The way I was taught my language.
Learning Classical Greek in my times was a process starting in 7th grade.
By that time a lot of preparatory work was already done in Biblical Greek.
Being regularly in church, and loving to be there as a kid, I was accustomed to hear during vespers and matins first, read afterwards, and memorize later the ν´ (51) the ρμγ´ (104) and the γ´ (3), λζ´ (38), ξβ´ (63), πζ´ (88), ρβ´ (103), ρμβ´ (143) psalms, as well as all psalms used in services. At the same time got accustomed to the prophetic readings from the Old Testament. Listening to the Liturgy of Chrysostom and memorizing its prayers due to the frequency of its occurrence helped tremendously. I witnessed many uneducated people to know by heart many psalms, some even the entire book of psalms. It was the practice, when one dies, the night of the death, to be with the body of the deceased and read the entire book of psalms. Many old people just recite them by heart as the book as moving around in the room, and each one was taking its part. One of the competitions we had as kids in summer bible camps was to learn the psalms by heart. At that time I memorized many errors as well, for example γιγνώσκω for γινώσκω in the ν´ (51) psalm, that I curried repeating the error until few years ago, when a colleague noticed them and asked me to focus my attention into my errors and correct them.
Also, by that time in 5th and 6th grade we covered the Modern Greek grammar. That means that for nouns and adjectives we new everything except dative, and for verbs we new everything except ἀπαρέμφατον and the group συζυγία of verbs in -μι. Of course there are some variation in the formulation of the χρόνους, but not in the logic of it. Approaching classical and biblical Greek from a Modern Greek point of view, and based on the continuity of the language, while you are comfortable in the official form of the language - καθαρεύουσα - gives one the great advantage I had.
Then, at middle school, we had a year of an artificial text, by Ζούκη http://www.free-ebooks.gr/gre/ebook/2300
that was written to accompany the grammar book of Τζαρτζάνου http://blogs.sch.gr/billbas/2010/08/10/αρχαία-ελληνική-γραμματική-αχιλλέως/
. It was four days one hour a week classical Greek, and three hours a week grammar. The 8th grade text was Xenophon’s Anavasis and Herodote’s histrory. Simple, easy, to build confidence and vocabulary. In the 9th grade we were introduced to rhetoric, Lysias and Isokratis and Thusidites, the melitian dialogue and Demosthene’s speach. The Tzarzano’s syntax came into the picture. We were taught syntax in the 9th and 10th grade. In the 10th grade the main text was Antigone, and theatrical work continued to the 11th grade. At that time, the courses in philoshopy and theology introduced parts of Aristotle and Church fathers, in a double text, original and modern Greek translation in the side. Finally, at the last two years, Homer was introduced. I have mentioned that I was in the science track of gymnasium, not the classical. But the smartest and most competitive were there, and as a result we werer better in languages than our counter parts of the non science focussed track.
Not all loved the language, and not all teachers were capable of teahing it in a way that we can appreciate what we were taught and learn. They were only few good teachers that knoledgeable and loving the subject. Many made us to hate the Greek language but few helped us to love it. I was fortunate to be in the last generation that Greek at least was taught. In the early eighies, conservatives and socialists introduced reforms that eliminated the official usage of the purified form, kathareuousa, which had datives and infinitives, forms and structures that allowed one to be familiar easier to the historical language. Classical Greek was taught in a parallel with Modern Greek, and modern Greek had literature from the middle centuries and after. Grammar and syntax were taught only in terms of the Classical greek after the 6th grade, and in the modern Greek one was explained the variations of the evolution.
All those textbooks we used then, now are reprinted and in circulation. Those of us who want our children to not loose contact and break from the historical language we are use them with our children, in Greece and abroad. The most important, these texts are free in the web, available to all, in an electronic format, in a document format and in a pdf format.
But the most important was not what was taught, but how was taught. The language had context, was never just grammatical and syntactical rules, as I observed been taught in the US when I was sitting in a classics program couple years ago. At that time, when I was doing my search on Grammar, I was amazed to see that Dionysious Thrax twenty two centuries before, presented the mode that I was taught Greek.
Γραμματική ἐστιν ἐμπειρία τῶν παρὰ ποιηταῖς τε καὶ συγγραφεύσιν ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ λεγομένων. Μέρη δὲ αὐτῆς εἰσὶν ἕξ·
• πρῶτον ἀνάγνωσις ἐντριφῆς κατὰ προσῳδίαν,
• δεύτερον ἐξήγησις, μετὰ τοὺς ἐνυπάρχοντας ποιητικοὺς τρόπους,
• τρίτον γλωσσῶν τε καὶ ἱστοριῶν πρόχειρος ἀπόδοσις,
• τέταρτον ἐτυμολογίας εὕρεσις,
• πέμπτον ἀναλογίας ἐκλογισμός,
• ἔκτον κρίσις ποιημάτων, ὅ δὴ κάλλιστόν ἐστὶ πάντων τῶν ἐν τῇ τέχνῃ.
R.Robins, in his Byzantine Grammarians, page 44 gives the following translation.
Grammar is empirical knowledge [the greek texts has as a noun the experience, ἐμπειρία, been the object, and says nothing about knowledge γνώσις, and experience requires πείρα
] of the general usage of poets and prose writers. It has six divisions [Μέρη is parts rather than divisions, and it is some discussion for that in Theodosious, parts are coming on their own αὐτούσια, while divisions from the one who divides
• first, expert [ἐντριφῆς – here the transmited typorgaphic text has a problem. It has to be either ἐντρυφής delightful or ἐντριβής, proved by rubbing, versed in, because of a lot of practice and experience – and I think both are important since only by been ἐντριβής one becomes ἐντρυφής
] reading with due regard [according
] to prosodic features;
• second, explanation of the literary expressions found in the texts;
• third, the provision of notes on particular words and on the subject matter;
• forth, the discovery [finding - εὕρεσις not ἀνακάλυψις
] of etymologies;
• fifth, the working out of grammatical regularities [ἀναλογίας ἐκλογισμός -to explore the rational of the analogies in the text
• sixth, the critical appreciation of literature [to judge whatever is written
], which is the finest part of all that the science [there is nothing about ἐπιστήμη but the focus is on the art
As Robins notes, one scholiast notes that what is involved is not so much the content of grammar but the requirements laid upon the teacher (p. 45).
It is noticeable that even classicists to the statue of Robins while dealing with Greek grammar prove that they know but not feel the language, as a result they provide translations that miss most the nuances of the language which are kept in the native speakers even if and when the knowledge is not there.
The above passage presents how we were taught and were examined and tested.
While in the classroom for instruction, first the text was read out loud to us by the professor, and we had to listen without seen it. Then it was read out loud to us again, and we had to follow it reading it with our eyes. Then, detailed explanation of the pragmatological, literal, grammatical and syntactical issues entailed in the text were presented to us. After that, we were assumed that we have knowledge of he text, and as a result we could be able to translate it, or provide the meaning of it in our own words. Having achieved that, we needed to know the etymology of the words. A separate text on etymology was available for our usage as an auxiliary text. We had to identify grammatically all the words of the text, and be comfortable with all their grammatical variation. Finally we had to pass a judgment on the text that was the most difficult of all. Also, as an auxiliary text we had the list of the irregular verves. Such texts were as a short one volume of 170 pages to an extensive three-volume sequence of about 300 pages per volume including examples.
Because not all of us were able to do all the above, we were getting help by using special books that were providing all the above in a ready-made fashion called μεταφράσεις. Good students never used them, I did, but now I search for them and cannot find them. Good philologists were punishing us severely if we were caught to have the forbidden book with us. But mediocre instructors used them as well.
Every day we were tested orally. That meant that three four students were standing in front of the class, having to read the text, translated into Modern Greek, answer random questions with respect to grammatical syntactical etymological and pragmatological matters of the text, and be graded. Also we need to know how to write it correctly when the test was read to us out loud - ὀρθογραφία.
After the first two years of middle school, in the last four years on high school, we were taking written exams in a double form. The first part was on the known text – that was easy because we were able to be prepared. It was a similar text to our oral testing in a written form from everything we covered during the term in class. The second part was a test from parts that were never taught; know as unknown text, ἄγνωστο κείμενο, and the best way to practice for that was to read more of the text on your own. Thus I remember reading variety of tragedies and many parts of the History by Thusidites. The test was coprized by writing the text as it was read out loud to you, ὀρθογραφία, and from the spelling that you had then in front of you, one had to do all the analysis. Difficulties arose when you have to hear words in sequence as: ἐφ’ ᾧ ὁ παραλυτικὸς - τί οὗτος οὕτως λαλεῖ (Mark 2, 1-12 - NA27) τί οὗτος οὕτω λαλεῖ (WH, ANT1904). Besides of writing correctly, we had to write nice and clear, καλλιγραφία, that I missed today from my students.
Unfortunately, I was one of the last classes trained in Greek in that mode. Everything changed in 1981. I hope they will change their attitude. But I am comfortable with the education I got in my language, and I teach the same way I was taught.