When I first started running, I made every mistake in the book -- no warmup, poor form, old shoes, unhealthy eating habits, going out too fast, running when fatigued, forgetting hydration, etc. I wish that someone had warned me ahead of time that I would face these challenges. Now that a new semester has begun, I want to talk with you about what I consider to be the 5 biggest mistakes beginning students of Greek make.
1. Thinking that all Greek classes are the same. They most definitely are not. Before taking a class, be sure to get a copy of the professor's syllabus. What textbook are they using? What is their approach to classroom teaching? Is the professor accessible outside of class? Is the class a good match for your personal learning style? Should you do an online class? Or do you need an in-person class? I often find that students end up signing up for a class based simply on convenience. Then they find out, often too late, that they made a major mistake. As always. "Know thyself!" Know what your options are, and then make an intelligent choice.
2. Comparing yourself with other students. All Greek students do not have the same language aptitude. We all are different. For some of us, language learning comes easily. For others, a lot more work is involved. Do not, under any circumstance, compare yourself with any other student. Go at your own pace. That might mean 1 hour of study outside of class per week, or it might mean 4 hours per week. I, for one, have never had an aptitude for language acquisition. I've had to work hard to master the language I'm learning. I wish it could come easier but it doesn't matter, because I'm happy in my own skin .
3. Over-studying. By this I mean thinking that you have to acquire every book ever written on Greek to be successful. I once knew someone who was teaching himself German. He bought practically every beginning grammar out there on the market. He was under the mistaken impression that the more grammars he had, the quicker his learning would go. That person was me. Don't make that mistake. Yes, over at my Greek Portal you will find dozens of helps that supplement my beginning grammar, including flashcards, quizlets, YouTubers who teach from my textbook, and worksheets. There is even a workbook you can buy that was written by the faculty of Liberty University, where my textbook is used. However, the only book you need to learn Greek is my beginning grammar. It's a complete package that includes exercises and an answer key.
4. Not being fully committed to the process. I liken studying Greek to running a marathon. In fact, my textbook has 26 chapters, just like a marathon has 26 miles. To reach the finish line will take all the dedication and perseverance you can muster. The key is to "run the mile you're in." For students in my classes, that means about one lesson per week -- a completely manageable pace. In Colorado, there's an ultra race called the Leadville 100. You run 100 miles in 30 hours or less. Before the race starts, the runners are asked to repeat these words: "I will commit. I will not quit!" The race is tough, tiring, tedious, and often painful. The payoff comes from reaching the finish line.
5. Forgetting to pray. Prayer is the underpinning security that holds us fast when the ground beneath our feet begins to fall out. It is saying, "Jesus, without you I can't do this. Please help me." Perseverance is not something we muster up on our own. It is a gift from God. Ask God to prepare you for the race ahead. Then follow your Pacesetter, Jesus, all the way to the end.