I regularly am asked how we make our Latin flash cards. There are a lot of ways, and as always, what works for my child might not work for yours. But I wanted to show you how we make them in our house.
When making Latin flash cards, remember that these get used for more than just memorization and testing of vocabulary. Your child will also use them for completing their homework, and as a reference tool for many years to come. So including as much information as possible on your card will be very helpful.
For our purposes, let’s talk about Latin nouns. Latin nouns get ‘declined’ or conjugated based on the part of speech they represent, and what declension they belong to. For example, let’s look at the Latin word for ‘sailor,’ nauta / nautae.
The word can be represented 5 ways
As the subject of a sentence – the sailor
Possessively – the sailor’s ______
As an indirect object – for the sailor
As the direct object – the sailor
As the object of a preposition – by the sailor
In Latin, these are called ‘Cases’
The Subject is called ‘Nominative’
Possessive is called ‘Genitive’
The Indirect Object is called ‘Dative’
The Direct Object is called ‘Accusative’
The Object of the Preposition is call “Ablative”
You and your child will learn this right away when you study Latin. The important thing to know when making flash cards is that the ending of the word will change depending on how the word is used in the sentence. There are 5 cases (shown above) and there are also 5 separate declensions. Declensions divide all the nouns of the entire language into 5 groups. Each of these declensions can be represented as singular or plural words. Further, each word can be classified by gender – either masculine, feminine, or neutral.
You will write the Latin noun 2 ways on your card: in the singular nominative and singular genitive case.
Here’s an example of the front and back of a Latin flash card
Here’s a labeled version, which explains what all of these words mean.
As you can see, on the front of the card, we write the nominative case, then the genitive case of the Latin word. When possible, we use the singular form, but some nouns can only be represented in a plural form, such as the noun thanks. (While you can say, ‘thank,’ it then becomes a verb.) You and your child will quickly see that you can glean a wealth of knowledge just from seeing the endings ‘a’ and ‘ae’ on the end of ‘naut.’
On the reverse, you will have:
English Translation – In this case, sailor.
Declension – The word nauta is a 1st declension word. It will not be found in any other declension, and marking it on your card will make it easy to quiz your student to see if they can recognize what declension this word belongs in.
English Derivative/s – Words that are similar in English that stem directly from the Latin word. Nauta can be easily associated with nautical, and can help a student work through translating a word.
Lesson # – This can be the lesson number in the text book, for easy reference to the rules that govern the word.
Gender – This could be masculine, feminine or neuter.
You may also choose to include other information on your card. For example, some words, like in English, don’t follow the rules – there are exceptions in Latin, as well! We often mark these exceptions on our cards.
It’s worth noting that some people will choose to put some of this information on the front of the card, namely the declension and lesson number. Because I find that studying with the flash cards is best done by showing my daughter the front of the card, I am a fan of placing all the other info on the reverse, and testing her ability to tell me as much as she can about the word. The choice is up to you!
Latin feels overwhelming when you first begin to study it. Do not be afraid! While this looks very confusing to a newbie, it will soon make much more sense!
Here’s a great link to a very clear noun ending declension chart. Verbs are also included at end!
While the chart refers to curriculum I do not use, I love the clarity of these charts for new Latin learners.
Comments or questions about making Latin flash cards? Let me know!