Re: memorization

Dale M. Wheeler (
Wed, 04 Sep 1996 09:28:12 -0700

John Oaklands wrote:
>I have read with interest the discussions on memorization. It certainly has
>its values. But I would like to ask re what sort of methods would be
>suggested for memorization. For example, I know of one student who writes
>out the words 10 to 100 times. Others use flash cards--something which has
>never worked well for me. Besides, I'm not altogether happy with a rote
>memory process. I prefer to link the Greek with already acquired knowledge
>- -- in any field, but eventually also with consolidated Greek. I also look
>for grammatical, verbal and linguistic patterns.
>One of my preferred methods is visualization. This is well illustrated in a
>French course from New York, French in Action, which has virtually no
>English to it at all. Everything is done in French. I have been interested
>in noting how words, thoughts and ideas have been portrayed without a word
>of English. Mostly it has been done through visualization.
>I have also taught Greek this way. I find that the words, phrases, etc are
>remembered better, easier and for longer. For example--just a simple
>one--picture FWS as a light bulb--or even an ancient light perhaps, but any
>meaningful light helps. The same with PLOION, QALASSA, and so on and even
>for verbs of walking, speaking, eating etc. It takes a little imagination.
>Word plays are also helpful. Has anyone tried this?

Visualization is at the heart of the vocab cards for Greek to Me and is one
of the primary reasons I use the textbook, its just astounding how fast
students can pick up vocab with those goofy cards (the goofier the picture
the better it works...I think it has something to do with the sin nature :-)).

Ed Hobbs noted in his response that the best way to "learn" a word is by
seeing it used in sentences, etc. This is another reason I use Greek to Me;
the stories at the end of each chapter are written in (graduated) Koine
style, so the students learn the basic meaning of the word from the picture
and then immediately begin to see it in contexts. I personally think it is
a major mistake to teach students Greek by having them translate from
nonsense English to nonsense Greek--it instills this idea that Greek is
some sort of mathmatical formula by which any English concept can be
directly substituted for by one and only one Greek word; I think this
teaching method is one of the reasons we hear preachers (and read
commentaries) replete with root fallacy, illegitimate totality transfer,
etc., etc., etc. The goal of teaching Greek should be to give students
the ability to interact with a GREEK text, to read it, translate it,
interpret it, etc. And the best way to do that is to get them into Koine
texts as soon and as often as possible, and that is the goal of Greek to
Me; it may LOOK like a comic book, but it works...

Dale M. Wheeler, Th.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail: