. classical, medieval, or neo-Latin). 

Duolingo uses Latin words to create sentences designed for gaming goals. The app uses the limited vocabulary in its database, and not authentic texts, to construct sentences and phrases you learn.

What are the features of Duolingo Latin?

1. Phrases and sentences in the Duolingo app are a combination of words available in the app's database.

Different words are recorded by different people. A variety of voices makes the app more interesting and fun. For the same reason, you may hear several voices while learning the words of one sentence, which may feel unnatural or confusing.

Not all voices in Duolingo pronounce words correctly. You may hear and learn incorrect  vowel length and accentuation of the Latin language. This may or may not matter, depending on your learning goals.

2. In Duolingo, you can set a daily learning goal to 3 min, 10 min, 15 min or 30 min a day (casual, regular, serious, intense). 

It is always more useful to learn 5, 10 or 15 minutes a day, than 3 hours on a Sunday. 

But when using an app, a daily habit can be more or less useful, depending on your goals, i.e. depending on whether you're using it to learn or to play.

3. Duolingo Latin asks you to translate words and sentences into English right from the beginning. Your answer may be marked as wrong, based on:

  • wrong usage of an English article
  • wrong understanding of an English word

This way, translations of sentences constructed for the app will depend on your knowledge of the English language. You'll learn to understand how the app translates words, and not necessarily the Latin used in it.

Time spent on translating in Duolingo is also part of the habit you create.

This way, you can create a habit of trying to understand articles in the English language or translate sentences you will not find in Latin literature. Most probably, you will never hear a contemporary Latin speaker use them, either. 

In short, Duolingo Latin is often recommended because it is fun and easy to play with, and because it makes Latin seem attainable.

If you feel you can get the meaning of any original Latin sentence after using an app, or use it, then the app can teach you some Latin.

If it doesn't, you may still enjoy it  for fun or decide on a different way to spend the time committed to learning. 

Learning Latin does take patience, effort and time, and it's reachable no matter the app you use. 

If you  are using an app, make sure you're making progress outside the app environment, i.e., while reading texts. It is the best way to determine how much you learned.

How can Legentibus teach you Latin?

The highest level of Latin fluency is reading fluency. This means being able to read and understand Latin literature. Practice doing what you want to be able to do: if you want to learn to read Latin texts, read a lot of Latin texts.

Legentibus is a part of the Latinitium platform. It is a language-learning app specifically designed to teach you Latin.

In Legentibus, you build fluency by  listening, reading, and learning right from the start.

The method is built on the fact that

only reading and listening leads to reading fluency.

In Legentibus, you will find the best textbooks and readers for learning Latin, but also original stories written in attested language. It is a growing library of Latin literature from all periods, available in the form of read-alongs and audiobooks, with additional resources.

Additional resources in the app are illustrations, different types of translations, vocabulary, notes on grammar, language, and explanations of the context necessary for understanding a specific Latin text.

Legentibus doesn't reward you with points. Instead, it offers a reading plan you can use and adjust to your goals and the time you commit to learning. You design your own library in Legentibus and change it as you make progress, with no limits to end goals.

Legentibus doesn't build a gaming habit. It uses an existing habit of using a mobile phone or tablet to create a reading habit.

It is the app used by teachers, and students of all levels, including those who want to teach themselves Latin.

You can always rely on additional expert support, by contacting us or using articles, books, and various tools available in this Help Center or on Latinitium.

If a tool doesn't help you read Latin texts, it's wasting your time.🔖

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