There are few subjects homeschool parents approach with more trepidation than learning a foreign language. Most of us recognize it's an important element in our kids' education, but few of us have any idea how to go about it, never having learned a foreign language ourselves. And while learning a living language is difficult enough, learning a dead one (Latin, Greek, etc.) is even harder since there's no one around to converse with.
Fortunately for families interested in Koine Greek (the language of the New Testament) there's Greek for Children, a collection of resources from Classical Academic Press for teaching kids an historically and theologically important language. Three main courses go from simple alphabet memorization to actual vocabulary and grammar study in fun formats that even the most reluctant little linguists will find intriguing.
At the most basic level, Greek Alphabet Code Cracker introduces early elementary students to the Greek alphabet, pronunciation, and introductory vocabulary. Students work their way through a full-color consumable text to solve a mystery of a missing Greek urn, gaining clues as they complete fun and educational exercises. The goal is familiarity with the building blocks of Greek learning, not fluency of any kind, but it is a great 8-week introduction for young kids.
From there, students should proceed to Song School Greek, also an early elementary worktext, but one that gets into actual language learning including grammar and vocabulary. Song School Greek combines elements of both Koine and Modern Greek, and focuses on conversational vocabulary so students have plenty of opportunity to work on pronunciation and communication. The course is comprised of a student worktext, a teacher's edition, and Greek Beak Match cards.
Students using Song School Greek will learn the alphabet, vocabulary, reading and pronunciation skills, and Greek handwriting in one year. A lesser course would throw lots of cute pictures at kids: this one uses engaging exercises to straightforwardly teach sound language principles. The multimedia approach works well, as kids complete written exercises, listen to pronunciation songs on the accompanying audio CD, and play games with the matching cards.
It's important to stress that at this level, kids still aren't getting a full-orbed introduction to Greek. However, the foundations are being laid for further study, and since children are better suited than older learners to acquire foreign language skills, we think this is a very good place to start. Exercises are thorough yet fun, the songs are catchy, and the matching cards are an excellent source for pronunciation and vocabulary drill and review.
Once kids have completed Song School Greek, they're prepared to move on to the 1-year program Greek for Children, in which the Greek Alphabet Critters help students learn Koine Greek at a more advanced level and pace. Children read text and complete exercises that teach grammar, vocabulary, and the relationship between Greek and English with very little distracting elements. After completing this text your kids won't be translating the New Testament, but they will be ready for more in-depth study.
Greek for Children is comprised of a student worktext, an answer key (which is not a teacher's edition), and an instructional DVD/CD set. Dr. Christopher Perrin, author of the course, teaches directly from the DVDs, while the CD provides audio clips for pronunciation. Instruction is straightforward and preparatory in nature, getting kids ready to learn more from another program (we'd suggest moving directly to Elementary Greek Year One - Koine for Beginners; you could start here, but the Greek for Children products are much more engaging for children).
There's no law saying you must teach your kids a foreign language, but it's a good idea. If nothing else, it helps kids understand the grammar of their own language better. In the case of Koine Greek, it will eventually lead to more in-depth Bible study, a goal all Christian parents should seek for their children. These materials from Classical Academic Press are a great place to start: both the authors and publishers are Christians, and the content is organized and presented accordingly.
Beginning Greek students can start with any of these courses, though using them progressively (Greek Alphabet Code Cracker to Song School Greek to Greek for Children) will yield good results. If you don't plan on teaching your kids more Greek after these books there's not a whole lot of point in using them, but if you do plan on having them learn Greek at a more advanced level, we encourage you to look at these texts to introduce a frequently difficult subject in a fun and engaging way.
NOTE: To learn more about each individual course, click on the links below.