Latin. Cogito ergo sum. Carpe Diem. Semper Fidelis.

You may know a couple of these phrases and be able to trot them out at an appropriate moment. But for the most part, Latin seems a little, well, irrelevant.

If you’re learning a Romance language though (Spanish, French, etc), Latin is not irrelevant. It is the basis of these languages. Many words in the English language are also based on Latin. So a little understanding of it may be of use. If you’re not learning these languages but are interested in history, law, classics and a number of other areas, Latin can also be helpful.

This short course from the National Archives is a beginners guide to Latin used in documents from 1086 to 1733, when Latin was the official language of documents written in England. No previous knowledge is required and interestingly, you can learn from historical documents such as the Domesday Book. So in the process of picking up some Latin, you will also learn some history. It’s only 12 tutorials long, so why not give it a go?