Fw: reading for vocabulary

From: G. Ross (gfross@dnai.com)
Date: Thu Sep 17 1998 - 16:52:00 EDT

-----Original Message-----
From: G. Ross <gfross@dnai.com>
To: Jim West <jwest@Highland.Net>
Date: Thursday, September 17, 1998 3:18 AM
Subject: Re: reading for vocabulary

>Gordon Ross's reply to Jim West (and any others who are interested) --
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Jim West <jwest@Highland.Net>
>To: Biblical Greek <b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu>
>Cc: b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu <b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu>
>Date: Tuesday, September 08, 1998 8:05 AM
>Subject: Re: reading for vocabulary
>>At 12:08 AM 9/8/98 -0700, ... [Jane Harper] wrote:
>>>My pet peeve about the introductory textbooks to which I have been
>>>both Hebrew and Greek] is that they *do not provide* enough reading for
>>>vocabulary to become fixed in my creaking old engrams. If I wander out
>>>or the Greek NT, I find myself looking up every other word, and puzzling
>>>constructions to the detriment of finding the sense of the verse.
>Gordon replies to Jane --
>Yes, it is well known among writers of foreign-language reading textbooks
>who are familiar with reading psychology and linguistics as applied to
>foreign language teaching that students need LOTS of reading samples of
>slowly increasing difficulty and length over a period of several years.
>best examples of these exist as texts in ESL (English as a Second Language,
>i.e., spoken in a country where English is the official languge) or EFL
>(English as a Foreign Language, i.e., spoken in a country where English is
>not the official language). When I taught EFL in the Sultanate of Oman, I
>had the students, in a two-year period, read a carefully graded series
>consisting of dozens of readers, from the most elementary level (with lots
>of illustrations) to a high-intermediate level, preparing them for a
>transition to relatively easy but unsimplified reading material. As far as
>I know, ESL / EFL is the only language for which such a great variety and
>abundance of graded readers exist.
>Readers of this kind do NOT ask the student to "look up every other word."
>Instead, they have been constructed so as to repeat over and over again, in
>varying contexts, words that the student already knows. New words are
>introduced gradually and in such a way as not to detract the student's
>attention from the main purpose of the reader: to help the student learn
>read the foreign language fluently.
>Jim replied to Jane --
>>Thats ok- I mean its ok if you have to look up every other word. Thats
>>you learn. If you keep it up, pretty soon you wont have to look em up
>>you will know them. Did anyone, by the way, get a set of vocabulary flash
>>cards when they were born and began the process of lerning their mother
>>tongue? I dont think so. Instead, we learned words because we heard them
>>over and over. the reason, frankly, that many leanr Greek or Hebrew and
>>then fail to use it once out of school is because they learn it the wrong
>>way- and thus not at all.
>Gordon replies to Jim --
>It is true that different people learn in different ways. However, what I
>said above about the application of the results of studies in reading
>psychology and linguistics to the construction and grading of
>foreign-language readers seems to hold true for the majority of students
>wish to develop their foreign-language reading skills. These studies have
>shown that it is more beneficial to the reader not to have to interrupt the
>act of reading in order to look up word meanings.
>With regard to hearing words over and over --
>Native language learning involves four skills, acquired usually in this
>order: oral comprehension (hearing), oral expression (speaking), written
>comprehension (reading), written expression (writing). An adult, however,
>who wishes to learn only to read a foreign language does not in all
>instances need to devote much, if any, time to developing the oral skills
>the skill of writing. Much depends, of course, on the contrast between
>adult's native language and the target language (the one he or she wishes
>learn), but I don't want to discuss this at length here, since the focus of
>this message list is on NT Greek, not on learning languages. Let me just
>say at this point that after one has learned to pronounce Greek, one does
>not HAVE to hear the words of a written text spoken out loud in order to
>facilitate the process of learning how to read fluently. In fact, doing so
>may actually slow down this process for some people, because they are
>expending energy in developing an additional skill, that of listening
>comprehension, a skill that is secondary to their primary goal, that of
>developing fluency in reading. But, hey, whatever works for you.... :-)
>A few words about translation versus reading comprehension --
>Translating from a foreign language into one's own native language is a
>FIFTH skill, that is, a skill one learns in addition to the four already
>mentioned. If one wishes primarily to learn to read fluently in a foreign
>language, then one's focus should be on reading, not on translating. The
>author of a foreign-language reader should design exercises that develop
>student's ability to read fluently. I have not yet seen a NT Greek grammar
>or reader that presents exercises of this kind.
>One example of such an exercise: The student is asked to read a short
>passage. After the passage appears a question (using vocabulary that the
>student already knows), the easiest kind being a Yes / No question. After
>the question appears a choice of answers (in the foreign language): Yes,
>e.g., NAI, or No, e.g., OUCI. A small, supplementary volume containing the
>correct answers can lie open next to the student so that he or she may
>consult the correct answer without delay ("immediate reinforcement"). The
>author of the reader will determine how many such passages and questions
>should occur in each lesson. Often a grammar and a reader (or several
>readers) will be coordinated.
>Eventually student readers will begin "thinking" in the language as they
>read, with less and less interference from their native language as their
>reading skill develops.
>Now, if one's goal is to learn the art of translation, then one has chosen
>lifetime of study, as you all undoubtedly know -- and a goal that is
>different from that of learning how to read fluently in a foreign language,
>as some may not have realized.
>Learning to read NT Greek fluently may require a special kind of approach,
>however, because the corpus is so limited. I would suggest that if one
>expands the corpus so as to include koine Greek in general, perhaps
>enlarging the tiny "circle" of NT Greek to include that of LXX Greek and
>beyond, to Josephus and Philo, and others, then I think (I am guessing here
>since I'm certainly no expert in this period of history or in preparing
>language materials in ancient Greek) that there will be enough material
>which to develop a graded series of readers of the kind I have described,
>enough to enable a student to learn to read koine Greek fluently.
>Unfortunately for those who have wished to learn to read NT Greek more
>fluently, the focus, for centuries, has been not on developing reading
>fluency in NT Greek but on word studies and translation -- with good
>of course: so as to be better able to communicate the Word in one's own
>language. And since I doubt that this reason will change, I also doubt
>teachers of NT Greek will shift their emphasis from 1) developing their
>students' ability to translate from NT Greek to one's native language as
>accurately as possible to 2) developing their students' ability to read NT
>Greek fluently. What do you think?
>I welcome any comments.
>Gordon Ross
>>B-Greek home page: http://sunsite.unc.edu/bgreek
>>You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: [cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu]
>>To unsubscribe, forward this message to
>>To subscribe, send a message to subscribe-b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu

B-Greek home page: http://sunsite.unc.edu/bgreek
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: [cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu]
To unsubscribe, forward this message to leave-b-greek-329W@franklin.oit.unc.edu
To subscribe, send a message to subscribe-b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:01 EDT