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.

SBL Presentation Including a Greek Lesson in Greek: Mark 14:22

SBL Atlanta from the OmniThe presentation that Jonathan Robie and I gave at SBL this past Sunday was well received, and discussion afterward was productive.

Our talk began with a brief discussion of language acquisition theory and it’s practical implementation, then Jonathan gave a brief introduction to the ways we are using queryable databases to support the development of Greek lessons using a communicative approach. In the last ten minutes of our talk I presented a brief Greek lesson taught in Hellenistic Greek.

Here is the plan for that lesson:

Mini-Lesson on Mark 14:22

bread-wholeBuild Background

  • Place a whole loaf of bread in front of the students (not sliced bread).
  • Point to the bread and say: ἄρτος. ἄρτος ἐστίν.
  • Ask, τὶ ἐστιν;
  • Allow two or three students to answer, then say ναί. ἄρτος ἐστίν.
  • Pick up the loaf of bread. Say, κλῶ τὸν ἄρτον and break the bread.
  • Ask, τί ἐποίησα;
  • Allow two or three students to answer, then say ναί. ἔκλασα τὸν ἄρτον.
    As you say ἔκλασα, place your hands against your chest. As you say τὸν ἄρτον point to the bread. Repeat this sequence, but as you say ἔκλασα this time, place your hands against your chest, then mime breaking the bread.
  • Take one half of the bread in each hand as you say, λαμβάνω τὸν ἄρτον.
  • Ask, τί ἐποίησα;
  • Allow one or two students to answer, then say, ναί. ἔλαβον τὸν ἄρτον.
  • Lift the bread high and look toward heaven as you say, εὐλογῶ τὸν θεόν.
  • Ask, τί ἐποίησα;
  • Allow two or three students to answer, then say ναί. εὐλόγησα τὸν θεόν. As you say εὐλόγησα raise your hands toward heaven.
  • Break off a piece of the bread, say ἐσθίω τὸν ἄρτον, then eat it.
  • Ask, τί ἐποίησα;
  • Allow one or two students to answer, then say ναί. ἔφαγον τὸν ἄρτον. νῦν ἐσθίω τὸν ἄρτον. Break off another piece of bread and eat it.
  • Break the bread into enough pieces for your students, hand each one a piece as you say δίδωμί σοι ἄρτον. Retain one piece of bread for yourself.
  • Ask, τί ἐποίησα;
  • Allow one or two to answer, then say, ναί. ἔδωκα ὑμῖν ἄρτον.
  • Say ἐσθίετε τὸν ἄρτον. Eat the piece you reserved for yourself.

It should not be necessary to teach εἶπεν· λάβετε, τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου. It is highly likely that your students will deduce the meaning of this statement from the context of this story plus their own contextual experience in the church. If you have students who lack that experience, however, you may need to add a section dealing with this last sentence.

Read Mark 14:22 

Pick up a copy of the Greek New Testament and say, ἀναγινωσκῶμεν τὸν εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Μάρκον.

Read the text slowly, using gestures to reinforce the connection with the background exercise above.

Mark 14:22 Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καὶ εἶπεν· λάβετε, τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου.

Assess Understanding of the Text (Identify Student Success)

Ask each of the following questions orally. Possible answers are given in parentheses.

  1. τί ἐποίουν οἱ μαθηταὶ ἐν τῷ λάβειν Ἰησοῦν τὸν ἄρτον;
    (ἤσθιον)
  2. τί ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ ἄρτῳ;
    (ἔκλασεν τὸν ἄρτον, εὐλόγησεν τὸν θεόν, ἔδωκεν τὸν ἄρτον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ)
  3. τί ἐποίησεν πρῶτον ὁ Ἰησοῦς; Hold up your index finger as you say πρῶτον.
    (ἔκλασεν τὸν ἄρτον)
  4. τί ἐποίησεν δεύτερον; Hold up two fingers as you say δεύτερον.
    (εὐλόγησεν τὸν θεόν)
  5. τί ἐποίησεν ἔσχατον ὁ Ἰησοῦς;
    (ἔδωκεν τὸν ἄρτον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ)
  6. τί εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ;
    (λάβετε, τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου.)

Hand out copies of what is printed below the horizontal line below, and say, γράψαντες ἀποκρίθητε ἕκαστον ἐρώτημα.


Comprehension Questions on Mark 14:22

Mark 14:22 Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καὶ εἶπεν· λάβετε, τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου.

Γράψας ἀποκρίθητι ἕκαστον ἐρώτημα.

  1. τί ἐποίουν τοὺς μαθητὰς ἐν τῷ λάβειν Ἰησοῦν τὸν ἄρτον;
  2. τί ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ ἄρτῳ;
  3. τί ἐποίησεν πρῶτον ὁ Ἰησοῦς;
  4. τί ἐποίησεν δεύτερον ὁ Ἰησοῦς;
  5. τί ἐποίησεν ἔσχατον ὁ Ἰησοῦς;
  6. τί εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ;

 

As the students write answers to these questions, circulate among them offering support. This exercise should NOT be used as a test. It is a learning exercise. Give students advice on how to improve their responses. Make sure your comments do not sound judgmental, but also do not offer false praise when students’ writing is poor. Your comments should be supportive while pushing students to do better.


If you have any comments on this lesson, feel free to post them. If you were at SBL in the session where this was presented, I’d love to hear your feedback on that as well.

Lesson 23 Vocabulary Flashcards

I have uploaded a flash card exercise for the vocabulary in Lesson 23: “Imperfect Middle and Passive. The card set includes review vocabulary from earlier lessons as well. when a review word is given, the earlier lesson or lessons in which it appeared are noted.

Another exercise for lesson two

I have not added this one to lesson two yet, but I’m considering it. It is not necessary to understand the text in order to complete the exercise. It’s only necessary to recognize the capital letters and know that the first word in a paragraph is capitalized even if it is not a proper name.

The text in this exercise is Luke 1:5-7. I selected that passage because it has a good concentration of proper names.

Lesson 27: Pronouns for Direct Conversation (ἐγὼ and σύ)

A few minutes ago I uploaded lesson 27 of my online grammar. There are a couple of reasons this particular lesson is a little unusual.

First, I have not yet uploaded lessons 24-26, so this one is coming out of sequence. I’m doing that simply because this one is much closer to completion than the others, and except for a couple of words that will be unfamiliar, it is quite understandable without having read the three preceding lessons. I have still not added the interactive practice exercises, but I’ll get to that as soon as I can.

Second, those of you who have been using the grammar will notice some clear formatting changes. These are due to the increasing need to make the grammar readable on a smartphone! It’s a bit amazing to me how many people use it that way, but it looks like that’s the wave of the future.

In fact, the entirety of Greek-Language.com is getting a major face-lift this summer, and it’s not just because of smartphones. The basic coding behind much of what’s on the web is quickly becoming obsolete. The net is moving full steam ahead to HTML5 and some serious upgrades to CSS. (If those acronyms are meaningless to you, don’t worry, they are to most people.) Since I wrote the code behind much of what is on the site without the help of any automated web page software, I have serious rewriting to do as HTML4 becomes obsolete. It’s a steep learning curve, but I really enjoy it.

If you notice any mistakes in lesson 27, or if any part of it seems unclear to you, don’t hesitate to point that out as comments below. Challenges from my readers make the grammar better for everyone.

Καλά Χριστούγεννα

Do you want to learn to say “Merry Christmas” in Greek? View this post from 2010 to hear the phrase and read a little explanation.

I wish all of you a beautiful and joyous Christmas.


Happy Thanksgiving in Ancient Greek

In case you want to say “Happy Thanksgiving” in Ancient Greek to any of your friends, here’s the way to do it.

Εὐτυχής ἡμέρα τῶν εὐχαριστιῶν

Εὐτυχής  does not mean “happy,” but the expression εὐτυχής ἡμέρα τῶν εὐχαριστίων would be the equivalent phrase to “Happy Thanksgiving.”  The adjective, εὐτυχής has an implication of success or good fortune.

LearnNTGrk.com

I am happy to announce a new domain name pointing to my online grammar. LearnNTGrk.com has just become the third domain name that can be used to reach the grammar (the other two being HellenisticGreek.com and Greek-Language.com/LearnGreek.html).

Once you have accessed the grammar through this new domain name, you can also reach the rest of Greek-Language.com there as well.