Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Postby Drusilla Sawyer » July 15th, 2013, 11:29 am

I'm hoping this is the correct forum for this post, but since I am a beginner and this is classified as "other," I guess it is.

Currently, I seem to be in the "lapsed" zone of self-teaching Koine Greek. I started to have an interest in this language and began teaching myself in Fall of 2012. I was progressing quite well but within the last few months, I've sort of lost my "groove." I'm at the point now where I maybe work on my Greek for 15 minutes total a day at work, only 3 days a week. Talk about slow progress, if that's what I would call it. I've grown lazy. Working has also made it hard for me, even though I'm only working part time. I work 50 miles one way away from home so I don't have much of a personal life.

Now, I am in the process of switching jobs, finally to full-time work (though it's contract work; boy what a risk I am taking) and am having the usual, unpredictable family problems. It's no wonder I have no motivation to continue studying! I really am trying to get back in the "groove" but I don't know how. That's why I am wondering if any self-taught beginners or masters have some advice for me. Should I limit my studying time to only a few days a week? Should I try to study everyday? How many minutes per day should I be doing?

I'm currently self-learning through 2 books:

1. "Learn New Testament Greek" by John H. Dobson
2. "Teach Yourself New Testament Greek" by Ian Macnair

I'm not sure if anyone is familiar with either/or. Dobson's book relies more on teaching a language as if you were a child, but I love the translation exercises. I also found I learned far more vocabulary but some of his chapters appear convoluted. Macnair's book is useful in learning grammar rules but I don't think the translation exercises are entirely helpful. Both books have their strengths and weaknesses. I find that I can't choose one over the other, so when I hit a stumbling block, I move onto the other book. I find that I am not far in terms of progress, maybe about 25% way through both books. With a heavy work schedule and family issues, my progress is incredibly slow. Note that I also have a few NT Greek-English lexicons as well as 2 Greek New Testaments. Don't think I currently need any more (I'm also lucky enough to have a Greek Septuagint). I don't think I need to switch to new teaching books either.

Any advice would help, I suppose.
Drusilla Sawyer
 
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Re: Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Postby Barry Hofstetter » July 16th, 2013, 7:37 am

Drusilla, if you have Greek, you don't need a personal life... :shock:

I am not self taught (I had the advantage of excellent teachers), but whether self taught or in a more traditional classroom context, consistency is the main thing. A short amount of time on a daily basis is better, I think, than every other day or three times a week. Having more than one resource for reference is also very good, and you seem to be doing that. As for the amount of time per day, you'll have to work that out for yourself. I tend to break such things up into chunks where I feel I have actually moved forward. Set a short term goal for each day, to complete a chapter, to read so many verses, etc., and see how it goes. (Now I need to "physician heal thyself" in getting back to my study of Sahidic Coptic...)

One of the purposes of B-Greek is to provide support for self-learners. Feel free to post questions on anything with which you might be struggling , or anything concering which it might be helpful to have feedback.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Re: Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Postby Jonathan Robie » July 16th, 2013, 8:11 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:One of the purposes of B-Greek is to provide support for self-learners. Feel free to post questions on anything with which you might be struggling , or anything concerning which it might be helpful to have feedback.


I'd like to reinforce what Barry says here. Good questions from people at various stages are very important to B-Greek.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Postby James Bell » July 17th, 2013, 11:14 am

I am a self learner. I worked through both McNairs and dobsons books. I also had first completely done Basic greek in 30 minutes a day by James Found. His book prepared me to be able to go through McNairs and dobsons books. I then worked through Mounces Basics of Biblical greek.
I have studied every chance I can get since March 2011. Daily. Every day. God's word is very important to me. It has become very important to learn it in greek to me. To get to this goal I have tapped every opportunity possible to study..I have flashcards that I constantly have with me when I walk out of my door....if I walk the dog, I am studying while walking the dog...if I'm at the bank, out come the flashcards....go to the grocery store, while walking in.....several flashcards....waiting to be checked out....several more cards....drive time.....yippie....bunch of study time....watch tv....forget that...study instead...brushing teeth....look at post it's or similar on the wall...these are examples of how I have managed my time...you will have to get creative on how to increase your study opportunities too.
I have multiple greek new testaments also but the one that I like best is A reader's greek new testament, by Zondervan.
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Re: Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Postby Barry Hofstetter » July 18th, 2013, 8:47 am

James Bell wrote:I am a self learner. I worked through both McNairs and dobsons books. I also had first completely done Basic greek in 30 minutes a day by James Found. His book prepared me to be able to go through McNairs and dobsons books. I then worked through Mounces Basics of Biblical greek.
I have studied every chance I can get since March 2011. Daily. Every day. God's word is very important to me. It has become very important to learn it in greek to me. To get to this goal I have tapped every opportunity possible to study..I have flashcards that I constantly have with me when I walk out of my door....if I walk the dog, I am studying while walking the dog...if I'm at the bank, out come the flashcards....go to the grocery store, while walking in.....several flashcards....waiting to be checked out....several more cards....drive time.....yippie....bunch of study time....watch tv....forget that...study instead...brushing teeth....look at post it's or similar on the wall...these are examples of how I have managed my time...you will have to get creative on how to increase your study opportunities too.
I have multiple greek new testaments also but the one that I like best is A reader's greek new testament, by Zondervan.


Flash cards are great, but the best way now to improve your Greek, if you've got a good basic set of vocabulary in your head and know some paradigms is to read lots of Greek (have I said this before?). Flashcards are fine for quick memorization, but seeing what you've learned in actual contexts is the way to go. You need to use what you are learning. Reading actual texts also introduces new stuff to you in context as you go along, and you begin to realize it's a real language, and not just a code for better understanding your English Bible.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Re: Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Postby James Bell » July 19th, 2013, 1:19 am

Actually I am reading as much greek as I can daily. I'm reading through the new testament again now, this time without using the English version as a check to my comprehension. A lot of the greek my brain is responding to in greek thought directly, a lot also my brain finds easier to translate into English first. I'm happy with this for it is a significant milestone to read some directly in greek for me. Every time I read the greek new testament I get better. I finished the lxx this week, now I'm starting it again.. sometimes I work at the early fathers greek texts.
I'm working at reading, reading, reading.,but I am a beginner. I will post more on what does this text mean and etc. I am sure to ask many questions to which the answer is elementary and obvious, but I plan on learning. In advance, thank you to all who will help me. And thank you also Barry for your advice and help.
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Re: Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Postby Drusilla Sawyer » July 20th, 2013, 10:05 pm

I'll also add this. I've actually DREAMED speaking in NT Greek. Who knew? I was quite surprised when I woke up one day and realized I dreamed about words I knew (silly easy words, like "God"). Too bad I couldn't dream about words I didn't completely remember. Silly brain, I think better when I sleep. If only I could think as good as when I'm awake!

I am hoping in the next few weeks another family tragedy does not occur so I can actually find the motivation to get back on schedule. With psychotic family members trying to stress me out and me feeling like I want to punch the wall, it's no wonder NT Greek does not love me. Hopefully if I punch the wall this week I will do so with a scream of "HO THEOS!!!!"

It is time, I think, to try to get back in schedule (just wait, I'll be saying the same thing again in 5 months...assuming I'm not dead yet or something). Where are my nerd glasses? :geek:
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Re: Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » July 24th, 2013, 8:24 pm

Drusilla Sawyer wrote:I am hoping in the next few weeks another family tragedy does not occur so I can actually find the motivation to get back on schedule. With psychotic family members trying to stress me out and me feeling like I want to punch the wall, it's no wonder NT Greek does not love me. Hopefully if I punch the wall this week I will do so with a scream of "HO THEOS!!!!"

It is time, I think, to try to get back in schedule (just wait, I'll be saying the same thing again in 5 months...assuming I'm not dead yet or something). Where are my nerd glasses? :geek:


You know, I have family members who think anyone wasting time on such a cultural backwater as ancient greek must be deranged. So we have in the past had disputes over who is the real psycho in the family. It isn't all that easy to focus on learning a difficult subject when your world is coming unglued at the seams. Yes, despite what the Koine as a second language people might tell you, ancient greek is a difficult subject. And when you are completely freaked out about some life threatening existential crisis syntax and lexical semantics seems can seem a totally worthless waste of energy or on the other hand it can have a calming influence by focusing the mind and distracting you from the circumstances of life that are causing personal turmoil. Some of us started greek study as a kind of rebellion against the very kind of cultural framework which considers anything not revenue producing as a colossal waste of time. So it helps to be a little against the grain if you want to hang in there for several decades which is what it takes.
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Re: Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Postby Drusilla Sawyer » September 6th, 2013, 1:48 pm

Well, I started my new job about a month ago and since then, really have done no studying of any NT Greek whatsoever. I take a relatively short lunch break at work so I have no time to do any Greek study on my break like I used to at my old job.

How do people adapt their schedules to learn some NT Greek? I work a second shift job currently, but even I have limited time in the morning before work. I really want to progress instead of falling backwards but I just have had no motivation to learn lately. Work jump starts my stress and anxiety.

I decided a while ago that I would go back to Dobson's "Learn New Testament Greek" and take a break from MacNair's "Teach Yourself New Testament Greek." I found that cycling between two books at once is difficult; I think I should only use MacNair's if I finish Dobson's book or if I need clarification on something that Dobson didn't explain well in his book. Both are excellent in how they teach, but I just find I can't do both at once.

I want to step forward and immerse myself in the language again but it's just so hard for me to find time or a set schedule.
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Re: Managing Time as a Self-Taught Beginner

Postby Stephen Hughes » September 7th, 2013, 4:39 pm

Drusilla Sawyer wrote:With psychotic family members trying to stress me out and me feeling like I want to punch the wall

Hey Drusilla, I suppose we are all self-taught both before we enter and after we leave formal study.

Don't just think abot the family members you see now, who are seemingly unsupportive, but imagine the ones that will come after you and the wider effect that you might have too. I'm a third generation New Testament Greek reader / user. My Grandfather's family didn't approve of what he was doing, nor did my uncle's but I'm all the better for their determination. My grandfather was hard pressed to get beyond preacher's Greek / concordance Greek, but held with all his heart to a confession that said the scriptures are authoratative in the original languages as does my uncle. To a large degree because of their determination 75% of the adult members of my extended family have some aquaintance with New Testament Greek, half of us have enough Greek to read the NT independently or with some help from the usual aids and 1/3 of us have taught Greek at one stage or another. Without the commitment of my relatives who tried to do this before me, (and of course, the various teachers who taught me and ministers and pastors who encouraged me), I wouldn't be able to do what I can do now. I am very happy that I have had an uncle to write to in (something like) New Testament Greek since my teens, and who took the time to reply to me (in Greek).

Persist in your learning and study. You can not know the bent of your children or siblings' children, but the effect of your learning may be far more than you imagine.

Drusilla Sawyer wrote:How do people adapt their schedules to learn some NT Greek?

For my part, I sort of put everything into small parcels, and minutely prioritorised my life as to which of the things I could be doing I would actually do. Some little targets in Greek usually made the top 10 - it is more easy to fit in a little goal than to fit in a big one.
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attrib. to Albert Einstein)
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