A Recent News Article on Oral Methods for Teaching Greek

Check out this recent article about my Greek teaching methods. It was published in May in the Southern Baptist Texan (the denominational state newspaper:

DALLAS—Easter and Christmas pageants in ancient Greek? Texas college students texting each other in the language of Paul’s day? A Chihuahua that obeys the command to sit—when she hears it said the way the apostle Peter would have?

This is the not-so-far off world of Daniel Streett, associate professor of Greek and New Testament at Criswell College. Along with a handful of others worldwide, Streett is paving the way for his students to learn New Testament Greek the way other students learn modern Spanish, French, or German—as a living, oral language. Through simple commands, such as sit, stand, walk, the use of common objects and everyday phrases, as well as pictures and games like Jeopardy and UNO, Streett brings not only learning and fluency to the classroom, but also fun.

“This method keeps the students engaged and enthusiastic,” Streett said. “They find that Greek class is actually fun, and they begin to get a feel for the language. . . .

Keep reading: http://www.texanonline.net/news/criswell-prof-promotes-true-greek-fluency-through-oral-language-learning-methods

I thought the author (Clinton Wolf) did a great job capturing the spirit of the method. He is well-acquainted with immersion methods for language learning as he has served abroad as a missionary in numerous foreign-language contexts and has come to discover a) what it means to really know a language, as opposed to knowing about a language, b) how long it takes to achieve true proficiency in a language, even in an immersive environment (hint: a lot longer than we give our students in first-year Greek!), and c) how absolutely necessary it is to be communicatively proficient in a language in order to understand its texts and concepts.

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5 Responses to A Recent News Article on Oral Methods for Teaching Greek

  1. This sounds awesome – how would you compare your class with the Rosetta Stone approach? Could your method transfer to a computer software that could be accessible to students who aren’t in Dallas?

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Nathaniel! Rosetta Stone works with the same basic theory as my courses–that we learn languages best by learning them naturally, in the same way we learned our native language. So RS connects words directly to things, or pictures of things, and presents it all directly in the target language. The software is limited, though, since it can’t really take you to the level that full immersion can. But, that is true of all language software or audio (e.g. Berlitz, Pimsleur, etc.). I think the goal of these programs should be to get the student to the level where she/he can travel to the country and “survive” the immersion experience, where the truly rapid and deep acquisition takes place. I am planning an upcoming post on how we need a Koine Rosetta Stone program and what that would look like, so be sure to check back!

  2. Brian B says:

    I miss your teaching and need Greek in my life. It’s not the same on my own. Are you online with your methods yet?

  3. Although I am not familiar with Professor Streett’s methodology, I suspect the one of differences might be that Rosetta Stone has “canned” settings and responses and that Streett uses real-life situations that might be more conducive for internalizing the language.

    • Learnfrench, Thanks for your comment! And, that’s a good and true observation about the difference between Rosetta Stone software and a true immersion experience. Studies in first language acquisition have shown a significant difference between the benefits of a child watching TV and a child being spoken to by her mother. The interactivity and social nature of communication, both vitally important, are hard to replicate with software.

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