Hans Henning Ørberg (April 21, 1920 – February 17, 2010) was born in Denmark and received a master's degree in English, French and Latin at the University of Copenhagen. He dedicated a great part of his life (1946 to 1952 and 1961 to 1989) to the teaching of these languages in schools in Denmark; 1963-1989 at Grenaa Gymnasium.
From 1953 to 1961 he worked in the Naturmetodens Sproginstitut, an institute where the languages are taught according to the "natural method" of learning. While there he created a new course in Latin: Lingua Latina secundum naturae rationem explicata published in 1955. In 1990 he modernized the system and changed the title to Lingua Latina per se illustrata, which was published with small adjustments. In his retirement, he directed the Domus Latina publishing house and gave lectures in Europe and the United States on the natural method.
Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata
Ørberg's Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata is based on the method of contextual induction. This approach is neither the so-called "natural" nor the "grammar translation" method. In this method the student, who requires no previous knowledge of Latin, begins with simple sentences, such as "Rōma in Italiā est" (Rome is in Italy). Words are always introduced in a context which reveals the meaning behind them. Grammar is gradually made more complex, until the student is reading unadapted Latin texts. Unusual for a Latin course, pronunciation and understanding, rather than translation, are stressed. A dictionary is not necessary in this system. Because the textbooks are composed entirely in Latin, they can be used by speakers of any language. The course consists of two parts: Familia Romana and Roma Aeterna along with a series of classic texts like Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico, (Commentary on the Gallic Wars). By means of illustrations and modifications, these texts can be understood through context and by reference to words already learned.
Chapters consist of an illustrated and annotated reading, followed by a concise and formal discussion of the grammar used in the chapter as well as several Pensa, or exercises, that require the student to apply these grammatical concepts to selections from the chapter's reading. These exercises ask the student to manipulate the grammar of Latin sentences rather than to translate. Even the grammar discussions are entirely in Latin, grammatical terminology being introduced as necessary.
- Miraglia, Luigi & Brown, C.G., editors, Latine Doceo: A Companion for Instructors, p. 4
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