[B-Greek] A Greek Pedagogical Question

Norbert Rennert norbert.rennert at sil.org
Fri Jul 22 14:39:22 EDT 2005

Sorry about the last empty post. I don't know what happened that it went 
out empty. Here is what I wrote:

Most modern language courses use graded reading material. There is 
almost no beginner level reading material available for koine or ancient 
Greek. That is one of the reasons I chose to use simple, beginner level 
stories on my site. To ask a first year student to read the NT "as much 
as possible" is a recipe for failure, especially when the only way he 
got taught to do it is to stop and parse every word. Your reading speed 
is down to about 1 or 2 words a minute. Imagine ESL classes where 
students get taught to memorize the rules and paradigms of English, how 
to interpret an advanced grammar tome, and consult an unabridged 
dictionary and then told to read (and enjoy) the KJV of the Bible as 
their only text. I wonder what the motivation level of those students 
would be.

Seeing as there is no beginner level language material for koine Greek, 
why not compose short simple stories and develop a reading curriculum 
for it now? What is wrong with that? I know that it is not attested 
ancient Greek, the student would probably also know that, but so what. 
Its a stepping stone. What gets used most of the time could more 
appropriately be called a stepping cliff. But I'm not surprised if Greek 
professors resist this change in method; they were ones who managed to 
succeed with the traditional method, so obviously "it works". I would 
like to appeal to the Greek "experts" to consider writing short stories 
and send them to me for inclusion to my site. Each story can be changed 
into more than 100 combinations, thus greatly leveraging the amount of 
appropriate reading level practise a student can read.

My goal in developing the site was to help myself (and others) get past 
the parsing stage and give me fluency in reading. The stop and parse 
method is extremely tedious and non-motivating. One of the greatest 
factors for success is motivation. Nothing motivates like seeing 
yourself make progress. I'm not against knowing the paradigms, but not 
as a tool to learn to read Greek. So I do not see my method as replacing 
traditional methods, but as a supplement. The traditional method did not 
get me to read Greek. Reading simple stories in a controlled environment 
where the student gets to control which aspect of language he will read 
is a great way to speed up reading fluency.

Norbert Rennert
Canada Institute of Linguistics


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