Monday, May 11, 2009

Bill Mounce on the future of teaching Greek

Over at Koinōnia Bill Mounce prognosticates on the future of teaching koinē Greek (see the video, below). Bill, of course, has provided numerous tools that many have found helpful for teaching and learning New Testament Greek, though I personally haven't used any of those tools in my own teaching. He's right, I think, that language acquisition needs to move beyond the grammar-based approach that has been dominant in colleges and seminaries and embrace the possibilities afforded by new technological and multisensory advances.

But I can't help but wonder: Does the future of Greek instruction really lie in learning to say, in Greek, My hair is ___________, and then learning the different lexico-morphological fillers that can fit into that slot?!

I've studied both conversational Spanish and koinē Greek. With the former, learning to say Me llamo Rafael, or ¿Donde está el baño? fulfilled my purposes for studying the language. But in my experience, both personally and with my students, learning how Paul might have inquired after the lav in an unfamiliar city doesn't really apply to the root motivations for taking a very difficult, elective, two-year program. My students want to learn how to hear the voice of God speaking through the Greek text. That goal—introducing them to genuinely Greek texts rather than contrived, Greek-ish exercises—should factor into the future of Greek (and Hebrew and Aramaic) language instruction and acquisition.

1 comment:

M. B. Vaughan said...

I know that when I was taking Greek at Johnson, both under you and another professor, I along with a small, dorky handful of others actually tried using what Greek vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure we knew to say a few phrases. We couldn't find the word for restroom in our lexicons, so we just used the word "thronos" to get the point across.
It did help us to remember some vocab words, but more importantly, it made parsing come to life for us.

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