[B-Greek] A Greek Pedagogical Question
R Yochanan Bitan Buth
ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
Wed Jul 20 15:57:05 EDT 2005
>Learning Greek deductively (i.e. through paradigms, grammars, and
syntax) is hard work, but its tried, tested, and true.>
Not internalizing Greek, I would say.
for the record, I don't think that deductive/inductive is the
definitive dimension. Both could lead to analyzing from outside the
language and remaining in a foreign language (like English), which is
not what fluent users generally do. Effective language learning is
based on massive use. E.g., Total Physical Response involves
classrooms filled with material that is understandable from the
beginning without translation. I would ask whether the classroom is
90% Greek, or 90% English? THN PSHFON MOU EIS TO ELLHNIKON OIKHMA XRH
ME BALEIN (=PSHFISASQAI).
I would ask that people begin to ask some common sense questions of
what it means to know a language.
Whether they actually do the following or not, could they?
Our students/teachers, can they describe with each other what they
think is happening in the world, in their lives, last week, today? Can
they invite each other for an evening dinner and conduct it in ancient
Or -- would you expect German Lit teachers to be able to run such an
That's a tough one, isn't it?
I know the opening quote was meant well, but consider that the Goethe
Institute would be out of business if they tried to teach German this
way. Not because students don't have the will and drive, but because
the students wouldn't succeed. They wouldn't be able to process the
language on the fly, to think with it, to internalize the language.
Second Language Acquisition studies have many theorists who would
claim that 'grammar-translation' is one way to guarantee that the
student NEVER internalizes the language, any language. 'twenty years
of schooling and they put you on the day shift' [you might ask your
colleague Marty for source of this quote, if not apparent :-) ]. This
note, too, is meant well. OIMOI -- sometimes I think that for NT
language learning: OU DH POIOUMEN TO AGAQON O QELOMEN, ALLA O OU
QELOMEN KAKON TOUTO PRASSOMEN. )
This doesn't answer what to do, of course. "Paradigms, grammars, and
syntax" are good, but the proof is overwhelming that they are
something other than effective language learning. We need only compare
the fluency/language control of our teachers after five years with the
German Lit teachers after five years. (Change 'five' to 'twenty' if
you wish.) (Over here, I compare with Hebrew.)
PS: just saw Carl's notes. By way of addition, I recently saw a nice
collection of stories, suggested by someone on the list,
"Thrasymachus". It strikes me as having a slower rate on new
vocabulary than the JACT series, a big plus for learners. Stories are
fairly concrete and can be discussed and TPR'd/pictured. Good intro to
classical culture, too. WHD Rouse would be happy DOKEI MOI.
PSS to Kent: a student will be coming to your school who is doing our
6-week Biblical Hebrew summer ulpan. You might ask for comments, come
Aug/Sept, from the inside, as it were.
Anyway, I see a different goal and measurement than commonly assumed,
so take my comments accordingly.
SE EUODOUSQAI EUXOMAI
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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