First Time Teacher

B. Ward Powers bwpowers at
Fri Aug 31 22:48:26 EDT 2001

Hi, Chris.

At 05:02 PM 010831 -0400, Christopher L Lang wrote:
>I am a new subscriber to this list and a first time teacher of Greek. I
>have not taught a language before and have been given the responsibility
>of creating the curriculum for Intro Greek.
>I am interested in using Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek but open to
>others. (I learned from the Joint Association of Classical Teachers and JW
>Wenham.) We will be on a quarter system and I'm curious to know what
>others think is a reasonable pace for such a course.
>I should also tell you that the class is being offered through our church
>in conjunction with a divinity school extension program. Therefore the
>class will meet only once or twice a week for three hours each.

A great deal will depend upon (a) the level of motivation of the group, and 
(b) what amount of time they have available, out of class time, for 
revising, learning paradigms, doing grammar and translation homework.

Other factors will be what the members of the group plan to do with the 
Greek they learn, how many weeks the class will run for (I note you mention 
you are on a quarter system - how many weeks all up do you have available 
for the class?), and whether (in the divinity school extension program) 
there is going to be assessment of student work either on a progressive 
in-class basis, or through a final examination of some kind, or both. And 
also: how much the students will care what level of mark they receive.

You should aim to stretch them, i.e. to take them as far and as fast as all 
these factors allow.

>  Any ideas what to expect here and what level of competency to shoot for?
>Thanks. Chris

The lowest level you should aim for (below which the group could hardly 
rate their class as having been successful) is that they know the alphabet, 
can read Greek words, pronouncing them with a reasonable measure of 
fluency, using one of the current pronunciation schemes, and as an outcome 
can make use of commentaries and other books which discuss Greek words, and 
look up Greek concordances, lexicons, dictionaries, word studies and the 
like. In other words, that they can access what others are saying about 
Greek words and meanings.

But this is pretty basic. Can you aim higher? I recommend the target for 
them of learning the twenty basic Greek paradigms, and of completing at 
least a survey of all the Greek Grammar they would need in order to 
commence reading from the Greek New Testament, so that they are aware of 
this grammar even if they do not master it; and then several weeks in class 
of actual translation-and-exegesis from one of the more straight-forward 
books of the NT (Gospels of Mark or John, or 1 John). Your intention would 
then be that they could thereafter continue to explore the Greek NT on 
their own, using one of the available books that can help them with this, 
such as Zerwick and Grosvenor's "Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New 
Testament". And hopefully they would now be motivated to continue this 

Chris, as a first-time teacher of Greek you may also find it useful to read 
something about how to teach a "dead" language (that is, one which is not 
now spoken by anyone as their mother-tongue). For example, in "Basic 
Principles For Teachers" (Appendix B in my book "Learn To Read the Greek 
New Testament", SPCK Australia), you will find discussions of: approach, 
teaching patterns, course timing, motivation, class participation, 
encouragement and recognition, enjoyment, aims, methods, drills, 
memorization, practice sessions, reinforcement, assignments, assessment, 
and so forth.

But overall, I would say the two most important things about taking your 
class are (a) that YOU believe that what they are learning is important, 
and (b) that YOU enjoy Greek, and enjoy taking this class with them, and in 
fact you are really excited about it - and you communicate this excitement 
to them.

When that is the case with a teacher, (s)he can use just about any approach 
to teaching Greek, and the class will learn it.

We wish you every success with your class.



Rev Dr B. Ward Powers        Phone (International): 61-2-8714-7255

259A Trafalgar Street          Phone (Australia): (02) 8714-7255
PETERSHAM  NSW  2049      email: bwpowers at
AUSTRALIA.                         Director, Tyndale College

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