Latin is the foundation of most of our languages. It simplifies French and Spanish, while causing English etymology to suddenly make sense. It's the language the Church used for millenia. It's not reserved merely for Augustine and Tertullian, but John Owen and John Calvin wrote in Latin.
The only problem with learning Latin is mining through our embarrassment of riches. We're no longer stuck with poorly written textbooks with endless declensions and conjugations. There's been an significant resurgence of Latin in the 21st century resulting in nearly endless freely available Latin training videos and Latin translation of books like Cat in the Hat, Winnie the Pooh, and To Kill A Mockingbird.
One tip I'd give anyone studying Latin, or any other second language, is to avoid spending too much of your energy on grammar right away. The detective mindest is not helpful. Seek to read and write -- don't seek immediate perfection. Proper grammar only exists in textbooks and style guides1. In reality, it's all about communication and it doesn't need to be perfect. Aiming for flawless alignment with a textbook is the quickest way to frustration. If you're holding yourself to the standard of your grammar textbook, you're in for a hard time. Read and write continuously and prove as you go.
A New Latin Primer and Cornelia (Mima Maxey, 1885)
As mentioned, the biggest mistake in language studies was too much grammar too early. Your need a reader right away. This is my favorite reader. It's from 1885 and it starts simple and gradually increases complexity. It's public domain, but you can buy a hard copy. There's a second book, Cornelia , by the same author, which is also public domain.
- archive.org - A New Latin Primer
- Amazon - A New Latin Primer
- archive.org - Cornelia
- Amazon - Cornelia
You aren't going to learn a language with Duolingo, but you do need constant interaction with language to gain skills (which is true of anything). Duolingo Latin is fairly basic, but the constant repetition is helpful.
38 Latin Stories
This is my second favorite reader; it's supposed to accompany Wheelock's grammar, but there's not any actual link between the two works.
Magistrula Latin Games and Activities
You should add this to your arsenal. You need as much interaction as you can get.
You'll want to watch all the grammar (e.g. non Roman-culture) videos... on loop. Seriously. Download and put on your mobile devices. Watch, rewatch. Write notes, re-write notes. Even if you think you know a topic, watch them. He gives great tips. A massive lightbulb turned on for me when he said "English loves its subordinate clauses, but Latin loves its participles." All the sudden I understood participles... in Greek.
Latin: An Intensive Course (Moreland)
Excellent book. Chapter 1 starts far too abrupt, but after that's is great. TIP: Read the entire book first. Learning chapter-by-chapter is weird. No component of a language works in a vacuum. All parts work in the context of the whole of the grammar. Know the context.
Basics of Latin: A Grammar with Readings and Exercises from the Christian Tradition (Derek Cooper)
Not really recommending, just mentioning it. I'm still reviewing it. So far it's getting a B-. Some of the grammatical notes are unhelpful, but the Latin examples are interesting. Just like Basics of Biblical Hebrew, the book is far taller than it needs to be. It's too large to carry anywhere. Right now, the Kindle version (which has no economic constraints) is a higher price than the printed one. It's ridiculous.
A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin (Collins)
This acts as your connection to the theological world. After flying through the Intensive Latin book, this may be your primary text. The reader is key.
Wheelock's Latin: An Introductory Course Based on Ancient Authors, 3rd edition, 1963 (Frederic Wheelock)
Compared to the newer editions (6th, 7th, etc), this is smaller in size, simpler, and gets to the point with BOTH an answer key and an awesome reader. It also seems to be better organized. The paper is also nicer and the font is easier to read. The 6th and 7th are fine, but they read more like schematics that a book. The only thing I find helpful in those are the Roman culture sidebars.
Latin Grammar (Robert Henle)
Excellent quick overview with great examples. I personally found the sections on sequence of tenses and indirect discourse to be helpful; the diagrams of sequence of tenses they give are helpful.
Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar
For more advanced concepts. Don't get lost in the details, though. They really do come later. But, sometimes advanced clarification causes the more intro-level lightbulbs to turn on.
Winnie Ille Pu
Advanced book. Buy it to scare yourself with its difficulty... and a laugh.
Grammar Guides (make your own!)
You'll want to make your own grammar guides. Here's mine. If you don't understand it, good. It's for me. You learn by making them, not by staring at them. Watching a workout video doesn't make you lose weight. Get involved. Hand write everything where possible.Get your muscle memory to do some of the work. I like to write out my verb encodings on napkins regularly.