Rules for Language Learning

Rules for Language Learning

Postby cwconrad » August 15th, 2011, 8:12 am

(I'm tempted to cross-post or move this post to the "Teaching and Learning" forum, so focused is it on that topic).

These "rules" were cited yesterday by the "Laudator Temporis Acti" (i.e "the Old Curmudgeon") from John Stuart Blackie, On Self-Culture, 4th ed. (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1874), pp. 32-36.
Blog URL: http://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.co ... rning.html

(1.) If possible always start with a good teacher. He will save you much time by clearing away difficulties that might otherwise discourage you, and preventing the formation of bad habits of enunciation, which must afterwards be unlearned.

(2.) The next step is to name aloud, in the language to be learned, every object which meets your eye, carefully excluding the intervention of the English: in other words, think and speak of the objects about you in the language you are learning from the very first hour of your teaching; and remember that the language belongs to the first place to your ear and to your tongue, not in your book merely and to your brain.

(3.) Commit to memory the simplest and most normal forms of the declension of nouns, such as the us and a declension in Latin, and the A declension in Sanscrit.

(4.) The moment you have learned the nominative and accusative cases of these nouns take the first person of the present indicative of any common verb, and pronounce aloud some short sentence according to the rules of syntax belonging to active verbs, as—ὁρῶ τὸν Ἥλιον, I see the sun.

(5.) Enlarge this practice by adding some epithet to the substantive, declined according to the same noun, as—ὁρῶ τὸν λαμπρὸν Ἥλιον, I see the bright sun.

(6.) Go on in this manner progressively, committing to memory the whole present indicative, past and future indicative, of simple verbs, always making short sentences with them, and some appropriate nouns, and always thinking directly in the foreign language, excluding the intrusion of the English. In this essential element of every rational system of linguistic training there is no real, but only an imaginary difficulty to contend with, and, in too many cases, the pertinacity of a perverse practice.

(7.) When the ear and tongue have acquired a fluent mastery of the simpler forms of nouns, verbs, and sentences, then, but not till then, should the scholar be led, by a graduated process, to the more difficult and complex forms.

(8.) Let nothing be learned from rules that is not immediately illustrated by practice; or rather, let the rules be educed from the practice of ear and tongue, and let them be as few and as comprehensive as possible.

(9.) Irregularities of various kinds are best learned by practice as they occur; but some anomalies, as in the conjugation of a few irregular verbs, are of such frequent occurrence, and are so necessary for progress, that they had better be learned specially by heart as soon as possible. Of this the verb to be, in almost all languages, is a familiar example.

(10.) Let some easy narrative be read, in the first place, or better, some familiar dialogue, as, in Greek, Xenophon's Anabasis and Memorabilia, Cebetis Tabula, and Lucian's Dialogues; but reading must never be allowed, as is so generally the case, to be practised as a substitute for thinking and speaking. To counteract this tendency, the best way is to take objects of natural history, or representations of interesting objects, and describe their parts aloud in simple sentences, without the intervention of the mother tongue.

(11.) Let all exercises of reading and describing be repeated again, and again, and again. No book fit to be read in the early stages of language-learning should be read only once.

(12.) Let your reading, if possible, be always in sympathy with your intellectual appetite. Let the matter of the work be interesting, and you will make double progress. To know some thing of the subject beforehand will be an immense help. For this reason, with Christians who know the Scriptures, as we do in Scotland, a translation of the Bible is always one of the best books to use in the acquisition of a foreign tongue.

(13.) As you read, note carefully the difference between the idioms of the strange language and those of the mother tongue; underscore these distinctly with pen or pencil, in some thoroughly idiomatic translation, and after a few days translate back into the original tongue what you have before you in the English form.

(14.) To methodise, and, if necessary, correct your observations, consult some systematic grammar so long as you may find it profitable. But the grammar should, as much as possible, follow the practice, not precede it.

(15.) Be not content with that mere methodical generalisation of the practice which you find in many grammars, but endeavour always to find the principle of the rule, whether belonging to universal or special grammar.

(16.) Study the theory of language, the organism of speech, and what is called comparative philology or Glossology. The principles there revealed will enable you to prosecute with a reasoning intelligence a study which would otherwise be in a great measure a laborious exercise of arbitrary memory.

(17.) Still, practice is the main thing; language must, in the first plaoe, be familiar; and this familiarity can be attained only by constant reading and constant conversation. Where a man has no person to speak to he may declaim to himself; but the ear and the tongue must be trained, not the eye merely and the understanding. In reading, a man must not confine himself to standard works. He must devour everything greedily that he can lay his hands on. He must not merely get up a book with accurate precision; that is all very well as a special task; but he must learn to live largely in the general element of the language; and minute accuracy in details is not to be sought before a fluent practical command of the general currency of the language has been attained. Shakspeare, for instance, ought to be read twenty times before a man begins to occupy himself with the various readings of the Shaksperian text, or the ingenious conjectures of his critics.

(18.) Composition, properly so called, is the culmination of the exercises of speaking and reading, translation and re-translation, which we have sketched. In this exercise the essential thing is to write from a model, not from dictionaries or phrase-books. Choose an author who is a pattern of a particular style—say Plato in philosophical dialogue, or Lucian in playful colloquy—steal his phrases, and do something of the same kind yourself, directly, without the intervention of the English. After you have acquired fluency in this way you may venture to put more of yourself into the style, and learn to write the foreign tongue as gracefully as Latin was written by Erasmus, Wyttenbach, or Ruhnken. Translation from English classics may also be practised, but not in the first place; the ear must be tuned by direct imitation of tbe foreign tongue, before the more difficult art of transference from the mother tongue can be attempted with success.


I might just add that all this is far too sensible to expect to see it practised in many real-world classrooms where ancient Greek is said to be taught.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
cwconrad
 
Posts: 1252
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714

Re: Rules for Language Learning

Postby Jonathan Robie » August 15th, 2011, 3:10 pm

2.) The next step is to name aloud, in the language to be learned, every object which meets your eye, carefully excluding the intervention of the English: in other words, think and speak of the objects about you in the language you are learning from the very first hour of your teaching; and remember that the language belongs to the first place to your ear and to your tongue, not in your book merely and to your brain.


Let's see ... laptop, monitor, lamp, tiger tail, check book, cell phone, fan, rocking chair, pen, pencil .... I'm not editing these, they are the first things I see from where I'm sitting. Many, many objects in my everyday life just aren't part of New Testament Greek.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
Jonathan Robie
 
Posts: 1456
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm

Re: Rules for Language Learning

Postby Mark Lightman » August 15th, 2011, 6:04 pm

This guy sounds like Randall Buth with a Scottish accent.
Mark Lightman
 
Posts: 256
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:30 pm

Re: Rules for Language Learning

Postby Nikolaos Adamou » August 16th, 2011, 9:22 am

Carl, Thanks for the posting.

Mark, it is not just Randall - kai oi syn aytwi - if you dig further, as John Stuart Blackie did, ἀνάγωσις, reading aloud, not just it is and was an essential part of any language, but particular a characteristic element of Biblical Greek, but also an inhered part of all Greek Grammars.
From the beginning, of Dionysos, to later Theodosios, and all their commentaries.
It was much later with the influence of Latin into the Greek that this was not stress, and that only from the non Greeks.

As far as the point made by Jonathan, he is correct, many current words were not available then, but on the other hand, many words based on agricultural life of the biblical period are not common at all today. The ignorance of those realities are posing problems more serious in our understanding than the existence of the modern words that were absent then.

It feels nice to be back to the Greek Biblical forum.
Nikolaos Adamou
 
Posts: 27
Joined: May 31st, 2011, 6:31 pm

Re: Rules for Language Learning

Postby Jonathan Robie » August 16th, 2011, 9:39 am

Nikolaos Adamou wrote:As far as the point made by Jonathan, he is correct, many current words were not available then, but on the other hand, many words based on agricultural life of the biblical period are not common at all today. The ignorance of those realities are posing problems more serious in our understanding than the existence of the modern words that were absent then.


Yes, ideally we would take a trip back to ancient Palestine. I think Randall Buth takes that approach.

I'd like to have the experience of tending sheep, planting mustard seeds and watching them grow, growing grain the same way it was done in biblical times. And in a similar climate. I'd like to have the experience of living out in the desert eating locusts and wild honey, eating on a triclinium, catching fish using a boat from that time, mending the nets, roasting the fish on the beach. I'd like to experience someone teaching sitting down on the ground as Jesus did, try to sail one of those ungangly sailboats they used at the time.

Speaking Greek the all the while, of course.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
Jonathan Robie
 
Posts: 1456
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm

Re: Rules for Language Learning

Postby Devenios Doulenios » August 16th, 2011, 10:16 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
2.) The next step is to name aloud, in the language to be learned, every object which meets your eye, carefully excluding the intervention of the English: in other words, think and speak of the objects about you in the language you are learning from the very first hour of your teaching; and remember that the language belongs to the first place to your ear and to your tongue, not in your book merely and to your brain.


Let's see ... laptop, monitor, lamp, tiger tail, check book, cell phone, fan, rocking chair, pen, pencil .... I'm not editing these, they are the first things I see from where I'm sitting. Many, many objects in my everyday life just aren't part of New Testament Greek.


χαιρε ω Ιωναθαν,

I feel your pain. But the NT does have some common object words, at least those that had ancient equivalents. And there are some sources online that are doing this for Neo-Attic (which is close enough for Koine in most cases, I'm told). Here are a couple to get you started:

1. English to Greek phrasebook, Let's Read Greek, http://www.letsreadgreek.com (Our own Louis Sorenson and Carl Conrad are working on it).
2. Akropolis World News, current news in Attic Greek, pdf of modern vocab. in ancient Greek,
http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~jc210/index.htm Click on the Modern Vocabulary button for the pdf.
3. Hopperizer English to Greek Perseus lookup, http://www.katabiblon.com/tools/perseus-hopperizer/
4. ΣΧΟΛΗ, Λεξεις και Φρασεις, http://schole.ning.com

You can of course also borrow from Modern Greek. Check out the Freelang dictionaries at http://www.freelang.net/online/greek.php and Google Translator.

As I expand my Koine/Attic for communication abilities, I'll be making some vocab lists for modern everyday objects for myself, and as I do, I'll be glad to share them. 8-)

Ερρωσο,

Devenios Doulenios
Δεβένιος Δουλένιος
"τὴν ζωὴν καὶ τὸν θάνατον δέδωκα πρὸ προσώπου ὑμῶν τὴν εὐλογίαν καὶ τὴν κατάραν ἔκλεξαι τὴν ζωήν ἵνα ζῇς σὺ καὶ τὸ σπέρμα σου"-Dt. 30:19

"Ὁδοὶ δύο εἰσί, μία τῆς ζωῆς καὶ μία τοῦ θανάτου."--Διδαχή Α, α'
Devenios Doulenios
 
Posts: 72
Joined: May 31st, 2011, 5:11 pm
Location: Carlisle, Arkansas, USA

Re: Rules for Language Learning

Postby JBarach-Sr » August 16th, 2011, 11:21 pm

When learning Greek, I think we should take a page out of how children learn.

When babies learn the parents' language, they are exposed to the words of body parts.

Many body parts are common Greek words found in the NT such as head, face, eyes, ears, hand, finger, arm, elbow, palm, shoulder, chest, breast, mouth, teeth, tongue, throat, voice, nose, hip, legs, feet, toes, stomach, womb, heart, kidney, intestines, blood, spittle, knees, hair, cheek, lips, chin, jaw,
Can you point to each one and give the Greek word?

Also they learn relationships:
Mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, man, lady, boy, girl, pastor, policeman

As well, they learn common adjective:
big boy, little nose, tall daddy, short mumma, etc.

... now I'm sounding like something from Sesame Street ...
καὶ ἀνέγνωσαν ἐν βιβλίῳ νόμου τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐδίδασκεν Εσδρας καὶ διέστελλεν ἐν ἐπιστήμῃ κυρίου καὶ συνῆκεν ὁ λαὸς ἐν τῇ ἀναγνώσει. (Neh. 8:8)
http://www.motorera.com/greek/lxx/neh/neh08.html
JBarach-Sr
 
Posts: 31
Joined: May 31st, 2011, 12:20 pm
Location: Chilliwack, BC, Canada

Re: Rules for Language Learning

Postby Barry Hofstetter » August 17th, 2011, 12:34 am

JBarach-Sr wrote:When learning Greek, I think we should take a page out of how children learn.

When babies learn the parents' language, they are exposed to the words of body parts.

Many body parts are common Greek words found in the NT such as head, face, eyes, ears, hand, finger, arm, elbow, palm, shoulder, chest, breast, mouth, teeth, tongue, throat, voice, nose, hip, legs, feet, toes, stomach, womb, heart, kidney, intestines, blood, spittle, knees, hair, cheek, lips, chin, jaw,
Can you point to each one and give the Greek word?

Also they learn relationships:
Mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, man, lady, boy, girl, pastor, policeman

As well, they learn common adjective:
big boy, little nose, tall daddy, short mumma, etc.

... now I'm sounding like something from Sesame Street ...


Really? I didn't notice this at all with my daughters. My older daughter's first complete sentences were "Baba, sit. Baba, read." My younger daughter's first complete sentence was "The horses are hungry." When asked what the horses would like to eat, she replied "Horses eat apple pie!" I have no memory of emphasizing body parts. We simply talked to our children, and they eventually talked back (and haven't stopped).

Secondly, language acquisition for children and language acquisition for adults are fundamentally different. This is common knowledge. As an adult, you simply can't learn a language as you would when you were a child – your brain won't let you. Any effective strategy for learning a language as an adult has to take this into account.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Barry Hofstetter
 
Posts: 568
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm


Return to Seen on the Web

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron