About learning Greek

Chuck Tripp ctripp at ptialaska.net
Sat Mar 9 14:06:13 EST 2002


I have been experiencing very much the same frustrations.  Prior to
embarking on my greek project, I had picked up to different degrees two
living languages (besides my native english) and one of the things that
makes learning greek different is that it is a deadl language with no native
speakers.  You can't watch sitcoms in N.T. Greek, you can't get together
with a bunch of native NT greek speakers to where  greek syllables, words
and sentences are just running through your head as you fall asleep at

Normally when you are learing a new language and listening to somewhat else,
you'll hang on a word or phrase that you don't understand, ponder it for a
second, and if you can't decode in that time you let it go because the
speaker is still speaking.  In Greek, because you are reading, you might
spend hours on a sentence.  Which is not really how the human mind learns a

Suggestions.  When reading, I assume you are in the decoding phase of your
learning where you spend a lot of time looking up words, de-cyphering the
syntax of a sentence etc.  After you have de-cyphered a chapter, be it in
the NT, LXX, or other ancient greek text, go back and read it quickly, as
you would a newspaper.  Try reading it out loud.  Because you've de-cyphered
it you should now be able to read it with meaning.  What I do, is I circle
all the words I don't know, number them, and using numbered notes along the
margins write short definitions.  That way when I go back through reading I
don't have to stop and look up works again.  Also another idea is to read
ahead a chapter or two at one shot, don't stop to look up words or pause to
decypher syntax.  Just read.  Then go back and do your de-coding.  Then go
back again and read as you would a newspaper.

Other suggestion:  there is a website: greeklatinaudio.com I think is the
address where the guy is posting MP3 readings of the N.T.  I think he is at
about Matthew 18 or so.  I download the new readings as they are posted and
listen to them at my desk at work on my computer.  The guy uses modern greek
translation.  There is also a tape set of the GNT which is available at
Christian Book Distributers.  Zodhiatese I think is the author.  Again
modern Greek pronounciation.  I started doing that on the suggestion of
B-Greekers and I have found that to be very helpful, very helpful.  Just
listening seems to have awaken a part of my brain to the learning of Greek
that was not previously engaged.  I find my self repeating to myself, bits
and pieces of N.T. greek sentences a similar experience to when I was
learning my two second living languages.

Vocabulary and cards.  Try to think of a sentence where a given word you are
learning has been used rather than just an English equivalent.  Try to
detach Greek from English, so that Greek is just Greek.

Finally, I would advice what I call brute strength and ignorance, in other
words naked tenacity.  I have been at this for 7 years.  There have been
times like you where I get sick of it and lay it aside for 6 months, forget
a bunch then get back to it.  But it is possible to reach your objective.

Chuck Tripp
Kodiak Alaska

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Osborne. <s351016 at student.uq.edu.au>
To: Biblical Greek <b-greek at franklin.metalab.unc.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 11:37 AM
Subject: [b-greek] About learning Greek

> Hi,
> This is not a technical question about Greek language, but a question
> learning strategies.  I'm an undergraduate Ancient History/ History major
> who has a strong interest in Biblical Greek.   I started studying NT Greek
> under Dr. Rick Strelan (a subscriber) and I'm indebted to him for a gentle
> introduction to the language that did much to build my confidence and
> enthusiasm for the language.
> I then switched to Classical Greek because it suited my plans for
> post-graduate study better.  The transition was not easy because the vocab
> was different.  I studied a further two semesters using the JACT "Reading
> Greek" course (Cambridge Uni).  I must admit that most of the time while I
> was doing this course I felt as if I was barely keeping my head above
> water - I certainly did not feel that my learning was secure - even though
> was a diligent student and managed excellent marks.  I then stopped
> Greek for nine months and this semester have taken it up again.
> Much to my dismay, on revising my previous learning, I find that I have
> basically forgotten 70% - 80% of the grammar and especially the vocab I
> learned over the three previous semester of study.  Rick will be gratified
> to know that his stuff is the most secure of all.
> I'm quite discouraged about this because I am genuinely interested in
> achieving some proficiency in the language (as opposed to just passing
> exams).
> Have others had similar experiences?
> I know everyone's different and for this reason, people are sometimes
> reluctant to guide others in these sorts of areas.   But could anyone
> suggest a strategy or strategies to make the learning more secure given
> I have about 10 hours per week available, I would like to relearn the
> I've forgotten, and I'm faced with a fairly solid regime of new stuff to
> learn together with practise translations?
> I have been using a card system which means I can do memorising on the bus
> and train - but perhaps something more is needed?
> I would really appreciate the benefit of others' experience and ideas.
> thanks
> Peter Osborne.
> ---
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