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teaching koine greek.

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teaching koine greek.

Postby uberdwayne » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:06 pm

Hi guys, I am one of 2 people that know koine greek in a rather large church, approx 400 people. And it looks like I will be teaching it to a small group of church members later this fall. As I prepare, does anyone have any advice? Most of these people will have very little knowledge aside form a few words here and there, and some others are fluent in Serbian, Russian, and at least one has some experience with Latin (I do not, but I understand the grammar is very similar)

Should I create a structured agenda from scratch? or should I use a book such as mounce?

Your(υμων) input is greatly appreciated!
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Re: teaching koine greek.

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:27 pm

uberdwayne wrote:Hi guys, I am one of 2 people that know koine greek in a rather large church, approx 400 people. And it looks like I will be teaching it to a small group of church members later this fall. As I prepare, does anyone have any advice? Most of these people will have very little knowledge aside form a few words here and there, and some others are fluent in Serbian, Russian, and at least one has some experience with Latin (I do not, but I understand the grammar is very similar)

Should I create a structured agenda from scratch? or should I use a book such as mounce?

Your(υμων) input is greatly appreciated!


There are lots of options other than Mounce/Wallace. I would start them reading from day one. None of this memorize paradigm stuff which is highly demotivating. The first day they should leave the class having read a sentence or two in a narrative portion of John's Gospel.

I would teach syntax first not later. Start simple with a basic narrative sentence. The syntax meta language should be avoided when ever possible. Subject and object could be explained in plain english.

RE: Serbian, Russian,

Some discussion of Russian and Ukrainian students of NT Greek, they don't generally find Greek any easier to learn than people who speak word order languages like English.
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Re: teaching koine greek.

Postby uberdwayne » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:54 pm

The first day they should leave the class having read a sentence or two in a narrative portion of John's Gospel.


You think this should be the case even if the alphabet is unknown to them? I understand there are similarities, but is it enough for the Greek newbie to learn in 1.5 hours to read a sentance?
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Re: teaching koine greek.

Postby daivid » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:15 am

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:RE: Serbian, Russian,

Some discussion of Russian and Ukrainian students of NT Greek, they don't generally find Greek any easier to learn than people who speak word order languages like English.

A Croatian friend told me that learning Russian was as hard as English because the similarities were often false friends. (She would have spent her life watching Hollywood films with subtitles and that might be the real reason she found English easy) From the little I remember of Russian the cases do behave in different ways.
The cases of Serbo-Croat on the other hand I have found behave in a very similar way to Greek. Serbo-Croat does have two extra cases but one is the instrumental and the instrumental use of the dative in Greek corresponds exactly to the Serbo-Croat instrumental. Oh and the prepositional case is used just for prepositions.

Serbo-Croat has lost its aorist but the perfective aspect (svršeni vid) is accomplished by pairs of verbs, one of the pair being impefective (nesvršeni) and one perfective (svršeni). So at first glance verbal aspect is completely different but is actually identical.

So I would be very surprised if the Serbs don't have a big advantage over English speakers.
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Re: teaching koine greek.

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:14 pm

uberdwayne wrote:
The first day they should leave the class having read a sentence or two in a narrative portion of John's Gospel.


You think this should be the case even if the alphabet is unknown to them? I understand there are similarities, but is it enough for the Greek newbie to learn in 1.5 hours to read a sentance?


Seems like new greek students often show up already knowing some greek, like the alphabet. They often have been using an interlinear for some time before taking their first class. For example, a young man who had already worked his way through most of J. G. Machen. Another fellow who had read Mounce and Black and so on.

I have no idea what happens in a seminary greek class day one. Never been there. Just offering suggestions which are alternatives to the time honored approach which has made untold thousands of seminarians hate language study.
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Re: teaching koine greek.

Postby uberdwayne » Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:47 pm

I have no idea what happens in a seminary greek class day one.


Same here, and to be honest, I'm a little nervous with this opportunity. It will be a first for me to take knowledge of something I have learned on my own and pour it into a group of people to learn.

Last thing I want of course is to scare off my students, or give them the impression that NT Greek is boring and not worth the effort. It is quite the opposite! However, I also get the impression that Rote memorization is a necessary evil that we must live with. I'm certain there are way to diminish its impact, but to completely do away with it would make the language useless!

I'm certain I'll be working from a traditional framework, but there must be some way to overcome some of the obstacles involved with it. Unless of course, as these students will "WANT" to be there, I may be able to tap into their enthusiasm... On the other hand, I want that enthusiasm to remain intact throughout the entire "course"
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Re: teaching koine greek.

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:59 pm

uberdwayne wrote:
I'm certain I'll be working from a traditional framework ...


Why? There are many better approaches. R. Buth & Co, inductive reading approach ... bunch of others.

What gets people to attend the first day of a course in basic greek is total lack of any reasonable conception of what they are getting into and what it will cost them in terms of time. Once they start to comprehend where this is going most will begin to have second thoughts.
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Re: teaching koine greek.

Postby LSorenson » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:01 pm

For a church class, taught from the traditional approach, I would use a book that has some sort of narrative. There are several classical grammars that take this approach: Athenaze, JACT series, Reading with Thrasymachus, et. al. Using a reading approach, rather than studying different grammatical categories and unrelated simple sentences, is much more rewarding, and you get people reading early on, and more immersed in the language. Mounce is nothing but charts and declensions of nouns for the first 8 weeks. The workbook mixes English and Greek in the sentences so the learner has to constantly 'switch' languages mid sentence frequently which is not the way to learn.

There are very few NT grammars written from a narrative approach (also called inductive): Dobson's book is titled Learn New Testament Greek. (Use the 3rd edition -2005 - as the accents have been added to the text)(See the thread http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=9389). Clarence Hale's Let's Study Greek (out of print) - I can send you some sample shots if you email me.

I'm teach in a Koine Greek group that teaches in several churches and has about 5 beginning Greek classes each year. It's been going on for 28 years, and I've taught for about 7. Lately I've switch to active learning methods (cf. Randall Buth's BiblicalLanguageCenter.com). Most people in my group use an abridged version of Hale. And several have used Mounce. The problem with teaching in a church is that there is often little commitment. People come unprepared to class, skip a week or two, and expect to be able to catch up, which then ends up slowing you down because you really do want to keep the class size at max. You need to let people know that it takes about 400 hours of study to master a 1st year level of language - then hope to get them to study 3-5 hours per week. We do not quiz students. Ask for a small financial commitment - $25-$50 for copying, etc. Let them know book costs up front ( A reader's GNT costs about $40). Expect dropouts about 6 weeks in, and then again over the Christmas break. If you can keep people into January, you will have them for the rest of the year.

1st class, teach the alphabet, give a little history of Greek and why it is important. I have people read Leland Ryken's Choosing a Bible: Understanding Bible Translation Differences http://www.christianbook.com/choosing-a-bible-understanding-translation-differences/leland-ryken/9781581347302/pd/47304. If you hunt it may be available for free as a pdf online. Then teach the 1st chapter in your book (which is usallythe alphabet). The first class will whiz by if you are prepared.

If I had to teach from the 'traditional' approach, I would use Dobson's book.
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