Once again this November, Jonathan Robie and I will present an update on the work we are doing to create free materials for teaching Hellenistic Greek as a living language.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. There will be plenty to do and a lot of great papers. Our presentation will take place at 1:00 pm. We have the first slot in the session, Innovative Approaches to Teaching Biblical Languages, joint session by Global Education & Research Technology and Academic Teaching & Biblical Studies.
Here is an abstract like the one that will appear in the program book:
Teachers increasingly recognize the importance of teaching biblical Greek using the same kind of effective techniques used to teach modern languages in schools and universities. These techniques focus on carefully designed learning activities that require the student to think in the target language in order to respond appropriately.
There are now several university level courses that take this approach to teaching Greek, but we believe that there is a real need for a course that (1) can be taught by anyone with a solid reading knowledge of Greek (using the teacher’s notes and recordings we provide), (2) concentrates on texts drawn from the New Testament, and (3) is freely available. For those who do not have access to a teacher, we believe that it is also important to be able to learn online.
The course we are developing works through New Testament texts using pictures, TPR, and asking and answering questions in Greek. Each lesson has (1) a content objective focused an authentic Greek text and (2) a language objective expressing the skill to be mastered.
Linguistic terms are taught after students have experienced the construct they describe. Before introducing a term like “1st person singular,” we expose students to the word ἐγώ and verb forms that correspond to it. Before introducing terms like “nominative, genitive, dative, accusative,” we teach how to ask and answer questions using the forms τίς, τίνος, τίνι, τίνα. Before introducing terms like “circumstantial participle,” we act out scenarios that illustrate the relationship between two verbs.
In keeping with the philosophy of this course, our presentation will focus on presenting sample teaching activities live rather than talking about them, followed by discussion of the specific content or language objective and why we teach it the way we do.
Join us for a lively discussion.
In the same session several other topics will be discussed, all related to teaching biblical languages.
I look forward to hearing Mike Aubrey’s SBL paper, “Compounding and Cognitive Processes in Word Formation with ὑδροποτέω and its relatives.”
It is often the case that compound words mean something more than or other than the combined meanings of the two words in the compound. This is apparently the case with ὑδροποτέω. The usage of the word shows that it means something different from simply ὕδωρ plus ποτέω.
You can read the abstract of Dr. Aubrey’s paper here. He will present it in the Cognitive Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation Section at the national meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Denver, Colorado in late November.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow (November 19, 2016)! Jonathan Robie and I will present our ongoing work on the communicative Koine Greek course, γραφὴ ζῶσα. Our presentation will take place at the 1:00 pm session of the Global Education and Research Technology section of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).
We will demonstrate the results of combining technology with best practices in second language instruction, where even an ancient language can become a living language for those acquiring it.
We are in San Antonio, TX with a very large number of Biblical Scholars, but our presentation will attract mainly Linguists, Greek Teachers, Software Engineers, and Open Data Geeks. The American Academy of Religion (AAR) is also meeting here. The SBL and the AAR have jointly coordinated their national meetings for many years.
We would love to see you at 1:00 in room 209 of the Convention Center.
On 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.
This weekend I met with Mike Aubrey, Jonathan Robie, Randall Tan, James Tauber, Andy Wu, and several others to think about the future of Greek Computational Linguistics. Four of these I had previously known only through the Internet. It was nice to finally meet them in person. The other, Jonathan Robie, was my co-presenter at SBL.
Are you going to SBL in San Diego? I am, and I’d love the chance to talk with any of you who are going to be there. If you will be there, contact me via the Contact page here.
Jonathan Robie and I will be doing a presentation on Monday afternoon/evening for a joint session of the Global Education and Research Technology Section and the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies Section. This is a themed session entitled “Teaching the Bible in an Open World: Open Resources for Teaching and Learning with the Bible” (S24-317a). Our presentation is entitled Greek Syntactic Analysis for Humans (“Does this analysis make my text look fat?”). Here’s the abstract:
By exposing the internal structure of a text, syntax trees represent important elements of meaning, and can be used to explain difficult constructs, teach Greek reading skills or for syntactic queries. But the phrase-structure syntax trees most widely used in biblical studies are redundant, complex, based on theories that are no longer widely accepted, and poorly model the function of the Greek verb. We combine the strengths of dependency grammars and phrase structure grammars to create a more flexible and powerful model. We use a hybrid approach. Some features of Greek syntax, such as Noun Phrases and Prepositional Phrases, neatly fit traditional phrase structure categories. Verbs do not. We represent verbs and their relationships with phrase structures in terms of a verb’s arguments. We have created an analysis using this model, based on the Global Bible Initiative (formerly Asia Bible Society) Greek New Testament syntax trees from biblicalhumanities.org (a phrase structure treebank) and the PROEIL treebank of the New Testament created by Dag Haug (a dependency structure treebank). Using Koine Greek texts, we present new ways to visualize the structure of Greek syntax that are simpler and more closely fit the language. Users can examine texts directly, choosing whether to highlight phrase structure (our Phrase View) or verbs and their relationships to surrounding constituents (Verb View). The same model can be used to better support syntactic queries and for teaching the Greek language.
Our presentation is the last of five in this session that runs from 4:00 to 6:30 pm. Ours is likely to start around 6:00. Unfortunately, this session is scheduled at the same time as one of the meetings of the Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics Section. Oh well… no schedule is perfect.
On June 30, while I was away at a retreat in the mountains of North Carolina with my daughter, Mike Aubrey announced over at ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ that the Greek Language & Linguistics section of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) has a new website up and running. You can find that site at
The site has preliminary abstracts for the papers that will be presented in November.
Here’s what the site says about its purpose:
This site has an informational purpose. While it provides some information from past meetings, it will mainly serve to post announcements about future meetings of the Section at SBL and provide details of the papers to be presented.
This seems to hint that more information on the papers will be forthcoming, but it’s hard to tell.
The Greek Language and Linguistics Section of the SBL holds two sessions at each meeting of the SBL. One is an “Open Session” often presenting papers on a wide variety of topics. The other session is “Thematic,” that is, focused on a single theme. This year’s thematic session will focus on discourse markers. If you are interested in discourse studies and their relation to Linguistics, you will want to read the abstracts for the “Thematic Session.” Follow the link above and scroll down to find them.