Has anybody used Dobson for teaching a class?

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Has anybody used Dobson for teaching a class?

Postby R_Liantonio » January 20th, 2013, 8:52 am

Hi. I have used the Mounce/Wallace duo in my classes for years and am wanting to break out of that mold and move to more Living/SLA-based approaches. As part of the transition process, I am thinking of using Dobson supplemented with audio in Restored Koine, along with TPR for introducing the vocabulary throughout the book, and maybe a limited amount of TPRS. In the book, Dobson talks about not needing to require any homework, but learning everything using the book in class. I was wondering if anyone has experience using Dobson's text in class, how they used it, what their experience was, and any suggestions they would give. Dobson gives suggestions in the appendix, but it still seems foggy to me on how it would actually work in class. Maybe because it seems like reciting your way through his sentences seems really boring?

If anyone has experience with this, I would love to know.

Thanks,
Richard Liantonio
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Re: Has anybody used Dobson for teaching a class?

Postby Shirley Rollinson » January 21st, 2013, 1:55 pm

I used Dobson for a number of years.
Its strength is that it gets students reading confidently and fluently, with comprehension of simpler grammar.
Its weakness is the presentation (or lack thereof) of grammar.
I had to make supplementary grammar handouts to fill in the gaps.
Earlier editions were better than the current one - with each new edition there seem to be more and more typos, and the book became less well-organized.
That's why I've started writing the Online textbook - it's modelled on the way Daobson does it, with lots of reading and building up vocabulary, but with more attention to the grammar.
If you care to try it, it's up on the InterNet at
http://www.drshirley.org/greek/textbook/index.html

I'd appreciate any feedback or comments
thanks
Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Has anybody used Dobson for teaching a class?

Postby Paul-Nitz » January 22nd, 2013, 2:34 am

I've used Dobson twice and loved it in comparison with any other primer I found. But, I've just gone full bore communicative approach this year and haven't been using it. I may yet pull it out for my 2nd year Greek. Or, I'll look at Shirley's lessons to see what I could use.

I suspect that what the TPRS people say is true:Adapting a book to use in a communicative approach is difficult. But you could certainly spice up a book, Dobson or another primer, with some communication as a first step toward teaching with a full communicative approach.

Susan Gross has an article that touches on "natural acquistion."
http://susangrosstprs.com/wordpress/articles/

And, you might find some help with a communicative approach here:
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=1641
https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups=#!forum/ancient-greek-best-practices
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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Re: Has anybody used Dobson for teaching a class?

Postby R_Liantonio » January 22nd, 2013, 3:10 am

Hello Paul - thank you for your comments. I did a pilot run of a full immersion course but found myself floundering on three fronts:
(1) my own limits in fluency with the language that still need to be built up. I'm aggressively working on it but I still don't feel ready
(2) organizing the material. Krashen and Asher seem to think that organization and ordering of material is insignificant but I feel like it needs a certain ordering to maintain momentum, which I haven't quite figured out yet
(3) the students want to read the Bible and much of the material we were doing is really minor in the bible (words occurring only a few times - ἔδαφος, κλίνη, θυρίδα, πίθηκος). Asher says to make TPR lessons relevant to student goals. For him that was ordering from a menu, reading a newspaper, etc. but for my students it is reading the Bible.

I am drawn to use Dobson because it helps me in all three of these areas - (1) it gives me something to use that makes more SLA sense while I am building up my fluency; (2) it organizes the material for me; and (3) it keeps the material tied to the Bible.

I'd love any thoughts you had on practically how you run a class using Dobson, what pitfalls you ran into and how you dealt with them, and what kind of outside of class assignments you gave.
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Re: Has anybody used Dobson for teaching a class?

Postby Paul-Nitz » January 22nd, 2013, 9:33 am

R. Liantonio, It sounds like Dobson would work well for you. Do look at Shirley's lessons. I've just glanced through several of them and they look good. About the rest, I sent you a private message via B-Greek.

Shirley, I've meant to look at your lessons ever since you first told us about it (2 yrs ago?). One of the things I especially liked about Dobson was the side by side Greek and English. I see you've retained that good feature. I just printed both of your infinitive lessons, which look VERY good. I'm looking forward to looking at the rest. Thanks much for the generous sharing.
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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Re: Has anybody used Dobson for teaching a class?

Postby R_Liantonio » January 22nd, 2013, 10:42 am

Shirley - I had previously run into your website when looking for resources to use with Dobson's text (e.g., your vocab lists for Dobson's text will help when planning TPR activities!).

I also glanced through your text and immediately saw the affinities to Dobson and saw the potential for using it along with or instead of Dobson.

I like the Dobson-like practice sentences/phrases (did this methodology derive from Dobson or did he get it from somewhere else)
I also like the introduction of contract verbs early on (contra Black and Croy), and the special attention given to irregular verb forms and the extended treatment of third declension.

My main difficulty however is the unaccented text. Maybe I am making more of an issue over this than it should be, but if we are aiming for fluency in the language, should not placement of accents be important? Especially when at times, distinguishing between various forms depends on the accent? At this point I wouldn't trust myself to use the text and to intuitively know where the accents would be, even if I could get them right 95% or more of the time. I feel as though in the early stages of the "Ancient Greek Fluency Movement" (or whatever Daniel Streett was proposing calling it!), it is important to aim for accuracy in these areas. In this case, I would not want to learn or cause to students to learn words or phrases incorrectly accented. I would also wants to students to feel confident that they are reading the sentences correctly rather than always having to wonder where the accent is.

Have you considered accenting the text? If it was accented, I would almost certainly use it, at least as a supplement to Dobson.

Thanks for all your hardwork. It is exciting!

Richard
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Re: Has anybody used Dobson for teaching a class?

Postby Shirley Rollinson » January 22nd, 2013, 11:19 pm

Thanks for the input about accents - it's something I think about from time to time, but my students seem to cope OK without them. I do plenty of reading with them in class, and we use accented GNTs, so they seem to pick up a natural reading that way.
I do give accented forms in the vocabulary lists.
From my own memories of learning foreign languages, getting hung up on pronunciation and accents tends to make students afraid of speaking/reading aloud. So I try to get them speaking, and then work on pronunciation as the course progresses.
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Re: Has anybody used Dobson for teaching a class?

Postby Louis L Sorenson » January 23rd, 2013, 10:44 pm

The last four years I have been teaching Greek more and more via the Living Language method. The first year, I used Hale's stories from "Let's Study Greek" along with my own curriculum that I have been developing. I was unaware of Dobson's new edition (which includes the accents) at that time. Three years ago, I considered Dobson, but did not use it; instead, I kept developing pericopes from the gospels along with embellished stories relating to them. Two years ago, I started making my classes perhaps 50%+ immersive content. I considered using Dobson as my written text from the first day of that school year, and regret not doing so for that year. The reason is, that new learners need the written side-by-side with the aural. I did not start using Dobson until the 2nd half of the year; I lost a good part of my class about 10 weeks in, partly because they were not serious enough ( I teach in a non-academic environment), partly, because I was unfocused and did not have a clear-cut curriculum which progressed from easy to hard, limited vocabulary and forms, partly because I did not have a written text which explained some of the finer points of grammar.

I found that the progression of grammar points in Dobson matches much more closely to the vocab, grammar structures, and content that one uses in a living language environment. There are a few items which need to be moved up earlier; little needs to be deferred for later. The strength of Dobson is his constant diglott of Greek-English phrases and short sentences, where he constantly switches person and number. The problem with using only Dobson, is that the stories and elaborations get boring, and don't bring the student into the mix nor let their imagination run wild - a distraction which takes the learner's mind off the grammar and onto the content - and actually lets them acquire the language rather than memorize and rework grammar forms.

Objections that the book does not teach grammar fall away, once one realizes Dobson's goal is to get the student to learn to read ancient Greek, and not parse or analyze grammatical structures against the background of a Grammar-Translation environment. In my own opinion, grammar is best taught after the target language has been acquired or understood at a rate of 100+ words per minute. We don't teach grammar to English speakers until (1) they are old enough to have abstract reasoning (age 13+) and (2) have an excellent grasp of using their native language. We don't ever teach grammar to 1st or 2nd graders, other than to tell them, "We don't say they eats, we say 'they eat.'" At those early stages, we model correct use of the language where appropriate.

Richard wrote:
(1) my own limits in fluency with the language that still need to be built up. I'm aggressively working on it but I still don't feel ready


Well we are all in that boat. The main thing is to stay ahead of your students. If you have had enough years of Greek under your belt to be mentally aware of your aural/oral deficiencies, you can be assured that you will eventually get it correct. Students are forgiving and often oblivious of those minute errors that creep in; not being a native speaker, errors will always bubble to the surface. You will never feel totally ready to teach via a Living Language Method, but you can reinforce your skills by listening to audio, reinforcing patterns you teach by listening to those phrases used in a greater context. I've found that songs also help - they are a great source when you need to 'reach for a specific structure.' I started using 10% LL, and this year was up to about 80%. The more one teaches using LL, the more one realizes that students need the immersion experience, and not a half&half approach. I remember reading in the teacher's manual for Rouse's Direct Method (perhaps in Praeceptor), that students that were kept in this dual language method of learning were not as successful as those whose classes were 90%+ in the target language.
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