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Σύνοδος Ἑλληνική 2017

Posted: July 26th, 2017, 11:07 am
by Jonathan Robie
Last week, I was at the Σύνοδος Ἑλληνική at the University of Kentucky, taught by Dr. Christophe Rico (Polis Institute, Jerusalem) and Stephen Hill (MA, University of Kentucky). Here's the basic idea:
From July 12-19, 2017, we will use ancient Greek as an active language of communication to talk about everyday objects and events and to discuss selections from a wide variety of ancient Greek texts. This sort of immersion experience will benefit a variety of ancient Greek users: students who wish to read ancient Greek more quickly and without automatically producing an English translation; teachers who wish to introduce oral and/or aural ancient Greek into their classrooms; and anyone who wishes to encounter ancient Greek in a way that might be different from his or her previous experiences.
We spoke only Greek after the first introductory session until the final dinner. Christophe Rico and Stephen Hill use an Erasmian pronunciation that is a little different from what I usually hear in the United States, and of all the people I have heard speak with an Erasmian pronunciation, Christophe Rico is by far the most expressive, fluent speaker I have heard. I asked whether I should try to speak Erasmian, and he suggested that I stick with my own restored pronunciation, doing a good imitation of Randall Buth's pronunciation while telling me this. One participant found my pronunciation very hard to understand, but I think it was mostly not a problem.

I was very impressed by the variety of useful teaching techniques and by the level of discussion we had. I was able to read texts in dialects I was not comfortable reading, and both Christophe and Stephen could explain the difficult parts efficiently in Greek. We weren't exactly discussing the texts at an adult graduate student level, but probably at a middle school literature class level, which is pretty good considering we were discussing them in Greek. There was a more advanced group that might have been discussing at a higher level.

One participant had taken classes from Randall Buth, he said that the two classes were more similar than different except for pronunciation, though they had somewhat different teaching methods. I learned a lot of useful approaches for teaching specific aspects of the language interactively in Greek, and definitely improved my fluency in Greek.

They hope to offer this again next year. If they do, I hope I will be there. I would definitely recommend it.