[B-Greek] re: How do we learn language?
R Yochanan Bitan Buth
ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
Tue Feb 15 16:34:18 EST 2005
1. Knowing a little Latin and some high-school French was a great help
a third Romance language.
2. As the "rules for proficiency" state, being able to communicate
in a connected fashion is key. Writing and reading are important, but
so important for my work.
3. IT IS NOT TRUE that one picks up a second language by using it.
of mine have come to Latin America with the philosophy that "we'll
Spanish just like we learned English as children" -- it doesn't work,
although obviously, conversation is very key as well. Some believe
language acquisition switches to the other side of the brain past a
age (puberty or younger?). In fact, I would divide language
into three groups: 1. first language as an infant; 2. dead language,
reading and sometimes writing are the main activities; 3. second
where verbal skills predominate.
4. Probably the greatest bungee-jump of the classroom for me is
aloud and spontaneously, directly from Greek to Spanish without
English. When we go around the room to translate, I do my verse along
the group - I would in an American classroom too, but I believe this
my people feel that it's as challenging for me to translate as it is
them, for different reasons. It helps the level of mutual empathy.
It's great to be back. Hi, neighbor, Ron Ross! Gary Shogren
ASPAZW SE EN TW EPISTREPSAI ENQADE
KAI ANAGNOUS TO SOU ERWTHMA EXARHN
Now that you have gone thru a Spanish barrier you will be ready to
appreciate several questions regarding language learning. An
interesting question arises: how do you feel when reading a Spanish
essay or historical treatise, versus: how you feel when reading, e.g.,
2 Maccabees or Josephus?
If they are at significantly different levels, how would you go about
bringing the one up to the other? (This question is not meant
personally but generically as a measure of what anyone would do or
what we are all trying to do.)
Seeing your notes above, you might be interested in reading James
Asher, Learning a Language thru Actions. It is light reading but based
on widespread research. He would argue that both sides of the brain
are envolved in child learning and supposed to be envolved in adult
language learning. I'd recommend it for any who raise your question.
As for "picking up a language" that might depend on the language
environment. Most major cities in the world have large communities of
expats who don't know the local language, and will probably never
learn it, perhaps because they are not using it in an immersion
setting, not hearing it in meaningful play, not hearing it in
meaningful contexts in their home, and/or are not in a context that
would encourage its use in novice levels.
Randall Buth, PhD
Director, Biblical Language Center
and Director, Biblical Studies in Israel
Hebrew University, Rothberg International School
ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
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