[B-Greek] Reasons for listening to Greek

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Sun May 17 10:09:33 EDT 2009

As an Erasmian, let me say that I agree with Randall's
point 7c.  I think it is very important for all NT Greek learners
to know how modern Greek sounds, and to hear a good faith
attempt at restored Imperial Koine.  I just ordered Randall's
c.d. and plan to listen to it along with Phemester and
Pennington.  I think multiple pronunciation schemes
are just something we have to deal with, because this
issue is too complicated for a one system solution.
I like the fact that Randall speaks slowly and with
dramatic emphasis  on this c.d
and the idea of the ASKHSEIS/drills is a great innovation
that I am excited to try out.
As to the general idea of the value of listening to Greek,
or at least the Greek NT, this has taken me a while to
come around, but I am now a believer.  I would just say that
for me it has taken a long time get to the point where I can
listen to the Greek NT read and make sense of it.  I had
to listen to John 1 dozens, maybe hundreds of time, but
I can now understand it.  Then recently I was listening to
1 Tim 4 and I hit a break through.  I had to play it back several
times, but I could understand almost all of it without going to 
the text.  It's a skill that comes slowly, but it feels good to get
there.  I still don't know how much it helps in reading the Greek
NT or other Greek, and in fact it may be the other way around,
 that the more you re-read the Greek NT and other Greek the
easier it is to understand it read aloud.  Or, at least, the skills reenforce
each other.
Again, I realize that there is much more to audio learning, that
you should understand unfamilar Greek read aloud and then be able to 
speak and think in Greek, but AT THE VERY LEAST, we all
should be able to understand the Greek NT read.  That is 
Randall's challenge, and we are grateful to him for making
available a product which helps in this.
Mark L. 

--- On Sat, 5/16/09, Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com>
Subject: [B-Greek] Reasons for listening to Greek
To: "B Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Saturday, May 16, 2009, 1:55 AM

Reasons for Listening to Greek

1. Listening to a reading is a relaxing and fast way of reviewing material.

2. Listening to the text should allow one to concentrate on
visualizing the meaning rather focusing on the spelling.

3. Listening can be done while one's hands are occupied or in low
light conditions.

4. Listening encourages one to process the material at a natural speed
of communication.

5. Listening allows one to recreate the original communicative setting
where these writings were expected to be read aloud. If one listens in
a koiné dialect, the listening also reproduces some of the sound
allusions and ambiguities or avoidance of other possible ambiguities
that were in the original text. See 7c, too, where 'the ability to
understand different dialects' may benefit Erasmians.

6. Listening helps to keep a language 'current'.

7. Listening is very beneficial for language learning at all stages.
a. Listening allows a beginner to cover more material with faster
input than would be done through the medium of a new orthography and a
strange script.
b. For beginners, good readings provide help with accurate
pronunciation and should help with remembering correctly accented
c. At another stage, readings may provide access to different
dialects. For example, it is a good thing to be able to recognize
Greek when read in a modern accent. This enables better communication
between Greeks and non-Greeks.  "Erasmians", in particular, can
benefit by learning to listen and understand either koiné or modern,
or both. This will help them better appreciate documents and texts
from the New Testament period and later, even if they themselves read
in another style at other times.
d. Listening also helps someone internalize a language, if they are
understanding most of what they are hearing. Listening forces the
development of rapid and unconscious processing skills.
e. Besides help in internalization, listening also provides a
measurement of how far the language has been internalized. A students'
goal should be to understand texts when read clearly at a normal
speed. Less than that skill means that the language has not been
learned to a sufficient level. Even in modern languages such skill may
often lacking in training programs where there is little or no contact
with speakers.
f. Listening also helps a student distinguish language skills that are
natural from skills that are artificial, analytical and secondary.
There is no time in real language communication to do many of the
things that students are asked to do with a language ("What kind of
genitive was that?"). This does not mean that a student should not
learn how to analyze a language, but that analytical skills are
another kind of skill from language fluency. Both are good, but they
shouldn't be confused.

8. Developing a skill for listening to long stretches of text helps in
being able to read long stretches of text and to process higher level
reading skills within the language itself.

9. Many have commented that a text may relate to itself in a different
manner when it is processed through listening than when processed
through reading. With modern languages this is skewed somewhat,
because readers of texts are capable of processing the sound virtually
simultaneously. This is not usually true of readers of ancient texts
if they have not had extensive listening practice.

PS: Our Johannine CD finally started shipping and has extra features
like ASKHSEIS 'drills' where some chapters are provided listening
drills with everything broken down into 2-3 second snips with space
for either thinking or repetition. After working through the ASKHSIS
of a chapter several times a student can find themselves capable of
listening to the whole chapter without a written text. Written notes
in PDF files are also in the CD. As mentioned in 5 and 7c above,
understanding a spoken koine is a valuable skill to develop even for

Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
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