Susan, Your interest is really encouraging. I would love to do some beginner videos to demontrate this more. I'll try.
But I really don't have any special knowledge or ability to use gestures. I don't think there's any great trick. Just do it. Make it up as you go. You'll likely say to yourself, this is so easy / sloppy / fun / and intuitive that it can't really be learning (Learning needs to involve pain, doesn't it?) But, just go ahead and do it and see the results.
Now, don't expect
to measure comprehension by asking students to translate
what you have said. They may be nodding their heads and showing they understand, but then be completely incapable of producing a translation.
At early stages of language learning, we can understand things quite well without being able to express them. And so, production of language is not necessarily a good assessment of reception of language.
If we accept the brain hemisphere theories, gestures are speaking to the Right side of the brain. The Left side controls speaking but may not be able to adequately express what the Right side understands. In one study, a man with a disconnected corpus callosum viewed the word "rub." He understood it and began to rub his head. When asked what he was doing, his left brain had to engage. It said, "I'm itching." But our students have corpi callosi uncut, I assume. When a student becomes more fluent, the ability to express comes naturally. Any one who has learned a living 2nd language in a natural way (hearing before speaking) could probably relate to this. At a certain stage in acquisition, a person can understand very well. He's thrilled and excited when the understanding blooms. But if asked at that moment to TRANSLATE he/she will freeze and perhaps even doubt whether the understanding was real or not. Production (left brain) cannot keep up with rapid reception (right brain). In fact, in a learning event, requiring production, actually interferes with reception. Ideally, production should (and will) come naturally
Don't expect translation, but you'll know full well from their body language whether they understand or not.
SusanJeffers wrote:I teach using Croy, who introduces indicatives and infinitives in lesson 2 and case in lesson 3 with a few very common vocabulary words. You mentioned hand gestures for dative vs accusative case; would you also use gestures for verbal person & number? I guess I'm kind of confused as to how you use the method --
Yes, I do a bit of distinguishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd person. A finger pointing at you is obviously 2nd person singular. Four spread fingers (for lack of a better idea) pointing at you (the class) became 2nd person plural. A thumb to the side is αυτος, etc. I don't think it really matters just what gesture you use for what, although consistency helps. People readily and quickly assign meaning to gesture. The teaching I have done with this is minimal (10-15 minutes, twice a week). The next two school years I will have the same students for 3 hours, 3x a week. So, I'm just poking my hoe in the ground right now and have NO IDEA how to teach infinitives with a gesture!
SusanJeffers wrote:Do you teach your particular gestures (e.g. the one in your video for "all") or do your students each develop their own? I can see pros and cons both ways...
A couple of gestures from my neck of the woods, I find useful.
A fist is 5. Two fists is 10. Tapping fists together means many, many 10's. So it's a natural gesture for "crowd" or "many."
A stroke of the chin (beard) means "father." Two fists on your chest (ahem) means "mother" or woman.
A hand at hip height with palm up means "child."
With palm down means "animal."
SusanJeffers wrote:Also -- I wonder if there's a source of "Creative Commons" type videos out there, to which one might add one's own Greek sound track? In addition to using one's own bodily gestures to "decode no more" surely seeing a moving visual story-line with accompanying Greek would be a help...
I have yet to look it up, but it sounds like a lot of TPR materials would be easy to use for any language. TPR World website: http://www.tpr-world.com/
SusanJeffers wrote:I am VERY intrigued. Thanks so much!
Me too! (I wish you could see my arms flying!) Reading Asher's Total Physical Response book (I'm not finished yet) has been a really wonderful revelation that fit well with a dozen things I had been thinking and experiencing. A little mish mash and theorizing for a finish...
Using gestures is just a variation on the TPR (Asher) approach to language acquisition. The TPR approach relies on imperatives coupled with physical action (watched or performed). When we are told ἀνάστηθι! and κάθίζετε! (and when we actually stand and sit), the words get deep into our brains. We may not be able to tell someone else ἀνάστηθι!, but we can respond to it. According to Asher, even one exposure to a command can be retained after a year's lapse. All this is fascinating and great. But, my current problem is that MY Greek production is not up to the task. I wonder when it ever will be. In the meantime, gesturing Greek can be done with any little Greek bit I want to communicate or that I am learning.