Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Postby Jonathan Robie » November 2nd, 2013, 10:45 am

Searching for TPRS in youtube, I found this channel from our own Paul Nitz:

Communicative Greek in Malawi

Quite a lot of material in that channel.

Paul, Randall, Louis, Stephen - how are Paul's classes similar to / different from other living language approaches to teaching Greek?

This one says it is "a typical TPRS lesson":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVLfIAXBl70&list=PLpxcmJ23ymcWixPoZUqggk-IztqZb57hG
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Postby Jonathan Robie » December 17th, 2013, 4:28 pm

Paul has agreed to be interviewed on B-Greek. I would like to ask him to give a brief overview of his work in Malawi, how it started, and how he teaches Greek. People should feel very free to ask him questions. If this succeeds, I will try similar threads for other people.

Paul, could you please give us a quick overview?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Postby Paul-Nitz » December 20th, 2013, 10:23 am

Thanks Jonathon. It’s a pleasure. Let me publically thank B-Greek. My first discoveries about pedagogy stemmed from the listserve and then this forum.

I teach Greek and other courses at a little Lutheran ministerial school in Malawi. After a few years of trying different primers and Audio Linguistic methods, my search led me to Asher, Buth, Ray, and Gardener.

    ASHER: I read James Asher’s Learning Another Language Through Actions (seminal TPR text). Suddenly, I finally understood the key. For the brain to accept language in an efficient and natural way, a person had to be in a situation where he felt he was truly communicating. Total Physical Response (TPR) does that. When you are commanded ἐλθέ πρὸς θύραν “Go to the door!” and need to actually respond to that utterance, the language receptors fire up and you start truly learning language.

    BUTH: At about the same time, I was studying Buth’s Living Koine (Part 1) and learned a more fluid way of speaking Greek. Through a truly unexpected turn of events, I was offered a chance to attend Biblical Language Center’s Greek Fluency Workshop, and met Randall Buth in person (a few days later, I heard him speak English). It was easily the most engaging learning event I’ve ever attended.

    RAY: While at the workshop, I met an online friend in person, Louis Sorenson. He generously gave me copy of Blaine Ray’s Fluency through TPR Storytelling.
    A month later (Sept 2012), with Buth, Asher, Ray and others swirling in my brain, I threw out my plans and my primers and began to teach 1st year Greek via communicative means.

    GARDENER: Along the way, I met up with Gardener’s game play “Where Are Your Keys” (WAYK – whereareyourkeys.org). That method became a significant part of lessons throughout the year.
I proceeded like a barefoot boy crossing a muddy stream. Go inch by inch and feel your way with your toes. I did TPR exclusively at first. I moved more and more toward using WAYK (a great way to learn cases). And, then we more and more used TPRS. All three methods remained in use throughout the year. We had Greek for 5 hours a week (total of 156 lessons in the year).

In this, my students’ 2nd year of Greek, we have Greek three times a week (we’ve had 40 lessons so far). I have been using Dobson’s Learn New Testament Greek. I try to introduce the “Targeted Language Structure” presented in each lesson via communicative means. Then I assign the lesson. I’ve found that, in general, the written word should never precede comprehension. However, following comprehension, both the written word, pointing out morphological patterns, and grammatical terms and explanations can help to consolidate learning.

I’ve become convinced (by experience, Funk, Latin Best Practices group, et al) that Greek instruction should focus on teaching structures. Vocabulary should be kept to the absolute bare minimum. The only reasons to add even one vocable are 1) to demonstrating typical or frequent forms, to demonstrate a structure, or to keep the activities and stories interesting.

ικανά... τί ἐστιν τα ερωτήματα ἤ νοήματα ὑμῶν;

Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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Re: Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Postby Jonathan Robie » December 20th, 2013, 2:18 pm

So many directions we could go from that ... could you start by describing the ministerial school you are teaching at, and who comes to the seminary? How different is this from teaching at an American seminary? Are they likely to be using Greek primarily for preaching purposes? How many languages are they likely to know, and which ones?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Postby Jonathan Robie » December 20th, 2013, 2:19 pm

You say that Greek instruction should focus on teaching structures. This makes sense to me - for those in the Living Languages, what are the best resources to use when teaching structures? If you had to pick one video where you do this particularly well, which one would you point us to?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Postby Paul-Nitz » December 21st, 2013, 7:06 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:You say that Greek instruction should focus on teaching structures. This makes sense to me - for those in the Living Languages, what are the best resources to use when teaching structures? If you had to pick one video where you do this particularly well, which one would you point us to?


What resources? In preparation for teaching a structure, if I need to clarify my own understanding of the structure, traditional grammars help. I've been turning to Coderch's Classical Greek: A New Grammar (2012) more and more. I often look up examples of the way the structure is used in the NT.

Then I use my imagination to come up with some sort of communicative play to demonstrate and get the students involved in the structure. That means I need to compose a story (TPRS), or a series of directions (TPR), or a gameplay (WAYK) in Greek.

In composition, I turn to my Core Vocabulary list and try my best not to use any word that is not on the list. Actually, I'm even more restrictive than that. I try to use only words we already know (the students don't know all the words in that core list yet). As I compose, I also I use three resources heavily: Buth's Morphology book (forms), Liddell (usage), and the Hopperizer (for proofreading the Greek).

LINKS

I have to admit, I didn't take the time to search for a prime example of teaching structure. But there are links to two examples below. I make these videos as a review tool for my students. The quality is not good, but it serves the purpose.

Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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Re: Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Postby Stephen Hughes » December 21st, 2013, 7:14 am

I have one (real) question and one loaded (suggestion-in-question's-clothing) question about your teaching...
    (1) What do you do when they say ἡ λόγος or τοῦτο ὁ λόγος? How do you handle the gender learning curve in your overall course design? How do you handle grammatical gender inaccuracies on a lesson by lesson basis?
    (2) The second one is about classroom language; I see four parts to classroom language:
      A What the teacher understands (theoretcially everything),
      B. What the teacher says (What they are doing, what they are going to do, how their weekend was, what they think of xxx),
      C. What the student understands (varies from student to student - from nothing to a little),
      D. What the student can say (,aybe only the stated lesson aims - or a passable amount of them (50%)).
    Usually A is a much bigger set than B, and B than C, and C than D.

    How are you working to improve this balance in your classroom interaction to allow a more natural language learning environment?
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
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Re: Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Postby Paul-Nitz » December 21st, 2013, 10:01 am

I really should be getting to the ream of correcting I have at the end of term, but this is great fun answering questions from interested people. You can imagine there is a slim number of people interesting in Greek pedagogy in my neighbourhood.
Stephen Hughes wrote:(1) What do you do when they say ἡ λόγος or τοῦτο ὁ λόγος? ....How do you handle grammatical gender inaccuracies on a lesson by lesson basis?

Following the advice of Blaine Ray and others, I try to avoid explicitly correcting wrong output by students. The advised technique is to simply restate it correctly. E.g.

    TEACHER: τί εστιν τοῦτο; [pointing at a rock]
    STUDENT: τοῦτο ἐστιν λίθον. (mistake in gender)
    TEACHER: Ναι! οὕτος ἐστιν λίθον.
This works for most gender mistakes. If the utterance truly gives a different meaning, then I’ll correct more explicitly. Though even here, I try to stay in Greek. Here’s a typical exchange:

    [Students see me point at Timothy. I ask John who I pointed at.]
    TEACHER: τίνα ἔδειξα ἐγώ; Who(m) did I hit?
    STUDENT: ἔδειξα Τιμόθεον.
    TEACHER: συ ἔδειξας Τιμόθεον?!?! ἐγώ ἔδειξα Τιμόθεον. συ και ἔδειξας?!?! You pointed at Tim??? I pointed at Tim. You also pointed at Tim???
    STUDENT: ουχί. συ ἔδειξας Τιμόθεον. No, you pointed at Tim.
We also do some peer correcting, especially when playing WAYK. Whenever we are playing WAYK, we have me as teacher and three students at the four sides of a little square table. The rest of the students are encircling us. We also have a standing rule that those students who are BEHIND the speaker can help the speaker if he’s stumbling or said something wrong. I found it was important to have the correctors be behind the speaker. It physically gives the impression that the helpers are speaking for the speaker.

Stephen Hughes wrote:How do you handle the gender learning curve in your overall course design?

We used genders quite a bit in the first year for the first 40 lessons (mostly TPR). But little output was required at that stage. Then I started to really concentrate on comprehension of cases using WAYK. For a number of lessons, the only gender that we used was masculine, with the one exception that the student sitting to my right was the designated “woman.” If we referred to “her” it would need to be αὐτή or αὕτη, αὐτῇ or ταύτῃ etc. But other than that, we really learned the cases using only masculine objects (καρπος, κοκκος, μεγα καλαμος, μικρος καλαμος) and actors (the students). That worked well. It’s a very similar concept to limiting vocabulary. When working on a specific and difficult structure, if you can limit forms, do it. Later we added in feminine and neuter objects. It was not much of an adjustment.
Stephen Hughes wrote:How are you working to improve this balance in your classroom interaction to allow a more natural language learning environment?

I’m limited by teacher incompetency, though that’s getting better by the day. Unlike a normal living language class, we don’t get very creative. I try to only use what I can offer with confidence and fluency. My students only react with what they have already been fed. In a normal TPRS class (let’s say teaching English to Chinese), you might tell a bit of the story and ask the students to tell you what they think will happen next. Blaine Ray recommends taking the most outlandish response (Teacher: Bob went to the store. What do you think he bought? Student: An elephant. Teacher: YES, he bought an elephant!). My students just don’t have the ability to respond this way, though just lately a few of the top students have been getting creative.

Blaine Ray would say that student input on a story is essential. I haven’t found that to be entirely true, but I can readily imagine that it would be more important with living language and a less motivated group of students. My students are engaged by the fact that we are really learning Greek. That’s enough motivation.


Stephen Hughes wrote:C. What the student understands (varies from student to student - from nothing to a little),
D. What the student can say (,aybe only the stated lesson aims - or a passable amount of them (50%)).

Some students might not be able to respond well, but understand. If I teach a lesson in which only half of my students understood the input I am giving, I would consider that lesson a complete failure. I aim at the slowest learner.

I’m not sure if I got to the nub of your second question. Maybe you should just take the clothes off of it. Criticism is a blessing. ελθέτω
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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Re: Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Postby Paul-Nitz » December 21st, 2013, 10:36 am

I made a couple mistakes in my post: Ναι! οὕτος ἐστιν λίθος. And, ὁ μέγας κάλαμος.

One resource I use often and I didn't mention: Lexham's Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (a Logos book). After an entry and a short definition, it lists every form found in the NT and writings of the Apostolic Fathers. A handy tool.
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Re: Paul Nitz: Communicative Greek in Malawi

Postby Stephen Hughes » December 21st, 2013, 10:54 am

Paul-Nitz wrote:I’m limited by teacher incompetency, though that’s getting better by the day. Unlike a normal living language class, we don’t get very creative. I try to only use what I can offer with confidence and fluency. My students only react with what they have already been fed. In a normal TPRS class (let’s say teaching English to Chinese), you might tell a bit of the story and ask the students to tell you what they think will happen next. Blaine Ray recommends taking the most outlandish response (Teacher: Bob went to the store. What do you think he bought? Student: An elephant. Teacher: YES, he bought an elephant!). My students just don’t have the ability to respond this way, though just lately a few of the top students have been getting creative.

Blaine Ray would say that student input on a story is essential. I haven’t found that to be entirely true, but I can readily imagine that it would be more important with living language and a less motivated group of students. My students are engaged by the fact that we are really learning Greek. That’s enough motivation.
Yes, let's untie and lay aside the nub (and metonymically my facade of a question) and get down to business.

When I teach English to my students in China, I do prepare what I am going to say; what jokes I am going to tell, what easily recognisable type of student I'm going to signal out for "on the spot" treatment, and then I work that "spontenaity" into the lesson plan. It seems to the students that everything is off the cuff, but really it is highly orchestrated. So much for me as a native speaker, what about my colleagues who themselves are "limited by teacher incompetency" (inadequate competency, I would say)? What do they do? They write out their spontaneous comments to the students to the best of their ability. Sometimes they read it to the students, sometimes they take hours to memorise it all and then recite it. They often come up with things like, "Good morning students. Today we will play the game of putting up the hands to ask a question. Each will put up hands and asking the other questions. Someone will stand up and to speaking and someone will sit down to replying. Wanting to play will say, "Teacher let me try." - Just like the English that comes with your DVB or motherboard. Where things get "conversational", some teachers correct the students to stay in the lane lines so to speak others don't follow themselves and go along with it. Teachers who work earnestly to present class in English rather than Chinese with only the lesson content in English have to work very hard. They can often spend double or tripple the time on preparing the class in English than on preparing the lesson materials. You might feel incompetent on the spot in the classroom, but with some preparation you can do it, I'm sure. The A, B, C and D stuff that I mentioned is what happens with a native speaker, and what would be a good standard for a becoming-competent foreign language learner to aspire to.
Stephen Hughes
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