[B-Greek] RE: How do we learn language? 2
R Yochanan Bitan Buth
ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
Thu Feb 17 06:23:42 EST 2005
>At 03:34 PM 2/15/2005, you wrote:
>>(buth) XAIRE GARY,
>>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?
>(Shogren)Well, good question. ... If I'm reading an essay or treatise
in Spanish, usually I can plow through and "feel" the language better.
Okay, now that you've forced me think of this, Randall, I think I can
put my finger on something. When I read in Spanish, I "hear" it. I can
hear my own inner voice or the voice of someone I know or a typical
voice saying it, giving it expression. I "feel" the jokes, I can sense
better when there's a sense irony or confusion. With Greek, the inner
voice is not silent, but it just sounds out the words, it doesn't
sound like someone talking.
Hopefully, you would feel that this is a desirable goal. It would seem
reasonable to me for a teacher of the literature.
>>(buth) If they are at significantly different levels, how would you
go about bringing the one up to the other? ...
>(Shogren) There's the trick, isn't it? When I hear recordings of
koine Greek, it always sounds like someone sounding out the words, not
conversing or declaiming or anything.
You might want to listen to the sample Greek recording at
www.biblicalulpan.org under "courses" "Greek materials", it is first
John, which will allow you to compare with other recordings on the
>>(buth)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 dont 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.
>(shogren)I agree that all of those are highly useful - but don't make
up for having an adult brain (!).
I'm not sure which way to take the 'adult brain' comment, as
'hindering' or as 'enhancing'. You learned Spanish as an adult. KALWS
EPOIHSAS. (podemos communicar en espanol pero no aqui) Some second
language research studies have shown that adults can learn faster than
children in optimum environments, but also predict the retention of an
accent and some degrees of language interference. On the other hand,
second language research does not support that 'grammar-translation'
(a favorite school methodology--see the Asher book for some discussion
on why) will be successful for either adults or children. Fortunately,
the question of 'dead languages' is theoretically irrelevant to
language learning. PARADIGMATOS XARIN, studying Russian in a US
classroom is just as artificial//dead as ancient Greek: the only
persons in the environment that know//use the code is the teacher(s).
The question becomes, is it possible to become fluent in Russian in a
non-Russian society? (Let's assume 'Yes'.) What methodologies would
succeed at that? Then, armed with answers that work, we would then
proceed to POREUETE KAI POIEITE OMOIWS. At some point Greek would
become the language of the classroom for discussing the literature. At
least that's true of many highly-lauded Foreign Language programs.
(I've found that even absolute beginning classes can efficiently be
held around the 90% "Greek airtime" mark. As a need for grammatical
explanation develops, Greek is actually easier than 'biblical Hebrew'
because ancient Greek has a rich grammatical terminology that allows
one to 'talk about the language' and meaningfully increase
acquistion//internalization at the same time.) Different
methodologies, of course, make different uses of 'non-target languages
of instruction'. We're at 90+% 'target language' at the beginning
because of TPR, TotalPhysicalResponse.
And measurement of success would change.
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