Reading with Flow

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Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3744
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC

Reading with Flow

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 11th, 2012, 12:52 pm

I'd like to share an approach to reading Greek that has been very helpful to me over the last few months. I call it "Reading with Flow". It's an immersion technique that can be used on your own, sort of a poor man's Living Languages approach. It's the 1/2 of γάλα that you can reasonably do without help from others, milking the text. I started doing this after listening to advice from Louis Sorenson, Randall Buth, Randall Tan and Daniell Street.

The basic approach is to use an MP3 player and a Greek New Testament to get Greek into your ears and eyes, repeating the text repeatedly, with increasing understanding, until you grasp the text in detail. As Daniel Streett, Randall Buth, and Louis Sorenson frequently point out, listening really helps you understand how the language works in a way that you just don't get without listening. It's called "Reading with Flow" because the goal is to keep the Greek text flowing, without stopping to analyze or think in English, and to make sure that most of your time is spent actually listening to Greek and reading Greek.

To use this approach, you need three things:
Here's the approach:
  • Pick a text that is reasonably close to your reading level, with ~30 verses. If you are a beginner, pick a shorter section, but do pick a length that feels like a bit of a stretch.
  • Now listen to the text at least twice with the text in front of your eyes. You'll find you understand more each time. Feel free to hit the pause button to line up words with what you are hearing, but for no longer than you need to do that. Working through texts you don't yet understand this way is an important part of language learning.
  • Starting at the beginning of the text, listen and read until you hit something you don't understand, then look it up on Grosvenor and Zerwick. Keep going until you have worked through the text, listening throughout. Don't spend more time looking things up than you need to in order to understand the meaning of the text itself, but do take long enough that you aren't missing the details of the text. Keep the Greek moving through your eyes and ears.
  • By now, you should understand most of the text. Listen to the text at least two more times, feel free to use Grosvenor and Zerwick again if you forgot something. Or read it out loud instead.
  • If there are parts you still don't understand, take a look at several translations to see how they understood the text. I like Bible Gateway for this.
  • If you found something really interesting or confusing, ask a question here on B-Greek.
That looks like it would take a long time, but its a lot quicker than you would imagine because a native speaker reads the text much faster than you probably would on your own. On the MP3 recordings I am using, listening to 30 verses once takes about 4 minutes, and listening to 30 verses 5 times takes 20 minutes. If you add in 10 minutes to read Grosvenor and Zerwick, 30 minutes is enough time to work through 30 verses using this approach. If you read it out loud at the end, instead of listening, I find it takes a little more time.

This is my current advice to anyone who wants to stop analyzing as they read and think in Greek, if they do not have access to a teacher or a reading group. I'd love to hear ways to improve this advice, or experiences of anyone who tries it.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;

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