New book-in-the-works announcement: Practice Reading Greek

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Emma Ehrhardt
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New book-in-the-works announcement: Practice Reading Greek

Post by Emma Ehrhardt » April 30th, 2015, 7:58 am

I've been working on a new project for awhile, and wanted to share a sample and get some feedback on the concept.

I'm creating what I envision as a 'reading practice' workbook, to provide students with far more text than they are typically introduced to in standard Koine Greek textbooks.

This project arose from 2 primary factors:
  1. The need for students to have access to lots of comprehensible input data. (Language-learning research backs this up, and I could point to countless threads lamenting the lack of 'easy Greek' for true beginners.)
  2. The availability of morphological & syntactic annotations of the Greek New Testament text.
I took as my starting point the fact that raw beginners need to develop familiarity with the 'building blocks', (i.e. the language patterns used to build sentences), more than they need to start translating full-length sentences. They're already dealing with lots of new information, so short phrases like 'the yellow house' and 'see spot run' are useful for practice. Secondly, new content is not generally mastered after a few repetitions, but after many. Ten to twenty sentences using present-active-indicative verbs are useful, but most students need way more examples to start feeling comfortable with the forms. Third, although the GNT corpus is limited in the number of complete verses or sentences that are beginner-friendly, using the syntactic trees we can find tons of smaller clauses and phrases that use only vocabulary and grammar the student has been exposed to.

This means that we can provide 2-300+ examples for a given chapter's content, rather than just 10-20. This allows additional reinforcement for students who want more practice, and should improve how students review old material too. When students come back to review previous chapters using this larger dataset, they can check whether they have generalized their understanding, rather than re-translating the same 10-20 sentences over and over again (which by now they've accidentally memorized from the repetition. :) )

As an example of what this looks like, here are 'readable phrases' corresponding to chapters 6, 9, and 16 in Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek. (These chapters introduce Nom/Acc case, Adjectives, and P-A-I verbs, respectively.)

I look forward to your feedback!
Attachments
Ehrhardt_practice-reading-greek_sampleBBG.pdf
Sample Reading Practice for chapters 6,9,&16 of Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: New book-in-the-works announcement: Practice Reading Gre

Post by Jonathan Robie » April 30th, 2015, 8:53 am

I really like this. I'm just starting to do something similar for participles (I'm committed to that for a talk Micheal Palmer and I are giving this November).

I assume you are using Mounce's vocabulary lists when you generate this?

You talk as though this should be used to give more practice after learning the paradigm, but as I'm sure you know, it might be even more helpful to use it the other way around, giving people lots of practice in a construct first, then showing the paradigm behind it once people have grasped it with their linguistic muscles. This is precisely the kind of systematic presentation of real examples, in sufficient quantity, that is needed for language acquisition, and I think it can make a big difference in people's success in learning Greek.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Emma Ehrhardt
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Re: New book-in-the-works announcement: Practice Reading Gre

Post by Emma Ehrhardt » April 30th, 2015, 10:49 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:...it might be even more helpful to use it the other way around...
I spoke in terms of "learn the textbook chapter, then go do this practice reading", but only because that's what I needed to improve my own Greek skills...reading practice to reinforce the forms I had various levels of familiarity with. But the intention of this workbook is to be as method-agnostic as possible. It necessarily has to follow some order of vocabulary and form introductions, but otherwise, it's just data: A resource book that will stand on its own, but which also provides fodder for more creative uses.

A teacher might choose to select examples ahead of time to do this 'linguistic exploration' as you mentioned. Or the 'living language' people could use this as a source of attested language patterns that they could then riff off of in their dialogues.
Jonathan Robie wrote:I assume you are using Mounce's vocabulary lists when you generate this?
For this sample, yes. But the approach I'm using is a generic one. I'm presenting Mounce first because a) it's what I learned on and I know the intricacies of that book, and b) its ubiquity. My hope is to release additional workbooks compatible with other 1st year Greek programs, as there is interest.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: New book-in-the-works announcement: Practice Reading Gre

Post by Stephen Hughes » April 30th, 2015, 12:10 pm

Emma Ehrhardt wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:I assume you are using Mounce's vocabulary lists when you generate this?
For this sample, yes. But the approach I'm using is a generic one. I'm presenting Mounce first because a) it's what I learned on and I know the intricacies of that book, and b) its ubiquity. My hope is to release additional workbooks compatible with other 1st year Greek programs, as there is interest.
Mass exposure like this is what is useful to learn grammatical equivalence across a plethora of morphologically divergent forms. Mounce evidently leaves the "difficult" forms till later, as I suspect many textbooks do. I would like to see lists structured according to the concept (abstract) grammatical building blocks, rather than morphologically similar ones that you are going to inevitably get by following textbooks whose layout follows and easiest and most common to most "difficult" and least common last curriculum design. That approach doesn't match actual language processing needs for either production or reception.

For example, while τὴν ἀγαπήν is morphologically quite similar to τὸν νόμον, but morphology is relatively simple. Gender is what is difficult to master. Looking again at τὴν ἀγάπην, it is grammatically similar to τὴν δοκόν, τὴν πατρίδα, and even more complex forms like τὴν οὐκ ἠγαπημένην in terms of how they become building blocks in the syntax of Greek. At a larger level, there are many more equivalences in terms of all 3 genders and 2 numbers. In so far as the gender distinctions need to be internalised, however, for one to be able to reach any form of mastery of the language, a lot of input data is required and learners need several years of exposure to achieve a reasonable result in terms of both accuracy and fluency - even for native speakers in monolingual environments.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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