Re: Greek textbook

From: Charles Bradley (
Date: Wed Oct 23 1996 - 06:49:21 EDT

In <>, on 10/23/96 at 01:21 AM, Dale M.
Wheeler wrote: >>Our school needs to begin the selection process for a 1st
Year Intro to >>Greek text. Our students will in all liklihood have had no
exposure to >>Greek. The requirements for the text: Available, affordable,
with >>workbook(if such exists), moderately paced, with some NT readings

>This seems to be becoming a perennial question on bgreek...

>The following is my $.02 worth on the question; and is my opinion and
>perspective (please don't read this as a put down of any other person or
>text; this is just I've found works for my students).

>As regulars already know (and are no doubt tired of hearing about :-) ),
>I use a textbook and vocab card system called "Greek To Me". My
>philosophy of teaching Greek is a bit different from many people (you
>can see the difference in Multnomah's program, where we devote the
>entire second year to translation of Koine materials). I think the
>reason there is a 90% drop out rate by people who have taken Greek is
>that they can't open the text and read/translate what's in front of
>them; they know the grammar in the abstract, but don't know enough words
>and have not had sufficient exposure to texts. Consequently, my focus is
>on vocabulary acquisition and reading, and for that, IMHO, Greek to Me
>stands alone.

>The first thing is the vocabulary acquisition; the GTM vocab cards make
>it possible for my students to learn on average 30+ words a week, which
>means that in 20 weeks we finish Greek to Me and they know all the words
>25+ times. The last 10 weeks of the second semester we read the entire
>Gospel of Mark, which they find easier than the last 5 chapters of Greek
>to Me, and they have no problem with it. I give them review exams over
>ALL the forms as well, with the final being 20 pages of vocabulary and
>EVERY SINGLE FORM; 1/2 to 2/3 of the class gets 90%+ on the final and
>the rest get 80%+. The reason the vocab cards (as well as the pictures in
>the book which go with verb, etc., forms) work so well is because they
>use visual associations based on the sound of the Greek word. The
>pictures are deliberately goofy--for lack of a better term--and the
>goofier the picture is the faster they learn it (I think it has something
>to do with the Fall and Sin Nature... :-) )

>But, its not just the vocab cards and pictures which makes Greek to Me
>so good, its also the graduated Koine stories. Each chapter of the book
>ends with a story written in Koine style using the vocab and grammar they
>have learned up to that point. By translating these stories they get to
>see grammar in action and reinforce the vocab. I personally think Greek
>grammars which teach students to translate nonsense sentences from Greek
>to English and from English to Greek don't serve the students well.
>People don't learn languages that way; they learn to deal with the
>complexities of grammar and lexical issues in the context of sentences
>within paragraphs within stories. All nonsense translation does is teach
>the student to think of Greek as some sort of mathematical formula, in
>which the reader plugs in this term for that one (no wonder generations
>of Machen users exegete in such wooden manners; witness root fallacy and
>illegitimate totality transfer, which many folks still think is just
>fine). My students will never time travel back to 1st cent Palestine and
>converse with anyone; the only skill they need is to be able to translate
>into contemporary English the Greek that's on the page (going the other
>way just makes them think that Greek is English using different words,
>whether they consciously realize it or not.). I'd rather have students
>spend their time on translation of Greek that's at their level than
>filling in the blanks in a workbook or creating nonsense Greek. They
>accomplish so much more this way AND have a greater sense of
>accomplishment. In general I like the inductive type approaches taken by
>some of the newer grammars because they emphasize this same contextual
>learning, but I think that no matter where you start students out in the
>NT they are in over their heads and it can become discouraging for them
>when they see the mountain they think they have to climb. The graduated
>GTM stories eventually get to median NT level of difficulty and then

>Its really amazing how many other Greek teachers simply won't use the
>book because of the pictures; the typical conversation at SBL goes
>something like (when they ask me what I use), "Yeh, I looked at that, but
>the pictures turned me off; it just didn't look like a serious (or
>scholarly or.....) book." To which I reply that my students cover it AND
>read the entire Gospel of Mark in 2 semesters, and have memorized all the
>words down to @22x. Most say, "You mean 2 years, don't you ?" And I tell
>them No, I mean 2 semesters. I've had half a dozen come back a year or
>two later and say they tried Greek to Me as an experiment and couldn't
>believe the success they've had; so they've swallowed their scholarly
>pride :-), accepted the cartoons, and are having great fun seeing their
>students learn to read the text.

>Well, that's my $.02 worth...

>Prof. Lyle Story, the author of GTM and publisher of the cards, is on
>this list and has posted his addresses before, but here it is again, for
>more info:


Please allow me to heartily second the above recommendation of the Greek
to Me text.

I am using it with 9th - 11th grade high school students. I will venture
to put them up against any seminary class, not using GTM, for rapidity in
learning the vocabulary. They are also learning grammar, something some of
them have not done so well with in English up to this point. I am
confident that these high school students will be able to ACTUALLY USE,
and want to use their Greek after the class is over for the simple reason
that GTM makes it accessible by virtue of the mnemonics. It goes without
saying that this text if fun to teach! Climbing the "mountain of learning"
that discourages many students is not so burdensome with the likes of
Con-Text and A.D. Detective to help along the way.

Greek to Me, in my opinion, must be used as a total system: the text, the
vocabulary cards, and the overheads.

I have posted this before, but will mention again that I have keyed the
vocabulary into Memorization Technology's Memcards flashcard program,
making it customized to follow the chapter divisions in Greek to Me. I
will e-mail a copy to any licensed user of Memcards who requests it. [I am
also working on the forms...slow going!].
Charles Bradley
Hopewell Presbyterian Church (A.R.P. Synod)

"Let Thy works praise Thee, that we may love Thee; and let us love Thee,
that Thy works may praise Thee." Aurelius Augustine
FAX (615)840-0679

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