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Any tips on reading fluency?

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Any tips on reading fluency?

Postby uberdwayne » Sun Oct 10, 2010 4:43 pm

Since I've started learning greek 2 questions has been on my mind, and I have not been able to find any examples online. so here goes....

1) Is it possible to read Koine (or any dead language for that matter) and understand it as fluently as your native tongue.
2) is there an example of someone who is this advanced?

To clear things up, I'm not talking about Composition, Speaking, or listening; only reading.

If this is truly possible, any tips or advice in achieving this goal would be much appreciated :)
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Re: Any tips on reading fluency?

Postby uberdwayne » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:15 am

nobody has any tips?
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Re: Any tips on reading fluency?

Postby Markos » Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:16 am

Hi, Uberdwayne,

I'm surprised that no one has yet answered your question. It is a very good one.

Is it possible to read Koine (or any dead language for that matter) and understand it as fluently as your native tongue.


Yes. If we can send a man to the moon, SOMEONE can do this. It would be very, very hard. It would take a very long time.

is there an example of someone who is this advanced?

It's not me. I can read the NT in Greek ALMOST as fluently as I can in English, maybe 75% as fluently. But this is only because I have read it cover to cover many, many, times. Overall, I would say my Greek is about 40% as fluent as my English. A few years ago it was 20%. In a few years it may be 50%. If I got to 80% I would be very happy. SOMEONE could get to 100%. That's my goal. I hope to get close.

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If this is truly possible, any tips or advice in achieving this goal would be much appreciated


Again, I'm not the best guy to answer this. But I'll give you my two cents. There is only one way to obtain full fluency in any language--immersion. There are two types of immersion--physical immersion and mental immersion. Physical immersion is moving to a place where natives speak the language. You cannot do this for Ancient Greek. That leaves mental immersion.

Mental immersion is adopting the attitude that you are going to do everything you can to SURROUND yourself, CONSTANTLY, with Ancient Greek. This begins with committing one hour a day, every day to reading Greek. One hour a day does not sound like a lot, but it is. This means that if you miss a day, you have to read Greek for two hours the next day. If you miss a day and the next day you only read Greek for 30 minutes, the next day you have to read Greek for two and an half hours. This level of commitment basically means that almost every thing you read is in Greek. It means you don't watch any television.]Needless to say, if you are reading Greek every day for one hour a day, it does matter what Greek you read. Eventually, you will cover just about everything.


Then, mental immersion means you fully commit yourself to listening to as much Greek as possible. You NEVER do any routine activity--watering the plants, washing the dishes, taking a walk, without listening to Greek. If you drive to Cleveland, you listen to Greek the whole time.

Next, it means writing Greek as much as possible. There are several on-line forums where you can write Greek to other people, including the Agora here at Textkit. This does NOT count towards your one hour of reading per day. There are down times where you can write Greek easier than you can read it. If you are waiting somewhere for five minutes, you pick up a piece a paper and you write out some Greek.

Lastly, Mental Immersion means you speak in Greek everyday for at least one hour a day. You do this not only because speaking Greek will help with your reading, but also because if you want to obtain full fluency, you have to make use of more down time. You can speak Greek to yourself almost anywhere and at many times through out the day. If you are in an elevator by yourself, you say out loud νυν καταβαινω. If there are other people in the elevator, you whisper this. You speak Greek to your kids and your spouse whether they understand it or not. If a song is playing on the radio, you translate it into Greek and say it out loud. 90% of all the Greek you speak will be to yourself, but you also need to somehow find other people who speak Ancient Greek and talk to them.

Mental Immersion is necessary not because I believe that full fluency cannot be obtained only by reading--it can, if you can spend 8 hours a day reading Greek. But most of us can't. We need to take advantage of the down times, and this means speaking, listening and writing.

I should say that I have been in Mental Immersion mode for a few years, and I am not fluent. I think one would need to be in Mental Immersion mode everyday for about twenty years. And even then, full fluency may not be reached. But I can promise you that if you don't this, you won't get there.

If you cannot commit to Mental Immersion mode, don't worry about it. You can get to 60% fluency lots of other ways.
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I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: Any tips on reading fluency?

Postby modus.irrealis » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:17 pm

uberdwayne wrote:1) Is it possible to read Koine (or any dead language for that matter) and understand it as fluently as your native tongue.

"As fluently as your native tongue" might be too high a standard and I'm not sure it's all that common even for learners of living language, but there's no reason you can't achieve near-fluency, and as far as I can see lots of people do. Works were continuously written in basically Koine Greek for hundreds of years after the spoken language had changed, and I always imagine that Byzantine scholars talked to each other in Ancient Greek, although I've never been able to confirm whether that's true or not. If they could do that, they could read fluently.

But for myself, one of the reasons I really studied Ancient Greek was to understand the services at my church, which are basically in Koine Greek, and after enough exposure and study, I was able to understand at least the gist of what was being said, and more importantly, I knew what it was that I didn't understand and could look it up afterwards. Of course, like Markos said about the New Testament, a lot of this is because I already knew what's being said, but even with new stuff I can at least pick up the general idea. Reading is even easier because you can take your time, and I think I can read the New Testament at the same level I read French, in terms of how naturally I read and how many times I have to consult a dictionary or grammar (my French is far from perfect, but the idea is that I don't think there's a fundamental difference between dead and living languages in what level you can achieve). Other Ancient Greek works are much harder but a similar principle applies -- there are works that I've read many times and when I reread them now, I do read them in a natural way.

As for tips, exposure. Markos's approach seems a little monastic in the severity of its discipline :D, and I disagree that you need that kind of consistent approach. Just make sure you do read regularly, and make sure you always read something that's a little bit above your level -- I find that that's when I most improve -- but that doesn't mean don't do rereads, which I find helpful. I agree that an audio component is very useful. I've always found it useful to record the practice sentences from my textbook and then make sure I understand them when I listen to them because then you're forced to understand in real-time so to speak. Memorizing little bits of Greek has been helpful to me. The most important thing is to find what works for you, as I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all approach here.
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Re: Any tips on reading fluency?

Postby uberdwayne » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:46 pm

Markos's approach seems a little monastic in the severity of its discipline
:lol:

I would agree here, but there's defenitly some merit too it. Some of my colleagues at work think I'm nuts, cause they will see me muttering some greek to myself. I have memorised a few passages in the bible that I recite to myself, and parse in my head. Sometimes I resay it with different word orders and such... I used to say what little greek I know to my wife, but I don't anymore as its been driving her nuts. :lol:

I have some greek audio, I've downloaded from a website, but he talks really fast, any suggestions? I am learning with modern greek pronunciation.

Also, I've been reading daily, at least 30min, I dunno, I take my greek text with me to work each day, and usually there's some decent down time. I've probably read through 1 John, 50 times, and I've noticed that things are getting a little better :)

Anyway, thanks for the replies. :D
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Re: Any tips on reading fluency?

Postby modus.irrealis » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:38 pm

I fully agree Markos's approach is great -- I only disagree that it's necessary in order to make significant achievement.

uberdwayne wrote:I have some greek audio, I've downloaded from a website, but he talks really fast, any suggestions? I am learning with modern greek pronunciation.

That's one of the reasons I think it's good to record yourself, because you'll speak at a rate you're used to, although it's not a perfect method either. I don't really know what's out there, though, in terms of audio by other people.

Also try reading things other than the New Testament, especially if you were already familiar with it. Have you tried Aesop's fables? They're short and generally straightforward both in terms of the grammar and with what's going one. I've read a lot of them and it was really useful for me.
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Re: Any tips on reading fluency?

Postby Markos » Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:33 pm

Modus wrote

Markos's approach seems a little monastic in the severity of its discipline


I agree, but remember that the chastity is optional. :D

Uberdwayne wrote

I have memorised a few passages in the bible that I recite to myself, and parse in my head. Sometimes I resay it with different word orders and such...


That's perfect. Keep it up.

I've probably read through 1 John, 50 times, and I've noticed that things are getting a little better :)


I thought I was the only one this obsessive about re-reading. While reading brand-new, unfamiliar Greek is also important, I think there is value in re-reading stuff like Homer and Plato and the Greek NT over and over and over and over again.

I have some greek audio, I've downloaded from a website, but he talks really fast, any suggestions? I am learning with modern greek pronunciation


There is tons of free stuff on line out there, with more being added every day. Here are just a few links. But google Ancient Greek audio and the like and you'll find everything you need.

http://spiphanies.blogspot.com/2009/03/ ... greek.html



http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hil ... ioPage.htm


http://www.letsreadgreek.com/resources/greekntaudio.htm

Since so much stuff is available free, there are only two audio programs I would spend money on. The first of these would be great for you since you are using a Modern Greek προφορα

http://www.biblicalulpan.org/pages/Common/online.html


http://poliskoine.com/site/

But I also agree with Modus that recording your own is your best bet. That's why I make my You-Tube videos, not so much to help others but to help myself. I would recommend that you make conversational Koine videos and post them on You-Tube.

One more bit of advise. I would not recommend obsessing over grammatical constructions. If you have a good sense of what a text means, don't spend time trying to figure out precisely why the form is that way. Just hold off on questions and keep reading and using your Greek. If your goal is really fluency, analysis, even of the sort that is sometimes done on Textkit, will not contribute to that.

Enough from me.

May God continue to bless your efforts.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: Any tips on reading fluency?

Postby uberdwayne » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:22 pm

But I also agree with Modus that recording your own is your best bet.


I think this is a really good option, not only you get to hear yourself afterwards, but you also get to practice reading :)
Although posting on youtube may offend the Greek speaking population, with my *ehem* western accent. LOL... there's defenitly some good advantages to that. Not to mention the price :D

also, Thank you for the encouragement :) Its hard to stay enthusiastic about reading in the koine when no one is learning with you.
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Re: Any tips on reading fluency?

Postby modus.irrealis » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:26 pm

uberdwayne wrote:Although posting on youtube may offend the Greek speaking population, with my *ehem* western accent.

I think they would be too overjoyed you're not using Erasmian to notice anything else ;)
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Re: Any tips on reading fluency?

Postby uberdwayne » Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:05 am

I think they would be too overjoyed you're not using Erasmian to notice anything else
Hahaha

When I first started learning koine, I was using the erasmian pronunciation... After being "kindly" shown how inferior it was by a "Greek by birth" leader in our church, I changed pronunciation schemes.... The benefit is... I don't have to guess how it sounds. The thing though that I contend with, is iotacization, and words being spelled differently but sounding the same... eg. υμιες και ημιες.
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