Learning Greek

So I had planned on posting pictures showing you what I’ve been doing.

But unfortunately, camera problems have prevented that.

Nonetheless, I have implemented a few new methods for learning Greek directly without translation. Here are a few of my ideas.

  • Picture Flash Cards – Greek on the back and a picture on the front.
  • Labeling my apartment with as many Greek words as possible – θυρα was rather common…
  • A new screen saver – where I’ve placed words in the pictures I found on the internet – presently, all of them are from Louw & Nida’s semantic domain #1.

The labeling has been the most interesting. I ended up heading toward LSJ for words simply because there aren’t enough in the New Testament – the LXX was more helpful on that though.

The flash cards are pictures I drew with crayons at a round 2:00 AM one night that I just could not sleep. Thus far, I’ve done about 35 and I plan on doing more. I’d like to get one of those rings and make some sturdier ones like you see seminary students uses for their English glosses – but I’ll be pictorial all the way.

The plan is that my wife and I will begin talking with each other eventually as well, though we’re working on comprehension right now.

Of course on top of these activities, I’m continuing to read, read, read the New Testament, Septuagint, and Patristics (mainly Chrysostom).

8 thoughts on “Learning Greek

  1. In ESL pedegogy teaching using pictures and movement is called “TPR” Total Physical Response. So, in an instructional setting, there would be no English and lots of movement (e.g., say “stand” in in Greek, “histemi” and demonstrate it by standing up, etc) and pictures to communicate but no English. Its one way to teach a language.

    This kind of teaching is on the cutting edge of language learning – even in the biblical languages – It’s a method this guy uses for both Hebrew and Greek: http://www.biblicalulpan.org/

    You could learn it this summer on site in Jerusalem! You and your wife could take the classes, maybe she could do it for credit and spend the summer in Israel?

  2. Brian, Learning TPR was part of my training in Dallas last year. Its pretty amazing.

    If we had the money, I’d consider Biblical Ulpan, but…we don’t.

    David, I was partly inspired by your Hebrew posts – I hope you haven’t given up on that!

  3. My Hebrew is dead in the water at the moment and my Greek is fading. English on the other hand is doing just fine. (And Portuguese is getting rusty, and Nyungwe is a distant memory, and Spanish is a chiste triste).

    Since Koine Greek acquisition is essentially a written skill I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not worrying about listening and speaking skills. But for some types of learners it probably would be effective to go that route. Also your use of crayons etc might help if you are a tactile vs. visual learner.

    The reason Greek is hard is that there are so many words that only occur once so essentially you just have to use brute force memorization. In a normal language situation you would be hearing a small core of key words and phrases repeatedly (greetings, pleasantries, etc.) but you don’t have that luxury in Greek.

    For me, I think the computer based tools eliminate a lot of the senseless memorization of forms and allow you to concentrate on comparing how words are used in various contexts. Those who pride themselves in not using interlinears I think often over-estimate their ability to do anything beyond word for word parsing. This is known as the “John Henry Syndrome” in which machines can never possibly replace the abilities of humans. Think about Kasparov and chess. Some of these ideas come from “A Whole New Mind” by Dan Pink.

  4. “Those who pride themselves in not using interlinears I think often over-estimate their ability to do anything beyond word for word parsing.”

    That may just be one of the most insightful things I’ve read about NT students/scholars for some time.

  5. The picture flashcards worked pretty good for me when I first went to college. “Greek to Me” by J. Lyle Story is worth your time. Some folks insisted on Metzger’s Lexical Aids but I thought Story was more effective.

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