Greek Teaching – Week One Strategy

[Disclaimer: much of this advice is geared towards an urban campus where most students have full-time job outside of their educational work]

I think I mentioned before that I have chosen Clayton Croy’s A Primer of Biblical Greek for my class, as it is very basic and the seminary has used it many times before.

What to do the first week [we meet once a week for three hours, over 10 weeks]?

These classes can be very scary for students who have never studied a language, especially one in a different script.

My goal for the first week is to keep it basic, introduce the letters and their pronunciation, and get them comfortable with the foreignness of it all.  I am purposely taking it easy for the first two weeks.  This is partly because it is conceivable that some students may decide to join the course in the second week and I don’t want to already be on chapter 5 or something.  I plan to do two chapters a session starting week 3.  That way, we are just about half-way through the book at the end of the first quarter.

I’d like to spend about half an hour on just trying to pronounce words in Greek from the NT (which is an exercise in Croy, ch. 1).  This is important because I know students in their final year of the MDIV who still don’t really know how to pronounce Greek words!  Sad.  Also, studies have shown that the better students are at pronunciation, they are in a better place to retain grammatical information.  So, do as much out-loud work as you can!

Explaining diphthongs can sometimes be a challenge, but the key is to continue demonstrating pronunciation and how they act as one vowel in syllabification.

I have decided, as a first week devotional, to simply point out the alliteration of the use of kappa words in Philippians 3.2.  It is not glamorous, but it is certainly intentional on Paul’s part and is poetic in Greek in a way it is not in English, of course.  Anyone else have ideas?

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One thought on “Greek Teaching – Week One Strategy

  1. When teaching my 9 year-old son Greek, I started by printing off various pictures (obviously nouns -the sea, a ship, a man, sailors, a woman, a horse etc. plus his own name) and writing the Greek words in the nominative on them on a separate red card. Having already got to grips with the alphabet sounds and definite article, I got him to match the words to the pictures, pronouncing them as he did so. Having explained the difference between the nom(on the red card) & acc(on a green card),I introduced some VERY simple verbs onto separate(blue)cards and got him to make simple sentences. I expanded this, gradually introducing (on other colour coded cards) other cases, prepositions, adjectives and demonstratives until he go the hang of how a sentence fitted together in Greek. Once he got more proficient and gained confidence, we moved away from the cards and onto simple adapted, then unadapted, translations, getting him to read through each sentence before we broke it down. Aristotle’s Animalia yielded many short and interesting pieces. As Christmas approached last year we tackled the Birth narrative from Luke, starting with the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Basic crosswords were quite well received as were other dictionary and alphabet games. As you say, confidence is the thing, and although a lot of the above would be difficult to achieve in a group situation, you could maybe adapt some ideas.

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