Decode No More: Gestures

Anything related to Biblical Greek that doesn't fit into the other forums.

Decode No More: Gestures

Postby Paul-Nitz » April 20th, 2012, 9:19 am

Split from "Decode No More", since it seems to be turning into a topic of its own. -- Jonathan

Wayne,

I have the same problem. The "critical mind" (left brain) needs to shut down and it doesn't want to.

In addition to repeated reading with intentional expression (mentioned by Jeffrey),
I'd suggest adding gestures, acting out the thoughts.

According to one expert on second language acquisition (J. Asher), the physical action of gesturing helps to bypass the critical part of our brain (left brain) that slows down learning with its desire to spell every word, understand the names of every construction or parse every form. Since many of us had traditional grammar/translation training, we developed that critical function extensively. So for us, it can be a big challenge to overcome the critical, gate-keeping part of your brain and just let the language in.

I've been using memorization together with gestures to overcome the pull of decoding. Once I can effortlessly and fluidly recite (and at the same time "gesture") a passage, my critical mind goes quiet and I really start soaking in the language as language, rather than code.

I'm sold on "gesturing." Let me give an example of one little succes story. I change my hand motion depending on case. If the text says εἴπεν αὐτῷ my hand is gesturing (to an imaginary αὐτῷ) palm up, as if offering a gift. If the text says εἴδεν αὐτόν my hand is pointing with two fingers, palm down. (I save the standard one finger point for other things than accusative). This has very helpful in understanding cases at a gut level. My students readily understand that διδωμι should go with αὐτῷ and τύπτω (hit) should go with αὐτόν even though they have yet to a) see written Greek, or b) get a whiff of terms like "Genitive" and "Accusative." Gesturing has potential for teaching, but, for me, it has proven value for my own learning. I will go on pulling the curtains and gesticulating away in my office, no matter if I never teach again.

Gestures help the Greek to sneak by that great left-brain decoding addict and slip into the half of the brain that receives indiscriminately and in large gulps.

Example on Youtube - http://youtu.be/VTWhUOg-t_w
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Re: Decode No More

Postby SusanJeffers » April 23rd, 2012, 5:57 am

this gesturing idea holds great intuitive appeal to me, maybe because of my Eastern European heritage and lifelong habit of "talking with my hands" :-)

I teach intro Greek online, and would like to suggest this method to my students. Do you have or might you be willing to make some really really beginner level videos that demonstrate the method?

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 --

Also, I gather you teach in a classroom. 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...

I am VERY intrigued. Thanks so much!

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...

Great topic, Wayne -- thanks so much!!!
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Re: Decode No More

Postby Paul-Nitz » April 25th, 2012, 11:53 am

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.
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Re: Decode No More: Gestures

Postby SusanJeffers » April 25th, 2012, 1:06 pm

thanks so much for this detailed explanation. All my teaching is online, and I seriously doubt I'll get it together to make any videos myself, for awhile at least. So basically I'll be hoping to persuade students to make up their own gestures, to help with their language acquisition. Hence my hoping for a few examples to link into for them -- and myself :-)
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Re: Decode No More: Gestures

Postby RandallButh » April 26th, 2012, 2:26 am

When we are told ἀνάστηθι! and κάθίζετε!


ἀνάστηθι/ἀνάστητε κάθισον/καθίσατε
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Re: Decode No More: Gestures

Postby Shirley Rollinson » April 26th, 2012, 7:37 pm

oὑτoς / αὑτη / τoυτo pointing to objects on my desk
ἐκεινoς -η -o pointing out of the window at distant objects
I do a fair bit of miming, and even mis-pronunciation to help with memorization :
καλε-ε-ε-ε-ω
κραζω
πρo-βαα-τoν
and mime the action of participles, eg. "having thrown the ball through the window, the child ran away." / "walking in the rain, I get wet."
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Re: Decode No More: Gestures

Postby RandallButh » April 27th, 2012, 1:12 am

καλε-ε-ε-ε-ω
κραζω
πρo-βαα-τoν


a head's up:
καλεω is not a word in Koine Greek (except for Lucian's Syrian Goddess).
teaching fictitious forms is a guaranteed way to hinder fluency and one can be sure that no Greek learned them that way.
The title of this thread is "decode no more" yet fictitious forms would teach students to double think and side-loop each Greek verb.
Double-thinking and side-loops are not for real language use but for times when one has lots of time, like when looking words up in a dictionary that uses an etymological format (most ancient Greek dictionaries). "Hmm, ποιούμεθα comes from ποιεῖν/ποιεῖσθαι so I better look up ποιε---ܙ " The same for πληροῦν and ἀγαπᾶν: one would pause and look up πληρο--- ἀγαπα---.
(The Hatch Redpath LXX concordance actually uses REAL WORD lemmata--breath of fresh air--yes, ἀγαπᾶν, πληροῦν, ποιεῖν)

Better to teach them καλεῖν--- in meaningful contexts. τίς ποιεῖ; ἐγώ, ἐγὼ ποιῶ. σὺ ποιεῖς; οὐχί, ἐγὼ ποιῶ. Thus working on ποιῶ ποιεῖς ποιεῖ

and the accent is PRO-baton
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Re: Decode No More: Gestures

Postby Paul-Nitz » May 8th, 2012, 10:36 am

Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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Re: Decode No More: Gestures

Postby Paul-Nitz » May 8th, 2012, 1:35 pm

Greek & Gestures

My video reciting & "gesturing" Mark 9:14ff

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QumhewlW1E
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