Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

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Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by daivid » Sun May 07, 2017 9:51 am

The other Krashen thread got side tracked (and with hindsight I see that was my fault because of the way I opened the topic). However, can I ask that people only post here if they want to talk about Krashen's views on language acquisition.

But this part of Joel's was related to Krashen
jeidsath wrote:I think Krashen's advice is mostly good, though there are parts that I have become very skeptical about over the years. One example of the very good is at 25 minutes in, when he lists three things, and says that 1 & 2 are absolutely essential, while 3 is a curse:

1) Motivation
2) Self-esteem
3) Anxiety
.
You have taken that bit out of context. He is very specific that in the normal course of events being exposed to comprehensible input will lead to acquisition and hence competance. However, a blocker can derail that. Those three points are what make up the blocker. Krashen makes no claims that those apply to any other context (though it is true he doesn't say they don't either).

The key claim is that only comprehensible input will allow significant language acquisition. I added significant because he will, when pressed, concede that maybe grammar study can provide say 5% with the rest arising from comprehensible input. (He also says that for to work you have to find grammar fascinating but I think that is true of almost everyone here.)

The blocker is relevant because according to Krashen if it cuts in when you are exposed to comprehensible input then you get no benefit from the comprehensible input.

In some ways his claim that comprehensible input is the method of acquiring a language is quite hopeful for us who are learning a dead language. He says there is not need to speak the language. Output is the result of acquisition not the cause. He also says both spoken and written comprehensible input will do just as well. He argues that free voluntary reading is an ideal way to gain competance. Given that, he argues, near native speaker competence is possible.

To create a diverse library of graded readers is perfectly possible. If what Krashen says is true then the fact we are learning a language that no longer has native speakers should not be the handicap that it often is claimed to be.
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by cb » Tue May 09, 2017 1:04 am

Hi all, I just took a quick look at the Krashen book linked on the other related thread: http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/books/ ... actice.pdf . I skipped to the section "D. Characteristics of Optimal Input for Acquisition" starting pg 62 and only focused on the positive recommendations and not the things to avoid, to work out how this would be applied to ancient Greek. Here's my very quick summary (as I said I only looked at that small section and so if there's anything elsewhere that override this, I'm missing it). NB I'm not judging Krashen's method, just thinking through how someone could practically apply it today to ancient Greek:

Recommendations

1. Use these linguistic aids to comprehension:
"(1) slower rate and clearer articulation, which helps acquirers to identify word boundaries more easily, and allows more processing time;
(2) more use of high frequency vocabulary, less slang, fewer idioms;
(3) syntactic simplification, shorter sentences.
" (pg 64)
Obviously only (2) and (3) are relevant to written materials.

2. Use pictures and objects non-linguistic aids to comprehension: "In my view, providing extra-linguistic support in the form of realia and pictures for beginning classes is not a frill, but a very important part of the tools the teacher has to encourage language acquisition. The use of objects and pictures in early second language instruction corresponds to the caretaker's use of the "here and now" in encouraging first language acquisition, in that they all help the acquirer understand messages containing structures that are "a little beyond" them." (pg 66)

3. Choose as the subject what that the student is interested in reading in their native language: "Certainly, discussing or reading about a topic that is totally unknown will make the message harder to understand. There is a danger, however, in making the input too "familiar". If the message is completely known, it will be of no interest, and the student will probably not attend. We want the student to focus on the message, and there must be some message, something that the student really wants to hear or read about" (pg 66) ... "Some other fairly widespread input types that fall short of the mark of true relevance are the reading assignments that most foreign language students work through in introductory courses. Generally, these selections bear very little resemblance to the kind of reading the students would do in their first language on their own time." (pg 67)

4. Get a sufficient quantity – only rough guidelines are available for now, until further empirical data are obtained:
- Firstly, to get to a basic stage where the student will reply in the language: around 10 hours, by analogy with another technique: "As we will see in Chapter V, the chief virtue of Total Physical Response may be its ability to supply concentrated comprehensible input. Asher has noted in several papers (reviewed in Chapter V) that TPR students are generally ready to start production in the target language after about ten hours of Total Physical Response input." (pg 72)
- Secondly, to get to a higher stage of proficiency: much more content but likely less than 1,950 hours (the upper bound for learning "exotic" languages using sub-optimal methods: "We know even less about the amount of low filter/comprehensible input necessary for progress to higher levels of competence. We can get some idea from the United States Foreign Service Institute chart, an estimate of the amount of class time necessary to achieve a FSI 2+ rating in different foreign languages (2+ is defined as "halfway between minimal professional proficiency and working professional proficiency", Diller, 1978, p. 100) for adult English speakers. According to the Foreign Service Institute estimates (reproduced in Diller, 1978), European languages such as German, French, and Italian require approximately 720 hours of classtime for the "average" student to attain the 2+ level, while more "exotic" languages (such as Arabic, Korean, and Chinese) require 1950 hours of classtime.14 These figures may, however, represent an upper bound. They are based on "classroom hours", which, if traditional methods are employed, may not entail optimal input." (pg 72)
- These are all time-based quantities. You'd then need to work out the number of words read per hour to figure out the target word count. A quick google suggests that the average reading rate (at the lower end of the ranges) is around 200 words a minute for non-technical material or 50 words a minute for technical material. Probably safest to assume the slower reading rate as if technical material. This suggests that you'd need 50 x 60 = 3,000 words per hour of reading material and so (to get to the 10 hour basic level) 30,000 words or (to get to the 1,950 hour upper bound for higher proficiency) 5,850,000 words.

Takeaways

- Based on 4 above, building sufficient comprehensible input would be a massive undertaking – I just tried to quickly guesstimate the total number of words of the Platonic dialogues (excluding letters) and it came out at about 588,000 words, i.e. just over 10% of the 5.85m word upper bound for higher proficiency. Even writing 30,000 words (to get to the basic level) would still take a lot of time.
- Therefore if people want comprehensible input in the near future, mining available content is going to be the most fruitful approach.
- Starting from 3 (interesting content) makes you lean towards literary texts. We all know how hard these are.
- Starting from 1 and 2 then, rather than 3, immediately makes me think of non-literary texts. What has high frequency vocab, simple grammatical structures, and pictures? Euclid's Elements comes to mind. This would at least get to over the 30,000 word basic proficiency threshold. To then broaden out, you could then also mine other mathematical and technical texts, and other non-literary sources, e.g. inscriptions (records of names and events would be repetitive content), non-literary letters, etc.
- If these seem too boring as the sole reading diet (i.e. breaching 3 above), you could slowly build up in parallel paraphrases of interesting texts using a limited vocabulary. E.g. paraphrase Iliad A using only the vocab on the Eton Greek word list. But focusing on building this content alone would mean you might wait years to get a small quantity of text when mathematical and other technical texts could build up your word count much more quickly.

Recommendations for ancient Greek reading materials (if someone wanted to start now)

- Read the Greek-English vocab for Euclid here, starting pg 540: http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/Books/Euclid/Elements.pdf
- Then read as much Euclid as possible
- Then if you start getting bored, do two things: (1) try to find some other good non-literary content, and (2) make sure you know all the vocab on the Eton word list here: http://www.etoncollege.com/userfiles/fi ... 20List.pdf, and then try to paraphrase for yourself something you find interesting using only the words on that list (of course, you could choose any other list) – I guess it would be fine to also include proper names (maybe linked pictures would be helpful.

Cheers, Chad

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by daivid » Tue May 09, 2017 12:59 pm

cb wrote: Here's my very quick summary (as I said I only looked at that small section and so if there's anything elsewhere that override this, I'm missing it). NB I'm not judging Krashen's method, just thinking through how someone could practically apply it today to ancient Greek:

I really appreciate any engagement with Krashen's ideas but especially such a thoughtful response as you have given.
cb wrote: - Based on 4 above, building sufficient comprehensible input would be a massive undertaking – I just tried to quickly guesstimate the total number of words of the Platonic dialogues (excluding letters) and it came out at about 588,000 words, i.e. just over 10% of the 5.85m word upper bound for higher proficiency. Even writing 30,000 words (to get to the basic level) would still take a lot of time.
Krashen does often say that he has done the easy part -to show what is needed.
He then admits that is the teachers who have the really hard task to produce the required comprehensible input.

I had not taken the time to work out how huge a task it would be. But getting to the basic level is doable. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is 75,000 words -twice the basic level. Sadly Andrew Wilson did his translation with an eye to being a modern Lucian rather than helping learners - it is the hardest Greek I have ever read.

But it is quite possible that someone like Andrew Wilson with time on their hands could be inspired to take on a task that large but using simple Greek. But that is unlikely to occur unless there is a widespread consensus that easy readers that is to say "comprehensible input" are necessary.

cb wrote: - If these seem too boring as the sole reading diet (i.e. breaching 3 above), you could slowly build up in parallel paraphrases of interesting texts using a limited vocabulary. E.g. paraphrase Iliad A using only the vocab on the Eton Greek word list.
But note this:
Krashen wrote: There is a danger, however, in making the input too "familiar". If the message is completely known, it will be of no interest, and the student will probably not attend.
That is the danger of adaptions/paraphrases. That is especially true of a work so famous as the Illiad. Almost all learners whose motive is to read Homer's actual words will have read the Iliad in translation and indeed several translations. I suspect this is why I find light adaptions harder than real Greek. Perhaps the Greek is a tiny bit easier but my motivation plummets so that difficulties that I would be able overcome with toil in real Greek become unsurmountable problems for me when I encounter them in adaptions.

When reading Greek that is truly easy I still prefer fresh material but as I have the confidence that I can read an easy adaption my lower motivation is less of a problem.

But the further you get from the subject matter of the Greek texts the less the chance that someone studying Ancient Greek.

Some time ago I started to write about a battle fought by the 8th Army in 1941 http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-foru ... 28&t=61920. I took it for granted that anyone who is interested in the Anabasis of Kuros would be interested in the adventures of the 8th Army in the Western Desert. But while other of my writings attracted corrections this one did not. As I don't think the interests of those competent to make corrections and beginners differs greatly I take it as a sign that my theme was too far distant from the interests of the average student of Greek.

But an account of the Battle of Marathon in easy Ancient Greek but rather than following Herodotos following the reconstruction of a modern historian might well strike the balance between freshness and familiarity.
cb wrote: Recommendations for ancient Greek reading materials (if someone wanted to start now)

- Read the Greek-English vocab for Euclid here, starting pg 540: http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/Books/Euclid/Elements.pdf
- Then read as much Euclid as possible
I never have looked at Euclid. I have heard that he is easy but people say that Xenophon is easy and for me he is not. And while I am not maths-phobic neither does it grab me. But should have at least tried him out.
cb wrote:- Then if you start getting bored, do two things: (1) try to find some other good non-literary content, and (2) make sure you know all the vocab on the Eton word list here: http://www.etoncollege.com/userfiles/fi ... 20List.pdf, and then try to paraphrase for yourself something you find interesting using only the words on that list (of course, you could choose any other list) – I guess it would be fine to also include proper names (maybe linked pictures would be helpful.

Cheers, Chad
Krashen regards memorizing words as of little value. According to him the way we learn words is through free reading. How effective do you find learning word lists? When you are reading Ancient Greek at the same time as you are memorizing word lists it is of course difficult to say which caused a word to stick in your mind. But are you able to retain words in your mind that you do not subsequently encounter in reading?
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by C. S. Bartholomew » Tue May 09, 2017 10:26 pm

daivid wrote:
Krashen regards memorizing words as of little value. According to him the way we learn words is through free reading.
David,

I listened to one of his intro lectures. There were several things I found useful and one or two surprises. When asked what was the only effective means of acquiring a language I thought the answer was going to be reading/hearing and then imitation. His answer was understanding. I find that most of his points are not controversial at all. Does anyone really think you consciously apply rules when reading or speaking? I agree that the only way to pick up vocab is by (free) reading and more (free) reading. Forget flash cards and memorization.

Should we create artificially palatable texts for optimal learning experience? I don't think you can engineer a text and have it be a text worth reading. Having to struggle through difficult literary texts to pick up strange new idioms is not inherently incompatible with "free" reading. Some people just read Shakespeare for fun. Others read Thucydides or Sophocles. Recently I have been reading Euripides who is more accessible than the other guys.
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by cb » Wed May 10, 2017 1:18 am

Hi, three points in reply to your post above: on word lists, on future comprehensible input resources and (from the other related thread) on learning plateaus.

Word lists: You asked whether I think it's worth reading word lists. Yes I do think so, even if you don't come across those words in the near future. But that's not why I referred to two word lists above – I'll come back to that point but first deal with the two word lists I referred to:
- The first was a word list for Euclid (where I recommended reading Euclid straight after), i.e. spend an hour or so max reading the word list then dive into Euclid. I think a blocker for Euclid might be getting stuck in the definitions when you get to the 2D objects – once you get past that it's comprehensible input I think and so the word list is just to get you over that initial hurdle. i.e. you're going to come across the Euclid vocab from the word list very quickly.
- The second word list I referred to was for a closed set of vocab to be used (if someone wanted to do this, although for reasons I explained above and will go into further below I don't know if this is the best use of effort) to produce comprehensible input. i.e. take any list of say 1,000 frequently-occurring words, and generate all your comprehensible input texts out of that closed set of words. That way, you would know even before opening a comprehensible input text whether you're up to the level (in terms of vocab) – if you've mastered those 1,000 words, you're not going to have any vocab problems as you read. That was the idea. I've recommended before on this board learning all the vocab for a text (if you can) before reading, to take away the dictionary work interrupting the flow of reading.

To come back to the first point, I do think it's also useful to spend bits of time reading word lists even where you don't encounter the words in the near future. Why? It depends on what you do in your head when you come across a word you don't recognise. I've tried to watch the process in my head and I think I do this: first I seem to try to fetch the word from my memory, but if it's not there I then analyse the word into its components and see whether I recognise all/many of those and then try to either remember the word through that second route or at least guess the meaning using those hints. Reading good word lists/lexica helps you practice that analysis skill so that you're better at doing it when you're actually reading.

Future comprehensible input: For the reasons I explained above I think it would take a long time to generate sufficient comprehensible input in ancient Greek and so the best thing to do today is to dig deeper into the technical/non-literary resources out there to find things that are readable. But do I think the ultimate goal should be for teachers today to generate in parallel a large amount of comprehensible input (as a side exercise in Greek prose comp)? Not personally. The reason is I have a certain idea how future learning may/should look and this type of content generation wouldn't be optimal. Let's say you did want to get to the 1,950 hours (approx 5.8 million words of comprehensible input) or, say, another figure that's been thrown around (although there's debate around this) 10,000 hours (around the 30 million word mark). Is this possible? From what I understand about machine learning, yes it will be. Will teachers do this? Unlikely, and even if they did, it wouldn't be as good as the hope I have in mind for the future.

My hope is that future students will engage with something like a comprehensible input engine (rather than a static comprehensible input text). Ancient Greek has a large data set over which unsupervised learning could crunch away and identify patterns and eventually produce content consistent with the patterns. The learning engine would then put content at you (say someone speaking to you in a virtual/augmented environment) and you'd engage, and each engagement would lead the engine to slightly optimise your learning path (like gradient descent). Millions of interactions would mean millions of optimisation iterations. I imagine that it will be really cool to say learn about battle strategies sitting behind the general on his horse and watching it unfold in front of you as he shouts commands etc. Underlying it will be however a teaching engine that is continually being optimised for your personal engagement. What a one-on-one teacher today does basically.

This may then lead to a flipping around of what teachers do (as at least one online learning platform has talked about) – currently a lot of teacher time is dedicated to delivering "passive content" (in addition to the active engagement in class), and then kids go home and do the real application, homework, on their own. Instead you could have the homework (the "on their own" time) with a teaching engine delivering in a continually optimised way) the "passive content", and then the school time (with human teachers) would be like homework today, but under the supervision and guidance of a human teacher rather than puzzling through it at night alone without human guidance.

So for these reasons I don't think human teachers today spending their time to produce massive quantities of comprehensible input would be the best use of resources – my guess/hope is that machine learning will cover that off (30 million+ words of interactive content may be easily done in the near future), and classics teachers should ideally stick to doing what they do best now, guiding students through the tricky bits. (I'm guessing this is what they do! I've never had a classics teacher.)

Learning plateaus: This comes down to expectations and processes:
- Expectations: When I look back to 6 years into classics, I think, that's still "entry level", only a few years in. Kids who start when they're 7 are around 13 years old after 6 years of learning classics. There's still a long way to go for them. I guess I think about classics in the same way as say professions – after 6 years there's often still a long way to go to get to comfortable proficiency. So not feeling proficient after 6 years isn't a sign of anything for me – I wouldn't expect to feel proficient by then. I don't expect to feel proficient for years, and so it doesn't bother me as much – if you compare your timeline for proficiency to say learning French, you may have too high expectations and ask yourself why you're failing, but if you instead compare your timeline for proficiency to say medicine, your expectations may come closer to the real timeline.
- Processes: If you're not retaining what you've learnt when you go back to re-read it, that's a knowledge capture issue, i.e. a process issue. Perhaps ask yourself, what are your directly doing to capture your knowledge so as to make the next read through easier? Simply "learning/memorising/translating" isn't doing anything direct, that's indirect. What are you directly doing for knowledge capture? What materials are you creating for your second iteration of the read through, e.g. materials you will read before your second read through, or margin notes to consult during your second read through? (I've done both facing the same problem.) First try to find out what process issues might be causing you to get stuck. I wouldn't consult secondary sources for this though: diagnose yourself by continuing to read primary texts and figuring out exactly what in your mind is triggering the blank/hurdle (vocab? Grammar? Syntax? Word order? What the pronoun is referring to? Particles? Prepositions? Etc.) I did this and found that it was vocab for me.

Cheers, Chad

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by daivid » Wed May 10, 2017 6:23 pm

Word lists:
Yes I can see that learning words immediately before reading could have good points. Words that I attempt to learn without a context I just forget.

Computer generated input. I may not fully grasp what you are proposing but... Okay, it is true computers have begun to simulate language more and more so that computers capable of passing a Turing test are no longer out of the question. But if you fed Thucydides and Plato into a computer would it really produce comprehensible output?

Plateau: Its not slow progress that is my problem but no perceptible progress at all. And I save everything I read for future re-reading along with notes.

On getting more input - it would help a great deal if more Ancient Greek classes were like Pollis. Rico's book is short and covers too much ground to allow the repetition needed to make his book easy to understand without resort to the dictionary. His classes are a different matter. I did think that it was a weakness of his method that in his classes the individual students don't often get to speak. If Stephen Krashen is right then that's ideal. Indeed watching a series of youtube videos might well be almost as good as actually being there. Perhaps Rico could be persuaded to put a whole term online (rather the couple of samples that we now have). If it were behind a paywall it would be worth paying the subscription.
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by C. S. Bartholomew » Wed May 10, 2017 10:03 pm

Last night at the local library picked up a book[1] by a famous (?) author who speaks English as her first language, a second generation daughter of Bengali immigrants. A some point in the 90's she decides to dabble in Italian, takes instruction from a string of tutors, works on it for twenty years, goes to Rome, can hardly order a glass of wine in Italy. Struggles with real dialog in Italy, more tutors. She must have made a lot of money on her english novels, pricey lifestyle, living in Rome, private instruction. Then she takes up writing in Italian.

If you think that other people aren't having trouble with learning languages this is a good read. Its short, I've read half of it already. Get it from your library. Not a book you will read twice.



[1] In Other Words
Jhumpa Lahiri 2016.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 0345810090 (print)
9780345810090 (print)
1101875550 (hardcover)
9781101875551 (hardcover)
Branch Call Number: B LAHIRI ITALIAN ENGLISH
Characteristics: xiv, 233 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Goldstein, Ann 1949-- Translator
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by Laurentius Mons » Thu May 11, 2017 2:22 pm

I find that most of his points are not controversial at all. Does anyone really think you consciously apply rules when reading or speaking? I agree that the only way to pick up vocab is by (free) reading and more (free) reading. Forget flash cards and memorization.
Most people don't disagree with Krashen's basic idea, i.e. that being exposed to large quantities of language that you can actually understand is beneficial. So in that sense he's not controversial.
What many don't agree with, however, is that comprehensible input on its own is sufficient for language acquisition and that explicit teaching and practicing grammar don't really do anything in terms of language acquisition.

I don't think many people believe learners should consciously apply rules when speaking or reading, but rather that they first have to consciously learn a rule and then practice it until it becomes automatic and they don't have to think about it anymore. According to Krashen, this doesn't work because he claims that learned knowledge can't become acquired knowledge, an idea that is called the no-interface position.

You can read more about that debate here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interface_position

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by daivid » Fri May 12, 2017 6:26 am

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:
David,

I listened to one of his intro lectures. There were several things I found useful and one or two surprises. When asked what was the only effective means of acquiring a language I thought the answer was going to be reading/hearing and then imitation. His answer was understanding. I find that most of his points are not controversial at all. Does anyone really think you consciously apply rules when reading or speaking? I agree that the only way to pick up vocab is by (free) reading and more (free) reading. Forget flash cards and memorization.
To consciously apply rules when reading is exactly what was being taught during the summer school I attended. It is also the only way I can get to understand any of the extant texts. If Krashen is right, I will not ever acquire Greek reading the extant texts - because I am always focused on the form and not the meaning. When I finally prized the meaning through applying the rules I may well have learned something new about the language but I have not acquired it.

People have different abilities. You are especially able and can focus on the meaning rather than the form even reading the extant texts. Hence for you it is possible to acquire more Greek by reading the extant texts.
C. S. Bartholomew wrote:Should we create artificially palatable texts for optimal learning experience? I don't think you can engineer a text and have it be a text worth reading. Having to struggle through difficult literary texts to pick up strange new idioms is not inherently incompatible with "free" reading. Some people just read Shakespeare for fun. Others read Thucydides or Sophocles. Recently I have been reading Euripides who is more accessible than the other guys.
Krashen says easy texts is what is needed he then adds that as those texts must also be engaging this is going to be a difficult task. But I think the secret of doing that is for the writer to focus on the meaning. If the writer has something to say or a story to say then the writer will find some way to covey that even if they are very constrained in what linguistic forms they can use to express that.

But Krashen also says that the texts must not be too easy. If the texts are too easy and there are no forms or vocabulary to be learned. Acquisition happens when the texts are a bit of a struggle but not so hard that the conscious mind kicks in. It sounds to me that Euripides is roughly that level of difficulty.

I'm really sorry I have taken so long to reply - I didn't see your post first time and reading it I find very thoughtful pushing the debate forward.
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by Dante » Fri May 12, 2017 3:51 pm

step one: work through a basic textbook to learn the grammar and morphology.
step two: read & study texts using good commentaries.
step three: repeat step two. The more you do, and the longer you do it, the better your acquision will be.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by daivid » Fri May 12, 2017 6:09 pm

Dante wrote:step one: work through a basic textbook to learn the grammar and morphology.
step two: read & study texts using good commentaries.
step three: repeat step two. The more you do, and the longer you do it, the better your acquision will be.
You are using acquisition in the sense that Krashen uses learning. According to Krashen the language is only acquired when you grasp the meaning without conscious application of your knowledge. Once you turn to a commentary you are no longer using your intuitive feel for the language to grasp meaning.

If you disagree with Krashen on this, by all means put your arguments here but please do listen/read enough of what he is saying to know what you are disagreeing with.
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by mwh » Thu May 18, 2017 9:12 pm

I'm with Dante.

(Copied from the Composition forum:)
Krashen maintains that listening and reading, unlike speaking and writing (output not input), let along studying grammar, lead to language acquisition. That leaves interactive communication out of the equation. But anyway, our problem is special, in that we don’t have a bunch of ancient Greeks to listen to or to communicate with. So that leaves reading. Krashen pushes “free voluntary reading,” and I’m fully behind him, though we hardly need the qualifiers. Read, read, read, read freely, read widely, read fast, read slow. The more ancient Greek we read, the more ancient Greek we’ll acquire.

But what’s needed is “comprehensible input,” you say. Well, yes and no. Of course it needs to become comprehensible. But the distinction between (subconsciously) acquiring a language and (consciously) learning a language is a rather contrived and artificial one, and necessarily breaks down when it comes to a dead language like ancient Greek. As does your objection to “decoding.” Language is a code, and any act of reading is an act of decoding, conscious or not. The more we read (and the better our learnt and/or acquired knowledge of the language), the less conscious the decoding becomes.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by Hylander » Fri May 19, 2017 12:41 am

I would add that many of the ancient Greek texts we want to be able to read inevitably require a certain amount of "decoding," and sometime a lot of it. I doubt that anyone can read odes of Pindar, dramatic choruses, speeches of Thucydides, Lycophron, and other difficult texts that are obscure, linguistically, with regard to content, and even textually, with the same degree of fluency that we can read modern languages we've acquired, i.e., without some amount of "conscious application of knowledge."

After all specialists who have spent their careers on these texts frequently disagree sharply on interpretation, and not just on interpretation, but on the words of the text itself.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by jeidsath » Fri May 19, 2017 1:35 am

If I ever become fluent at reading the Attic authors, I wouldn't mind having to struggle a bit with Pindar.
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by Hylander » Fri May 19, 2017 2:09 am

And even highly educated ancient Greeks had to engage in a certain amount of decoding to understand (or misunderstand) some of these texts. Dionysius on Thucydides:

εὐαρίθμητοι γάρ τινές εἰσιν οἷοι πάντα τὰ Θουκυδίδου συμβαλεῖν, καὶ οὐδ᾽ οὗτοι χωρὶς ἐξηγήσεως γραμματικῆς ἔνια.

"The number of those who are able to understand all of Thucydides is very limited, and even they can't do it without resorting to grammatical commentary from time to time."

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by jeidsath » Fri May 19, 2017 2:45 am

You could say the same thing about Shakespeare. And while I certainly need textual notes every so often with Shakespeare, I would still claim that I read him fluently. Nor would I find "decoding" a descriptive word to describe my romping through Hamlet.
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by mwh » Fri May 19, 2017 3:24 am

What makes Thucydides occasionally difficult is the compression or downright obscurity of his thought, but only from time to time. With Pindar it’s different. Once you understand the epinician program (the object is to glorify the victor—and the poet—without antagonizing the gods) it’s relatively easy to decipher the poetic code. αριστον μεν υδωρ is not a plain statement about water. Both composers (like Shakespeare) can stretch the language beyond its normal limits, so that can be challenging too, but the difficulty of reading either one of them can easily be exaggerated.
But to reassert my point, a linguistic truism: all reading is decoding, whether we think of it that way or not.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by jeidsath » Fri May 19, 2017 4:33 am

And all listening is decoding too, I suppose, from sound waves to thought. But there is a substantial difference between decoding something consciously and relying on and training the part of our brain that does it in an automated way.

Here are a few great conscious decoding tricks:

1) Sentence diagramming
2) Looking ahead for the verb
3) Writing down the english meaning of harder words

In my opinion, and I think that it follows Krashen's general advice, all three of the above would be actively harmful in achieving unconscious fluency.

I think that the danger of a word like "decode" to describe reading, is that it equates spending an hour on a single sentence far above one's level, perhaps using all of the above tricks and more, to spending the same time reading through dozes of paragraphs, looking up perhaps a word or two every sentence. The second activity is extremely useful. The first is fun, like crossword puzzles or sudoku, but doesn't help much towards fluency, in my opinion.
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by Hylander » Fri May 19, 2017 2:42 pm

@mwh: It's true that the difficulties of Thucydides' speeches and Pindar are different and need to be approached in ways that are specific to those texts. But personally, while I feel I can read a fair amount of Attic prose with some fluency, I certainly don't romp through Thucydides and Pindar and dramatic choruses the way Joel apparently romps through Shakespeare.

Frankly, I'd be lost without commentaries, and I have to work at understanding the texts, not always successfully. And I suspect that most of us (mwh excepted) have to "consciously apply rules when reading" ancient Greek texts, and to use a commentary, to some extent or other.

Engaging with ancient Greek texts is different from learning a modern language.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by daivid » Fri May 19, 2017 3:55 pm

mwh wrote: I think you buy into Krashen’s line too readily. You should realize that he’s at one end of a whole spectrum of language-learning views. You seem to have missed a post by Laurentius Mons in one of your Krashen threads, with a link to a wiki article on “interface position.”
This above is the bit at the start of you reply in the other forum. You have actually engaged with Krashen which is more than his other critics. However, I still don't know what linguistic theory you base your criticism nor what research you feel is relevant. The wikipedia page simply says there are people who disagree with Krashen. So...?

The page does give Robert DeKeyser as holding the opposite point of view and yes there is a link to some research involving an artificial "language" of 98 words. I could explain why I don't find that convincing but I have no idea as to whether you take the relevance of such research more seriously than I do.
mwh wrote:I'm with Dante.

(Copied from the Composition forum:)
Krashen maintains that listening and reading, unlike speaking and writing (output not input), let along studying grammar, lead to language acquisition. That leaves interactive communication out of the equation. But anyway, our problem is special, in that we don’t have a bunch of ancient Greeks to listen to or to communicate with. So that leaves reading. Krashen pushes “free voluntary reading,” and I’m fully behind him, though we hardly need the qualifiers. Read, read, read, read freely, read widely, read fast, read slow. The more ancient Greek we read, the more ancient Greek we’ll acquire.

But what’s needed is “comprehensible input,” you say. Well, yes and no. Of course it needs to become comprehensible. But the distinction between (subconsciously) acquiring a language and (consciously) learning a language is a rather contrived and artificial one,

learning: memorize grammar rules then analyze sentences to work out which rule applies in each case
Acquiring: Read texts that is sufficiently easy that you grasp the meaning. Make sure that those texts are a bit harder than you are comfortable with. Keep reading until those bits that become second nature and then go on to harder texts. Repeat

How is that an artificial distinction? If you gave a person an MRI doing those tasks do you really believe the same parts of the brain would light up?
mwh wrote:and necessarily breaks down when it comes to a dead language like ancient Greek.

1)Reading a texts that is so difficult that you have to resort a commentary for grammar explanations, so hard that you have to look up most of the words (and check cases/tense etc) and so hard that you have to go though a process of laborious analysis before all those elements can be knocked in something meaningful.
2) Reading a text that is sufficiently easy that you just get the meaning, apart from some more difficult bits that you can guess at. Keep upping the difficulty so that there is always something which is more a guess than something you are certain about.

How does that distinction in any way change simply because somewhere on this planet there may be living people speaking that language as a first language?
mwh wrote:As does your objection to “decoding.” Language is a code, and any act of reading is an act of decoding, conscious or not. The more we read (and the better our learnt and/or acquired knowledge of the language), the less conscious the decoding becomes.
If you really think that there is no the distinction between reading and decoding it forces me to the conclusion that you took to Ancient Greek so easily that you have never had the experience of decoding. Your ability to spot someones difficulty with ease suggests a deeper feel for Ancient Greek than simply a memorization of Smythe would give you.
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by mwh » Fri May 19, 2017 5:57 pm

jeidsath and daivid, Sure, we can draw a distinction between conscious and subconscious decoding, and as we get more fluent in reading the process happens more and more at the subconscious level. I just don’t like the way “decoding” risks becoming a dirty word—and now “learning” too!

As Hylander well knows, I too have to work at understanding the texts! and not always successfully, and I too use grammars and commentaries. However can anyone expect to be able to read Greek literature otherwise?

daivid, Anyone can define two terms in such a way as to make them mutually exclusive. And ancient Greek did not come easily to me, far from it. It took a lot of hard work (and much “decoding”) to acquire what woefully little ability I have, and I know I’ll never get good at it. But I don’t believe anyone can “acquire” ancient Greek in your sense. I agree with Hylander when he says that engaging with ancient Greek texts is different from learning (or acquiring) a modern language. Resist the Sirens!

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by jeidsath » Fri May 19, 2017 7:02 pm

I'm curious and skeptical about the modern/ancient language distinction here, though it probably exists. After all, people sometimes learn modern languages from books, and without interaction with native speakers. Are we just talking about book-learned languages versus conversation-learned, or are there real differences between modern and ancient languages? For a language like Greek, at least, it's not lack of texts. I don't think that there's any lack of intermediate material to read.

Certainly the highly declined nature of Greek and Latin makes it a challenge for English speakers. Maybe that's a difference?

Mishima wrote that "words are a medium that reduces reality to abstraction for transmission to our reason, and in their power to corrode reality inevitably lurks the danger that the words themselves will be corroded too." I sometimes wonder if modern language and modern thought is farther along in the human process of simplifying and abstracting reality.
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by mwh » Sat May 20, 2017 2:04 am

It’s surely not a matter of ancient vs. modern as such (has anyone suggested it is?), nor of different syntactical systems (only slightly different, after all), more a matter of native speakers vs. none. So we’re in just the same position as people who learn modern languages from books alone (an extinct breed, I’d have thought), only without adequate controls. And while it’s now easy enough to learn the language of ancient Greek documentary texts at various periods, when it comes to high literature there is most certainly a lack of texts, as well as a lack of context. Why else would we slaver over a few more tatters of Sappho? But there are texts, and we can struggle to understand them.

I’m skeptical of the idea that “modern language and modern thought is farther along in the human process” of anything.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by Hylander » Sat May 20, 2017 2:24 am

I learned Italian from books, well enough to have a conversation with cab drivers and others on a two-week visit to Rome, and well enough to read Primo Levi and Alberto Moravia. That was 18 years ago, but I'm 70 and soon I'll be an extinct breed.

Italian also gives you access to some outstanding classical scholarship.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by mwh » Sat May 20, 2017 4:07 am

When I set out to learn Italian it was not only from books but also from audio tapes, and that was some fifty years ago. But it was living in Italy for a year that really taught me Italian (and much besides), and we can’t do that with ancient Greek, or have conversations with ancient Athenian or Syracusan cabdrivers. What we can do is learn to read their Moravias and Primo Levis, their Giorgio Pasqualis, their tax receipts and their Dante.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by daivid » Mon May 22, 2017 10:41 am

mwh wrote:jeidsath and daivid, Sure, we can draw a distinction between conscious and subconscious decoding, and as we get more fluent in reading the process happens more and more at the subconscious level. I just don’t like the way “decoding” risks becoming a dirty word—and now “learning” too!
It is a pragmatic matter of what works. You make out Krashen to be some anti-intellectual who rejects learning.

According to Krashen, conscious teasing out of the meaning using solely the knowledge of the language that has been consciously learnt will not permit acquisition. He does give such knowledge value in monitoring – especially in correcting ones written work.

He basis that claim on the research. Now, it is true that I have so far been relying on his description of the research and I have not gone back to the original studies. However to dismiss him out of hand without citing any alternative research or a contrary interpretation by an alternative educationalist of the research that Krashen does cite strikes me as at least a little anti-intellectual.
mwh wrote:As Hylander well knows, I too have to work at understanding the texts! and not always successfully, and I too use grammars and commentaries. However can anyone expect to be able to read Greek literature otherwise?

daivid, Anyone can define two terms in such a way as to make them mutually exclusive. And ancient Greek did not come easily to me, far from it. It took a lot of hard work (and much “decoding”) to acquire what woefully little ability I have, and I know I’ll never get good at it. But I don’t believe anyone can “acquire” ancient Greek in your sense. I agree with Hylander when he says that engaging with ancient Greek texts is different from learning (or acquiring) a modern language. Resist the Sirens!
I have to say I'm surprised. You have clearly a very deep understanding of Ancient Greek and for that reason I find it hard to believe that you have as much difficulty as you claim. But actually what I seem to see in what you say is that you are half using your conscious learning and half your subconscious feel for the language even for writers like Thucydides.

But if I take what you say at face value then it makes me more convinced that Krashen’s approach is necessary for the study of Ancient Greek. Up till now I have had at the back of my mind the thought that grammar-translation can’t be all bad – it produced you. But if reading Ancient Greek is really as hard for you as you imply then really grammar-translation deserves to be thrown into the dustbin of educational history.
mwh wrote:When I set out to learn Italian it was not only from books but also from audio tapes, and that was some fifty years ago. But it was living in Italy for a year that really taught me Italian (and much besides), and we can’t do that with ancient Greek, or have conversations with ancient Athenian or Syracusan cabdrivers. What we can do is learn to read their Moravias and Primo Levis, their Giorgio Pasqualis, their tax receipts and their Dante.
So, if I follow you, you are saying that fluent reading of any language is impossible unless it involves conversation with native speakers. This Krashen disputes.

Half way through this video Krashen cites a study of students in Japan. The students concerned spent time in voluntary reading and their improvement was the same as is typical of students who go to America and attend English as a foreign language classes.

The study was very small, only five students, so your experience of limited success before going to Italy is on the face of it a significant counter example. But the students concerned had started on graded readers and for the study they read comics, romances and the like – that is to say, one step up to what they had been doing. Krashen rates conversation as about equivalent in difficulty to graded readers and seems to rate them as of equal value.

So whether your experience is actually a counter example depends of the type of reading you did before going to Italy.

If you had been extensively reading graded readers then your experience does suggest that graded readers do not always prove to be an adequate replacement for conversations with native speakers.

If your reading was more complex than that then your experience is in fact support for Krashen’s claim that simple comprehensible input which is set at your level is an essential stage and if you skip it you are going to struggle.

(When cab drivers in Rome talk to foreigners they will automatically produce comprehensible input suitable for whoever they are driving because that is what we all do when we realize that the person we are talking to is not a native speaker.)

EDIT
Krashen talks about the study on students in Japan here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXJwGFpfCY8&t=2687s about half way through
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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by Hylander » Mon May 22, 2017 3:24 pm

I have to say I'm surprised. You have clearly a very deep understanding of Ancient Greek and for that reason I find it hard to believe that you have as much difficulty as you claim. But actually what I seem to see in what you say is that you are half using your conscious learning and half your subconscious feel for the language even for writers like Thucydides.
Try reading Thucydides or Aeschylus -- try wrestling with the difficulties those texts pose -- and you'll see what mwh means. Unless and until you do this, I'm not sure you will be fully aware of the difficulties of reading ancient Greek and the need for grammar, commentaries and conscious analysis of textual meaning. And without that awareness, I'm not sure you can really address how best to gain fluency in reading ancient Greek.

As I mentioned, there are many passages in Thucydides and other ancient Greek texts (and in Latin, and, I suspect, biblical Hebrew, ancient Egyptian, etc., too) where specialists don't agree among themselves on the correct interpretation. And as I also noted, even highly educated ancient Greeks had trouble understanding these texts. The scholia that accompany some of the mss. of the most widely read texts are evidence of this, showing that ancient readers not only needed to consciously "decode" passages in these texts but also frequently could not agree on the meaning of these passages. In fact, the Greeks invented grammar, analyzing and classifying grammatical forms, precisely because they needed grammar to understand (and often misunderstand) Homer.

One key factor that comes into play in reading ancient Greek is our unfamiliarity with context. To understand the text, we need a lot of contextual information that is not readily available to us from our every-day experience. Commentaries, which are the product of centuries and even millenia of scholarship, can supply some of this context, but there's still much that we don't, and probably never will, know. And it's not as if understanding the meaning of the words can be isolated from understanding context: the two are inextricably bound together.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by mwh » Mon May 22, 2017 3:55 pm

I’m sorry daivid I don’t have the stamina to deal with all your misapprehensions. I’m dropping out of this discussion.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by gilraen » Thu May 25, 2017 11:17 am

I'm not really intending to engage in the intricacies of this debate, but I just thought I would contribute a title I've recently read which some may find of interest, 'Becoming Fluent: how cognitive science can help adults to learn a foreign language' by Roberts and Kreuz. It's not heavily referenced, which is frustrating, but it is very readable.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by naturalphilosopher » Fri May 26, 2017 1:43 am

As an example of comprehensible input in the style of Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, at http://www.culturaclasica.com/lingualat ... graeca.htm you'll find ALEXANDROS. The google translation of the page renders the spanish well, but the preview can be reached from the spanish link above. The book can be found on amazon using the isbn and it's not an unreasonable price.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by rmedinap » Fri May 26, 2017 8:19 pm

daivid wrote:To consciously apply rules when reading is exactly what was being taught during the summer school I attended. It is also the only way I can get to understand any of the extant texts. If Krashen is right, I will not ever acquire Greek reading the extant texts - because I am always focused on the form and not the meaning. When I finally prized the meaning through applying the rules I may well have learned something new about the language but I have not acquired it.
Poor daivid, you’ve questioned this forum so often about methodology that when you’re right they don’t take you seriously enough. But you’re right, Krashen is right, the whole grammatical approach is wrong (as I’ve been trying to tell everybody here)

So.... once again I'll jump in on this debate risking (unintentionally) stepping on some toes or perhaps slighting some sensibilities.

First, I agree with everyone here that there's something amiss in the whole of daivid’s learning process and I also recommend him more drilling through real Greek (maybe not now but in the near future) BUT that is all irrelevant to the present discussion.

I firmly believe that (his personal learning experience aside) daivid is totally right in several points and I stand by him.

1) There is definitely a gap between the very bests graded readers and real Greek, it’s a problem that should be acknowledged and solved. More comprehensible input will lead to a better and faster learning of ANY language.

2) The whole natural method defended by Krashen is right and the whole grammatical approach is totally wrong and should be disposed of, at least in the first years of learning a new language.

BUT

3) The very nature of the material left to us by Ancient Greeks and Romans (fragmentary, mostly highly complex in form and content and of exquisite literary taste and much intertextuality and background knowledge that’s partially if not completely lost to us) leaves no choice but to decode or simply guess and ponder and desperate from time to time. For this reason (and to provide the lost historical or literary context of a specific text) is what commentaries a mainly for.

My solution is to teach the language using only (or at least 90% of the time) the natural method until the student is able to fluently read and understand everything but the most complex and difficult of Greek Literature or those corrupted or fragmentary passages that leave no room but for guess and decoding. If the whole Athenaze or LLPSI experiment shows us anything it's that's perfectly possible to teach a language so effectively so as to allow the pupil to read actual texts with a minimum of difficulty.

Before further elaborating with examples out of my own personal experience in learning and teaching I want to make some clarifications and a couple of, let's say, complains.

I agree with most of what Krashen say's BUT (unless I missed something) both he and Tracy Terrell present themselves as innovators or "developers" of something called the "natural approach". That is at least partially false. If you push me I'd say that the humanist tradition of dialogues in Greek and Latin were the great innovators of the natural method, but for the sake of the argument I'll stick to the modern world. It was Arthur Marinus Jensen who first published in 1939 the first edition of his English by the Nature Method. He founded the Naturmetodens Sproginstitut in Copenhagen. Mr. Jensen and his institute were very active in the following decades, in 1954 appeared his Le Français par la «Méthode Nature», in 1955 a brilliant coworker of the Naturmetodens Sproginstitut named Hans Henning Ørberg published the first version of the Lingua Latina secundum naturae rationem explicata (nowadays known as the Lingua Latīna per sē illūstrāta. Pars I Familia Rōmāna). In 1962 Jensen published his L'Italiano secondo il «Metodo Natura», the following decades the Naturmetodens Sproginstitut published additional material to those methods until it suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared without a trace. Almost everything published by the Naturmetodens Sproginstitut is freely available in the Vivarium Novum webpage.

Though there are predecessors to Jensen and Ørberg, most notably W. H. D. Rouse, I believe that the real innovator here is Jensen. Thus I think that Prof. Terrell and Krashen are either completely unaware of those great predecessors or incurring in a very serious act of omission if not academic dishonesty.

Now to my complains.

Two times in January (here and here) I mentioned both Mr. Jensen and Ørberg's Familia Rōmāna, on both occasions I provided several links to the Vivarium Novum Academy in Rome (the single most successful project of implementation of the nature method). And yet it was only in May that (in this case) daivid took notice of something that I had mentioned MONTHS before.
daivid wrote:I have just read the first couple of pages which are available in preview. I have not so much as opened a Latin book for 50 years yet I understood/guessed every word. Those words that I had to guess are quickly repeated so I could read then without guessing the next time. It is brilliant!!!!!! :P Why has no one ever done this for Ancient Greek?
Yes, some attempts have been made, the Italian edition of Athenaze is until now the best result. Am I writing to a wall here? Or am I not taken seriously? If I’m wasting my (and everybody’s) time please tell me and I’ll go bother someone else.

So, I have to ask. daivid have you read the ITALIAN version of Athenaze or the supplementary material that’s been available for years in the Vivarium Novum webpage?

My second complain is somehow related to the first one, not only here, but practically everywhere in the world I’ve encountered this subtle (and I believe honestly unconscious) bias from native English speakers, they systematically ignore or forget everything that’s not written in English. We are dealing with a lack of teaching and learning material in our beloved Classics and in the Humanities in general and the last thing we need is this nitpicking. We have too little material at our disposal to allow ourselves the luxury of ignoring other valuable contributions from our non-English speaking colleagues.

Back to business:

I partially disagree with Krashen’s dismissal of writing and speaking (especially in the case of dead languages), though I do agree that one does really learn more by just hearing and reading. For example I learned English by playing two video games:

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

The videogame is basically 80% dialogue in which one has to choose what one wants to say out of a relatively limited set of options, depending on what you say (aka what you decide) you form your character’s personality, influence your companions and ultimately shape the whole story of the videogame. The story and side stories are very interesting and the whole game is super entertaining. In less than six months I went form being only able to say "hello, goodbye" and basic questions to being able to read entire books, newspapers, writing essays and even speaking with relative fluency (But in all honesty I have to admit that I dedicated an excessive amount of time to the game, at least 8 hours a day all week long). I perfectioned my English with more extensive reading of Star Wars fanfictions and books and eventually the continuous reading of Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft, eventually they took me to Hemingway and such until I reached Byron and Shakespeare in about a year and a half.

In 2011 I passed the CAE with an almost perfect score, my punctuation was so high that I was awarded a C2 in all tested areas: speaking, writing, reading and listening instead of the normal C1 that's awarded for the CAE.

But here’s the thing, not only did I took no preparatory course for the test, I didn't even study for it. Yet I always struggled and still struggle with grammar and syntax questions. Even now if you ask me anything grammar related I'm simply blank, I honestly do not know. I do not know what the Future Perfect Progressive is or how it differentiates from the Future Perfect Simple or the Future Progressive. And don't get me started on Word order and Syntax (I actually failed a University test about it some months ago because it focused only on grammatical analysis). And yet I can still perfectly understand and write and speak English using all of those grammatical contraptions without a single mistake because I acquired them unconsciously through contact and repetition.

On a more recent example, I was reading with a German friend (who studies to become an English teacher) some translations of the Bible, specifically the King James, I was not consciously aware at all that in Modern English only the 3rd Person Inflection remains "he/she bears". Yet I understood perfectly when I read the Bible "Thou bearest record of thyself" (The 2nd person inflection). My friend was astounded, he asked me how I knew that, he had to look into a Grammar of Early Modern English because he had not seen that inflection form in his life, only what was in his Modern English Grammar. He asked me if I did not mix up the verb forms when speaking, which of course I don't, but I can imitate to some degree all of the Early and even Archaic English that I have read even if I ignore the rules behind it.

On the same note. I never had a good Spanish teacher until High School, so I spent the first 15 to 16 years of my life not knowing what a verb was, I couldn’t for the life of me identify an article or and adverb, much less tell you what the hell that was or how it worked. Yet because of my continuous reading I could imitate the best of Cervantes' Spanish and even write sonnets and other forms of poetry based on just sound and imitation alone. But even to this day when my foreign friends ask me about Spanish grammar I sometimes have to confess that I have no idea what they’re talking about.

In summary Krashen is not entirely wrong in his emphasis of reading and listening but I'm very convinced that the active (or productive) aspect is equally important. I'm convinced that this methodology only worked for me because I was still taking an active role in the communication of the videogame. I was the one who chose the answers. My experience as a classics student and teacher has convinced me that an active (or productive) role is necessary for the total attainment of a language.

With Greek and Latin, speaking and writing (composition) become all the more important because that's where you are confronted to the real cultural clash. How do I express something that perhaps had no value for the Greeks or Romans? A friend once composed a couple of hexameters about giving his heart to a girl, and it immediately struck me that no Roman would have expressed such sentiment the way my friend said it. My friend was writing for a modern girl with modern sensibilities that have been shaped by the idea of love that originates in the middle Ages and the Romantic period, the whole production (speaking and writing) is basic in familiarizing yourself with the real usage of the language.

Now I also have some doubts about the way Krashen explains why this nature method works the way it works, though I have not bothered to read ALL of Krashen's publications so I maybe misinterpreting him. Whatever the case I must agree with his critics that this "nature" approach can be very subjective, its effectiveness can vary form person to person and it's hard to measure (I also believe that the most staunch critics of this approach do so because of the lack of a "precise" way of measurement).

Dante wrote:step one: work through a basic textbook to learn the grammar and morphology.
step two: read & study texts using good commentaries.
step three: repeat step two. The more you do, and the longer you do it, the better your acquision will be.
I entirely disagree with the underlined statements of Dante and mwh. I honestly believe that this grammar-translation approach is the reason that Classics as a subject is dying, nobody learns Greek and Latin anymore because it's presented is such a way as to make it a torture to learn.
mhw wrote:"But what’s needed is “comprehensible input,” you say. Well, yes and no. Of course it needs to become comprehensible. But the distinction between (subconsciously) acquiring a language and (consciously) learning a language is a rather contrived and artificial one, and necessarily breaks down when it comes to a dead language like ancient Greek. As does your objection to “decoding.” Language is a code, and any act of reading is an act of decoding, conscious or not. The more we read (and the better our learnt and/or acquired knowledge of the language), the less conscious the decoding becomes."
This distinction is real, if my living experience is not proof enough, how can you explain that a child learns his mother tongue without ever (consciously) learning any grammar or syntax at all?

Now for some suggestions. Instead of torturing the poor daivid with this translation nonsense. Why don't we paraphrase into more simple Attic the parts that he doesn't understand of a given text? Out of that paraphrase we could work out some small dialogues with the vocabulary and mix it with the original. Ideally someone could draw pictures of the realia. (On that point one of the greatest desiderata of Greek scholarship is the equivalent to the In usum delphini series for Latin authors).

And for the sceptics, why don't you pick any of Jensen's methods for a modern language and give it a try? I'm sure that with just a couple of hours a day you can become fluent in six to twelve months (even less if you combine it with intensive reading and a lot of contact with the language via radio, youtube, movies, etc.)

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by Victor » Sat May 27, 2017 2:34 pm

rmedinap wrote: I honestly believe that this grammar-translation approach is the reason that Classics as a subject is dying, nobody learns Greek and Latin anymore because it's presented is such a way as to make it a torture to learn.
There are simple and scarcely contested reasons (mainly to do with the growth of other areas of the curriculum) why Classics (by which I mean Latin and Greek) is less widely studied than it used to be. The reason you give has very little to recommend it, largely because it's proposing an alternative explanation for a decline that has already been very plausibly explained.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by daivid » Sat May 27, 2017 8:17 pm

rmedinap wrote: Poor daivid, you’ve questioned this forum so often about methodology that when you’re right they don’t take you seriously enough. But you’re right, Krashen is right, the whole grammatical approach is wrong (as I’ve been trying to tell everybody here)
Up to when I discovered Krashen, I was very conscious that I didn’t have much to back up what I was saying apart from my personal experience of how reading simple texts (children’s books) in Serbo Croat was key to learning that language while the lack of that option seemed to me to be the key barrier to learning Ancient Greek. But as there were very significant other differences it is hard to be sure that my perception that it was the reading of simple texts that was key is correct.

Krashen on other hand has academic standing both in linguistics and education so he ought to be take seriously even though there are other academics who disagree. ( And doesn’t seem to me that many of the critics of Krashen are advocates of grammar translation)
rmedinap wrote:

Though there are predecessors to Jensen and Ørberg, most notably W. H. D. Rouse, I believe that the real innovator here is Jensen. Thus I think that Prof. Terrell and Krashen are either completely unaware of those great predecessors or incurring in a very serious act of omission if not academic dishonesty.
That’s perhaps a bit unfair. Krashen does at times mention other writers who preceded him in saying the same thing. He certainly could do that more often but if he did it is possible that it would mostly just make his talks less focused.

rmedinap wrote:

Two times in January (here and here) I mentioned both Mr. Jensen and Ørberg's Familia Rōmāna, on both occasions I provided several links to the Vivarium Novum Academy in Rome (the single most successful project of implementation of the nature method). And yet it was only in May that (in this case) daivid took notice of something that I had mentioned MONTHS before.
I still keep discovering resources that I ought to have known about but in this case it was because I don’t intend to study Latin,

rmedinap wrote:
Yes, some attempts have been made, the Italian edition of Athenaze is until now the best result. Am I writing to a wall here? Or am I not taken seriously? If I’m wasting my (and everybody’s) time please tell me and I’ll go bother someone else.

So, I have to ask. daivid have you read the ITALIAN version of Athenaze or the supplementary material that’s been available for years in the Vivarium Novum webpage?
I owe to Athenaze a great deal of the the Ancient Greek that I have acquired -there is just not enough of it.
I have not obtained the Italian edition but I have read the readings in the workbook. I have been given the impression that most of the extra stuff in the Italian edition found its way into the workbook.
rmedinap wrote: My second complain is somehow related to the first one, not only here, but practically everywhere in the world I’ve encountered this subtle (and I believe honestly unconscious) bias from native English speakers, they systematically ignore or forget everything that’s not written in English.
I don’t think it’s bias. Or to be precise the bias is in what booksellers choose to make available to us. Several Astrix books for example have been translated into Ancient Greek but it is very hard to obtain them in Britain.
The sample of Asterix I have seen suggest that the Greek is quite hard but I would have given it a go if I had had the chance.
rmedinap wrote:
I partially disagree with Krashen’s dismissal of writing and speaking (especially in the case of dead languages), though I do agree that one does really learn more by just hearing and reading. For example I learned English by playing two video games:
He does have good arguments on his side on his claim that acquisition comes from input only but I myself am yet to be fully convinced. But even if true, writing is essential for Ancient Greek as a way of helping others in providing comprehensible input (even if it doesn’t help the writer).
rmedinap wrote:
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

The videogame is basically 80% dialogue in which one has to choose what one wants to say out of a relatively limited set of options, depending on what you say (aka what you decide) you form your character’s personality, influence your companions and ultimately shape the whole story of the videogame. The story and side stories are very interesting and the whole game is super entertaining. In less than six months I went form being only able to say "hello, goodbye" and basic questions to being able to read entire books, newspapers, writing essays and even speaking with relative fluency (But in all honesty I have to admit that I dedicated an excessive amount of time to the game, at least 8 hours a day all week long). I perfectioned my English with more extensive reading of Star Wars fanfictions and books and eventually the continuous reading of Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft, eventually they took me to Hemingway and such until I reached Byron and Shakespeare in about a year and a half.
That really does sound like an excellent learning resource but arguably if you were choosing the commands from options you getting comprehensible input rather than producing output.

rmedinap wrote:
In summary Krashen is not entirely wrong in his emphasis of reading and listening but I'm very convinced that the active (or productive) aspect is equally important. I'm convinced that this methodology only worked for me because I was still taking an active role in the communication of the videogame. I was the one who chose the answers. My experience as a classics student and teacher has convinced me that an active (or productive) role is necessary for the total attainment of a language.
The key aspect of the video game was it was engaging. Games do allow you to expose yourself to the same grammatical structures and vocabulary over and over but as they are part of a game you don’t experience it as repetitive.
rmedinap wrote: With Greek and Latin, speaking and writing (composition) become all the more important because that's where you are confronted to the real cultural clash. How do I express something that perhaps had no value for the Greeks or Romans? A friend once composed a couple of hexameters about giving his heart to a girl, and it immediately struck me that no Roman would have expressed such sentiment the way my friend said it. My friend was writing for a modern girl with modern sensibilities that have been shaped by the idea of love that originates in the middle Ages and the Romantic period, the whole production (speaking and writing) is basic in familiarizing yourself with the real usage of the language.
Menander and Chariton do portray their women as breathtakingly passive but I don’t feel that the problem is one of the language itself. Chaereas is shokingly indiferant to what Callirhoe wants and yet it is clear that it is crucial for Chariton that Callirhoe loves Chaereas. There feelings are still recognizably human and I see no reason one could not use Ancient Greek to write a romance in which the woman is portrayed as having as equal power to act for herself as the guy.

rmedinap wrote: Now I also have some doubts about the way Krashen explains why this nature method works the way it works, though I have not bothered to read ALL of Krashen's publications so I maybe misinterpreting him. Whatever the case I must agree with his critics that this "nature" approach can be very subjective, its effectiveness can vary form person to person and it's hard to measure (I also believe that the most staunch critics of this approach do so because of the lack of a "precise" way of measurement).
I have read some research in which an input method didn’t do to well compared with grammar instruction. It was obvious to me that the experiment wasn’t really applying Krashen’s recommendations but it was also clear that to do so would make the experiment much harder to run.

When I am reading the difference between comprehensible input and what is not is sharp and clear. It is also for a very clear cut divide between using my acquired feel for the language and my conscious learnt knowledge. There is a book that I’m reading in Serbo-Croat for me to read using my acquired feel alone but its not some mixture of the two methods. The acquired feel takes me so far and then I have to switch.

For a learner it is very easy do know when they are reading comprehensible input and provided there is enough graded material available it is easy to switch to stuff that is the right level for themselves.

For an experimenter, the fact that comprehensible input is so dependent on the level of each individual makes experiments hard to devise. Hard but by no means impossible.

rmedinap wrote:

Now for some suggestions. Instead of torturing the poor daivid with this translation nonsense. Why don't we paraphrase into more simple Attic the parts that he doesn't understand of a given text? Out of that paraphrase we could work out some small dialogues with the vocabulary and mix it with the original. Ideally someone could draw pictures of the realia. (On that point one of the greatest desiderata of Greek scholarship is the equivalent to the In usum delphini series for Latin authors).
To fair, mwh, usually takes a lot of time to correct the stories that I have posted. Indeed having re-read the ones he ignored I would say that he always corrects the ones that are worth correcting. If he never writes a easy-Greek story himself but knocks into shape theeasy-Greek stories written by others that lack his ability he will of done a great service for learners simply doing that.
λονδον

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by Markos » Tue May 30, 2017 9:46 pm

rmedinap wrote:Now for some suggestions. Instead of torturing the poor daivid with this translation nonsense. Why don't we paraphrase into more simple Attic the parts that he doesn't understand of a given text? Out of that paraphrase we could work out some small dialogues with the vocabulary and mix it with the original. Ideally someone could draw pictures of the realia.
I think it was Hillel who said, in a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.
rmedinap wrote: (On that point one of the greatest desiderata of Greek scholarship is the equivalent to the In usum delphini series for Latin authors).
Though not designed exactly for the same purpose, we do have Doukas' Ajax. That, combined with some good editions of the Scholia and Chad's monolingual notes, provide the building blocks. But I forget who said, if you build it, they will come.
οὐ μανθάνω γράφειν, ἀλλὰ γράφω τοῦ μαθεῖν.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by rmedinap » Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:46 pm

daivid wrote:I owe to Athenaze a great deal of the the Ancient Greek that I have acquired -there is just not enough of it.
I have not obtained the Italian edition but I have read the readings in the workbook. I have been given the impression that most of the extra stuff in the Italian edition found its way into the workbook.
Here I must say that your impression is not very accurate, the first volume of the English version has 386 pages out of which only 281 have actual Greek (and with a lot of English vocabulary, big pictures, grammar explanations and exercises in between). The Italian edition has 529 pages out for which 423 are pure Greek with small illustrations, synonyms and almost no Italian around except for the grammar explanations at the end of each chapter and some notes. That difference is considerably bigger in the second volume (the second English volume has 398 pages, the Italian 610). Take a look yourself there's a free preview available here and here.

If you have any good impression of the English version I strongly urge you to immediately acquire the Italian one, were talking about at least 142 extra pages of pure comprehensible input just in the first volume and some 200 on the second.

daivid wrote:I still keep discovering resources that I ought to have known about but in this case it was because I don’t intend to study Latin
I see, it struck me as a surprise because on both occasions (here and here) I was addressing specifically you and the subject was language acquisition theories and I made very clear references (as in, saying the names) to an "active method", "nature method" or "inductive method". Anyway I hope I was any help at all.

Markos wrote:Though not designed exactly for the same purpose, we do have Doukas' Ajax. That, combined with some good editions of the Scholia and Chad's monolingual notes, provide the building blocks. But I forget who said, if you build it, they will come.
Actually Doukas made editions of almost all the great Tragedies, Homer, Pindar, Theocritus and some historians and orators (sadly my beloved Thucydides got a Katharevousa paraphrase instead of an attic one) they can be found here.

Other than more comprehensible input I'd say that making new paraphrases with attic explanations, synonyms and images of the basic authors should be the next priority for teachers.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by mwh » Sat Jun 03, 2017 10:32 pm

The trouble with paraphrases, especially of poetry, is that they destroy what makes the original worth reading.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by rmedinap » Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:59 pm

mwh wrote:The trouble with paraphrases, especially of poetry, is that they destroy what makes the original worth reading.
I completely agree but I believe translation is far worse a treason (Traduttore, traditore!). At any rate paraphrasing at least offers the benefit of forcing you to remain in the target language and exposes you to lexical and syntactical variety i.e. you see the enormous difference between prosaic style and poetic style, the difference between a very complex and ornate prose style and the simplicity of a subject-verb-object-complements style. Thus it helps to better appreciate the beauty of the original and it allows you to understand the basic sense of what the text says within the realm of the target language and without having to consciously do some tedious grammatical analysis.

Of course if something requires a more detailed explanation that's what commentaries are for (and in an ideal world those commentaries would also be in the original, like in the In usum Delphini series).

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by Hylander » Sun Jun 04, 2017 4:31 pm

Reading translations instead of the original is of course not recommended if you're trying to learn Greek, but using good translations of difficult passages in your own language to pinpoint the meaning of the original is much more effective than using dumbed down paraphrases in a language you don't know as well.

Paraphrases can give you at most a general sense of the meaning of the original. Why bother? Why not just make the effort to understand the original on its own terms?

Making your own translation into your own language --trying to capture the meaning of the Greek with as much precision as you can muster -- is a good way to sharpen your understanding of the Greek.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by mahasacham » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:17 pm

Having read a lot of back and forth on this issue, it seems like the people advocating the Grammar Method and the people advocating the Comprehensible Input Method are simply interested in different goals and thus are speaking past each other.

The Grammar Method People don't seem to be very interested in using the Ancient Greek language to communicate in, like some people do in Latin or Sanskrit.

The Comprehensible Input People seem to want to partially revive a dead language, to the extent possible. Perhaps modeled on the way Latin is used (Even Rosetta Stone has a learning package). I sympathize with the Comprehensible input people. They seem to just want an equality in the two classical languages. Why should Latin be allowed to have all these wonderful teaching methods and the Greek language should go impoverished.

Therefore, to be fair, I don't think that the comprehensible input people want to paraphrase original Ancient Greek to actually "understand" the texts better, they just want something to read without having to turn the text into a brain teaser. So instead of coming up with something new, they just want to remove a few things.....rearrange some stuff and get an easily readable text.

That said I think that the people struggling are gonna have to produce the paraphrases and quaint forms of comprehensible input for themselves....I don't think you're gonna be able to convince some "fluent" Ancient Greek reader to do this (if they really even exist).

Mainly because they don't have any interest in reviving the language. Re-reading a text that has embellished phrases and obscure words is enough for them because each reading reveals a different nuance and shade of meaning. And to be honest as I am slowly filling in the gaps in my knowledge and continue to learn the various idioms, I can see why the grammar people are so fond of leaving Ancient Greek in the grave......Although I do enjoy me some easy Greek....... umm mmmm...its so much more relaxing.

--οὕτω δὴ καὶ τοῖς περὶ τοὺς λόγους ἐσπουδακόσιν ἡγοῦμαι προσήκειν μετὰ τὴν πολλὴν τῶν σπουδαιοτέρων ἀνάγνωσιν ἀνιέναι τε τὴν διάνοιαν καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἔπειτα κάματον ἀκμαιοτέραν παρασκευάζειν.

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Re: Krashen and Ancient Greek teaching methods

Post by rmedinap » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:04 pm

Hylander wrote:Reading translations instead of the original is of course not recommended if you're trying to learn Greek, but using good translations of difficult passages in your own language to pinpoint the meaning of the original is much more effective than using dumbed down paraphrases in a language you don't know as well.


Okay... 1) I have nothing against occasionally consulting a translation when you're in doubt (I do so myself). 2) Paraphrases, like any other teaching device should be used with prudence and timing, only when the pupil is capable of understanding the paraphrase does it make any sense to use one in order to clarify a much difficult text.

3)... I believe the term "dumbed down" is unjustified. First because we have a lot of very, very complex authors who purposefully tried to become as intricate and dark as possible so as to show off their skill and vast knowledge. In the case of say, Pindar, Lycophron (hell I'd say any Hellenistic Poet) or even Thucydides I'd say a paraphrase is more of a "normalisation" than a "dumbing". Second because there a many types of paraphrases whose complexity varies depending on the intention they were written for.

For example we have the Ørberg style paraphrases like this one of the Aeneid which are so meticulously done within the greater plan of a general method that the author knows in advance what words are new to the student, what words are used in a different sense or with an unusual syntactic structure, he knows that because the student has seen those words countless of times in his course and even in the event that he forgot, the student can easily go the index of his Familia Rōmāna and in seconds find the word in the context in which he learned it. The new words or structures are explained in Latin at the margin with synonyms or with pictures.

Then we have those like that of Sisto Colombo that only offer a paraphrase of those particular passages or constructions that are too difficult to get at first sight even for an advanced student and the paraphrase is by no means "dumb". This type of paraphrase is done for experienced readers who only require one or two clarifications in the whole text.

Then there is the In usum Delphini type like this one which is for for students that are probably reading the author for the first time and/or have only read their Caesar, Cicero and maybe bit of Catullus, they need a lot of help and relatively easy explanations.

And then you have the monsters like de la Cerda that have not only a very elegant paraphrase but a very detailed commentary. This guy is still a reference for all serious commentators of Virgil, they just keep quoting him because he was that good.

None of these paraphrases I would call "dumb", in fact I'm more than ready to believe some knows a language the moment he can spontaneously paraphrase something he read and explain it with easier words (or even better if he can do so elegantly like de la Cerda) than to believe in a translation no matter how good it may be.
Hylander wrote:Paraphrases can give you at most a general sense of the meaning of the original. Why bother? Why not just make the effort to understand the original on its own terms?
I don't agree entirely but I can say the very same thing about translations, no matter how good they are they can give at most a general sense of the meaning of the original and they carry the problem of the semantic load that the target language has but the Greek lacks (or vice versa). And like I said the benefits of making your own paraphrase no matter how simple trump the translation because they force you think in the target language instead of your native tongue, with the translation at the very best you'd be demonstrating that you dominate your mother tongue but not necessarily the original language (Unless you make a word for word "translation" which proves even less). Take Hölderlin's translations of Pindar or Alfonso Reyes' Iliad, heck even Pope's Iliad for example, any classicist worth his salt will immediately spot all the imprecisions not to say misunderstandings or even falsehoods in their translations but they're still the greatest monuments of literary and aesthetic skill and mastery in their respective tongues and cultures.

Have you ever been among foreigners whose language you're trying to learn? Do they not occasionally have to "dumb down" what they're saying in order to teach you the "smart" way to say it? It's called learning for a reason and I don't see the crime in helping others understand step by step.
Hylander wrote:Making your own translation into your own language --trying to capture the meaning of the Greek with as much precision as you can muster -- is a good way to sharpen your understanding of the Greek.
I disagree entirely. Translation is the very last step in the chain of learning (not only another language) but your own, it presupposes (if done seriously and professionally) a command of both original and target language, it can be good exercise for intermediate or advanced students but I'd never use it on beginners.

Just to clarify I have nothing against the translation per se, I believe translations are an indispensable tool in spreading and perpetuating knowledge as much in "appropriating" (I believe that's the word used among young people in college these days) the past that each generation must have. I just don't think that as a pedagogical tool it serves any purpose that cannot be easily replaceable by better methods.

I'd love to discuss this with examples of Greek paraphrases but like I said we have such a lack of them that finding even a decent one would be difficult, most of them are like the Doukas' one, made for a native speaker of the language that has trouble understanding the "archaic" words, not for some one who is trying to learn the language from zero.
mahasacham wrote:I don't think that the comprehensible input people want to paraphrase original Ancient Greek to actually "understand" the texts better, they just want something to read without having to turn the text into a brain teaser. So instead of coming up with something new, they just want to remove a few things.....rearrange some stuff and get an easily readable text.
I'm sorry if I gave you that impression, but at least I believe that paraphrases (those done by others as well as those done by one self) are a good and effective instrument to actually understand the text. Just like composition if done properly and combined with intensive reading it leads to a mastery of the language better than any translation exercise (except perhaps inverse translation).

At least my intentions are purely didactic. My main interest is in finding an effective, reliable and not too tedious way to teach (and learn) new languages, with the final objective being always the reading and understanding of the ancient authors, I have no interest in reviving any language just for its own sake.

As I said before:
rmedinap wrote:I stand with Zuntz (and Miraglia for that matter) in his belief that writing and speaking Ancient Greek (or Latin) is not and should not be the objective, not even a priority, but a means to optimize the whole teaching-learning process.
If anything I'd simply argue that we should not treat Latin or Greek as if they were math, but treat them like any other language because that's what they are.
rmedinap wrote:I don't think you're gonna be able to convince some "fluent" Ancient Greek reader to do this (if they really even exist).
Actually, the effort is already starting, there's JACT’s Reading Greek, the mentioned Athenze, the Cultura Clásica material, it's just the academic prejudice that we need to overcome.

Anyway I believe this discussion is fruitful, important and worth having. I'd love to discuss particular examples and if I had the time and resources I'd actually make the experiment of separating groups of learners and teaching them with different methods and comparing results.

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