Teaching my first class

mhagedon
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Teaching my first class

Post by mhagedon » July 6th, 2015, 10:48 pm

So, I'm scheduled to teach a New Testament Greek class in the fall at my church (if anyone comes!), and I'm looking for advice on how to structure such a thing. I apologize if this has been discussed elsewhere; I looked! Here's a bit of my background:
  • I'm enamored of the communicative/living approaches to teaching Koine, so I'd like to try something in that area. I've read and watched a bit about TPR and TPRS, and am curious about SIOP. I think communicative approaches would lower the bar, and I want that. It's a large church, but I don't yet know how many people are interested. No sense scaring them off with paradigms and metalanguage right away.
  • I've been through Buth's Living Koine Greek materials on my own, and I've been through 4 classes with Halcomb's Conversational Koine Institute. (I recommend both, by the way, and especially CKI! Halcomb's a great teacher.) Whether my fluency is up to the level needed to conduct communicative classes remains to be seen. I do have an MA in classical philology, but obviously that was all grammar-translation.
  • I don't have any formal Greek teaching experience. I've worked with some small groups before, going through Mounce or Black.
And some parameters for the class itself:
  • I have 1 hour and 15 minutes on Sunday mornings. Not enough time, I know.
  • There would be about 12 sessions, I may be able to tack on a few extra.
  • There is no mandated curriculum (obviously, that's why I'm posting!); this has not been done at this church as far as I know.
  • I think it would be wise to integrate Scripture ASAP. This is a church, and the goal here is ultimately to read the New Testament.
  • It starts in September.
So any advice is appreciated, from what sorts of things you'd put in your "syllabus" (not that it needs to be that formal), to how you'd approach an individual lesson (I'll need lots of scripting, no doubt), to materials (I really don't know what to do about this, if anything). I'll take whatever you have. :-)

Thanks!
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Mike Hagedon (Μιχαήλ)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Teaching my first class

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 7th, 2015, 6:01 am

Be aware of whether you are teaching yourself, or the students.

It is not bad too share the learning with students by covering things that are of interest to you, but that may not be what would objectively be the best for them to learn.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Teaching my first class

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 7th, 2015, 7:15 am

I think using an approach similar to Michael's is perfect in that setting. Look at what he was able to accomplish in just 10 or so hours. If nothing else if you can communicate to your students that the true value of Greek consists of really knowing the language rather than knowing facts about the language, then your class will truly be valuable.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Teaching my first class

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 7th, 2015, 9:33 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:I think using an approach similar to Michael's is perfect in that setting. Look at what he was able to accomplish in just 10 or so hours. If nothing else if you can communicate to your students that the true value of Greek consists of really knowing the language rather than knowing facts about the language, then your class will truly be valuable.
And you know these materials - starting with something you know is always easier.

I teach a Sunday School class with a couple of people who had largely forgotten their Greek and one Classics major who is very sharp. My target audience is usually quite different from yours.

But I recently found myself doing an impromptu introduction to Greek when a couple of people showed up with no knowledge of Greek beyond the alphabet, and I thought it went well. I tried to make sure I didn't talk very long before requiring them to respond, and I tried to make it easy for them to respond. I also tried to break it down to teach each "language fact" needed to grasp the text separately in bite sized chunks, and to use lots and lots of repetition. You say that you want to get started with the New Testament as early as possible. If you want to use the New Testament from day one, you might want to try this.

Let me try to reproduce a transcript.
Let's turn to John 1. Here's the first sentence:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

Don't worry if you can't read that, I haven't taught it yet. Let's close our books and break that down.

θεός - God. Say θεός. ("θεός") Again? ("θεός")
ὁ λόγος - the word. Say ὁ λόγος. ("ὁ λόγος") Again? ("ὁ λόγος")
ἀρχῇ - beginning. Say ἀρχῇ. ("ἀρχῇ") Again? ("ἀρχῇ")
ἐν - in. Say ἐν. ("ἐν") Again? ("ἐν").
How do you say "the word"? (" ὁ λόγος")
How do you say "beginning"? ("ἀρχῇ")
How do you say "in"? ("Ἐν")
ἀρχῇ - beginning.
ἐν ἀρχῇ - in the beginning. Say ἐν ἀρχῇ. ("ἐν ἀρχῇ") Again? ("ἐν ἀρχῇ")
How do you say 'the word'? ("ὁ λόγος")
ἦν - was. Say ἦν. ("ἦν") Again? ("ἦν").
How do you say "in"? ("ἐν")
How do you say "was"? ("ἦν")
How do you say "in the beginning"? ("ἐν ἀρχῇ")

Now let's put this together to make a sentence. I'll say it first, then you repeat it.

ὁ λόγος ... ἦν ... ἐν ἀρχῇ. ("ὁ λόγος ... ἦν ... ἐν ἀρχῇ")
ὁ λόγος ... ἦν ... ἐν ἀρχῇ. ("ὁ λόγος ... ἦν ... ἐν ἀρχῇ")

What does that mean? (students offer answers)

Good! That's your first Greek sentence. But the word order is a little different in John 1. John wanted to make it clear that this passage is about the beginning, and what was in the beginning, so he put that up front. So here's how he said it:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ... ἦν ... ὁ λόγος. ("Ἐν ἀρχῇ ... ἦν ... ὁ λόγος")
Ἐν ἀρχῇ ... ἦν ... ὁ λόγος. ("Ἐν ἀρχῇ ... ἦν ... ὁ λόγος")
My students knew the alphabet, if they didn't, and I were prepared, I would have had this sentence written on a handout or displayed on a screen, and this is the time I would show them how this sentence is written. As it was, I pointed them to the first verse in the text.

You can teach "grammar facts" the same way.
θεός - God. Say θεός. ("θεός") Again? ("θεός")
ὁ θεός - God. Say ὁ θεός. ("ὁ θεός") Again? ("ὁ θεός")

In English, we don't say "the God" when we talk about God, but they do in Greek. The word for Jesus in Greek is Ἰησοῦς, and the New Testament often calls him ὁ Ἰησοῦς. Let's practice that.

ὁ Ἰησοῦς - Jesus. Say ὁ Ἰησοῦς ("ὁ Ἰησοῦς")
ὁ θεός - God. Say ὁ θεός ("ὁ θεός")

Now let's look at the phrase "with God":

πρὸς - with. Say πρὸς ("πρὸς").
πρὸς τὸν θεόν - with God. Say πρὸς τὸν θεόν ("πρὸς τὸν θεόν")

"God" is ὁ θεός, but "with God" is πρὸς τὸν θεόν. After the word πρὸς, ὁ changes to τὸν and θεός changes to θεόν. It's like English where I can say "he is nice, I like him". "he" and "him" are different forms of the same word, it takes one form when used a subject, and another form when used as an object. In English and Greek, the word 'with' can also change the form of the word. "I am with him" uses the same form as "I like him". Let's look at some examples of this.

ὁ θεός ("ὁ θεός")
πρὸς τὸν θεόν ("πρὸς τὸν θεόν")

ὁ λόγος ("ὁ λόγος")
πρὸς τὸν λόγον ("πρὸς τὸν λόγον")

ὁ Ἰησοῦς ("ὁ Ἰησοῦς")
πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν

Let's practice that. I'll say a phrase, you add πρὸς to the front of the phrase. For instance, if I say ὁ θεός, you say πρὸς τὸν θεόν.

ὁ θεός ("πρὸς τὸν θεόν")
ὁ λόγος ("πρὸς τὸν λόγον")
ὁ Ἰησοῦς ("πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν")
There's a rhythm to this, a call and response. It should be easy for students to respond to you, and much of the time should consist of them responding to you. Each language fact should be introduced with plenty of practice, practice that involves students actually producing language orally or in writing. With this approach, you shouldn't be talking for more than 30-60 seconds without asking them to respond somehow.

Each fact needed to grasp the text needs to be called to their attention and given a little practice. Actually, that's only partly true. In a beginner's class organized around a text, I don't think you have to teach all the grammar right away, and you do want to teach the easiest things first and work up. You can gloss over ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ by supplying an English translation, then explain the grammar underlying the translation later in the class if you get to it, which you probably won't in a 12 week class. But you should be intentional about what you postpone.

In my impromptu session, I asked a couple of simple questions after introducing one or two sentences and introducing τίς.
τίς - who, what.
τίς ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ; ("ὁ λόγος")
ναί, ὁ λόγος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ. ("ναί, ὁ λόγος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ.")
καὶ ὁ θεός; ἦν ὁ θεός ἐν ἀρχῇ;

Doing it now, I would quickly teach them how to answer ναί and οὔ so I can ask more questions:

ναί - yes. ("ναί")
οὔ - no. ("οὔ")
τίς ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ; ("ὁ λόγος")
ναί, ὁ λόγος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ. καὶ ὁ θεός; ἦν ὁ θεός ἐν ἀρχῇ; ("ναί")
ναί, ὁ θεός ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ. ("ναί, ὁ θεός ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ.")
καὶ ὁ Ἰωάννης - John - Ἰωάννης - John - ὁ Ἰωάννης - ἦν ὁ Ἰωάννης ἐν ἀρχῇ;
I would love to see a curriculum like this oriented toward beginners in a church setting, and I'd be happy to help develop one if you are interested.
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mhagedon
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Re: Teaching my first class

Post by mhagedon » July 7th, 2015, 11:18 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Be aware of whether you are teaching yourself, or the students.

It is not bad too share the learning with students by covering things that are of interest to you, but that may not be what would objectively be the best for them to learn.
Thanks for the feedback, Stephen. Are you referring to my interest in using communicative approaches?
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Mike Hagedon (Μιχαήλ)

mhagedon
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Re: Teaching my first class

Post by mhagedon » July 7th, 2015, 11:29 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:I think using an approach similar to Michael's is perfect in that setting. Look at what he was able to accomplish in just 10 or so hours. If nothing else if you can communicate to your students that the true value of Greek consists of really knowing the language rather than knowing facts about the language, then your class will truly be valuable.
Agreed, Barry. I've talked to Michael a bit about the class I'm going to teach, and he gave some excellent suggestions (but I need lots of advice, which is why I'm here!). I was amazed at what I learned in his first class (and all the rest) -- after 15 years studying Greek, among other things I can now count to 100! Which is both cool and sad...

This will be an experiment, and I'll be upfront about it. If, by the end, the μαθηταὶ get a sense of the language and don't hate it and aren't afraid of it, I will have accomplished something, I think!
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Mike Hagedon (Μιχαήλ)

Michael W Abernathy
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Re: Teaching my first class

Post by Michael W Abernathy » July 7th, 2015, 12:15 pm

If you only have twelve lessons I would suggest that your primary objective might be to make them want to learn more. Make sure you discuss passages that made you go "Wow, I didn't realize it meant that!" And emphasize discussion that will open their eye to the text.
Sincerely,
Michael Abernathy
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mhagedon
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Re: Teaching my first class

Post by mhagedon » July 7th, 2015, 3:51 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:And you know these materials - starting with something you know is always easier.
Good point! I may tend toward being a bit over-ambitious, so this is a good reminder.
Jonathan Robie wrote:I tried to make sure I didn't talk very long before requiring them to respond, and I tried to make it easy for them to respond. I also tried to break it down to teach each "language fact" needed to grasp the text separately in bite sized chunks, and to use lots and lots of repetition.
This is a great and simple principle. I like it!
Jonathan Robie wrote:You say that you want to get started with the New Testament as early as possible. If you want to use the New Testament from day one, you might want to try this.
Jonathan Robie wrote:There's a rhythm to this, a call and response. It should be easy for students to respond to you, and much of the time should consist of them responding to you. Each language fact should be introduced with plenty of practice, practice that involves students actually producing language orally or in writing. With this approach, you shouldn't be talking for more than 30-60 seconds without asking them to respond somehow.
I really like this call and response method... and it's so simple! I think I'd want to mix in more conversational stuff in Greek (πῶς ἔχεις; εὖ ἔχω! κτλ.), but what you've detailed here, Jonathan, can get us to the text or any other topic and looks to be a very versatile exercise. Thank you very much!
Each fact needed to grasp the text needs to be called to their attention and given a little practice. Actually, that's only partly true. In a beginner's class organized around a text, I don't think you have to teach all the grammar right away, and you do want to teach the easiest things first and work up. You can gloss over ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ by supplying an English translation, then explain the grammar underlying the translation later in the class if you get to it, which you probably won't in a 12 week class. But you should be intentional about what you postpone.
This seems critical. This way I can choose texts that best cover whatever I need to cover, without worrying about more advanced features. Nice!
I would love to see a curriculum like this oriented toward beginners in a church setting, and I'd be happy to help develop one if you are interested.
I am interested, since apparently I'm heading down this path anyway. I wouldn't be exactly sure how to proceed down this path, though maybe just preparing, compiling, and releasing materials for this class almost constitutes a first iteration.
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Mike Hagedon (Μιχαήλ)

mhagedon
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Re: Teaching my first class

Post by mhagedon » July 7th, 2015, 3:53 pm

Michael W Abernathy wrote:If you only have twelve lessons I would suggest that your primary objective might be to make them want to learn more. Make sure you discuss passages that made you go "Wow, I didn't realize it meant that!" And emphasize discussion that will open their eye to the text.
Yes, Michael! Whet their appetites so they can't help but want to go on. :-) I agree I can't cover a huge amount in the time allotted.
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Mike Hagedon (Μιχαήλ)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Teaching my first class

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 7th, 2015, 9:40 pm

mhagedon wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:Be aware of whether you are teaching yourself, or the students.

It is not bad too share the learning with students by covering things that are of interest to you, but that may not be what would objectively be the best for them to learn.
Thanks for the feedback, Stephen. Are you referring to my interest in using communicative approaches?
Included in what beginning teachers usually do, "yes". But, as for what I was thinking when I wrote that, "no".

Are you struggling with the communicative approach yourself? Are you good at it or trying to pick it up yourself? Is it something that you have done long enough that you can reflect on its value within a wider context of the other teaching methodologies that could be employed?

Another point is the "correctness" of explanations or answers that you give students. They will pick up fairly clearly and quickly the rules of "Greek". Whether the "correct" answer for Greek is that they can use it in expression, whether they can express an equivalence in English, or they can parse it. It will unwittingly expose the way you have been thinking about Greek - to some degree at least.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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