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
, 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.