Thursday, December 23, 2021

Three Pitfalls When Learning Greek

Today I want to talk with you about what I believe are the three main pitfalls when studying Greek. They are: 

1. "I could never learn Greek."

2. "I don't need to learn grammar."

3. "Just teach me vocabulary." 

Let's examine these one by one. In the first place, I want to be absolutely clear that it doesn't take a smart student to learn Greek, just a hardworking and motivated one. My job as a teacher is much more than disseminating information. The goal is to help you overcome each and every hurdle until you have gained an ability to read your Greek New Testament with the use of a lexicon. Yes, it's going to take hard work on your part, but I'm here to help you succeed. 

In the second place, never minimize the importance of grammar. The living language/instant immersion approach has really grown in popularity in the past few years but it has its place and time, and in my opinion that's not at the beginning of your study. Of course, the living language/instant immersion approach is how you learned to speak English as a baby, but that process took years and years. You're building a grammar framework from absolute zero, and this is really tedious and time-consuming. Most of us simply don't have the time to do that. There has to be a more efficient way to learn Greek. As adults we have many advantages over a baby in how we go about learning languages, and we need to leverage those advantages whenever we can. That's why learning basic grammar is so useful. 

Finally, why can't we just learn vocabulary and forget about all this grammar stuff? To answer this question, let me give you an example from German:

Ein netter Lehrer gab seinem Student ein kleines Buch als ein Geschenk. 

A nice teacher gave his student a small book as a gift. 

One of the biggest differences between German and English is that in German there are going to be certain words that take tiny changes on the ends. I've marked these changes in our sample sentence:

Ein netter Lehrer gab seinem Student ein kleines Buch als ein Geschenk. 

These are called declensions. The fact is, you're not going to able to speak German unless you're able to make these slight changes. In other words, there is no one-to-one vocabulary swap between English and German. You can't just learn the words "nice, "his," and "small" and then string them all together. Yes, you have to put them together, but you also have to make all of these very little changes. Greek works exactly the same way. There's a whole system for this called the case system

So my job as a teacher is to break this whole task of learning Greek down into manageable parts. You have to start at the beginning and slowly move forward. When you take karate, you don't go from white belt to black belt overnight. You go from white belt to orange belt to blue belt to yellow belt etc. until you get to black belt. In my books and classes, principles and patterns of grammar will be uncovered gradually and systematically, and grammar will actually make sense. 

I not only love Greek, I love teaching it to others. My books on Greek are designed to demystify and simplify complex grammatical topics. I'd love to have you study with me. My beginning textbook is available at Amazon. In addition, you can watch my 24 instructional videos for free on YouTube. My goal is to help you achieve the level of proficiency you desire and have fun while you're doing it!