Competency of Teachers and Methodology

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.
cwconrad
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Competency of Teachers and Methodology

Post by cwconrad » August 28th, 2014, 5:50 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:However, I think we have strayed a bit from the subject and that this is no longer a "beginner" thread... :o
Yes, I think that at sometime in the early morning hours of yesterday (Aug 27) this thread has belonged somewhere in "Teaching and Learning Greek."
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

klriley
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Joined: May 31st, 2011, 1:20 am

Re: John, Luke or Paul

Post by klriley » August 28th, 2014, 8:37 pm

I do not think it does any harm at all for beginners to know that neither translating Greek, nor exegeting Greek, is the same thing as reading Greek with understanding.
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cwconrad
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Re: John, Luke or Paul

Post by cwconrad » August 29th, 2014, 5:09 am

klriley wrote:I do not think it does any harm at all for beginners to know that neither translating Greek, nor exegeting Greek, is the same thing as reading Greek with understanding.
Nor do, but the topic under discussion for a whole day's worth of messages has not been "John, Luke, or Paul" but rather fundamental questions of Biblical Greek pedagogy -- how and for what ends one best or rightly teaches or learns Biblical Greek, and which methodology is efficacious for acquiring meaningful competence in understanding the language and texts composed in it. It certainly is a conversation in which beginners in Biblical Greek should be required to participate earnestly: "What do you hope and expect to be able to do with what you learn of Biblical Greek? Will the pedagogical model and methodology in which you are about to engage bring you to that objective?" And even: "Can you trust a Biblical Greek scholarship that is grounded in a dubious level of competence in Biblical Greek?" These issues belong, I think, at the top level of "Teaching and Learning Greek" in a separate sub forum titled, "Propaedeutic/Prolegomena to Biblical Greek."
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: John, Luke or Paul

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 29th, 2014, 12:56 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:Stephen, to address one point, Ph.D.'s in biblical studies claim to be experts in a body of ancient literature. While everybody at that level specializes, specialization comes from the broadest possible general knowledge of the subject. People who can (sort of) read their Greek NT and nothing else, who can't even compose in the language or read literature in the language outside their limited body of study just can't be experts by the standards of practically every other academic discipline that deals with literature in a second language.An expert on War and Peace who can exegete Tolstoy but can't read Pravda is no expert at all. "The original Russian says..." :roll:
Actually composition in "Greek" is not very difficult, but getting the Greek to have even the slightest hint of being idiomatic while expressing complex meanings is a task that I am still finding daunting. I've said before, that my working hypothesis for the next eight of these ten years is that I will appreciate the GNT better if I can myself write at the standard of the work I am reading. All the way through my education in childhood and adolescence I had been writing at a level not too dissimilar to the level that I was reading - until meeting Chaucer and other early modern works. There are so many choices in composition, and that process of choice is tending to contextualise the language that I am reading within that lingusitic choice that the authour could be assumed to have gone through in writing. The difference between the spoken and written forms of expression in my own English seems to be that writing is more deliberative - involving more choice.
RandallButh wrote:The motivated students jump through all of the hoops that are presented to them by those controlling the programs and those who should know what is best. At the end of 2 years (a typical itnroductory language level for modern languages), or 4 years (a typical BA level with an intermediate functional fluency in place), or 6 years (typically with a more polished functional fluency in place), or 8-10 years (educated second language user+/-near-mother-tongue control), do these students of Greek or Hebrew measure up to the common sense expectations of other languages?
Sadly, I would say no.
This is a little idealistic. Not everybody teaching is good at the language they teach.

I understand the point being made that methodologically speaking there is a problem in the way Greek is being taught (as an (optional) adjunct to courses in exegesis), but I would like to add the dimension of comparative teacher competencies, that may somewhat blur the starkness of the disparity being presented.

The absolute minimum for a high school language teacher in NSW would be a 3 year sequence in a foreign language, followed by a 1 year teacher training diploma. To teach a second language would only require a 1 year study of the second or subsequent language. Ergo, there exists a broad spectrum of competencies among foreign language teachers.

What level of competency in the target language can a student who learns from slightly competent teacher using a book and AV material? Perhaps enough to pass whatever exams are required and a little more besides.

With a decline in teacher competencies the teacher's ability to express themself is probably the first thing to go from the classroom / learning experience. Without the ability to check student output, one or both of two things tends to happen. The first is that tasks become more closed - having a more formulaic structure - and have a single correct answer which is easy for the teacher to indentify. The other thing is that instruction must necessarily take place in the students first language (or perhaps in a bastardised / badly made up version of the target language).

There is nothing shocking about what we find in the way Greek is taught. If a teacher doesn't know the language, they teach grammar. If they can't create examples extemporaneously they need to stick rigidly to examples in textbooks and treat the written form of the language - especially in works of literature - as something unchangeable.

The grammar-translation method of teaching is decried often here, but I thing that if the teacher is competent in the language, then grammar and a degree of translation is a useful way to teach. Non-competent teachers are like non-competent drivers, who drive up other people's insurance premiums. Grammatical explanations, some translation exercises within the context of language instruction is a normal part of foreign and second language teaching.

Another point is dictionaries. Besides the fact that producing dictionaries in the rest of the language learning world that contain only the words in one literary work are virtually unheard of, most foreign language learners do not pore over dictionaries like students of Greek do. Vocabulary is generally presented in word-webs, synonym/antonym pairs or groups, and with simple definitions in the target language. There isn't the sort of quest for the most perfect English word to be able to understand the target language, that one finds in Biblical Greek. Basically, if one does not know the efficacy of a word, one needs to rely on its dictionary meaning.

I have indeed encountered a few dictionary nerds in some of the language classes that I've attended, but it wouldn't have been more than 1 in every 6 or 7 languages on average.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Wes Wood
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Re: John, Luke or Paul

Post by Wes Wood » August 29th, 2014, 10:01 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote: The absolute minimum for a high school language teacher in NSW would be a 3 year sequence in a foreign language.
Please, forgive my ignorance. What do you mean by NSW?
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Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

Stephen Hughes
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Re: John, Luke or Paul

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 30th, 2014, 1:45 am

Wes Wood wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote: The absolute minimum for a high school language teacher in NSW would be a 3 year sequence in a foreign language.
Please, forgive my ignorance. What do you mean by NSW?
Historically New South Wales (NSW) refers to the original British colony in New Holland (the continent - now called Australia) stretching from the east coast to about half-way (133 degrees east then later 129 degrees east) across the continent.

Now it designates one of the seven states that make up Australia (the country). The sucession of territory to form other colonies (now states and territories) began about 75 years after the original settlement.

Constitutionally, education (including teacher accreditation) is a state responsibility in Australia, except in federally administered territories. Teachers acredited in one state or territory can have their acreditation recognised in other states if they want to work there.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

RandallButh
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Re: John, Luke or Paul

Post by RandallButh » August 30th, 2014, 5:39 am

Constitutionally, education (including teacher accreditation) is a state responsibility in Australia, except in federally administered territories. Teachers acredited in one state or territory can have their acreditation recognised in other states if they want to work there.
And since when did the synagogue ask Caesar how much Hebrew their teachers should have? Likwise, for the Church and Greek, not to mention Hebrew.

[PS: I'm happy is this thread gets split and moved elsewhere. I'm just commenting in place.]
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: John, Luke or Paul

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 30th, 2014, 8:02 am

RandallButh wrote:
Constitutionally, education (including teacher accreditation) is a state responsibility in Australia, except in federally administered territories. Teachers acredited in one state or territory can have their acreditation recognised in other states if they want to work there.
And since when did the synagogue ask Caesar how much Hebrew their teachers should have? Likwise, for the Church and Greek, not to mention Hebrew.
The requirements for membership of professional bodies and likewise government standards for the issue of teaching licences are - in my opinion - useful for comparisons to ascertain whether best practice is being followed in teaching situations that may or may not be under some form of external moderation or accreditation.

In this case I have made specific reference to the qualifications required to teach in accredited primary and high schools in some situations in Australia with which I am a little familiar.

Professionalism is a good goal to have in addition to any other requirements that a particular situation may require.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

cwconrad
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Re: John, Luke or Paul

Post by cwconrad » August 30th, 2014, 8:40 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
RandallButh wrote:
Constitutionally, education (including teacher accreditation) is a state responsibility in Australia, except in federally administered territories. Teachers acredited in one state or territory can have their acreditation recognised in other states if they want to work there.
And since when did the synagogue ask Caesar how much Hebrew their teachers should have? Likwise, for the Church and Greek, not to mention Hebrew.
The requirements for membership of professional bodies and likewise government standards for the issue of teaching licences are - in my opinion - useful for comparisons to ascertain whether best practice is being followed in teaching situations that may or may not be under some form of external moderation or accreditation.

In this case I have made specific reference to the qualifications required to teach in accredited primary and high schools in some situations in Australia with which I am a little familiar.

Professionalism is a good goal to have in addition to any other requirements that a particular situation may require.
Theoretically, I think that's true. In some parts of the world, however, degrees and certifications are too readily manipulated politically and don't necessarily reflect real competence. That said, however, I'd still rather have professional standards in play than not.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Wes Wood
Posts: 692
Joined: September 20th, 2013, 8:18 pm

New South Wales

Post by Wes Wood » August 30th, 2014, 9:51 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Historically New South Wales (NSW) refers to the original British colony in New Holland (the continent - now called Australia) stretching from the east coast to about half-way (133 degrees east then later 129 degrees east) across the continent.
Thank you for your thorough answer. Unfortunately, I desperately needed it. I am geographically challenged.
cwconrad wrote: Theoretically, I think that's true. In some parts of the world, however, degrees and certifications are too readily manipulated politically and don't necessarily reflect real competence. That said, however, I'd still rather have professional standards in play than not.
I can't speak for all U.S. States, but most State Education Boards in the Southeast only require a language proficiency test for an endorsement to teach many modern foreign languages. (This is the minimum standard once a teaching license has been issued. They will also accept 24 college credit hours in the target language.) The standards are even lower for ancient languages where there is no listening or composition component at all. When compared to Stephen's example of certification requirements in NSW, this is quite low.
I know of a few people that have taught languages at this level who had not achieved limited working proficiency. Not to split the thread again, but the lack of concern over the content appears to stem from the focus on graduation rates. The language is something to be marked off a checklist and kept simple for the disengaged so that the goal of graduation is attained. I think the problem is similar to the one faced by many Seminaries and Universities offering degrees in Religion. Languages are often viewed as an unnecessary distraction from the individual's true interest rather than as an essential requirement for advanced study.
Barry Hofstetter wrote: Wes, sorry to hear about your experience.
I appreciate that, but I have found a comfortable home here. It may be that with five more years of diligent study I could manage to enroll at Vanderbilt. In any event, I don't require a university to learn and appreciate the help and motivation the forum has given me.
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Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

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