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not really about Stephen Krashen at all

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not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby daivid » Fri May 05, 2017 10:18 am

Markos has mentioned Stephen Krashen but I have only just begun to read/listen to him.
I have for long felt that the reason that my progress in Ancient Greek has been zero for the last few years is because I have read everything which I can read in Ancient Greek and what remains I can only decode. Decoding Greek seems to give me no benefit and I find that when I go back to text that I have previously decoded it is just as hard to decode as the first time.
I have felt that my personal experience is a weak guide to what really works. (My total lack of progress has even got me wondering whether I need to check that I am not in the first stages of dementia)

Stephen Krashen argues that the only way to learn a language is through comprehensible input that is engaging. Not only that, he seems to have good research to back up his claims:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shgRN32ubag

We have discussed several alternatives to the Grammar-translation method. From reading Krashen the whole issue of whether Ancient-Greek should be taught as if it were a living language. Krashen puts self selected easy reading as the best way to acquiring a language hence spoken Greek is not (if we follow) Krashen especially important. One of the things about Christophe Rico's lessons that I have found to be questionable is that the students don't get much chance to speak Greek. If Kashen is right then that is not a problem - Chistophe Rico gives his students loads of comprehensible input and is the value of his method not that it happens to be in a spoken form.

I am now rereading Taylor's GCSE level stories https://bookshop.theguardian.com/greek-stories.html which I read so long ago that they are again fresh. But once I have done that I will back to the same problem that there does not exist the texts that I can read that are for me comprehensible and engaging.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby truks » Fri May 05, 2017 12:11 pm

On a related note, you might be interested in this blog post on using a program called Learning with Texts to read and study Greek and Latin.

The author explains how to set up LWT to work with Perseus for these languages. The software is free, which is mind-blowing considering how useful it is IMO.

https://diyclassics.com/2014/04/11/lear ... languages/
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Fri May 05, 2017 1:57 pm

truks wrote:On a related note, you might be interested in this blog post on using a program called Learning with Texts to read and study Greek and Latin.

The author explains how to set up LWT to work with Perseus for these languages. The software is free, which is mind-blowing considering how useful it is IMO.

https://diyclassics.com/2014/04/11/lear ... languages/


This does look like a useful tool but it is not useful for me because none of the texts on Perseus are comprehensible input for me.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby truks » Fri May 05, 2017 2:48 pm

daivid wrote:
truks wrote:This does look like a useful tool but it is not useful for me because none of the texts on Perseus are comprehensible input for me.


The great thing about the program is that you can copy and paste any Greek text into it and use it to learn at any level.

The instructions on the blog just explain how to set up LWT to use Perseus to parse terms and look up definitions (since you can conceivably use LWT to learn any language with an online dictionary). :)
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby Victor » Fri May 05, 2017 5:05 pm

daivid wrote:Stephen Krashen argues that the only way to learn a language is through comprehensible input that is engaging.

I'm sure no-one would disagree that input had to be comprehensible for you to learn from it. Engaging? Well, yes, as with anything you learn, it will have to meet certain minimum standards on that score. It's pretty easy to determine whether input is comprehensible when some people are clearly progressing as a result of it. What you the individual happen to find comprehensible and engaging is the crucial point.

daivid wrote:I have felt that my personal experience is a weak guide to what really works.

Your personal experience is probably not a weak guide to what works for you, but there's plenty of evidence that it's a weak guide to what works for everyone.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Fri May 05, 2017 5:25 pm

Victor wrote:
daivid wrote:Stephen Krashen argues that the only way to learn a language is through comprehensible input that is engaging.

I'm sure no-one would disagree that input had to be comprehensible for you to learn from it. Engaging? Well, yes, as with anything you learn, it will have to meet certain minimum standards on that score. It's pretty easy to determine whether input is comprehensible when some people are clearly progressing as a result of it. What you the individual happen to find comprehensible and engaging is the crucial point.
.


Except that most of the teaching of Ancient Greek is not comprehensible. My experience of direct teaching was going through a Greek text that would have been quite beyond me alone. The teacher did explain what it was supposed to mean and it seemed to make sense but when I later tried to re read the passage it was as incomprehensible as before. I had learned the relevant language but I had not acquired it so it did not stick.

So I would say that 95% of the teachers of Ancient Greek would disagree with Stephen Krashen.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby Victor » Fri May 05, 2017 5:34 pm

daivid wrote:Except that most of the teaching of Ancient Greek is not comprehensible.

I did try to save you from responding somewhat pointlessly in this way:
Victor wrote:It's pretty easy to determine whether input is comprehensible when some people are clearly progressing as a result of it. What you the individual happen to find comprehensible and engaging is the crucial point.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Fri May 05, 2017 6:21 pm

Victor wrote:
daivid wrote:Except that most of the teaching of Ancient Greek is not comprehensible.

I did try to save you from responding somewhat pointlessly in this way:
Victor wrote:It's pretty easy to determine whether input is comprehensible when some people are clearly progressing as a result of it. What you the individual happen to find comprehensible and engaging is the crucial point.

I simply do not believe you are using comprehensible in the way Stephen Krashen does. Comprehensible is stuff you can read without a dictionary, stuff you don't have to work out the tense the mood and exactly which person is - you just get it as is normal in your first language. He does suggest that the input should be a bit harder that the level where the learner gets it 100% but it should be easy enough that the bits not fully understood can be guessed at.

I answered in that way because it seemed to me that you had not understood the sense I was using comprehensible input and by dismissing my reply as "pointless" indicates to me that we are using two definitions. Comprehensible in the sense that Krashen uses it means without decoding. That is nothing like what most Ancient Greek teaching tries to do.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Fri May 05, 2017 6:45 pm

It might help if you check out this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXJwGFpfCY8 and skip to 20:20 where he describes how someone gained near native speaker quality of Hebrew thru chatting with friends and zero formal teaching. If you feel that "comprehensible input" has a different meaning for you than the sense that Krashen is using it then by all means suggest an alternative term for what Krashen means.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby Victor » Fri May 05, 2017 7:03 pm

daivid wrote:I simply do not believe you are using comprehensible in the way Stephen Krashen does. Comprehensible is stuff you can read without a dictionary, stuff you don't have to work out the tense the mood and exactly which person is - you just get it as is normal in your first language. He does suggest that the input should be a bit harder that the level where the learner gets it 100% but it should be easy enough that the bits not fully understood can be guessed at.

I answered in that way because it seemed to me that you had not understood the sense I was using comprehensible input and by dismissing my reply as "pointless" indicates to me that we are using two definitions. Comprehensible in the sense that Krashen uses it means without decoding. That is nothing like what most Ancient Greek teaching tries to do.

I do wish, for your sake, you could dispense with this kind of arcane, hyperanalytical fudging about the supposed inadequacies of this or that teaching method and just get on with studying what interests you. I don't think I've ever known anyone trying to learn anything engage in so much hand-wringing over his perceived lack of progress and in so much censure of the teaching methods he feels are almost entirely to blame for holding him back.

My response isn't intended to censure you in turn but to stop you from wasting mental energy ruminating on things that really aren't the things you should be ruminating on if you want to learn Greek.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Fri May 05, 2017 7:06 pm

Why don't you listen to the links that I have given and tell me why (or if) you disagree with Stephen Krashen.

or if you prefer in text:
http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/books/ ... actice.pdf
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby Timothée » Fri May 05, 2017 8:23 pm

daivid, I agree with Victor here. You seem to me to be searching for a Holy Grail to help you in your studies. Unfortunately that does not exist. You could be (unconsciously) avoiding something and instead turning your attention to other things. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, but don’t be obsessed with the pudding. There’s no royal road to learning.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby naturalphilosopher » Sat May 06, 2017 2:15 am

Krashen's approach isn't the holy grail, but it isn't bad either. Otherwise, Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata would not be a perennial favourite of Latin learners. Go find some graded readers. Thrasymachus, Reading Greek, and Athenaze are well known. For my own use, I've acquired James Turney Allen's First Year of Greek, Hillard and Botting's Elementary Greek Translation, Paine's Beginning Greek, and Harper's Inductive Greek Method, which might also be of interest to you.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Sat May 06, 2017 5:36 am

Timothée wrote:daivid, I agree with Victor here. You seem to me to be searching for a Holy Grail to help you in your studies. Unfortunately that does not exist. You could be (unconsciously) avoiding something and instead turning your attention to other things.

Please expand. I do not know what you are trying to say here.
Timothée wrote: The proof of the pudding is in the eating, but don’t be obsessed with the pudding. There’s no royal road to learning.

After a year I got up to GCSE standard. I have made no progress since then. This is despite several years of study in which I have done at least some Greek every day (apart from 4 months at the end of last year when I gave up completely. Many of those days I have spent many hours in study. Trust me I am not looking for a royal road - any road will do.

EDIT
And I really would like to know why you are so dismissive of Stephen Krashen that you don't think he is worth even referring to.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Sat May 06, 2017 8:11 am

naturalphilosopher wrote:Krashen's approach isn't the holy grail, but it isn't bad either. Otherwise, Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata would not be a perennial favourite of Latin learners.

I have just read the first couple of pages which are available in preview. I have not so much as opened a Latin book for 50 years yet I understood/guessed every word. Those words that I had to guess are quickly repeated so I could read then without guessing the next time. It is brilliant!!!!!! :P Why has no one ever done this for Ancient Greek?

And this thread was intended to be about Krashen so I would be interested to hear what you think his strengths and weaknesses are.

naturalphilosopher wrote:Go find some graded readers...


Thrasymachus, Excelent book but half way through the speed suddenly increased so much that I was completely left behind - I will try again to see if I can get any further
Reading Greek, This was my first book. The first chapter was hard going but okay. From then on the pace increases very quickly to point that the adaption is so light that it isn't any easier for me than the real thing. The adaption is just enough so that you are unable to use a translation as a key.

and Athenaze are well known. Brilliant. Excellent original story. The pace does increase dramatically in the second half but I did make it all the way through. I have also read the workbook readings. I do think that I never really acquired the material in volume two because it goes too fast. It is largely due to Athenaze, however, that I acquired the elementary forms.


JamesTurney Allen's First Year of Greek, This is available online but it has a very confusing layout. They are very explicit that they expect the overwhelming majority of their students will not keep up their study of Greek beyond the one or two years of their course so they might as well expose them to much real Greek as possible. As such it seems to me that it is far from a graded reader as it is possible to get.


Hillard and Botting's Elementary Greek Translation, I have just discovered this. The emphasis is on just so you are right to suspect that I might not know of it. I am just about to put an order in for it.


Paine's Beginning Greek, This bases the course on unadapted real Greek. I would drown if I attempted it.

Harper's Inductive Greek Method, This seems to be a textbook that uses an unadapted text of Anabasis as the reading. The same criticism applies this as to Paine. On top of that I have read the entire first book of Anabasis. Indeed I have memorized sections of it. I don't believe re-reading it with Harper will make it any easier to acquire the Greek of Xenophon if I go thru it again.

Lest you think my criticism of traditional methods is due to lack of experience of those methods I am currently studying Attica: Intermediate Classical Greek by Cynthia L. Claxton. It is grammar translation on steroids but for that reason I am willing to give it a try. It is grammar-translation but done very well. The texts she chooses are not for me "comprehensible input" but she gives such huge support that I am able to decode it.

If Krashen is right, however, I will not actually acquire much if any of the Greek I decode. I will at least have read a large section of Xenophon and Antiphon.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby Timothée » Sat May 06, 2017 8:26 am

I just get the impression that you’re constantly searching for something new because you feel that nothing you’ve tried so far works for you. It gives the impression of restlessness, and I fear it might distract you from the main thing. With royal road I meant there are no shortcuts: it’s a hard work to learn a language. Most of my teachers have said one needs strong glutei.

I don’t take a stand on Stephen Krashen and his views here. It’s obvious, however, that doing what one is interested in helps. The better you can maintain your interests the better the results.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Sat May 06, 2017 8:32 am

Timothée wrote:I just get the impression that you’re constantly searching for something new because you feel that nothing you’ve tried so far works for you. It gives the impression of restlessness, and I fear it might distract you from the main thing. With royal road I meant there are no shortcuts: it’s a hard work to learn a language. Most of my teachers have said one needs strong glutei.

I don’t take a stand on Stephen Krashen and his views here. It’s obvious, however, that doing what one is interested in helps. The better you can maintain your interests the better the results.


Then why post to a thread about Stephen Krashen?
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby Timothée » Sat May 06, 2017 8:40 am

daivid wrote:Then why post to a thread about Stephen Krashen?

Because I care about your Greek learning process?
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Sat May 06, 2017 11:54 am

Timothée wrote:
daivid wrote:Then why post to a thread about Stephen Krashen?

Because I care about your Greek learning process?



Timothée wrote:With royal road I meant there are no shortcuts: it’s a hard work to learn a language.


You can see that I joined textkit six years ago. Though for six months I had not made a decision to seriously study Ancient Greek, and I did give up for four months at the end of last year for the rest of that time I have done at least some Greek every single day. Many of these days I have put in many hours of study. I have also read the first book of Anabasis. You should know this because I have stated so in the thread.

What don't fully appreciate is that getting though Anabasis was extremely hard work in which the meaning of most sentences had wrested word by word and often I got stuck for a long time on a single sentence.

And Anabasis is of course only a portion of my reading.

On top of that I have posted a link to my verb test I might have expected you to realize that I do do drills as well - a program like that you write for yourself and only having done that consider whether its worth putting online.

This is the internet and is very hard to realize that the feeling that something is written is the feeling that is conveyed. But take a moment to re-read what you have written. How would you feel after so much labor to be told that your problem is that you spend your time looking for shortcuts and are unable to face up to the hard work needed? I do believe you when you say you posted because you care but how do you think your words convey that?

On top of that you endorse Victor who tells me that I have to make up my mind as to whether I really want to learn Greek. I have many faults. However,
after six years of study and after my one attempt to give up ending in failure - that I want to learn Greek should be beyond question.

For your information I have not spent the last six years watching Krashen on youtube as a way of avoiding study. Until this week Krashen was just a name. However what he says makes sense of my problem. Reading the first part of Athenaze was easy and the forms I encountered there have stuck in brain. The things that I learn through hard toil I forget. I am more than willing to put in the hard work but my experience is that it doesn't work.

Krashen makes sense of my experience. Athenaze was comprehensible input so I was acquiring. Reading Xenophon (or any of the other extant writers) is not for me comprehensible input so even though I do end up with the meaning and end up understanding why it means what it means. Hence I only learn the forms reading Xenophon and in a few months whatever I learn I forget. Likewise my verbtest the forms only stay if I constantly drill them.

What does it mean to say you care if you dismiss that out of hand?

I did expect (indeed sought) a counter view, that some people would disagree with Stephen Krashen but this...?
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby Timothée » Sat May 06, 2017 1:24 pm

I’m sorry if I offended you. It was completely unintentional. I’m just worried you’re looking for some sort of magic trick to help, which I don’t think exists. That is the only reason why I wrote about royal roads. I do wish you find what you’re looking for, and perhaps you find it in Krashen.

An anecdote about Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff epitomises the difficulties in learning Greek, and their remedies. A student lamented to the renowned professor that he studies Greek all day long, but it just isn’t enough. Wilamowitz said, ‘What do you do during nighttime?’
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Sat May 06, 2017 3:52 pm

Timothée wrote:I’m sorry if I offended you. It was completely unintentional.


It was getting to me but I do realize that you did not intend that. So I too am sorry that I let it get to me.

Timothée wrote: I’m just worried you’re looking for some sort of magic trick to help, which I don’t think exists. That is the only reason why I wrote about royal roads. I do wish you find what you’re looking for, and perhaps you find it in Krashen.’


Krashen merely says works and what does not work. In some ways it is a bit depressing. He is saying that if you have no comprehensible input you are screwed. He says several times something like "I have done the easy part. I have shown that what is needed is comprehensible input that is engaging. The harder bit, the job of educators is to produce that engaging comprehensible input".

But he also says that you only acquire what you are ready to acquire and that is done in a natural order. Hence if the input has advanced features it will simply go over your head until you are ready to absorb it.

There is an implication to that which he doesn't say. That is, just as the advanced aspects of the input don't help, if the input has mistakes but those mistakes relate to aspects of the language that are advance for you they won't do any harm. They will just go over your head.

Hence it is not essential that only people with perfect command of Ancient Greek write comprehensible input. All you need to do is read input from someone who is better than yourself.

Hence there is no need to be too fussy about the input you get so long as it is both comprehensible and engaging to you.

Timothée wrote:An anecdote about Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff epitomises the difficulties in learning Greek, and their remedies. A student lamented to the renowned professor that he studies Greek all day long, but it just isn’t enough. Wilamowitz said, ‘What do you do during nighttime?’


I really like that quote. Thank you. But don't you see why I was bound to love it. If even a professor sees Greek as absurdly difficult there was be a serious problem as to how Ancient Greek is taught.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby Victor » Sat May 06, 2017 4:00 pm

Timothée wrote:A student lamented to the renowned professor that he studies Greek all day long, but it just isn’t enough. Wilamowitz said, ‘What do you do during nighttime?’

That's great.

daivid, I think you underestimate Textkit members' willingness to help you.

What I think would be a good idea would be for us to agree on a fairly straightforward passage of Greek, and get you not simply to attempt a translation of it, which you can post on here, but to specify exactly which vocabulary items, word endings or constructions are preventing you from accurately grasping what is being said. You can consult a lexicon and grammar, of course, as we all do from time to time, though doing so may still not help you unravel all the meaning of the passage. I for one would be willing to walk you through some Greek in this way if you are willing to make your own attempt first.

How about doing the passage below from Xenophon? You can put it in a separate thread if you prefer.

Κῦρος δὲ ἔχων οὓς εἴρηκα ὡρμᾶτο ἀπὸ Σάρδεων: καὶ ἐξελαύνει διὰ τῆς Λυδίας σταθμοὺς τρεῖς παρασάγγας εἴκοσι καὶ δύο ἐπὶ τὸν Μαίανδρον ποταμόν. τούτου τὸ εὖρος δύο πλέθρα: γέφυρα δὲ ἐπῆν ἐζευγμένη πλοίοις. [6] τοῦτον διαβὰς ἐξελαύνει διὰ Φρυγίας σταθμὸν ἕνα παρασάγγας ὀκτὼ εἰς Κολοσσάς, πόλιν οἰκουμένην καὶ εὐδαίμονα καὶ μεγάλην. ἐνταῦθα ἔμεινεν ἡμέρας ἑπτά: καὶ ἧκε Μένων ὁ Θετταλὸς ὁπλίτας ἔχων χιλίους καὶ πελταστὰς πεντακοσίους, Δόλοπας καὶ Αἰνιᾶνας καὶ Ὀλυνθίους. [7] ἐντεῦθεν ἐξελαύνει σταθμοὺς τρεῖς παρασάγγας εἴκοσιν εἰς Κελαινάς, τῆς Φρυγίας πόλιν οἰκουμένην, μεγάλην καὶ εὐδαίμονα. ἐνταῦθα Κύρῳ βασίλεια ἦν καὶ παράδεισος μέγας ἀγρίων θηρίων πλήρης, ἃ ἐκεῖνος ἐθήρευεν ἀπὸ ἵππου, ὁπότε γυμνάσαι βούλοιτο ἑαυτόν τε καὶ τοὺς ἵππους.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Sat May 06, 2017 6:27 pm

Victor wrote:
daivid, I think you underestimate Textkit members' willingness to help you.


Thanks for saying that - it is appreciated.

Victor wrote:
What I think would be a good idea would be for us to agree on a fairly straightforward passage of Greek, and get you not simply to attempt a translation of it, which you can post on here, but to specify exactly which vocabulary items, word endings or constructions are preventing you from accurately grasping what is being said. You can consult a lexicon and grammar, of course, as we all do from time to time, though doing so may still not help you unravel all the meaning of the passage. I for one would be willing to walk you through some Greek in this way if you are willing to make your own attempt first.

How about doing the passage below from Xenophon? You can put it in a separate thread if you prefer.

Κῦρος δὲ ἔχων οὓς εἴρηκα ὡρμᾶτο ἀπὸ Σάρδεων: καὶ ἐξελαύνει διὰ τῆς Λυδίας σταθμοὺς τρεῖς παρασάγγας εἴκοσι καὶ δύο ἐπὶ τὸν Μαίανδρον ποταμόν. τούτου τὸ εὖρος δύο πλέθρα: γέφυρα δὲ ἐπῆν ἐζευγμένη πλοίοις. [6] τοῦτον διαβὰς ἐξελαύνει διὰ Φρυγίας σταθμὸν ἕνα παρασάγγας ὀκτὼ εἰς Κολοσσάς, πόλιν οἰκουμένην καὶ εὐδαίμονα καὶ μεγάλην. ἐνταῦθα ἔμεινεν ἡμέρας ἑπτά: καὶ ἧκε Μένων ὁ Θετταλὸς ὁπλίτας ἔχων χιλίους καὶ πελταστὰς πεντακοσίους, Δόλοπας καὶ Αἰνιᾶνας καὶ Ὀλυνθίους. [7] ἐντεῦθεν ἐξελαύνει σταθμοὺς τρεῖς παρασάγγας εἴκοσιν εἰς Κελαινάς, τῆς Φρυγίας πόλιν οἰκουμένην, μεγάλην καὶ εὐδαίμονα. ἐνταῦθα Κύρῳ βασίλεια ἦν καὶ παράδεισος μέγας ἀγρίων θηρίων πλήρης, ἃ ἐκεῖνος ἐθήρευεν ἀπὸ ἵππου, ὁπότε γυμνάσαι βούλοιτο ἑαυτόν τε καὶ τοὺς ἵππους.

When I first saw this I did at once see it was from Anabasis book 1 but I was also a little depressed because I thought I would not understand it even though I know I have read it. Then I saw ἐξελαύνει. Bliss. I love the ἐξελαύνει bits with the predictable days journey and the number of parasangs. Without looking up a single word I was able to get the gist of it. True, I remembered the bit about Kuros training his troops in hunting so I'm not sure to what extent I was reading and to what extent I was being reminded. I had, however, forgotten the bridge and indeed that γέφυρα means bridge but the context brought it back. Without checking the words I could not now give you a proper translation but that bit does just about count as comprehensible input for me.

It is however an especially easy bit of the Anabasis -indeed did you not select it for that reason?

However, you misunderstand my problem. Even with the very difficult bits I am usually able to eventually decode Xenophon fully. And now that I have Claxton's book I have a guide that will help me through even the hardest bits. Claxton really goes out of her way to give help for every possible pitfall for people like me. This does mean that her explanations are always at least five times as long as the text she is explaining but for that she has my full thanks.
(I have only on a single occasion found that Claxon's explanations did not completely resolve all difficulties and I might pose a question on that soon but it is not impossible I will eventually work it out on my own.)

The problem is that I know that when I return at a later stage to read the difficult bits of Xenophon I am back to square one. I am usually able to succeed in decoding (with the help of commentaries and Perseus of course) in the end. However, what I have to decode I end up forgetting.

Were you to ask what help I think I need it would be for you to write something in very simple Greek with plenty of repetition and avoids too many rare words about something that is for you engaging.

In short, Krashen style comprehensible input.

But leaving that aside, your selection did give my self-confidence a little boost as you did manage to select one of the bits that I do not find overwhelming. Thank you.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby Victor » Sat May 06, 2017 8:22 pm

daivid wrote:However, you misunderstand my problem...The problem is that I know that when I return at a later stage to read the difficult bits of Xenophon I am back to square one. I am usually able to succeed in decoding (with the help of commentaries and Perseus of course) in the end. However, what I have to decode I end up forgetting.

You've amply demonstrated with the below
daivid wrote:When I first saw this I did at once see it was from Anabasis book 1 but I was also a little depressed because I thought I would not understand it even though I know I have read it. Then I saw ἐξελαύνει. Bliss. I love the ἐξελαύνει bits with the predictable days journey and the number of parasangs. Without looking up a single word I was able to get the gist of it.

that in the case of some passages you're far from being "back to square one" when you encounter them again. Of course harder passages will be harder to recover the meaning of than easy passages on a second encounter, but in the case of even the hardest passages you will never be truly back to square one, however pessimistic your own assessment of your powers of recollection is.

daivid wrote:Were you to ask what help I think I need it would be for you to write something in very simple Greek with plenty of repetition and avoids too many rare words about something that is for you engaging.

In short, Krashen style comprehensible input.


This is emphatically not the solution to your problem. You need to encounter more real Greek, not more phoney Greek, if real Greek is ultimately what you want to be able to read. Just as you can't expect to be able to ride a bicycle without stabilizers unless at some point you take the stabilizers off, you can't expect to be able to read the Iliad, say, unless you start reading the sort of Greek the Iliad is written in.

The most straightforward way of doing that of course is just to read the Iliad itself. What does it matter if at first your progress is painfully slow, if you take an hour reading five lines, and if a month later you have forgotten most of what you took such pains to understand? Whose reproach, apart from your own, are you afraid of? At least you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are engaged in the serious business of reading real unadulterated Greek, and that you are getting through it, albeit with Herculean efforts.

The idea that in spite of regularly and attentively reading real Greek you will never get any better at doing so is just fanciful. Analyse the curriculum followed by any member of this forum whose Greek is significantly better than yours and you will find that they have read significantly more real Greek than you have.

Get as much real Greek under your belt as you can. Do everything you can to understand what the Greek is saying; don't just skim over things that you could understand better by looking more things up. When you can't get the Greek to make sense, refer to a translation to help you understand why the Greek says what the translation says it says.

And give up your study of language acquisition theories for a while. It's clearly not helping you learn Greek.

I look forward to seeing your first attempt at wringing meaning from a passage of real Greek and your detailed explanation of the things in it that still puzzle you and why.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby jeidsath » Sat May 06, 2017 11:53 pm

I think Krashen's advice is mostly good, though there are parts that I have become very skeptical about over the years. One example of the very good is at 25 minutes in, when he lists three things, and says that 1 & 2 are absolutely essential, while 3 is a curse:

1) Motivation
2) Self-esteem
3) Anxiety

When considering how to deal with 2 & 3, it's good to remember that "false plateau" is very a real thing in language learning. Language learners are not good judges of their own progress. Sometimes learners think they know more than they do, but more frequently, they don't realize that they have been making major unconscious progress.

Daivid, or others, if you think you aren't making progress, consider coming up with metrics that will allow you to compare your current self to yourself 3 or 6 months from now.

Victor's advice and Timothée's parallel Krashen's in some major ways. Krashen says to do "the opposite of this focus on form stuff, focus on the message." Everything in this thread is some version of that, I think.

Personally, I found that my progress really skyrocketed at two points in the last year:

1) Reading Plato's Apology with a group of traditional learners. I found that I had some major advantages, but that there was a lot to learn from their devotion to form and accuracy. After a few months, I had made major progress.

(Aside: One thing that I think that held my fellows back was sentence analysis. They look for the verb before reading the sentence, etc. Myself, I never mark up texts, and I think that's a short-term handicap, but a long-term advantage. Also they were always looking for perfect translations, rather than being satisfied with the 50%, 70% or 90% that they could understand at their current level.)

2) Reading through all of the Lucian intermediate readers that I could get my hands on. Very comprehensible input. I think that the intermediate same page readers are really great for taking the mechanical work out reading.

A number of times before this last year, I have stared at a block of Perseus text thinking "this makes no sense to me. Is learning Greek really possible?" I don't recall having that thought in recent months. A lot of Greek is "easy" to me now, and I need nothing but the text to understand it, for other Greek I need a dictionary, and for a lot of Greek I need a commentary and dictionary. I hope that my "easy" Greek circle continues to expand over the coming year.

I do think very much about learning efficiency and where I can do better. Right now I'm working on some software that's a bit of a Mad Libs/Machine-learning enabled Anki/Auto-translate tool. I hope to use it to increase my Greek composition skills.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby daivid » Sun May 07, 2017 11:50 am

jeidsath wrote:I think Krashen's advice is mostly good, though there are parts that I have become very skeptical about over the years. One example of the very good is at 25 minutes in, when he lists three things, and says that 1 & 2 are absolutely essential, while 3 is a curse:

1) Motivation
2) Self-esteem
3) Anxiety

When considering how to deal with 2 & 3, it's good to remember that "false plateau" is very a real thing in language learning. Language learners are not good judges of their own progress. Sometimes learners think they know more than they do, but more frequently, they don't realize that they have been making major unconscious progress.

Daivid, or others, if you think you aren't making progress, consider coming up with metrics that will allow you to compare your current self to yourself 3 or 6 months from now.

Victor's advice and Timothée's parallel Krashen's in some major ways. Krashen says to do "the opposite of this focus on form stuff, focus on the message." Everything in this thread is some version of that, I think.

Personally, I found that my progress really skyrocketed at two points in the last year:

1) Reading Plato's Apology with a group of traditional learners. I found that I had some major advantages, but that there was a lot to learn from their devotion to form and accuracy. After a few months, I had made major progress.

(Aside: One thing that I think that held my fellows back was sentence analysis. They look for the verb before reading the sentence, etc. Myself, I never mark up texts, and I think that's a short-term handicap, but a long-term advantage. Also they were always looking for perfect translations, rather than being satisfied with the 50%, 70% or 90% that they could understand at their current level.)

2) Reading through all of the Lucian intermediate readers that I could get my hands on. Very comprehensible input. I think that the intermediate same page readers are really great for taking the mechanical work out reading.

A number of times before this last year, I have stared at a block of Perseus text thinking "this makes no sense to me. Is learning Greek really possible?" I don't recall having that thought in recent months. A lot of Greek is "easy" to me now, and I need nothing but the text to understand it, for other Greek I need a dictionary, and for a lot of Greek I need a commentary and dictionary. I hope that my "easy" Greek circle continues to expand over the coming year.

I do think very much about learning efficiency and where I can do better. Right now I'm working on some software that's a bit of a Mad Libs/Machine-learning enabled Anki/Auto-translate tool. I hope to use it to increase my Greek composition skills.


What all three of you have done is tell me that that what I say is happening in my study of Greek is wrong and that something quite different is happening. It is true that ones own perception is not always accurate. However, none of you are with me during the day so why should I believe your assumptions about my language study are more accurate than my direct experience?

Language plateau? The first year of my study I made rapid progress. After the first year of apparent no progress I said to myself "it's a plateau". After 2 years still plateau but after four years? Joel, my plateau has lasted longer that your entire study.

And the evidence that I am making not progress is here: http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=64799. Despite great, not to say heroic, efforts on the part of mwh to correct me I continued to make the same mistakes and even those mistakes he did succeed in curing me of eventually returned.

The rational response to four years of zero progress is not to delude yourself with talk of plateaus but to give up and I did for a short while but for some reason I just can't mange it.

There is a very significant difference between your study an mine and that is the vast amount of reading aloud you have done. I suspect that represents a huge amount of comprehensible input. I have attempted that before I get to understand what I am saying it gets tedious and then my mind wanders. The images still go to my eyes, some low level part of my brain converts that into phonemes and my mouth responds but the language part of brain is pondering something quite different. You have succeed because for you pronunciation itself is fascinating but I just can't find it interesting. You also record what you read aloud which wasn't possible for me. Now that I have a new computer I intend to buy a microphone so that may change - we'll see.

Victor wrote:The idea that in spite of regularly and attentively reading real Greek you will never get any better at doing so is just fanciful. Analyse the curriculum followed by any member of this forum whose Greek is significantly better than yours and you will find that they have read significantly more real Greek than you have.

Get as much real Greek under your belt as you can. Do everything you can to understand what the Greek is saying; don't just skim over things that you could understand better by looking more things up. When you can't get the Greek to make sense, refer to a translation to help you understand why the Greek says what the translation says it says.

And give up your study of language acquisition theories for a while. It's clearly not helping you learn Greek.

I look forward to seeing your first attempt at wringing meaning from a passage of real Greek and your detailed explanation of the things in it that still puzzle you and why.


Please explain to me how do you think I read the first book of Anabasis without encountering real Greek? You might have got the impression that I only skimmed thru the Anabasis because I skimmed through the bit of Anabasis you suggested to me. That is not how I normally read Xenophon. I normally look up every word I don't know and make sure I understand every last bit of the syntax. Often at this point I still do not understand it so I check the translations. I then go thru it again to see if I now can wring some understanding from it and I only go on when I am sure that I fully understand it and why it means what I think it does. Sometimes I still do not understand and I decide I must make a post on textkit. I first write I out my best guess at a translation because when I post I want those who see my post to be able to see where I am going wrong. Often that writing-out resolves the problem but occasionally it doesn't so then I post.

I was fully expected that when I started reading real Greek it would be laborious but if is still just as laborious after four years why should I expect any improvement in the next four years?

Of course people who have better competence have read more Greek than me - they read faster.
The first book of Anabasis represents about 40% of the extant texts but taken all together it is less than the size of a the kind of short novel that I could read in a day if it were in English so yes I would be astounded if they have not read a great deal more than me.

I have stated several times how much time I have devoted to reading the extant texts. Why do you keep ignoring that? Why you keep telling me to do what I tell you I am already doing?

I do intend to keep at it with Claxton that is to say to keep reading Xenophon's Hellenica . You theory that my problem is that I waste to much time reading "phoney" Greek has a flaw. There is too little easy Greek around for it to take up more than a fraction of time I have spent reading real Greek. More's the pity.

And no I have not spent four years studying Krashen. Even for the last four days I have tended to watch his videos while eating a meal when I would not be studying Greek anyhow.

You both have been giving me advice on basis of a belief about how I am studying that bears no relation to what my reality actually is. I put that down to how difficult it is to convey things over the internet rather than that I am suffering delusions and that what you tell me I am doing is correct.
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Re: Stephen Krashen

Postby Victor » Sun May 07, 2017 12:55 pm

I've seen enough now to know where your problems learning Greek really lie, daivid.
I hope one day you can overcome them. Good luck!
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby mwh » Mon May 08, 2017 4:32 am

daivid,
Here’s something you wrote last year in viewtopic.php?f=12&t=64799&p=185350 that I found revealing:

"Nor could my driving instructor understand why I kept repeating the same mistake despite repeated corrections. Eventually he lost his temper which I take as a sign that I am not typical - driving instructors who shout at their pupils soon run out of customers."

No-one here has lost their temper with you, but it seems to me that you are “not typical” either of people who try to learn to drive or of people who try to learn ancient Greek—or not of those who succeed. You are like me with physics—I get so far and no further. Let’s face it, with some people Greek just does not click. It’s possible you’re one of them. There’s no disgrace in that, only a lot of frustration. If you’re determined to persevere, I’m sure you’ll continue to find people here willing to try to help you. I’ve tried quite hard myself, as you know, but failed. But I do think you’re wrong to blame your relative lack of progress on the lack of suitable materials, and sometimes we just have to admit defeat and move on—as I’ve had to do with physics. There’s more to life.

Michael
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby daivid » Mon May 08, 2017 1:22 pm

mwh wrote:daivid,
Here’s something you wrote last year in viewtopic.php?f=12&t=64799&p=185350 that I found revealing:

"Nor could my driving instructor understand why I kept repeating the same mistake despite repeated corrections. Eventually he lost his temper which I take as a sign that I am not typical - driving instructors who shout at their pupils soon run out of customers."

No-one here has lost their temper with you, but it seems to me that you are “not typical” either of people who try to learn to drive or of people who try to learn ancient Greek—or not of those who succeed. You are like me with physics—I get so far and no further. Let’s face it, with some people Greek just does not click. It’s possible you’re one of them. There’s no disgrace in that, only a lot of frustration. If you’re determined to persevere, I’m sure you’ll continue to find people here willing to try to help you. I’ve tried quite hard myself, as you know, but failed. But I do think you’re wrong to blame your relative lack of progress on the lack of suitable materials, and sometimes we just have to admit defeat and move on—as I’ve had to do with physics. There’s more to life.

Michael


Self confidence is the most important thing you need in a learning task but there comes a time when encouragement is just giving false hope. Thanks for you for your honesty and for advice that seems well founded.

But am I atypical of those who study Ancient Greek? You do quickly qualify that by saying “of those who succeed” but that is a very important qualification. What proportion of those who set themselves the task learning to read Greek succeed? I have been trying to find this out and no one seems to know. The very fact that there is so little interest in that question speaks volumes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that success is very low. I have been trying to get the SPHS to look at this but though they are very friendly they don’t seem to grasp what I am suggesting.

If you have evidence that success in teaching Ancient Greek is in fact quite high then please cite it but from the fact you felt the need to make the qualification above suggests that even you suspect that success is low and that I am more than typical.

Given that should you not entertain the possibility that Stephen Krashen might be right and that grammar methods are a very inadequate method of teaching and that far and away the most effective method is giving students access to graded readers?

I am especially concerned for you to at least consider this because with your command of Ancient Greek you would be able to write excellent Ancient Greek graded readers.

Oddly, were Krashen here, he would probably give the same as advice as you (just for a different reason). Because I do not have access to comprehensible input I am unlikely to succeed.

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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby mwh » Tue May 09, 2017 3:25 am

It’s just that some find ancient Greek harder to learn than others. No-one finds it easy. Beginning students often quickly find that Greek is not for them, and turn to more congenial pursuits. Others take it in their stride but want no more than a term or a year of it. Others again, a minority, want to take it to a higher level. You are unique in my experience in having devoted so much time and effort to Greek without having more to show for it. I don’t say this to put you down, I trust you understand, but you asked for a comparative assessment. But you shouldn’t underestimate what you have in fact learnt, which is a lot.
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby daivid » Tue May 09, 2017 7:45 pm

mwh wrote:It’s just that some find ancient Greek harder to learn than others. No-one finds it easy. Beginning students often quickly find that Greek is not for them, and turn to more congenial pursuits. Others take it in their stride but want no more than a term or a year of it. Others again, a minority, want to take it to a higher level. You are unique in my experience in having devoted so much time and effort to Greek without having more to show for it. I don’t say this to put you down, I trust you understand, but you asked for a comparative assessment.

That is what I was suggesting. I am typical of those who “quickly find that Greek is not for them” though in fact my first year went swimmingly. I first hit a problem when reading “Greek Unseen Translations” . The GCSE bit was fine but as soon as I got to the AS part I found myself in trouble. It was like there was a suddenly an unbridgeable chasm and it simply hasn’t got noticeably more bridgeable since. I only differ from them in that I didn’t give up at that point. I am suggesting that if there was enough material to provide stepping stones between different levels many of those who found Greek was not for them would have continued and achieved competence. The other group who simply chose to do other things despite not encountering problems would not of course be affected. And no I don’t take it as a put down – you are saying I am unique in my persistence which is hardly a put down.
mwh wrote:But you shouldn’t underestimate what you have in fact learnt, which is a lot.


Thanks for reminding me of that and I have learnt quite a lot about Ancient Greek but it doesn’t seem to translate into being able to read any faster so I tend to regard it as of no account. But is exactly what Stephen Krashen predicts. Learning is very limited and acquisition only occurs when what is being read allows the reader to concentrate on the meaning rather than the form.

As you say nothing about Stephen Krashen it is hard for me to work out why you do not wish to engage with his ideas. You do both agree on production. I have for long argued here on the value of writing and speaking Greek where as you have been firmly skeptical of its value. Krashen is very firm in saying that speaking and writing do not aid acquisition. It is listening and most of all reading that allows competence in speaking and writing to be achieved.
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby ngourlay » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:59 pm

I'm terribly late to this discussion (as usual), but as someone mentioned Hillard & Botting, I thought I'd drop in a plug for their Elementary Greek Exercises, which are great, but which until recently suffered from the lack of an answer key. I have remedied the deficit, and I'll gladly send colleagues a PDF upon request. Or you can buy the key from Amazon if you'd like...

UK Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/9811150052/
US Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/9811150052/
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:13 pm

Another late addition if somebody still wants graded "comprehensible" input:

Charles Anthon. A Greek Reader, Selected Principally from the Work of Frederic Jacobs. Harper and brothers. New York. 1840.

There are amply notes after the texts, if you want to try the Greek, then engage with some phrases logically to build up encyclopedic knowledge in English, then go back to engage with the texts again.
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby daivid » Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:07 pm

ἑκηβόλος wrote:Another late addition if somebody still wants graded "comprehensible" input:

Charles Anthon. A Greek Reader, Selected Principally from the Work of Frederic Jacobs. Harper and brothers. New York. 1840.

There are amply notes after the texts, if you want to try the Greek, then engage with some phrases logically to build up encyclopedic knowledge in English, then go back to engage with the texts again.


This is not specially written Greek but extracts from the extant sources that Charles Anthon deemed to be easier. It does include some preparatory exercises of sentences that might be expected to be easier. They were not even close to being "comprehensible" input for me. The first three sentences were not complex but the vocabulary was a bit obscure. The forth sentence defeated me - even after I had looked up the words.
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby jeidsath » Mon Dec 25, 2017 7:05 pm

For the forth sentence, it might help to realize that Βίων was a Greek philosopher. There are notes in the back that help as well.

The above reader is all real Greek, and progessive. It may be worth starting a new thread and posting translations, or attempts for each line.
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Mon Dec 25, 2017 8:04 pm

jeidsath wrote:The above reader is all real Greek, and progessive.

I found , that when compared to the original authours, there is a degree of smoothing (or what you might call internal contextualisation) to allow excerpts to make sense. Things like writing a noun instead of a pronoun, when the referent of the pronoun falls outside what is quoted in the reader, and other ways of making the passages comprehensible.
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby daivid » Mon Dec 25, 2017 8:26 pm

jeidsath wrote:For the forth sentence, it might help to realize that Βίων was a Greek philosopher. There are notes in the back that help as well.

The above reader is all real Greek, and progessive. It may be worth starting a new thread and posting translations, or attempts for each line.


You are right - knowing Βίων was a person and not translating it as something like "of lives" makes a huge difference. However, I no longer believe that notes help at all - as soon as you resort to notes your language faculty goes AWOL.

While it is possible to select sentences from the extant texts that are reasonably simple in syntax, doing so inevitably means that you end up with sentences that are stripped from context so their communicative value is impaired and the learner is deprived of the assistance provided by contexts.

I do appreciate the trouble people have taken resolve the difficulties I have had with sentences but no longer believe that such help actually does anything to help me to internalize the language. The rules in grammar books bear no relation to grammar that is hard wired in our heads and only way to internalize that is input (and for Ancient Greek that really means texts) that is communicative. Stuff that you finally get after looking up the words and reading the notes and getting explanations from others does not help. I have tried that sufficient number of years to be certain of that. The Greek I have internalized had been the easy stuff because I have been exposed to simple communicative texts that have enabled me to do so but I have made zero progress since then because everything else is for me too difficult to be communicative.

This video dovetails with my experience perfectly:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1LRoKQzb9U
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby donhamiltontx » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:57 pm

Stephen Krashen's hypotheses about learning are on the money, in my opinion, for languages where comprehensible input at a level of i+1 exists. Texts at such levels for Ancient Greek do not exist for me in the sense that you and Krashen and I use the phrase "comprehensible input." *
Existing readers that are intended to be easy are either too difficult or are too silly or mindless or trivial to me to be interesting to me and apparently to you. My way around this is to find texts in short, palatable packets that I like (once I understand them after painstaking labor and using whatever aids I can find). And then I read them over and over again until I get them fixed in my head. The key is that I have to really, really like the texts.
Texts that I personally find interesting enough to read over and over include parts of Herodotus, parts of Homer, Diodorus Siculus and the Greek Anthology. Claxton's Attica is quite good, though sometimes she helps with easier texts and leaves harder texts to the reader, which is getting it backwards, to my mind.. Steadman's texts are good for me, too, though reading them just once is not enough for me.

Edited to delete an unneeded reference to an Ancient Greek translation of Harry Potter.
Last edited by donhamiltontx on Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: not really about Stephen Krashen at all

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:11 am

donhamiltontx wrote:And then I read them over and over again until I get them fixed in my head.

What proportion of those learning a dead language such as Greek and Latin, could more easily fill a page from memorised texts, rather than memorised grammatical tables? Rough guess?
The child is the father of the man.
(W.W., 1802)
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