Koine Greek was the language of the masses, used to write shopping lists and business letters. In its heyday it was much like modern English; if you wanted to learn a language to communicate with people all over the known world and throughout the Roman Empire, Koine Greek is what you learned. It was also the language of the New Testament, making its study a staple of Christian education for centuries. Today it not only helps students aquire a deeper, more intimate knowledge of the Bible, it is also an excellent tool to aid a more thorough understanding of the English language and grammar. Both of these important uses were in mind for Christine Gatchell when she wrote her 3-year Elementary Greek.
How Do These Work?
For each of the three levels there is a student text, a consumable workbook, vocabulary flashcards, and a pronunciation CD. While this can be a student-directed program (especially for older or adult students with no previous Greek exposure), the author says nearly everyone will benefit from teacher instruction or at least guidance. Younger students can be taught primarily through oral instruction, while older students can complete exercises on their own and learn to write in Greek.
There are 30 lessons per level divided into five one-day units each. Most students will be able to complete each day's work in about 30 minutes. While each level is intended as a one-year course, younger or less advanced students may need a year and a half or two years. There are no teacher materials, so if you intend to teach this program you will either need to study each lesson yourself before presentation, or have an independent knowledge of Greek. The student texts include all you need to learn the language, so this shouldn't be a problem (if you're willing to take the time).
This is an integrated approach, having students read and translate as soon as they are able while simultaneously memorizing vocabulary and rules. Beginning in lesson three of year one there is a memory verse at the start of each lesson, written both in Greek and English. Students are encouraged to memorize each verse, and the verses are used in the lessons.
Each lesson is fairly easily paced. The alphabet and diphthongs are introduced over the course of two lessons (ten days), and the text resists moving forward until each concept is mastered. There is lots of review, from lesson to lesson and from year to year, so that new information doesn't drive out the old. The writing is clear and thorough so that if students take their time they should be able to grasp everything on their own.
Appendices at the end of each student text include glossaries, tips for review, declensions and conjugations, instruction for sentence diagramming, and answers to all workbook exercises. The workbooks include exercises for each day, ranging from identification of the parts of speech to translation to verb conjugation and noun declension. Exercises should not be skipped; they are integral to learning and reinforcement of the material covered in the primary text.
On the front of each flashcard the Greek word appears in its principle form. On the back the primary English translation is printed in bold, while underneath in smaller font are English words derived from the Greek word. This has a two-fold purpose of reinforcing Greek and English knowledge by showing the relationships between the two languages. The audio CDs contain pronunciation guides for each letter and word that occurs in the student text. Every letter, diphthong, ending, word, etc., is clearly identified in English and then pronounced in its Greek form by a male reader. The tracks are introduced according to the corresponding lesson in the student text for easy reference.
Our Honest Opinion:
This is an excellent introductory Greek course. It is not comprehensive—there's plenty of work still to be done after the third year program is completed. However, this is one of the best places to start we've seen. Students will become acquainted not only with the Greek language itself, but with its history and background. For those intending to study Greek in college, especially with intentions of entering the ministry or pursuing a career in theology or serious Bible study, this can't be beat. While the lack of teacher support may frustrate some, this is largely a student-directed course and teacher materials are unneccessary. If you're looking for a course that will instill in students a love of language and an understanding of their own as well as that of Koine Greek, look no further.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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