Recommended Post: What to do when you must teach explicit grammar

The PatrologistSeumas Macdonald has posted a great discussion of a problem facing many who are using communicative methods to teach Ancient Greek in institutions that require students to know the traditional metalanguage for talking about Greek rather than simply speaking Greek. I highly recommend it.

You can find the post here.

Καλά Χριστούγεννα 2017

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas.

Here is how the Greek Phrase for “Merry Christmas” would have sounded between the time of Jesus’ birth and about 250 CE. It is doubtful that anyone actually uttered this greeting in the first century after Jesus was born, but if they had, here’s how it would have sounded!

I’ve provided the recording in three popular formats so that you can hear it even if you are using an outdated browser. At least one of the formats should work for you.

Three versions of the recording
m4a

AAC

mp3

 

Why is it likely no one used this saying before 100CE? Well, we just have no evidence that Christmas was celebrated at all before that date. The invention of the holiday came a bit later. Still, feel free to use the greeting now that we do celebrate Christmas!

A note on spelling
There is one small difference in spelling of the Christmas greeting between 300 CE and the present: the system of written accents has been simplified. Contrast the following spellings. Can you see the difference?
Modern: Καλά Χριστούγεννα
Hellenistic: Καλὰ Χριστούγεννα

 

First Lesson from Πόλις: Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living Language

Yesterday I recommended Christophe Rico’s book, Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living Language. I thought some of you might like to see the method in action. Here’s a video of the first lesson.

Πόλις, a borrowed book

Polis: Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living LanguageToday I borrowed a copy of Πόλις, Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living Language from a friend. Obviously I haven’t completed reading it yet, but I’ve read enough to know that I can recommend it. The forward alone is worth the price of the book. It gives the best argument I have seen in print for beginning your study of Ancient Greek with the koine dialect. It also gives a very well written explanation for why learning koine Greek as a spoken language is the correct path to learning to read texts written in that language.

I’m ordering my own copy tonight!

γραφὴ ζῶσα

Γραφὴ Ζῶσα ICON 3 x 2-and-a-half inchesOn November 19 in the 1:00 pm session of the Global Education and Research Technology section of the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in San Antonio, Jonathan Robie and I will present our ongoing work on a communicative Koine Greek course. I would love to see you there.

Here is the abstract of our talk.

Γραφὴ ζῶσα is a freely licensed communicative Koine Greek course centered on the text of the New Testament. It is currently in early stages. In this talk, we will present sample lessons as they would be used in a classroom or online, discussing how they are developed and presented, and the adaptations required for online presentation.

We believe that the main goal of language acquisition should be comprehension rather than translation, and that the main focus for biblical Greek should be the text of the New Testament and the Septuagint. Therefore, we are designing a communicative language course that revolves around biblical texts, asking and answering questions about these texts in Greek both orally and in writing, using approaches commonly used in ESL and SSL classes to make the texts accessible to students.

We believe that there are many people who want to learn Greek but have no teacher, and many people who have learned at least basic Greek but have no experience with communicative approaches and cannot themselves produce the materials they would need to teach a class. Therefore, we focus on producing materials that can be used to teach others communicatively, in the hope that former students will dust off their Greek, teach others, and form small learning communities who can teach and learn from each other. These materials include teacher workbooks and student workbooks, videos for teachers who want to learn how to teach a class, and videos for students who do not have access to a teacher.

We believe that systematic instruction is important, tracking vocabulary and grammatical structures to ensure that we teach the things that a student needs to learn. We also believe that text-based instruction reveals the importance of teaching some things not typically taught in introductory courses, but common in the texts that we read. The ability to generate large numbers of examples that illustrate specific concepts by querying syntactic treebanks and other sources is crucial to our approach, ensuring that we can provide adequate practice using authentic ancient texts.

Join us in San Antonio, TX for a lively discussion of this approach. If you plan on attending, but are not yet registered for the SBL conference, click here.