Tip 2: The Memory Challenge

A276 – Learning Latin – Targeting Grammar – Tip 2




The Memory Challenge

TMAs are easier than the exam will be. That’s because you can ‘look up’ what you need to answer TMA questions. But you have to ‘know’ it all for the exam. Obviously ‘knowing’ really means ‘remembering’ which means ‘looking up’ in your head which means ‘memorising’.

Memorising the basic meaning of words is all to do with their stems. That’s all vocabulary and we tackled that last term (keep it going!).

Tackling the extended meaning of words is all to do with their endings. That’s all grammar. And it’s more than doubly demanding because you have to memorise not only the endless (!) endings themselves but also what they mean and then, too, the technical terminology that goes with them.

e.g. when you memorise the ending ‘-arum’ you also have to memorise:

· that it means ‘belonging to’ or ‘part of’ more than one of something

· that it’s translated ‘of…’

· that it belongs to the first declension of nouns; its gender is (most likely but not definitely) feminine; its number is plural; and its case is genitive.

That’s a lot! And it can be really disheartening to think that you’ll never get to grips with it all. In fact you might be surprised (or shocked) if I say that you’re not really very likely to anyway; very few people could (unless they have a photographic memory); you’re following such an intensive short course.

The trick is to break grammar down and chip away at it relentlessly. Every little bit of effort you put in will make a difference. You can, by the time the exam comes, indeed do exceptionally well. But you have to be determined to hammer away at it. Don’t let it make you feel overwhelmed. Don’t shy away from it. Don’t give in. Don’t lose ground. Keep at it. Keep it up! 😉

So – terminology first. You’re on familiar ground here because this works like vocabulary. Just as you can learn the stem of a word and its basic meaning you can learn a grammatical technical term and its definition. These are all set out in the Glossary at the end of the Language Reference Book (119-132). There are about 150 of them including the literary terms which, are in any case, useful to know for the exam as well). Some are quite a bit more involved than others. Some of the terms are interrelated; so you won’t necessarily understand one fully without the other(s). You need to be patient and take time to build it all up.

That means, just like vocabulary, spending a minute or two a day, a few times a day, to tackle a handful of these definitions, working your way through them, in any order, including reviewing what you (think!) you already know, repeating what you’re not so sure of, hammering away again and again at the stickiest ones, and going back over everything once in a while to check nothing’s slipped.

Exactly how many to tackle at a time, how long to spend on them, and how often to go back over them will depend entirely on how you feel your own brain is wired up for this sort of learning. You already have a term’s worth of experiencing a very similar learning process for vocabulary. Draw on that to guide you with your grammar definitions. Good luck!

Steven Havelin (21.01.18)