Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Thomas Dolhanty
Posts: 401
Joined: May 20th, 2014, 10:13 am
Location: west coast of Canada

Re: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 16th, 2015, 8:02 pm

Jonathan wrote:That's certainly one reasonable approach. In this thread, I'm looking at the kinds of learning activities that we see in software used to learn modern languages. Can you point to software that takes that approach?
One that comes to mind immediately is the BBC's "Mi Vida Loca" for Spanish: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/mividaloca/, There are others. For example, Living Languages develops a number of different stories and sub-plots in its Spanish series, and also in its modern Greek series where there is an ongoing narrative that matches the language learned..

But with Biblical languages there is one huge challenge when compared to modern languages. With modern languages it is so easy to create narratives because the language of everyday life is right there at your fingertips for both languages. Thus, if I am doing ESL for example, it is very simple to create a dialogue called "a trip to the pizza joint", to teach food and dining terminology. As an ESL teacher, you can easily create this narrative, and you can easily enact it in real life with your class (take them out for a pizza) - or express it through your media for interactive programming. When I did my TESL training, it was not difficult to create a whole series of 'real life narratives' to teach different expressions of the language, and they can even be targeted to your particular group. For example, teens will spend many hours and much energy to learn idioms, because that is one very important mode of narrative in the world of their peers.

When you begin to think about how to do simple narratives for Biblical Greek, though, you are immediately confronted by the challenge of 1) the difficulty in trying to put together even simple everyday language - there is a great dearth of readily available phrases and everyday vocabulary, and 2) the challenge of trying to relate a language not used for almost 2 millennia to the modern context. You only begin to appreciate this fully, I suspect, when you try to create some communicative teaching materials - at least that has been the case for me. And then you have a whole series of decisions to make: for example, do you develop words and phrases to describe things and events and situations common to our culture but unknown to the 1st century culture? To do so is to 'pollute' the target language, it seems, but not doing so really makes the task challenging.

I think you will find that the task of accessing the readily available terminology of a modern language to teach moderns is very different than developing modules to teach an ancient language to a modern audience. The moderns who are learning the new modern language are already 'experts' in the κόσμος which the language describes. That is not a small thing. That is massive! If I might refer to Frank Smith's book again, the learning process is a pro-active exercise of relating the words on the page, or the sound on the audio, to your knowledge bank. This is what makes teaching modern language so different than teaching something like Koine Greek. For the latter, I think you have to 'create a narrative' that is tied to that setting, if you wish to go very far with communicative. That's what Athenaze did, but without utilizing the communicative teaching method, and that's what Randall has done in his introductory lessons.
0 x


γράφω μαθεῖν

Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3605
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Re: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 17th, 2015, 5:31 am

Thomas Dolhanty wrote:
Jonathan wrote:That's certainly one reasonable approach. In this thread, I'm looking at the kinds of learning activities that we see in software used to learn modern languages. Can you point to software that takes that approach?
One that comes to mind immediately is the BBC's "Mi Vida Loca" for Spanish: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/mividaloca/, There are others. For example, Living Languages develops a number of different stories and sub-plots in its Spanish series, and also in its modern Greek series where there is an ongoing narrative that matches the language learned..
Mi Vida Loca is a video series, of course. I'm not familiar with Living Languages.
Thomas Dolhanty wrote:But with Biblical languages there is one huge challenge when compared to modern languages. With modern languages it is so easy to create narratives because the language of everyday life is right there at your fingertips for both languages. Thus, if I am doing ESL for example, it is very simple to create a dialogue called "a trip to the pizza joint", to teach food and dining terminology.
But we already have the texts people are most interested in, and can use queries on syntax trees to find real world examples of the things we want to teach. A strong audio component is important, students need to hear and speak. But I don't know that we need to create a Mi Vida Loca using dialog written today. And we don't need a travel phrase handbook for Koine, we won't have to ask where to find the bathroom.
0 x
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Thomas Dolhanty
Posts: 401
Joined: May 20th, 2014, 10:13 am
Location: west coast of Canada

Re: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 17th, 2015, 4:52 pm

Jonathan wrote:Mi Vida Loca is a video series, of course. I'm not familiar with Living Languages.
Thomas Dolhanty wrote:But with Biblical languages there is one huge challenge when compared to modern languages. With modern languages it is so easy to create narratives because the language of everyday life is right there at your fingertips for both languages. Thus, if I am doing ESL for example, it is very simple to create a dialogue called "a trip to the pizza joint", to teach food and dining terminology
.

But we already have the texts people are most interested in, and can use queries on syntax trees to find real world examples of the things we want to teach. A strong audio component is important, students need to hear and speak. But I don't know that we need to create a Mi Vida Loca using dialog written today. And we don't need a travel phrase handbook for Koine, we won't have to ask where to find the bathroom.
I think this gets to the heart of the matter. I used Duolingua for Spanish, but abandoned it before long. It is really just a fancy flashcard system – the low end of language learning technology. Much, much more useful is something like Pimsleur or Living Languages. What is the big difference? The latter two build a context; they lead you into the actual structures of the language in an intelligent way. I have not used Rosetta Stone, but I understand the same is true of it.

If you want to apply that kind of technology to Koine Greek, then you will have to build a context intelligently from the ground up, teaching word order, idiom, and all the other foundational elements of Koine Greek. Putting together a fancy flashcard system by simply pulling words and phrases out of a text and attaching sound and pictures and/or translations is of minimal value in my opinion. The best language tools lead the student along an intelligent progression and to do so, they typically create a context - a narrative. The learner follows a progressively more sophisticated path of discovering the foundational elements of the language. Building such a program is a demanding and thoughtful enterprise, and all the more so if the language has not been around for millennia.

As I've said, it so much easier to do this with a modern language than with an ancient language because the teacher and the student of a modern language are both ‘experts’ in the same κόσμος. If a person comes to Vancouver from Asia, as hundreds of thousands have done over the past couple of decades, he and I are ‘students’ of the same world (the same ‘Global Village’). Notwithstanding cultural differences, our conception of the world is more or less the same, and he already has language to describe the things that my language describes. He just has to learn my words and phrases and idioms etc. Furthermore, my real everyday language is all there and easily accessible. Providing opportunity for dialogue to that person is quite simple, however it is done, and very different than doing so for an ancient language.

Mi Vida Loca is an example of creating a narrative to teach language. You can see Paul Nitz using video for the same purpose on YouTube, when he ‘tells the story’ about what they did the day before. It is very effective, even in smaller snippets like Paul's examples.
0 x
γράφω μαθεῖν

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 17th, 2015, 11:41 pm

A quick question beyond what you two are discussing about story-telling in abstracto...

I can't tell stories in Greek for two reasons; firstly, I don't know which tenses I should use, and I end up following English rules, and secondly, I would be faced with the same situation for word-order.

Are there suggestions for overcoming those shortcomings?
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 17th, 2015, 11:53 pm

Thomas Dolhanty wrote:As I've said, it so much easier to do this with a modern language than with an ancient language because the teacher and the student of a modern language are both ‘experts’ in the same κόσμος. If a person comes to Vancouver from Asia, as hundreds of thousands have done over the past couple of decades, he and I are ‘students’ of the same world (the same ‘Global Village’). Notwithstanding cultural differences, our conception of the world is more or less the same, and he already has language to describe the things that my language describes. He just has to learn my words and phrases and idioms etc. Furthermore, my real everyday language is all there and easily accessible. Providing opportunity for dialogue to that person is quite simple, however it is done, and very different than doing so for an ancient language.
In terms of single entities, seen in terms of themselves, we live and think in the same global village to some degree. However, for non-scientific classifications such as, "What sort of day did you have?" or "Describe <something> / <someone> in broad terms.", then communication really breaks down in cross-cultural situations.

In the New Testament, the lists of virtues and vices, and especially a phrase like καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις (Galatians 5:21) or οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες (Romans 1:32) really tax our imaginations, but for readers in that world that the authour's originally intended audience lived in the categorisations would have been familiar for the most part.
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Thomas Dolhanty
Posts: 401
Joined: May 20th, 2014, 10:13 am
Location: west coast of Canada

Re: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 18th, 2015, 10:09 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:A quick question beyond what you two are discussing about story-telling in abstracto...

I can't tell stories in Greek for two reasons; firstly, I don't know which tenses I should use, and I end up following English rules, and secondly, I would be faced with the same situation for word-order.

Are there suggestions for overcoming those shortcomings?
This is a really great question. I am barely a novice and am setting out to learn by listening to the storytellers like Mark and Luke and John.

Perhaps you or Jonathan could move the question to a new thread.
0 x
γράφω μαθεῖν

Thomas Dolhanty
Posts: 401
Joined: May 20th, 2014, 10:13 am
Location: west coast of Canada

Re: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 18th, 2015, 12:24 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Thomas Dolhanty wrote:As I've said, it so much easier to do this with a modern language than with an ancient language because the teacher and the student of a modern language are both ‘experts’ in the same κόσμος. If a person comes to Vancouver from Asia, as hundreds of thousands have done over the past couple of decades, he and I are ‘students’ of the same world (the same ‘Global Village’). Notwithstanding cultural differences, our conception of the world is more or less the same, and he already has language to describe the things that my language describes. He just has to learn my words and phrases and idioms etc. Furthermore, my real everyday language is all there and easily accessible. Providing opportunity for dialogue to that person is quite simple, however it is done, and very different than doing so for an ancient language.
In terms of single entities, seen in terms of themselves, we live and think in the same global village to some degree. However, for non-scientific classifications such as, "What sort of day did you have?" or "Describe <something> / <someone> in broad terms.", then communication really breaks down in cross-cultural situations.

In the New Testament, the lists of virtues and vices, and especially a phrase like καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις (Galatians 5:21) or οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες (Romans 1:32) really tax our imaginations, but for readers in that world that the authour's originally intended audience lived in the categorisations would have been familiar for the most part.
The much larger issue, though, is the whole conceptualization of existence - of the κόσμος - in first century Israel as opposed to the modern world. Though we have different ways to express our world in language, the person from Asia shares with me (more or less) the same conceptualization of democracy, science, education, flying, toasting bread, refrigerators, the community of nations, prevailing religious beliefs, medicine, and viruses and internet and Starbuck's and fast food. When you think of it, it is quite a challenge to read a new-to-me language written by a people 2,000 years ago and presume that I know what it means in its detail and intricacies. This is especially true unless one is working with a very large and diverse corpus.
0 x
γράφω μαθεῖν

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 18th, 2015, 10:57 pm

Thomas Dolhanty wrote:science, education, flying, toasting bread, refrigerators, the community of nations, prevailing religious beliefs, medicine, and viruses and internet and Starbuck's and fast food.
I'm not sure if you mean to be tongue in cheek here. Let me tell you some if the prevailing sentiments of teenagers here where I live..
science - the ultimate answer to mankind's problems and the key to development.
education - the means to social progress. Students need to have at least 4 hours of homework from the 7th grade. They may have an hour a week to play computer games or watch TV.
flying - a status symbol. Flaunting rules about wearing seatbelts and mobile phone usage
is further proof of social power.
toasting bread - an unfamiliar concept. Sliced bread is called toast.
refrigerators- can store food stuffs, but cooked food left in the fridge over night should be thrown out.
prevailing religious beliefs - atheism is not considered a religious belief. Most profess athiesm and do not consider following their parents' beliefs a good thing. The decide for themselves.
medicine - a drip is needed for even minor ailments.
viruses- the whole country can be moved into a lockdown mode to minimise the risk of transmission -social order and control are effective means of reducing the risk
internet - society needs to be protected
Starbuck's - status symbol
fast food -status symbol but causes acne and obesity[/quote]Asia may contain people who share your views.
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Thomas Dolhanty
Posts: 401
Joined: May 20th, 2014, 10:13 am
Location: west coast of Canada

Re: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 18th, 2015, 11:58 pm

... e=mc2, space travel, the nature of the universe, the nature of the earth, the technology economy, mass education, life expectancy, hygiene, global communciations, coca-cola, nuclear energy and nuclear weapons, a man standing on the moon, mobile phones, ubiquitous automobiles, voice recordings and videos, and digital libraries …

I didn’t say we moderns share the same view about any of these things. I’m just saying these are realities of the 21st century κὀσμος – entries in the lexicon of the modern world. Your neighbours may lockdown against virus transmission, but no one has to convince them there is such a thing as a virus – an invisible bit of DNA or RNA that can kill whole populations.

Educated modern societies have language to talk about these things. Of course we can niggle about what is toast is, but nevetheless, in the grand scheme of things we have a common vocabulary. Moreover - and of first importance - we have an ACCESSIBLE vocabulary (in the largest sense of the word ‘vocabulary’).

Would you not love to receive a copy of the videos from a BBC reporter who spent 1 year in 1st century Israel doing nothing but recording everyday language and customs? Better still, would you not love to be that reporter? All we know now would pale in comparison.

Learning the language of that society, as a real language, is incomparably more challenging than learning modern Spanish.
0 x
γράφω μαθεῖν

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Busuu, etc.

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 19th, 2015, 5:44 am

I think many readers of the New Testament read it on the basis of a shared faith in Jesus Christ which they share with the authours. The is an important similarity. The other things about culture are also important. Not all extra-Biblical works would be of equal importance to readers at different stages of their engagement / journey with the text in Greek.
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Post Reply

Return to “Teaching Methods”