The Goldilocks Method - We Need Simple Stories

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Paul-Nitz
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The Goldilocks Method - We Need Simple Stories

Post by Paul-Nitz » May 29th, 2015, 9:03 am

Jonathan. I have said before, and am still am convinced, the very biggest need in NATURAL* learning of Greek is a book of short stories. None of the "First Year..." storybooks out there are at a beginner level (Greek Boy, Moss, White, Peckett, simplified Xenophon, etc.).

We don't need a new primer/grammar. I believe writing a communicative approach textbook is impossible (though a guidebook for instructors would be useful). But what autodidacts and Greek instructors need are STORIES... simple stories. I think basing stories off of NT texts would automatically make them too hard. At the very least, the writer would run into the problem of having to expand vocabulary beyond what would be pedagogically useful.

If those stories were written out as a series of "embedded" (graded, leveled) stories, they would be more useful. If some audio and perhaps visual exercises accompanied the stories, it would be yet more useful.

This is precisely what I intend to get a start on in July. I've been given some weeks off for study and I'm going to hold my nose and jump. My thoughts so far include:

  • I would begin preparation by a) working through Sidgwick’s First Greek Writer, and b) study about Embedded readings

    I would seriously limiting vocabulary throughout.

    I would not limit language structures, but I would introduce them progressively.

    Earlier stories would be VERY simple (like TPRS stories, 6-8 lines).

    For later stories, I would use the plot lines of some Aesop fables for ideas, more than for the Greek.

    The learning objectives for the whole project would be very modest, just covering the very basics of Greek. The most difficult story would not be up to the level of difficulty of the easiest Koine.

    I'm thinking of writing the stories in sets of nine (a nonet or ἐννεάς **) . Each set would focus on new set of structures. Maybe something like this:

    • The first 3 nonets would have 3 stories each x 3 leveled versions.
      For the first three nonets, I will try to develop some audio visual exercises.
      The 4th through 6th nonets would consist of 9 separate stories.
      The 9 stories would be rewritten at an intermediate and advanced level (but see next point). These leveled stories would be the material for the 7th-12th nonets, a spiral organization.
      In total, this would be 36 unique stories with 72 leveled versions of those stories.
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My Greek composition will certainly fail to be entirely natural and idiomatic. But I'm hold my nose and jump. The effort should produce something that I think will be useful for Year 2 and Year 3 Greek classes.

  • * NATURAL. Other names: Communicative Approach, Comprehension-Based Approach, Comprehensible Input, Living Language, Immersion, Direct Method, etc.

    ** ἐννεάς, άδος, ἡ, (ἐννέα) a body of nine,
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Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: The Goldilocks Method - We Need Simple Stories

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 29th, 2015, 10:44 am

Jonathan. I have said before, and am still am convinced, the very biggest need in NATURAL* learning of Greek is a book of short stories. None of the "First Year..." storybooks out there are at a beginner level (Greek Boy, Moss, White, Peckett, simplified Xenophon, etc.).

We don't need a new primer/grammar. I believe writing a communicative approach textbook is impossible (though a guidebook for instructors would be useful). But what autodidacts and Greek instructors need are STORIES... simple stories. I think basing stories off of NT texts would automatically make them too hard. At the very least, the writer would run into the problem of having to expand vocabulary beyond what would be pedagogically useful.

If those stories were written out as a series of "embedded" (graded, leveled) stories, they would be more useful. If some audio and perhaps visual exercises accompanied the stories, it would be yet more useful.
Exactly! I have similar plans for the summer, even if my writing is mighty slow still. The writing needs to be simple, repetitive, and thoughtfully designed to lead the reader slowly into the language - and it needs to be interesting. It also needs to be replete with everyday language - simple everyday language - so that the reader can take up, remember, and try out 'repeatable' snippets. It also needs to contain much dialogue. Again, Athenaze has much to commend it, at least in the idea and the basic approach. Its biggest drawback for me is the whole context it creates.

Blessings on your stortytelling, Paul. I look forward to the tales.
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Emma Ehrhardt
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Re: The Goldilocks Method - We Need Simple Stories

Post by Emma Ehrhardt » May 30th, 2015, 2:39 am

While not quite the same as simple, sustained stories, thematic picture books may also be of use in this direction.

When I wanted to start developing some fluency in Spanish, I found the "New Reader"-type books for kids were great. Lots of pictures to give context, and 2-3 words on a page, with the 10-15 pages in the book following a theme (animals, activities, uses of prepositions, etc).

Creating these type of ebooks sounds like a great class project to me, even for beginning Greek students. Pick a domain, send them to Louw & Nida to get the relevant vocabulary, then have them check relatively frequency of the terms, and let them have at creating the picture books using open-licensed images from the web. The class could then swap books to practice reading. Even better if we could direct these mini-books to then be shared more broadly via some common repository for Greek resources.

If we wanted to provide students with the 2-3 word phrases to use, these could be sourced from the GNT. The GBI syntax trees can be queried to find phrases (not just full sentences) that are 2-3 words in length, consisting only of a specific set of vocabulary. E.g. Starting with just the article and some animal words.

While I think of this concept particularly targeted to early Greek students, it should work well with short sentences as well. Used with a second-year class, it could afford a good opportunity to practice composition, based on patterns they've seen in other Greek texts.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: The Goldilocks Method - We Need Simple Stories

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 30th, 2015, 9:42 am

Hi Emma, I started a thread for this idea: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... 121#p20462
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Re: The Goldilocks Method - We Need Simple Stories

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 30th, 2015, 11:38 am

Here's a question for Paul and Thomas: My interested is mostly in the direction of using real examples drawn from the corpus as a basis for instruction, and I'm reasonably good at generating sets of examples. I also think the stuff you are doing is valuable. Are there sets of examples that would be particularly useful for you in writing the kinds of simple stories you are interested in? Is this a useful area for cross-fertilization, or are we basically going down different paths?
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Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: The Goldilocks Method - We Need Simple Stories

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 30th, 2015, 12:55 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:Here's a question for Paul and Thomas: My interested is mostly in the direction of using real examples drawn from the corpus as a basis for instruction, and I'm reasonably good at generating sets of examples. I also think the stuff you are doing is valuable. Are there sets of examples that would be particularly useful for you in writing the kinds of simple stories you are interested in? Is this a useful area for cross-fertilization, or are we basically going down different paths?
Jonathan,
One thing that would be enormously helpful which I think relates to your work, is to begin to develop a compendium of phrases and clauses in context, which demonstrate how Koine Greek expresss basic ideas, observations, directives, explanations, etc..

When you begin to think about how to put together simple everyday expressesions in Koine Greek, you (or at least I) all of a sudden realize your poverty of understanding of the language as a language. Correct language for even simple ideas and expressions and observations often eludes you.

If, in your work, you began to assemble a compendium of how the corpus expresses basic ideas and concepts in context, that would be a real godsend. For example, how do I express the concept of “close to” or “not far from” as a locational observation?

close to (location):
  • Exodus 25:27 ὑπὸ τὴν στεφάνην καὶ ἔσονται …
    Ruth 2:23 καὶ προσεκολλήθη Ρουθ τοῖς κορασίοις Βοος …
    Daniel 8:7 καὶ εἶδον αὐτὸν προσάγοντα πρὸς τὸν κριόν
    Acts 27:13 … ἄραντες ἆσσον παρελέγοντο τὴν Κρήτην
    Psalm 21:12 μὴ ἀποστῇς ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ… (also Psa35:22, 38:21, 70:12)
    Mark 12:34 …εἶπεν αὐτῷ οὐ μακρὰν εἶ ἀπὸ τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ (also Ex 8:24, Lk 7:6, Acts 17:27)
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Paul-Nitz
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Re: The Goldilocks Method - We Need Simple Stories

Post by Paul-Nitz » May 31st, 2015, 12:11 pm

The TYPE of material that I believe is truly needed for learners (and instructors) is simple stories that teach structure. The vocabulary must be extremely limited. The forms and structures need not be limited.

The OBJECTIVE is to give learners a resource with from which they can encounter structures repeatedly and in a context, rather than in isolated sample sentences. The objective would be to learn a set body of structures and forms to the level of responding to them automatically.

The only way this sort of resource could be done is to do original compositions. There simply is no extant text that is simple enough. It is likewise impossible to modify an authentic text. Imagine taking one chapter of the gospels. Count the number of domain changes and you'll see that vocabulary will be a major problem.

The objective of images and picture books is quite different and follows an Audio Linguistic Approach to language learning. I doubt that typical learners can really acquire vocabulary through isolated pictures. It just doesn't fire up the brain enough. I think that images could be profitably used to introduce perhaps 5-10 words as an introductory exercise to reading and working with a short story. We might need to quickly "load" some need vocabulary before telling a new story. The vocabulary might just stick long enough to hear the story, but that's okay. Pictures can also be useful little nudges to comprehension in showing some actions in a story. They need to be customized to the story, serial actions (like a good comic book), and I think they are best if the pictures are very simple. I doubt whether clip-art and photos from the web could ever be profitably used. Certainly, the time spent searching for the perfect photo would not be worth it, compared to scratching out a drawing.

I'm not too worried about producing Greek that is not "good enough," that is not from authentic texts. It's not hard to get the forms correct. It's not too difficult to get words that are appropriate in the context. Word order is not too big of a problem if we don't try to get too creative. Some wrong accents might irk the experts, but won't even register with the beginners. I don't think any irreversible learning would take place through reading simple, composed stories. Even if some structures or words were consistently used wrong, it's not a deal breaker. Millions of people learn terrible English in both grammar and spelling and even the semantics of the words. But they also have learned a huge number of English structures and words that have prepared them to read authentic English texts.

http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... =18&t=3125
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... 0&start=30
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... 1&start=10
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: The Goldilocks Method - We Need Simple Stories

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 31st, 2015, 2:33 pm

Paul-Nitz wrote:The TYPE of material that I believe is truly needed for learners (and instructors) is simple stories that teach structure. The vocabulary must be extremely limited. The forms and structures need not be limited.

The OBJECTIVE is to give learners a resource with from which they can encounter structures repeatedly and in a context, rather than in isolated sample sentences. The objective would be to learn a set body of structures and forms to the level of responding to them automatically.

The only way this sort of resource could be done is to do original compositions. There simply is no extant text that is simple enough. It is likewise impossible to modify an authentic text. Imagine taking one chapter of the gospels. Count the number of domain changes and you'll see that vocabulary will be a major problem.
OK - I think that makes sense. It's different from what Micheal and I are doing with corpus-based methods, which is why I split this off into a thread of its own. I think you know what you're doing, and you should feel free to use B-Greek to help pursue that.

I also think that different approaches are probably appropriate for language learners at different levels.

I'm very impressed by what you have done in your videos, which go all the way up through participles.
Paul-Nitz wrote:The objective of images and picture books is quite different and follows an Audio Linguistic Approach to language learning. I doubt that typical learners can really acquire vocabulary through isolated pictures. It just doesn't fire up the brain enough. I think that images could be profitably used to introduce perhaps 5-10 words as an introductory exercise to reading and working with a short story. We might need to quickly "load" some need vocabulary before telling a new story. The vocabulary might just stick long enough to hear the story, but that's okay. Pictures can also be useful little nudges to comprehension in showing some actions in a story. They need to be customized to the story, serial actions (like a good comic book), and I think they are best if the pictures are very simple. I doubt whether clip-art and photos from the web could ever be profitably used. Certainly, the time spent searching for the perfect photo would not be worth it, compared to scratching out a drawing.
I don't know. These kinds of pictures seem fundamental to the way some language learning software works, such as Rosetta Stone. So far, we don't have enough people interested in doing this to actually make it happen, so the question is moot. I would like to see more different approaches tried, especially approaches that have worked for other languages.
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Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: The Goldilocks Method - We Need Simple Stories

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 31st, 2015, 4:03 pm

Paul-Nitz wrote:The TYPE of material that I believe is truly needed for learners (and instructors) is simple stories that teach structure. The vocabulary must be extremely limited. The forms and structures need not be limited.

The OBJECTIVE is to give learners a resource with from which they can encounter structures repeatedly and in a context, rather than in isolated sample sentences. The objective would be to learn a set body of structures and forms to the level of responding to them automatically.

The only way this sort of resource could be done is to do original compositions. There simply is no extant text that is simple enough. It is likewise impossible to modify an authentic text. Imagine taking one chapter of the gospels. Count the number of domain changes and you'll see that vocabulary will be a major problem.
I have come to the same conclusion, but, oh how I wish it were otherwise. My fantasy would be that someone would uncover this kind of narrative written by a 1st century C. S. Lewis. None of the contemporaneous extra-Biblical Greek text that I've been able to get my hands on could ever be used successfully for this purpose.
Paul-Nitz wrote:I'm not too worried about producing Greek that is not "good enough," that is not from authentic texts. It's not hard to get the forms correct. It's not too difficult to get words that are appropriate in the context. Word order is not too big of a problem if we don't try to get too creative. Some wrong accents might irk the experts, but won't even register with the beginners. I don't think any irreversible learning would take place through reading simple, composed stories. Even if some structures or words were consistently used wrong, it's not a deal breaker. Millions of people learn terrible English in both grammar and spelling and even the semantics of the words. But they also have learned a huge number of English structures and words that have prepared them to read authentic English texts.
One measure of success would be if learners read the stories BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO and not just as an assignment or a requirement to fulfill a lesson. One measure of GREAT SUCCESS would be if learners re-read the stories a few times, and thus internalized the language. This is the classic picture of the learning which happens with children's stories - and in fact with all stories.

To achieve this, the language can certainly be kept simple, but the best writing will make deft use of language structures and nuances (including themes and variations in word order) to enhance interest and accomplish 'harmony'. There is nothing quite so insipid as badly written narrative meant to 'teach' language, and there is nothing quite so delightful as simple narrative written by a genius like Lewis Carol for children - all of us!
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