It is vital to cover the grammar and build a working vocabulary but people need to practice reading alongside that
Scribo wrote: in an ideal world there would also be composition. Unfortunately this always gets pushed far down the list of priorities
Take at look at the many materials used to help non-English speakers develop the skills needed to read well in English, and you'll begin to understand what is sorely needed in the field of classical Greek pedagogy.
Scribo wrote:Interesting rant, I would agree totally with you if one's only goal was to be able to read texts as literature. However as a Classical Philologist, yes composition is immensely helpful with a vast range of things I shan't waste my time listing.
calvinist wrote:I also don't understand the common idea that newer methods and pedagogies are better. Newer is not always better. During the middle ages and early Renaissance Latin (and to a lesser extent Greek) were taught so effectively as to be the common languages of exchange in Western Europe. This was being done even before the printing press was invented. I believe that modern linguistics is very helpful and insightful in the area of language acquisition, but the collective knowledge of mankind isn't a constant, steady forward progress. Sometimes we lose certain skills and knowledge only to be relearned hundreds of years later. Language pedagogy is no different. Some of the older pedagogical methods are very effective. Look up "ars memoriae" or "method of loci" for a perfect example of a set of skills that has been mostly forgotten and lost by the modern education system (actually it was lost hundreds of years ago because of accusations of sorcery and witchcraft). I stumbled upon this system accidentally and have used it very effectively for remembering lists of items. I've also made extensive use of the mnemonic major system for remembering numbers, another useful tool that I never heard mentioned in any formal school setting.
calvinist wrote:I think that many learn Latin and Greek with the goal of being able to write in the language as well as read it. Or is that unacceptable? Also, modern linguistics doesn't support the idea that active and passive knowledge of a language are entirely separate spheres. Improving one's active knowledge of a language (writing) also improves one's passive knowledge (reading). The relationship is complex, but they do influence one another. I agree that translation from English to Greek is a different "skill" from a "pure" active knowledge of Greek, just as reading Greek is different from translating into English. However, it is a very effective tool for acquiring an active knowledge of an ancient, dead language since we do not have living populations to converse with.
refe wrote:Also, learning to write in Greek greatly enhances your acquisition of the language. I don't think it's a waste of time at all, in fact I believe that it is one of the most valuable skills a student of Greek (or any 'dead' language) can engage in. I'm interesting in reading, yes, but reading with understanding. Forcing yourself to make decisions about vocabulary, word order, idioms to employ, etc. allows a much more complete understanding of those words and grammatical formulas. Besides, if I can't communicate even basic units of thought myself how can I suppose that I am adequately understanding what I read?
Markos wrote:gfross wroteTake at look at the many materials used to help non-English speakers develop the skills needed to read well in English, and you'll begin to understand what is sorely needed in the field of classical Greek pedagogy.
Could you describe what these resources might look like?
[ χαιρε. διηγου, παρακαλω, τοιαυτα. ]
(I'm writing in Greek because I hope it will improve my reading fluency.)
gfross wrote:Scribo wrote:Interesting rant, I would agree totally with you if one's only goal was to be able to read texts as literature. However as a Classical Philologist, yes composition is immensely helpful with a vast range of things I shan't waste my time listing.
(blush) Yes, I was on my soapbox, wasn't I. Sorry about that. As I continue to think about AG pedagogy, I have come more and more to realize that some (many?) students of AG are not really interested in focusing on developing their reading skills. My reason for studying AG is to be able to read it as easily as possible, so that is why I am focused on the development of reading skills. My irritation arose from the fact that I had not been able to find a beginning AG grammar that placed reading as primary; so many were traditional grammar-translation in orientation. However, I have now found a very good text for me: Anne Mahoney's _First Greek Course_ and accompanying reader, _Rouse's Greek Boy_. It is evident that Mahoney has a good background in linguistics, as well as Greek, and she has put this knowledge to excellent pedagogical use in her texts.
Composition from English to Greek has always seemed to me the most unnecessary activity in a study of Greek -- maybe an intriguing and delightful one, but still unnecessary --, unless one is a student in an educational system that will eventually require him or her to write a composition as part of their examination procedure. Heh, this is your "pragmatic American" talking now. (grin)
Would you name one activity that composition of this kind has helped you with as a Classical philologist? I'm just curious. I have always thought that philologists were more interested in studying the cultural aspects of a particular language or language family than in composing essays, plays, stories, or poems in one of the languages in which they specialize.
At the end of the day, the most effective method for learning anything is that method which best keeps the interest and motivation of the learner high.
Markos wrote:Hi gfross.
Thanks for these thoughts. I agree that Mahoney's reprint of Rouse is helpful. You are right that we need more readers like this, and that they have to be easier than the ones presently out there. A Greek comic book would be great! You should write one!
[ χαιρε gfross
ευχαριστω σοι υπερ των γνωμων σου. συμφημι οτι το Ελληνικος Παις Οικει του Ρουσε ωφελιμον εστιν. συ λεγεις ορθως λεγων οτι χρεαν εχομεν πλειων τοιουτων βιβλιων. δει ταυτα τα βιβλια ευκοπα ειναι. το Ελληνικον "comic book" καλον αν γενοιτο. ποίει, παρακαλω ]
Calvinist wroteAt the end of the day, the most effective method for learning anything is that method which best keeps the interest and motivation of the learner high.
[ το αυτο εγω λεγω. ]
(I'm writing in Greek because I hope it will improve my reading fluency. I got the idea from Adrianus over on the Latin forum.)
pster wrote:It is funny how there are so many people who like to talk about how much they love to write Greek and how great it is, but so few of whom have signed up for June Composition Month!
John Stuart Blackie, On Self-Culture, 4th ed. (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1874), pp. 32-36:
(1.) If possible always start with a good teacher. He will save you much time by clearing away difficulties that might otherwise discourage you, and preventing the formation of bad habits of enunciation, which must afterwards be unlearned.
(2.) The next step is to name aloud, in the language to be learned, every object which meets your eye, carefully excluding the intervention of the English: in other words, think and speak of the objects about you in the language you are learning from the very first hour of your teaching; and remember that the language belongs to the first place to your ear and to your tongue, not in your book merely and to your brain.
(3.) Commit to memory the simplest and most normal forms of the declension of nouns, such as the us and a declension in Latin, and the A declension in Sanscrit.
(4.) The moment you have learned the nominative and accusative cases of these nouns take the first person of the present indicative of any common verb, and pronounce aloud some short sentence according to the rules of syntax belonging to active verbs, as—ὁρῶ τὸν Ἥλιον, I see the sun.
(5.) Enlarge this practice by adding some epithet to the substantive, declined according to the same noun, as—ὁρῶ τὸν λαμπρὸν Ἥλιον, I see the bright sun.
(6.) Go on in this manner progressively, committing to memory the whole present indicative, past and future indicative, of simple verbs, always making short sentences with them, and some appropriate nouns, and always thinking directly in the foreign language, excluding the intrusion of the English. In this essential element of every rational system of linguistic training there is no real, but only an imaginary difficulty to contend with, and, in too many cases, the pertinacity of a perverse practice.
(7.) When the ear and tongue have acquired a fluent mastery of the simpler forms of nouns, verbs, and sentences, then, but not till then, should the scholar be led, by a graduated process, to the more difficult and complex forms.
(8.) Let nothing be learned from rules that is not immediately illustrated by practice; or rather, let the rules be educed from the practice of ear and tongue, and let them be as few and as comprehensive as possible.
(9.) Irregularities of various kinds are best learned by practice as they occur; but some anomalies, as in the conjugation of a few irregular verbs, are of such frequent occurrence, and are so necessary for progress, that they had better be learned specially by heart as soon as possible. Of this the verb to be, in almost all languages, is a familiar example.
(10.) Let some easy narrative be read, in the first place, or better, some familiar dialogue, as, in Greek, Xenophon's Anabasis and Memorabilia, Cebetis Tabula, and Lucian's Dialogues; but reading must never be allowed, as is so generally the case, to be practised as a substitute for thinking and speaking. To counteract this tendency, the best way is to take objects of natural history, or representations of interesting objects, and describe their parts aloud in simple sentences, without the intervention of the mother tongue.
(11.) Let all exercises of reading and describing be repeated again, and again, and again. No book fit to be read in the early stages of language-learning should be read only once.
(12.) Let your reading, if possible, be always in sympathy with your intellectual appetite. Let the matter of the work be interesting, and you will make double progress. To know some thing of the subject beforehand will be an immense help. For this reason, with Christians who know the Scriptures, as we do in Scotland, a translation of the Bible is always one of the best books to use in the acquisition of a foreign tongue.
(13.) As you read, note carefully the difference between the idioms of the strange language and those of the mother tongue; underscore these distinctly with pen or pencil, in some thoroughly idiomatic translation, and after a few days translate back into the original tongue what you have before you in the English form.
(14.) To methodise, and, if necessary, correct your observations, consult some systematic grammar so long as you may find it profitable. But the grammar should, as much as possible, follow the practice, not precede it.
(15.) Be not content with that mere methodical generalisation of the practice which you find in many grammars, but endeavour always to find the principle of the rule, whether belonging to universal or special grammar.
(16.) Study the theory of language, the organism of speech, and what is called comparative philology or Glossology. The principles there revealed will enable you to prosecute with a reasoning intelligence a study which would otherwise be in a great measure a laborious exercise of arbitrary memory.
(17.) Still, practice is the main thing; language must, in the first plaoe, be familiar; and this familiarity can be attained only by constant reading and constant conversation. Where a man has no person to speak to he may declaim to himself; but the ear and the tongue must be trained, not the eye merely and the understanding. In reading, a man must not confine himself to standard works. He must devour everything greedily that he can lay his hands on. He must not merely get up a book with accurate precision; that is all very well as a special task; but he must learn to live largely in the general element of the language; and minute accuracy in details is not to be sought before a fluent practical command of the general currency of the language has been attained. Shakspeare, for instance, ought to be read twenty times before a man begins to occupy himself with the various readings of the Shaksperian text, or the ingenious conjectures of his critics.
(18.) Composition, properly so called, is the culmination of the exercises of speaking and reading, translation and re-translation, which we have sketched. In this exercise the essential thing is to write from a model, not from dictionaries or phrase-books. Choose an author who is a pattern of a particular style—say Plato in philosophical dialogue, or Lucian in playful colloquy—steal his phrases, and do something of the same kind yourself, directly, without the intervention of the English. After you have acquired fluency in this way you may venture to put more of yourself into the style, and learn to write the foreign tongue as gracefully as Latin was written by Erasmus, Wyttenbach, or Ruhnken. Translation from English classics may also be practised, but not in the first place; the ear must be tuned by direct imitation of tbe foreign tongue, before the more difficult art of transference from the mother tongue can be attempted with success.
Aluarus wrote:1. Find some graduated books and use at least two of them at once (Assimil, Athenaze, A Greek Boy at Home...)
2. Read a little time everyday.
LCN wrote:If your interest is in reading Greek texts I would spend zero time on composition or memorizing vocabulary lists. That kind of thing might just burn you out and in any case is unnecessary.
LCN wrote:I don't understand why people beat around the bush so much instead of just diving into the texts. That is assuming you have a genuine desire to read them. If you don't you might get discouraged by the constant interruptions to look up vocabulary (which will be a lot faster with the Iphone app at hand).
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