[b-greek] Re: Greek 101 drop outs - Follow up

From: Mark Wilson (emory2oo2@hotmail.com)
Date: Tue Nov 21 2000 - 15:59:57 EST



You wrote:

Mark--when you say that we teachers should make learning Greek fun, I wonder
whether you know what it is that you mean by that term? I agree that the
classroom experience ought to be enjoyable, and my classrooms have a lot of
laughter in
them. However, the fun does not impart knowledge or ability--it only makes
students more willing to put up with the incredible amount of work, until
they can start
tasting the fruit of their labors.

If that were all it did, I would say by all means keep it up!

I really am a bit lost with your response to Carl. It seemed to me you were
that I was suggesting that Greek does not take a lot of hard work. Perhaps
you were responding
to someone else's post. I certainly never implied that. A person with thin
skin might be
offended by your medical analogy to my first year student's translating.
What I have found
is when something new (or different) is introduced, the tendency is for us
to find ways
for it NOT TO WORK.

But more to your question: By fun, I gave the example of learning
vocabulary, not exclusively
by rote, but by introducing visual stimuli. And the more emotional the
picture, the more likely
you will memorize and retain it. First it is stored in short-term memory,
and through usage, it is transferred to long-term memory. (This is mostly an
unconscious process.)

For example, I teach Mnemonics. I asked a person to print out Pi (3.14...)
to the 100th decimal.
I then memorized this random sequence of a 100 numbers in 33 minutes. I was
able to give
the sequence forward or backward, or I could tell you what, for example, the
83rd number was.
All done with Mnemonics; very little rote involved. This demonstration is
only intended to show the dynamics of Mnemonics. I memorized this list of
100 digits and stored it in short-term memory. There is a few adjustments
one must learn to memorize information that is to be stored in long-term
memory. But the principles are by and large the same.

And this is not to say that rote is not needed in learning a language; it
But there are memorization techniques that are nothing less than

My son learned the Presidents of the United States, and what number each
President was
(for example, George Washington is number 1, etc), in less than one hour.
(He is 12) He then
took the test the following week and got all right. (He reviewed his
mnemonic list the night before
the test for about 15 minutes. That was all I allowed him. I wanted him to
trust the principles of Mnemonics.)

Now, to learn the conjugation of verbs, or the declension of nouns, becomes
more complex. And
the more complex, the more rote is needed. But you always employ mnemonic
techniques in
everything you learn.

By the way, a similar mnemonic technique was employed by many ancient
orators, who needed to
memorize large quantities of information for uninterrupted speeches. (This
was told to me by one
of my teachers, Dr. Duffy. I have not personally confirmed that. But I have
no reason to doubt him.)

All of this is to say, you don't send your students home to learn vocabulary
(or lists of any kind) by rote; you teach them HOW to memorize, and it can
be a whole lot of fun, regardless of their ages.

Here's another example: You may recall my "heist me a hen" example. Some
people learn the Greek numeral "one" by rote: hEIS, MIA, hEN. They write it
down and begin repeating it over and over, hoping that it will somehow
stick. And if they forget them, they have nothing else in their memory banks
to aide them in recalling this pattern.

(I learned this in 11 seconds. And I never forgot it. And with usage, it
simply moved from short-term to long-term memory.)

My point is, there are many ways to learn. Some are fun. And if you think
Greek is mostly a matter of long, hard memorization, I would suggest you
familiarize yourself with Mnemonics.

Did you know that "liquid verbs" are not normal? Does anyone see it? (Answer
at the bottom)

If you are not thinking HOW to memorize, you might get lost in rote.
Memorization can be a lot
of fun. It also requires time, but not near the time of rote only.

Let me finally repeat. Rote is necessary. You can not get away from it. I am
not suggesting
that learning Greek (or any language) is a walk in the park. I am simply
saying that there
are many methods one can employ to reduce the time it takes to learn, while
making learning (any subject) more "enjoyable." You seemed to prefer that
word :o )

Hope this at least partially answered your concern.

Mark Wilson

(Answer: NoRMaL. The liquids include: N, M, R, L. You can learn which are
"liquid verbs" in
less than 4 seconds if you think in a non-rote way. And yes, I realize there
are some
"exceptions"... a word not allowed in Greek 101) Remember, don't look for
for it NOT TO WORK. (a quote I must attribute to Dr. Duffy)

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