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new Biblical Greek learning tool

Are you learning New Testament Greek with Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek? Here's where you can meet other learners using this textbook. Use this board to ask questions and post your work for feedback. Use this forum too to discuss all things Koine, LXX & New Testament Greek including grammar, syntax, textbook talk and more.

new Biblical Greek learning tool

Postby noren » Fri May 13, 2005 6:27 pm

I have developed an interactive, web-based Greek learning tool for learning paradigms and vocabulary in which the student reads stories which can be manipulated into dozens of variations. My goal is to make the learning of Greek morphology easier without having to rely on the rote memorization of paradigms. So far I have stories which focus on 2nd declension masculine nouns but also includes some other vocabulary due to the nature of the manipulation of the stories. For the project to really succeed it needs to have more stories to cover the full range of declension types found in Greek. I invite you to view the site at: http://www3.telus.net/norbertre/index.html. The stories can be seen here http://www3.telus.net/norbertre/Greek05.html. The requirments for viewing the site is having a unicode Greek font installed (links are available on the site) and having javascript enabled on your browser. This site will be tested in a classroom setting as a supplement to traditional Greek teaching method this summer. (There are English translation mouse-overs for the Greek words so that even beginner students can read an entire story without having to memorize the vocabulary first.) I hope to gain some feedback from students from this to guide future development.

I would like to solicit some feedback (especially from Greek experts and teachers) on several areas.
1.) Does this approach warrant further development?
2.) Is the interface useable and intuitive?
3.) Does anyone have (simple) stories which they already use for teaching Greek that they would willing to be made available for this site? Contact me off-list.
4.) Would anyone be interested in authoring some stories for this site? The greatest benefit for doing so is that by writing one story, it can actually become over 100 different stories and can be used to teach complete paradigms and vocabulary in a more enjoyable manner. Full credit of authorship will be given for every story. Stories can be submitted in Greek or English (I will translate them and have them checked by a Greek prof.)

More information on authoring stories for this site can be seen at: http://www3.telus.net/norbertre/Authoring.html.

Enjoy reading Greek, not memorizing paradigms!

Norbert Rennert
Canada Institute of Linguistics
Langley, BC
Canada
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Postby SeanL » Thu Jun 16, 2005 7:01 am

Dear Norbert,

I thank you for this. I am certainly no expert, just a learner, and I admit I have not used your new tool enough yet to know if it will prove useful. But I certainly like what I see and believe it will prove useful as an adjunct to my other resources. And it is even sort of fun as an added bonus.

I would really like to see what others have to say about it: try it out, folks!

And thank you also for the links to so many nice unicode fonts. I snagged a few beauties.

-- Sean L.
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Postby noren » Thu Jun 16, 2005 5:53 pm

Thanks for the encouragement, Sean.

Let me elaborate a little on how this method works. First, our brains are highly tuned to process stories, rather than series of isolated, non-related words such as paradigms or lists of vocabulary. Thus it makes sense to try to learn and remember new words in a context. The meaning of a story will help remind a learner of the meaning of a particular word and its form.

On my webpage, each story can be changed into 144 different combinations, each of which introduces new vocabulary without changing the plot or the meaning of the story. So the reader can predict the meaning of the new forms he will encounter even before he reads them. When he reads the new word, it is immediately 'filled' with meaning. I use this method to teach personal pronouns, plurals, and tenses of words. In each case the reader can predict what the meaning of these words are if he has understood the story in it's first form. By re-reading these stories in the many different possible forms you can learn language like a child who likes to hear the same story over and over again.

In addition, I have chosen the nouns for each story from the same declension class and try to use all 5 cases in each story. You therefore encounter the complete noun paradigm in each story. By changing to plural forms you encounter the plural paradigms. So you can learn the complete noun paradigm in a story form without relying on rote memory. The reference material is available for those who like to learn and review the paradigms in a traditional manner.

You don't need to know all the messy rules about the grammar of a language and how its words are constructed in order to learn a new language, including Greek. Contrary to many approaches presented in textbooks. Just like you don't need to know any chemistry in order to digest food. Now, this grammatical and linguistic knowledge is not false nor useless, but merely unnecessary for learning a language in the first place. If you give your brain enough simple material it can process, it will absorb the grammatical and morphological patterns subconsiously. You can study the grammar at a later date when your brain has learned the meanings of the words and endings of the words better. Millions of people have learned their second and third languages without knowing any of the grammar.

I'm not surprised that few Greek teachers are using this method to teach Greek. They learned Greek in the old school and succeeded, so therefore continue using the same methods they were taught. I have taken some Greek classes in the past but failed to learn Greek. (I passed the classes but never went on to improve it and it fell into disuse.) However, I did learn several other languages successfully. After I analysized what the difference was, I realised that my preference for learning languages was not through the analytical method, but rather a more wholistic approach. So I thought up this method for learning Greek, because it matches my language learning preference better. And a lot of other people as well is my guess.
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Postby Kopio » Thu Jun 16, 2005 6:38 pm

Nice website Norbert. I like the siplay, and it is pretty slick how it changes tense, number, gender, etc. I think it could definitely be used as an entry level Greek learning tool. I would think that this would be a great tool for someone who wants to get a working knowledge of Greek. You should try and provide some sort of really basic primer though...an introduction to the alphabet and accents, so on and so forth.

I must say though that I slightly take issue with the following statement....

noren wrote:You don't need to know all the messy rules about the grammar of a language and how its words are constructed in order to learn a new language, including Greek. Contrary to many approaches presented in textbooks. Just like you don't need to know any chemistry in order to digest food. Now, this grammatical and linguistic knowledge is not false nor useless, but merely unnecessary for learning a language in the first place. If you give your brain enough simple material it can process, it will absorb the grammatical and morphological patterns subconsiously. You can study the grammar at a later date when your brain has learned the meanings of the words and endings of the words better. Millions of people have learned their second and third languages without knowing any of the grammar.


Now, I want to clarify that in many ways that statement is true, BUT...it depends on why the student is learning Greek in the first place. If the student is simply learning it as a fun hobby and wants to try and learn to read the NT or other Koine as literature I think that this statement is fine. However, if the student is intent on accurately exegeting and interpreting a Biblical text, whether it be for preaching, or for teaching...I think all of those "messy rules of grammar" are fundamentally required to understand the text. One must have a solid understanding of Grammar and Syntax to fully understand a text, especially a didactic text. When reading the Paulines, if you don't understand your syntax, you are going to be completely lost after about the 4th subordinate clause! ALSO, I did not truly understand English Grammar, untli I took Greek! It was then that I learned how the language really functioned. That's not to say that I couldn't talk or understand speach, but once I really learned how the language functioned, I was able to use it correctly and squeeze much more meaning out of each sentence......does that make sense? I'm sure that as another person who has a few languages under his belt, you can understand what I am saying :)

BTW, have you checked out Lyle Story's Greek to Me learing method? He is a fellow Canadian, (I think he is at Regent) and he has a wonderful program that covers all of the basics and moves the student well into Grammar and vocab aquisition. You can find Lyle's program here... http://home.regent.edu/lylesto/memsystem.html This is how I learned Greek, and I have been able to teach out of it as well, and it is a terrific system that keeps the students interested, and moving forward.
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Postby noren » Thu Jun 16, 2005 10:26 pm

Mat,

I agree with your comments. What bothers me is the way most profs and textbooks insist on learning Greek though. I think there is way too much emphasis placed on learning the language through explicit memorization of the rules without being able to read and understand actual text first. When I took my Greek course the prof drilled us to parse every word we read. Well, I don't do that for English or any other language I know, so why insist on it with Greek. Your brain can learn to decipher what it is reading so that you know what it means without having it all in consious memory.

I think the first year Greek should be spent on reading as much as possible with the aim of understanding what you are reading, not cramming as many rules about the language into your head so that you can analyse it as you are trying to understand it.

BTW, Lyle Story is at Regent University in Virginia (according to his website), not at Regent College here in Vancouver. I wish he was here at Regent College, then I could drop over and visit him and discuss my method with him.
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URL change

Postby noren » Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:15 pm

This is an anouncement that the site's url has changed.

The site is now available here:
http://members.shaw.ca/norbertre/koine/
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Postby SeanL » Wed Oct 05, 2005 8:52 am

Thanks for posting the new URL. I just went looking for the site and couldn't find it. I came here, hoping you had left a note, and you had.

-- Sean
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