A Very Different Approach to Teaching a Classical Language

A Very Different Approach to Teaching a Classical Language

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 11th, 2013, 10:04 am

The latest installment of the Brym Mawr Classical Review has a review of a completely different approach to teaching a classical language (in this case, Latin): http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2013/2013-02-17.html

The book is: Drew Arlen Mannetter, I Came, I Saw, I Translated: an Accelerated Method for Learning Classical Latin in the 21st Century. Boca Raton, FL: BrownWalker Press, 2012. Pp. viii, 551. ISBN 9781612335117. $46.95 (pb).

The pedagogical approach is to go through Caesar's Gallic Wars and teach enough grammar to understand it, one sentence at a time, in order. There is no sequence of declensions or conjugations. Of course, there is none of the "living languages" approach.
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Re: A Very Different Approach to Teaching a Classical Langua

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » February 11th, 2013, 12:22 pm

something lilke LaSor?


Handbook of New Testament Greek: An Inductive Approach Based on the Greek Text of Acts by William Sanford LaSor
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Re: A Very Different Approach to Teaching a Classical Langua

Postby cwconrad » February 11th, 2013, 2:19 pm

I saw this review and read it with considerable interest; I'd like to examine the book; it looks like it might be just the right instrument for a certain kind of learners (and I get the impression that this is meant for grad students). On the other hand, it should be understood that this is still fundamentally a "grammar/translation" ancient-dead-language pedagogy, even if it is built upon a massive immersion in grammar: fifty-seven pages to get through the first sentence of Caesar's De Bello Gallico!

As I am skeptical of the proposition that anyone can learn Greek or Latin simply by learning its grammar by working through a relatively small textual corpus (selected chapters from Caesar's DBG), this seems to me, like a certain Bible software company's offering of a saturation method of learning Greek through software, to promise more than it can deliver, except, perhaps, for rare individuals.
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Re: A Very Different Approach to Teaching a Classical Langua

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 11th, 2013, 2:35 pm

I'm not really familiar with LaSor or other inductive methods.
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Re: A Very Different Approach to Teaching a Classical Langua

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 11th, 2013, 2:41 pm

cwconrad wrote:As I am skeptical of the proposition that anyone can learn Greek or Latin simply by learning its grammar by working through a relatively small textual corpus (selected chapters from Caesar's DBG),


Certainly. The thing that struck me about the approach is that it is intended for schools whose sole offering of Latin is a single year of instruction. I guess the goal is whet a student's appetite enough for them to take it to the next level. So it is intended for use in a situation where the institution does not expect or support students really learning Greek or Latin. That must take multiple years of study.

I don't really know what to think about schools that offer a single year of instruction in Greek or Latin. On the one hand, I like that the language is being taugh, but on the other hand, is one year really enough?
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Re: A Very Different Approach to Teaching a Classical Langua

Postby Paul-Nitz » February 12th, 2013, 2:10 pm

Rainey wrote books that sound very much like what Stephen describes above. I looked long and hard at the Rainey books, thinking to use them. I was all ready to print out the pdf of his Inductive approach to John.* But then I discovered more efficient (εδοκησεν μοι) methods of treating Greek as real communication (TPR, TPRS, WAYK).

Rainey wrote two for Greek. One on the Anabasis. One on St. John. He also has a book using that style with Genesis as well as a Hebrew syntax and reference grammar. I don't have the links handy. All are downloadable pdf files. Search for Rainey-Greek-Hebrew-Inductive.

I think, that an approach like this would work, if beginnings were made with a communicative approach to embed the meaning of the basic structures of the language and also confirm in students minds that this is truly language/communication. To me, the key difference between grammar/translation and a communicative approach is not staying in the target language or teaching without reference to grammar. The key is to approach Greek as communication, not code. If someone tells me one line of a text from Caesar's Gallic Wars, tells me all sorts of grammar about it, explains it fully and so forth, that doesn't mean I am NOT going to take it as communication. But somewhere along the line, my brain needs to hear that line as a "voice." TPRS, might do the trick here. This TPRS technique of reading a line from a story and hammering it with 3-6 questions (in Greek) is a great way to trick the brain into feeling that these are living words that I need to understand. Done this way, a approach like this might well work. But I can't see it as an introduction to Greek (despite Rainey's title).*

* "An Introductory New Testament Greek Method together with A Manual Containing Text and Vocabulary of Gospel of John and Lists of Words and The Elements of New Testament Greek Grammar" by William Rainey Harper and Revere Franklin Weidener. 1889

What's LaSor?
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