In terms of learning latin, what approach would you take? Would it be easier to translate because you can't exactly do it word for word in comparison?
Well, Latin is a lovely language, but it's a bit full of endings in Nouns, Adjectives, and the worst offender, the verbs. Translating it word for word won't work if you don't have any idea how the endings go. However, you can try a few different things. I know of a few websites where you can practice noun declensions. The adjectives, although scary with their 36 possible noun endings, actually resemble the nouns in which their declension is named, (thus 1st and 2nd declension adjectives, have endings for the 1st declension feminine nouns, and the 2nd declension masculine and neuter nouns). Now, with that you can begin to grasp the meanings of basic texts, but you still need a working knowledge of the verbal system, with it's 4 conjugations, as well as a few irregular ones under your belt. There are websites that will also help you practice this.
Now if you prefer the slower ways where you build up vocabulary and grammar, I always prefer a book series called Ecce Romani. It teaches you Latin through short stories and glossing, helping you to pick up new grammatical features after each section. If you prefer sticking with the grammar, and working up to lots of vocabulary, then try a book called Learn Latin, by Peter Jones. This way starts out teaching the present tense verb endings, and slowly introduces conjugations and declensions.
If you were to teach yourself through translating, I'd recommend then that you pick up a grammar cheat sheet, such as Spark Notes or such. These can give you a quick guide if you need to look something up in a pinch. There are also some online sources that can help with the endings of verbs and nouns.
Here are some sources that can help you:
- Declension aid:
- Conjugation Practice:
- Grammar Aid and/or Dictionaries: