Learning Greek on one's own

Learning Greek on one's own

Postby SusanJeffers » June 16th, 2011, 8:57 am

I'm curious whether anyone on the forum is just in the very early stages of learning Greek independently, e.g. working through a beginning grammar book, or learning the alphabet and sounding out words, or perhaps using an interlinear Bible.

I started out that way myself, in the early 1990s, using interlinears, then Ted Hildebrandt's Greek Tutor software, then eventually feeling led to go to seminary and "undertake a more disciplined study of Scripture." The first thing the New Testament professor told me in my prospective student interview, was to get a Greek grammar book and work through it diligently -- boy was that a shock! But I took his advice, tested out of Greek I and II, started Greek III my first semester (along with Hebrew I) and have been happily Greeking ever since.

I have a special interest in beginners -- so I'm wondering who-all might be out there in b-greek land --

χαρις και ειρηνη υμιν!
which, being interpreted, means "grace and peace to y'all!"
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Re: Learning Greek on one's own

Postby RobertStump » June 16th, 2011, 12:01 pm

Susan-

I Greek on my own. I have been working through two books, one an inductive approach through John's Gospel, the other Machen's NT Greek for Beginners. I am about halfway through the former, a quarter through the latter.

Do you find that you learned as much in the classroom after you had worked solo for so long? Were you better prepared for Hebrew after exercising the discipline to learn Greek? Having gone through the gauntlet do you have any suggestions, study routines or obvious pitfalls you could share?

Propter Sanguinem Agni,
Robert Stump
Seminarian
Orlando, FL

maior sum cui possit fortuna nocere -Cicero
quid ergo dicemus ad haec si Deus pro nobis quis contra nos? - St. Paul (Rom viii 31)
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Re: Learning Greek on one's own

Postby Will Braun » June 16th, 2011, 12:54 pm

I am currently trying to teach myself Greek, though I'm finding it's pretty difficult. Grammatically, it's so different from English, and the worst part is not having an idea of how to pronounce the vocabulary, what with their accents and everything. And accents are pretty terrible, too - I'm not quite sure what difference they make, and the textbook I'm using (Essentials of New Testament Greek) doesn't cover it.
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Re: Learning Greek on one's own

Postby Peter Pankonin » June 16th, 2011, 1:27 pm

Hi Susan,

I am also a newb. I've been working through Mounce's BBG (at Chapter 6) and Baugh, "A New Testament Greek Primer" (Chapter 3). I've also been going through a bunch of on-line lessons that I've found along the way and have an on-line course in Modern Greek. I have a "Reader's Greek New Testament" that I use exclusively in church (ie. no English Bible) and I try to follow along in that. The biggest challenge for me has been in pronunciation (which I know has been discussed on this forum quite a bit). I have downloaded audio files of the GNT (by three different readers), which will likely help a lot but haven't really had a chance to go through them much.

I'm not sure if it helps to know other languages at all, but Greek is the fourth language I am (trying to) learn...I hope to do Hebrew after this.
--
Πέτρος Πανκώνιν
"There are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don't"
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Re: Learning Greek on one's own

Postby Jason Hare » June 16th, 2011, 3:22 pm

Susan,

I started out a self-studier. I went through 20 chapters of Mounce on my own at the age of 17. I literally memorized the book, all of the paradigms of nouns and adjectives, all of the verb forms, the exact chapter that the vocab was contained in, the contents of each "Exegetical Insight" section. I wasn't very social, so I had a lot of free time in high school, and I devoured this book. I went to Bible College the next year and tested into Greek (you had to get a high score on the English placement exam to get exemption from English grammar and be accepted into Greek). The first semester covered chapters 1 to 20 of Mounce, so I just coasted -- didn't need to study a single thing for all of the first semester!

Chapter 21 - that is, trying to figure out the augments for past tense verbs - really confused me when I was in high school (only having studied Spanish grammar for a couple of years and never touching a language like Greek before that). So, when I reached that chapter and couldn't figure it out on my own - this was also before I learned to use the Internet!! - I just let the book lay until I went to college. The second semester still was pretty easy, in which we finished up Mounce and it all came together for me (as far as morphology and such). Of course, as a result of studying through Mounce, my reading proficiency wasn't as great as it should have been, and I'm still suffering today from not having read enough Greek.

I think there needs to be help for those places in which self-studiers just run into snags. I remember hitting the wall in chapter 10 with third-declension nouns, and then chapter 21 just stopped me in my tracks. If I'd had anyone to turn to at that point, I probably would have finished up the grammar and moved on even before getting into college.

That said, I just used Athenaze as a review of general Greek and introduction to Attic. We've just finished the first volume, and we're going to work through the second also through GreekStudy online. I'm sure I'm gonna hit some more snags when it comes to conditional forms, the optative mood and a few other Attic wonders! The key is to find someone that you can ask these questions of - someone to help you over the heap and out of the snag - and that's the purpose of the Beginner's Forum here at B-Greek!

Let's work together to get out of the "beginner's" corner and become good little students of Greek who can contribute at all levels!
Jason A. Hare
Rehovot, Israel
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Re: Learning Greek on one's own

Postby Jason Hare » June 16th, 2011, 3:23 pm

Peter Pankonin wrote:I hope to do Hebrew after this.


Hi, Peter.

Let me know when you get to Hebrew. I'll try to give you some pointers, and I'll answer any Hebrew questions that might come your way.

Have you thought about which text you'd like to work through for Hebrew?

In college, we used Seow's grammar. I've also got a copy of Weingreen and loads of resources for modern Hebrew.

Best of luck!

Jason Hare
Jason A. Hare
Rehovot, Israel
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Re: Learning Greek on one's own

Postby refe » June 16th, 2011, 5:04 pm

Will Braun wrote:I am currently trying to teach myself Greek, though I'm finding it's pretty difficult. Grammatically, it's so different from English, and the worst part is not having an idea of how to pronounce the vocabulary, what with their accents and everything. And accents are pretty terrible, too - I'm not quite sure what difference they make, and the textbook I'm using (Essentials of New Testament Greek) doesn't cover it.


Hang in there Will! Greek is not as hard as it seems at first. I also jumped into Greek without any experience with inflected languages or non-latin alphabets, and it took some time to get used to it but if you stick with it the fog will clear.

Also, keep in mind that some intro textbooks are better than others for self-study. I used Basics of Biblical Greek by Mounce, and while it has some drawbacks it is still probably the easiest for independent learners, especially with its companion workbook. I've never used Essentials but I've heard some complain that it is too sparse when it comes to explanation and detail. Perhaps that's part of what is tripping you up. Mounce on the other hand is often criticized for giving too much explanation. That may be frustrating in a classroom, but when you're on your own you need all the help you can get.

If you want some help or just have some questions that you need answered about wherever you're at in your studies please feel free to send me a private message.
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Re: Learning Greek on one's own

Postby Mark Reed » June 16th, 2011, 6:58 pm

I've never used Essentials but I've heard some complain that it is too sparse when it comes to explanation and detail. Perhaps that's part of what is tripping you up.


I used Summers/Sawyer in seminary for two semesters. Might I suggest supplementing it with the workbook by Steven Cox (who incidentally was my Greek professor)? The workbook helps tie things together.

The part in Summers/Sawyer where I had the greatest difficulty was participles. They still trip me up. Anyone have a suggestion for good coverage of participles?

I remember a paper presented at ETS in 1998 on all the available beginning Greek grammars. I was struck by the fact that Summers/Sawyer was one of the shortest. It struck me at that time that brevity in a Greek grammar may not be such a desirable thing.

Mark Reed
Phenix City AL
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Re: Learning Greek on one's own

Postby Gary » June 18th, 2011, 6:23 am

Learning Greek on one's own

Gary: (little-little Greek) Johannesburg, South Africa

Hi, - I am also learning Greek independently (on my own, for myself) using the Greek tutor programme from Parsons tech, also discovered Ted Hildebrandt’s site http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/ which has been a great help. Although I have a passion for learning Greek it is going a little slower than I would like, (the vocabulary is going great; the paradigms - still placing the different tenses.) Is there an answer book available for the workbook which can be downloaded/ bought ? And please any advice is warmly welcomed.
Blessings upon blessings
Gary
ghtjhb@webafrica.co.za
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Re: Learning Greek on one's own

Postby David Lim » June 18th, 2011, 10:20 pm

SusanJeffers wrote:I'm curious whether anyone on the forum is just in the very early stages of learning Greek independently, e.g. working through a beginning grammar book, or learning the alphabet and sounding out words, or perhaps using an interlinear Bible.


I definitely qualify as one. Currently I read Greek or look up Greek words almost everyday (because school has not started) using http://www.crosswire.org/study/parallel ... key=John+1. It is not really an inter-linear so I refer to the English translations only when I can't understand the Greek. I also started on Funk's grammar, but I find it extremely difficult to follow because it is not very well organised, such that I do not know what I need to know and what is additional information, and sometimes I have to search entire chapters page by page to find what I remember reading somewhere as it is not in the expected place. However I noticed that most of the unusual features of the Greek language that I had previously encountered were indeed mentioned in that Grammar and often not in others. Oh well...

The other thing about grammars that makes me uncertain about their reliability is that I can never tell whether something they say, whether a grammatical rule, whether a nuance of a word or phrase or structure, is true or based on the authors' beliefs. So far I did not find any yet in Funk's grammar, but after finding out about who he was (which cannot be discussed on B-Greek), well I don't know what to say! But I suppose it should be counted reliable until proven biased. ;)

Jason Hare wrote:Let me know when you get to Hebrew. I'll try to give you some pointers, and I'll answer any Hebrew questions that might come your way.

Have you thought about which text you'd like to work through for Hebrew?

In college, we used Seow's grammar. I've also got a copy of Weingreen and loads of resources for modern Hebrew.


I found this Hebrew grammar: http://individual.utoronto.ca/holmstedt/Textbook.html, but I can't tell whether it is useful. Do you think it is comprehensive?

And I was wondering, is it possible to have a Hebrew sub-forum on B-Greek? ;)
δαυιδ λιμ
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