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What are the best kind of readings for beginners text books

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What are the best kind of readings for beginners text books

Postby daivid » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:25 pm

When I am kind I have in mind a spectrum
original Greek
simplified original Greek
retold stories from Greek texts
stories written specifically for the text book

To my mind the purpose of readings is to give the beginner practice
in the grammar being taught.
As it is easier to tailor something specially written that seems to me
to be the obvious choice as it can focus on the grammar that has
just been introduced to the learner.

I get the impression that there is a feeling that the gold standard
is original Greek However text book writers
(I have the the writers of Cambridge "Reading Greek" in mind here)
faced with the reality that this will be to hard for beginners
settle for adapted Greek as the next best thing.
To my mind, however, adapted Greek texts are the worst of both
worlds. They are not the "real thing" and they are difficult
to adapt in a way that reinforces the grammar being taught.

However, I have never nor am I ever likely to write a
language text book so I have no real idea what the
pressures are on someone writing a text book.
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Re: What are the best kind of readings for beginners text bo

Postby Markos » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:56 pm

Daivid asked: What are the best kind of readings for beginners text books?


Good question. The short answer, I think, is that we don't know. Learning to read Ancient Greek well is a complicated process, with many variables. Different people learn differently. A textbook that one person finds very useful may not work for someone else. But you raise an important question. One thing that we do know is that the status quo is not working all that well. Most people studying Ancient Greek never learn it well, and those that do probably spend more time on it than they need to due to ineffective pedagogy.

I get the impression that there is a feeling that the gold standard
is original Greek


Yes, there is a widespread bias against using anything other than "real Greek." Even JACT had to defend their limited adaption of Greek texts. People who make up Greek whole cloth, like Christoph Rico, tend to be disparaged for "inauthentic usage." Latin leaners, I think, don't quite share this bias, which is one reason why there are more helpful Latin resources produced. Many Greek text books take it as a badge of honor that all their exercises are from "real" Greek. But no one ever learned English using only "real" English. Think of your kids' first reading books. Think of how you spoke to your kids as toddlers,and how they spoke to you. And my 11 year old can read English better than I can read Greek, even though I have been at it longer than he has.

To my mind, however, adapted Greek texts are the worst of both
worlds. They are not the "real thing" and they are difficult
to adapt in a way that reinforces the grammar being taught.


Actually, my experience

viewtopic.php?f=28&t=22003

has been that adapting Greek texts to different grammatical levels is very easy to do. Greek loves to express the same basic meaning using a variety of forms. It is very easy to switch around the syntax and vocab of Greek texts. And it is obviously easier to adapt Greek texts than to compose Greek texts because one has a starting point.

In my leveled Greek readings I've done some things against which obviously many peole will find theoretical objections. For example, in some of my texts I only use a SVO word order and always include the personal pronouns. I'm not concerned, for the moment, whether this is "real Greek" (although I might mention in passing that there is nothing inherently un-Greek about this in isolated instances.) I am only concerned whether reading lots of this Greek will help the learner progress more efficently than only stumbling over and parsing over and analyzing a small amount of difficult Greek texts. I don't have the answer to your questions but I am very interested in the question. Or, rather, I am interested in producing some readings which might help answer your question. I'm not really interested in this question as a theoretical discussion, but I'd love to see new reading exercises produced and tried out. And I really appreciate Textkit allowing me to the forum to try out my stuff.
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Re: What are the best kind of readings for beginners text bo

Postby daivid » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:01 pm

Markos wrote:
Yes, there is a widespread bias against using anything other than "real Greek." Even JACT had to defend their limited adaption of Greek texts. People who make up Greek whole cloth, like Christoph Rico, tend to be disparaged for "inauthentic usage."

Thanks for confirming my hunch. I wonder why this bias is so strong?

Markos wrote:Actually, my experience
viewtopic.php?f=28&t=22003

Thanks for that link. I'm learning classical rather than koine but that thread is the kind of thing that I have been looking for.

Markos wrote: has been that adapting Greek texts to different grammatical levels is very easy to do. Greek loves to express the same basic meaning using a variety of forms. It is very easy to switch around the syntax and vocab of Greek texts. And it is obviously easier to adapt Greek texts than to compose Greek texts because one has a starting point.

To have my certainties undermined is why I posted. Nevertheless....
If the aim of the adaption is simply to avoid grammatical forms not covered then I can see
your point.
However, when I learn a new bit of grammar what am looking for is a reading that does that form
to death. The reading that really disillusioned me with "Reading Greek" was when they had just introduced
the imperfect tense and made reading the start of "Clouds" where Strepsiades bemoans his current situation.
As this is mainly dealing with the now it is mainly in the present.
It seems to me (albeit without experience) that it would be very hard to covert that extract entirely into the imperfect but writing a short piece from scratch entirely using the imperfect
would not be so hard.


Markos wrote:In my leveled Greek readings I've done some things against which obviously many peole will find theoretical objections. For example, in some of my texts I only use a SVO word order and always include the personal pronouns. I'm not concerned, for the moment, whether this is "real Greek" (although I might mention in passing that there is nothing inherently un-Greek about this in isolated instances.) I am only concerned whether reading lots of this Greek will help the learner progress more efficently than only stumbling over and parsing over and analyzing a small amount of difficult Greek texts.
.

I don't have any theoretical objection but from my experience learning Serbo-Croat
I have found that the
word order is king habit is very hard to break. The temptation for a beginner is to rely on a SVO
word order and ignore the case endings. The approach to cases that I have found most helpful
(used by several Russian text books as well as Serbo-Croat)
is take one case at a time and do all the genders rather than try teaching an entire declension.
This does not mean the readings are more authentic. A reading that exclusively uses
the nominative ( as was first reading in several text books that I have encountered)
is not the sort of thing that a native speaker is likely to have written.

Markos wrote: I don't have the answer to your questions but I am very interested in the question. Or, rather, I am interested in producing some readings which might help answer your question. I'm not really interested in this question as a theoretical discussion, but I'd love to see new reading exercises produced and tried out. And I really appreciate Textkit allowing me to the forum to try out my stuff.



I started the thread from a feeling that it ought to be possible to produce better beginners texts
that what is available. I am glad that there is someone like you who knows Greek well enough to
give it a try.
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Re: What are the best kind of readings for beginners text bo

Postby Markos » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:41 pm

The Greek Ollendorf has a very distinctive philosophy of what makes a good reading exercise, and in several ways these exercises are at variance with the ones found in most textbooks.

1. They are all short and easy, even the ones in the later chapters. Most text books have graded exercises, so they tend to get harder and harder, longer and more complicated. Ollendorf's exercises seek to cover only one part of the grammar/forms, so the exercises are grasped quickly. One almost "speed reads" them, as opposed to laboriously "decoding" and puzzling over difficult syntax, which is the norm in grammar-translation.

2. They are almost all completely made up, and again, even in the later chapters, there is no attempt to use real Greek. Most text books fade into real Greek very early on, making the readings hard and not really suited to illustrate the grammar/forms in question. The readings are not even meant to necessarily be interesting. It's all about simple repetition drills.

3. Ollendorf by design uses a very limited vocab in the exercises, and the words used tend to be concrete objects from ordinary life. Again, this makes the excercises easy. Ollendorf uses excercises to drill grammar/forms; to increase vocab one would have to go elsewhere.

4. While not conversational in the sense that Christphe Rico's book is, the exersises do invole some question and answer and semantic switch-out. Ollendorf is not exacly the Direct Method of Rouse, but is an early departure away from the pure grammar-translation method.

Ollendorf's English to Greek exersies are also short and simple, and lend themselves to oral drills.

I am not necessarily arguing that Ollendorf has the "best" readings, but he is worth taking a look at.

http://books.google.com/books?id=m1kZAA ... r_versions
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