[B-Greek] Point of Antithesis in Language Teaching Methodologies

vunzndi at vfemail.net vunzndi at vfemail.net
Thu May 8 19:56:37 EDT 2008

Dear Ruth,

let me please say first of all that I agree entirely that an approach  
which the student does not internalise a language in anyway whatsoever  
will not work. but rather it also needs to be noted that non  
grammar-translation methods do not always work. By halfway houses I  
was refering to those methodologies thet students internalise but do  
not have total fluency as a primary aim.

Studies of adults who move from one language community to another show  
that whilst these adults can function to a degree in a second  
language, however without specific language study there are some  
points of a language that are not usually grasped.

The basic unit for communication in the sentance, however non-native  
users of a language often translate at the level of words. There are  
many cases where the changes a not a matter changing words but of  
different structure. A simple example would be, "Hello, Mr Green!" in  
say Chinese the word order changes to that of "Mr Green, hello!".

Learning a language has levels - if a persons understanding is at  
level one then then can understand a level one expression by either  
what they know or extending vocabulary, and a level two expression may  
be comprenedable with guidance, however a level three expression is  
beyond the person. Many language learners try to improve by increasing  
vocabulary, though some vocabulary increase maybe needed it is guided  
exposure to language of the next level up that is essential. Other  
language learners are at level one and wonder why they do not progress  
by exposure to level 3 language.

In fact by this model there are more than 3 levels to Koine Greek ( I  
would say 4 or 5) - the key to a good course is how to enable people  
to progress from one level to the next. Whilst grammar tramslation  
without internalisation can not efficiently achieve this - if the aim  
of a individual is to be able to read the New Testament , a programme  
of carefully selected material should enable a person to reach this  
goal in much less time than the 10 thousand plus hours required to  
master a language. Furthermore paying attention to translation issues  
is essential if the aim of the individual is to in many cases express  
the conclusions of his findings in some language than Greek to others.

In conclusion yes - grammar translation without internalisation is not  
really up to scratch, but also internalisation without grammar  
transaltion also does not meet the true needs.


John Knightley

Quoting Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com>:

> John Knightley egrapse
> <What does this have to say about learning Koine Greek - it says
> firstly that if ones primary aim is to be able to read the New
> Testament in Greek and where desired translate a phrase or sentance
> into ones native tongue then a methodology based upon reading and
> translation, with attention of the principles of translation and good
> dictionaries, will sooner or later work if one puts in enough hours.
> shalom John,
> Thank you for the input on the broader points. I've extracted one
> item that reflects a common assumption that I think needs more
> discussion within a 'point of antithesis' discussion.
> It seems logical that if a primary goal is reading, that the most
> direct and efficient way to the goal would be to just read.
> But is it? Are humans wired that way?
> This reading goal and framework is often thought of within second
> language acquisition studies as a historical mistake that the
> Coleman (?) commission made in the 1920's in US education
> policy. With "wonderful" 'monolingual' results to use John
> Schwandt's term. [last sentence was friendly but ironic ]
> Today, second language acquisition and full literature
> programs do not treat the 'reading only' programs as
> 'supplying the goods'. Graduate students who do 'German for
> Reading' courses do not think in the language and cannot do
> a close, literary reading of a text in that language. The 'for
> reading' courses are for people who are NOT interested in that
> language, for people who do not intend to spend their lives
> perusing that literature. Literature departments do not
> recommend that their own students do such courses.
> I think that it is important for discussions about KOINH to come
> up with programs that can compare to full literature programs.
> For people who may be teaching or would like to comfortably
> read the literature from WITHIN the language. The halfway
> houses where people don't internalize the language already
> exist. But because of the way that they are structured,
> they become Hotel Californias. "Such a lovely place."
> What about people who want a full language program? They
> want to internalize KOINH.
> Some of the seminary students will be among them.
> Certainly next generations teachers. Surely there are many
> out there that want out of Hotel California.
> Randall
> --
> Randall Buth, PhD
> www.biblicalulpan.org
> randallbuth at gmail.com
> Biblical Language Center
> Learn Easier - Progress Further - Remember for Life
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
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