Did educated people in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance use Latin routinely (Medieval Latin and Neo-Latin), rather than a regional vernacular, to conduct real-life conversations about ordinary, everyday matters? Were they taught how to do this in the schools of the day with the help of specimen written dialogues (colloquia)? Did their teachers use a Renaissance equivalent of the ‘direct method’, and did they teach Latin in the way that modern foreign languages are taught today? Or was spoken Latin, with a simulacrum of practical relevance to everyday life, a way of ‘bringing the subject to life’, an enjoyable diversion from the standard pedagogical fare (the ‘grammar grind’)? These are the questions that this article addresses. I argue that Latin was not generally used for everyday conversations, and that students were not taught how to conduct them outside the classroom any more than they are today, though spoken Latin was used as a medium for teaching and learning Latin, as it is to some extent today. Since Latin was not the first language of any native speaker, and since it was learned as a language primarily for reading and writing, comparisons with the teaching of modern foreign languages are specious. I also argue that spoken Latin today, as a pedagogical tool, is best kept out of the classroom and used, if it must be used, as a hobby or a pastime. It has limited usefulness as a means of learning Latin to a meaningful level (a level at which the learner can engage with original Latin texts). And the kind of Latin that is spoken in the classroom, an attempt to render a spoken form of Classical Latin, however ‘correct’ it may be grammatically and phonologically (and the grammar and phonology even of Classical Latin changed over time), is most unlikely to have been spoken routinely in the same kind of informal situations by an educated (one who is adept in Classical Latin) native speaker of Latin. In fact, the more ‘correct’ it is, the less likely it is to resemble authentic everyday spoken Latin, even of the educated elite that learned Classical Latin. This is even more the case after Classical Latin came increasingly to be different from the contemporary Latin that anyone spoke, and had increasingly to be learned from grammar books as if it were a second language. What Quintilian says of written Latin may be said of educated spoken Latin too: aliud est Latine, aliud grammatice scribere.