Teaching the verb

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Jonathan Robie
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Teaching the verb

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 2nd, 2015, 9:43 pm

In many of our threads on pedagogy, I think we forget one of the most important and perhaps most difficult goals. As Carl put it:
cwconrad wrote:I do think that the sooner a reader of Greek texts can discern at sight the form of any inflected word in a text being confronted, the quicker the transition to reading ever-longer stretches of text. I recall learning a rather sizable list of principal parts of verbs and also the time spent in the classroom early on at analyzing every verb-form (those are the challenges! -- nouns and adjectives are a piece of cake!) into its component elements: prefix, augment, root, tense-stem, modal infix, thematic vowel (or lack thereof), voice infix, personal ending (or infinitival ending or gender, number, and case endings of participles). Instant recognition came a lot sooner than I expected it, sort of like driving away on a bicycle without training wheels or an adult to keep you in balance.
If you learn that, then your reading reinforces and solidifies that knowledge. If you don't learn it, you miss out on much of what you are reading.

I think this is analogous to phonics. In Reading Instruction That Works: The Case for Balanced Teaching, Michael Pressley and Richard L. Allington do a thorough literature review of the relevant research, and conclude that we need both whole language approaches and systematic training of specific skills. Whole language should predominate, they suggest 10 minutes a day of phonics training, but a small amount of attention devoted to learning specific skills makes a big difference in overall progress. Spending more than 10 minutes a day in phonics training does not improve reading ability, but spending lots and lots of time actually reading does.

How you teach depends on what you are teaching. The best way to teach math is not a good way to teach flute. The best way to teach the meaning of ὁ ἵππος may not be the best way to teach how to identify the morphological components of a verb - and that's the bottleneck for so many learners, the wall that many people never get past.

For the purposes of this thread, let's assume that Carl is right and you do need to learn this. What are the best ways to teach this skill? What exercises would you suggest?

For instance, is memorizing infinitive forms of a representative list of verbs useful? Perhaps 2-3 forms of 60 or so verbs (depending on the verb), plus some basic rules of verb formation? Or should people learn all the principle parts instead? Are there effective alternatives to this kind of memorization? If someone wants to learn this stuff on their own, what are the best resources? If someone wants to create new resources to teach this skill better, what should they look like?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Wes Wood
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Re: Teaching the verb

Post by Wes Wood » July 2nd, 2015, 10:14 pm

For the past few days I have been working on completing verbal tables where I am writing out all of the verbal forms for a given word. For the time being, I have only been working on the forms that based on present tense stems in the indicative mood. I first attempt to complete the chart with what I think are the correct forms and when I have done all that I can do I check my work on Perseus. If a form is wrong, I give myself an additional 30 seconds to try to figure out what the form should be. If I can't get it after that amount of time, I consult reference works to find what I don't know. I did one word the first day :oops: , three words the next, and today I did eight. I set an hour time limit in each case. It may not work for you, but it is helping me.

P.S. In fairness to me, day one was εχω.
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Louis L Sorenson
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Re: Teaching the verb

Post by Louis L Sorenson » July 2nd, 2015, 11:52 pm

What is "phonics training" exactly? I should see if I can get access to the book "Reading Instruction that Works." I think of that as reading syllables, and understanding the phonemes of the language. Other stuff like Greek words only end in a sibilant (ς, ξ, ψ), ρ, or ν . (The only exception is ἐκ which was originally ἐξ). Adults have already mastered the phonic skills, but have not applied them to Greek. How long does that take? Such skills as being able to recognized a word is not a Greek word, and knowing the sort of sounds to expect is a good skill-set that will help a person read better. Phonics kind of assumes that we hear the words and speak them, does not it?

Wes, you should get Randall Buth's book A Greek Morphology: Verbs and Nouns for Koine Greek. Coil-bound paperback: 138 pages. ISBN-13: 978-965-7352-05-2. Product dimensions: 8.5 x 11 x 0.25 inches. It can be purchased at http://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/b ... ine-greek/
A Greek Morphology answers a practical need for those wanting to write and even speak Koine Greek with each other. It contains 196 verbs, 113 nouns and 35 adjectives and pronouns of Koine Greek all laid out in easy to read tables and charts. Here is a resource for teachers and students alike.

Some of the book’s features:

• An English to Greek index for finding many common verbs.
• All the basic noun patterns and adjective patterns are provided
• Verbs in the index are presented with both aorist and continuative infinitives.
• Tables are full and are not limited to occurrences in the Greek NT or LXX.
• Verb tables are given according to standard forms in the Koiné period. Occasional Attic differences are footnoted or placed in smaller type.
• Verbs are limited to attested vocabulary from authors like Josephus, Plutarch, and the Greek New Testament. Verbs from Homer and Epic poetry are not included.
• Verb Chart Sample
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Teaching the verb

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 3rd, 2015, 8:08 am

Louis L Sorenson wrote:What is "phonics training" exactly? I should see if I can get access to the book "Reading Instruction that Works." I think of that as reading syllables, and understanding the phonemes of the language. Other stuff like Greek words only end in a sibilant (ς, ξ, ψ), ρ, or ν . (The only exception is ἐκ which was originally ἐξ). Adults have already mastered the phonic skills, but have not applied them to Greek. How long does that take? Such skills as being able to recognized a word is not a Greek word, and knowing the sort of sounds to expect is a good skill-set that will help a person read better. Phonics kind of assumes that we hear the words and speak them, does not it?
I think that book and the SIOP books are really useful, at least to me. SIOP goes into a lot of different scaffolding techniques, including TPR, TPRS, storytelling, etc, but going beyond those. I'm just beginning to absorb this material, going slowly.

I have been using phonics as an analogy for morphology in this thread, but phonics is also relevant to Greek of course. It starts with phonemic awareness - can you hear the sounds and the differences among sounds? Some children can't when we are trying to teach them to read, so teaching phonemic awareness comes first. And it builds up from there. Adults can learn the phonemes on a basic level fairly rapidly, I think, but I'm just guessing. Getting completely accurate may never happen, I still have a definite accent in German even though I lived there for 8 years and spoke mostly German the whole time. For ancient Greek, let's assume we all have accents and probably don't know what the original sounded like ...

But the analogy for morphology: some things really do require some explicit instruction, at least for most people. You don't want to overdo it or make that the entire focus, 10 minutes a day is enough for phonics, there's a right amount of attention to pay to morphology too, most of our effort should go into processing language by reading, responding to what we read orally or in writing, etc.
Louis L Sorenson wrote:Wes, you should get Randall Buth's book A Greek Morphology: Verbs and Nouns for Koine Greek. Coil-bound paperback: 138 pages. ISBN-13: 978-965-7352-05-2. Product dimensions: 8.5 x 11 x 0.25 inches. It can be purchased at http://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/b ... ine-greek/
A Greek Morphology answers a practical need for those wanting to write and even speak Koine Greek with each other. It contains 196 verbs, 113 nouns and 35 adjectives and pronouns of Koine Greek all laid out in easy to read tables and charts. Here is a resource for teachers and students alike.

Some of the book’s features:

• An English to Greek index for finding many common verbs.
• All the basic noun patterns and adjective patterns are provided
• Verbs in the index are presented with both aorist and continuative infinitives.
• Tables are full and are not limited to occurrences in the Greek NT or LXX.
• Verb tables are given according to standard forms in the Koiné period. Occasional Attic differences are footnoted or placed in smaller type.
• Verbs are limited to attested vocabulary from authors like Josephus, Plutarch, and the Greek New Testament. Verbs from Homer and Epic poetry are not included.
• Verb Chart Sample
I second that suggestion. I have the book, and it's excellent.

An exercise I find helpful: when I read, if I encounter a verb, I try to "explain" the verb, identifying the parts that Carl mentioned above. Which group of endings are being used? What is the stem? Randall's book helps with this. Memorizing the present / aorist forms for ~60 verbs helps a lot too.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Wes Wood
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Re: Teaching the verb

Post by Wes Wood » July 3rd, 2015, 9:22 am

Parsing a word isn't often a problem, but producing the various forms myself is. Details like how some words augment or whether a particular word uses theta or eta tense formatives and how that affects the preceding vowel are harder to predict even if they are easily recognizable. This is invariably a consequence of my learning only to passively recognize words. I shall fix it soon enough. And, (FWIW :lol: ) my wife and I are budgeted so tightly that our entire discretionary spending budget is spent on a sit-down meal once every other month. That is the price we gladly pay so my wife can stay home with our girls, and I can do something I greatly enjoy. I am a High School Chemistry teacher.
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Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Teaching the verb

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 4th, 2015, 2:33 pm

What other kinds of exercises can we use to force attention to the details of morphology, using real texts as a basis?

One possible exercise: take all of the verbs in a passage and change them to present. Then change them all to aorist. Are there other exercises along this line that people have used?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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