This is an introductory post to a short series in which I will explore some of the features in the new BibleWorks 9. There have already been numerous excellent reviews in the blogosphere. See, especially, David Instone-Brewer’s very helpful guide to BW9. In this series, then, I don’t want to do a typical review of all the features BW9 offers. Rather, I want to look at how BW can aid those who are interested in teaching or learning Greek communicatively.
Acquisition vs. the “Tools” Approach
All my readers should know by now that in my Greek teaching I aim for acquisition of the language. The goal is fluency or proficiency.
In other words, we aim to internalize Greek so that we can read, write, think and communicate in it without recourse to translation into our first language (English, in my case). Many schools have now abandoned any pretense of teaching Greek (largely, I would contend, because of the dismal results yielded by the traditional grammar-translation method), and have begun training their students primarily in the use of tools. I have addressed this strategy in a post here: Bible Software, Greek Tools, and a Future for Immersion. In such programs, of course, Bible software plays a big role.
Contrary to what you might expect, though, I am not at all against using tools like BibleWorks. In fact, I encourage all my students to acquire some sort of Bible software during their time in college or seminary. (While it seems like a big purchase, I explain that if they will simply set aside a few dollars a week, or forego a few book purchases a month, they will soon have the money to afford a really helpful tool.) What I am against is thinking that the ability to use tools equals, or replaces the need for, true proficiency in the language.
Tools as an Aid to Acquisition
Tools like BibleWorks should not be used in order to avoid becoming fluent at Greek, but as a means to aid in that process and to speed it up. So, keep your eyes out for the next couple installments of my review, where we’ll explore how BibleWorks can be used to further communicative learning. Some of my suggestions may surprise you!
Note: Per FTC requirements, I must let you know that I groveled shamefully (or was it shamelessly?) to the folks at Bibleworks, entreating them to supply me with a free copy of their software. They acquiesced, but only after I told them I would let all my readers (yes, all three of you, counting you, Mom) know that BibleWorks is the greatest thing since sliced ἄρτος and that it had a mighty anointing upon it that would grant all users instantaneous knowledge of all the deep mysteries of the magical Greek language, such as the “artist tense” and “verbal suspect theory,” as one preacher called it. So, now you know what to expect.
What programs did you use when you were in seminary and how did they (or not) help in your classes? I know you’re plugging BW, but at some point a compare/contrast with the other big 2 (Accordance, Logos) will be unavoidable.
David, I have used Logos a little bit, but can’t really comment on it in comparison to BW. I’m willing of course to review Logos and compare/contrast it with BibleWorks . . . whenever I receive a free copy 🙂
I’m sorry, but I use this space to comment another thing. I’v just read the text you’ve presented at SBL annual meeting 2010, on teaching Greek as a living language. I must say that I totally agree with you. I’m living a similar experience (I’m speaking on the frustration of knowing so few after long time of hard work). I’m not teaching Greek yet (I’m writing my PhD dissertation), but as I used to teach a modern language (Spanish), I realized the difference you’ve talked aboud.
I’ll try to do like you and take time and effort in order to give my students the opportunity of a more effective learning experience. I met your blog yesterday. I’ll read it frequently.
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