Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When Dead Tongues Speak

Only two chapters in, and I can already agree with the gist of Eric Sowell's comment and review of When Dead Tongues Speak: Teaching Beginning Greek and Latin (John Gruber-Miller, ed.; Oxford, 2006). The book should be required reading for all those who teach ancient Greek and Latin; Hebrew teachers will benefit as well. Here is a selection from the first chapter to whet you appetite:
When I was first teaching, I was more concerned to 'cover the grammar' and 'finish the book,' and then, I thought, my students would know Latin and Greek. After all, time is short, so it was best, I thought, to focus on what the book had to offer....Somehow, I expected my students, after memorizing forms, studying vocabulary, and practicing sentences, to be able to read and understand--almost magically--Latin and Greek. And if they could not read yet, I usually gave them more of the same: exercises that focused on sentence-level syntax rather than the strategies needed for reading chunks of discourse....I was practicing a theory of language teaching and learning that did not fit with my goal of helping students to read Greek and Latin fluently and accurately, of appreciating it as 'living' language. What I needed to do was to reexamine these assumptions in the light of what I hoped my students would be able to do after they had studied beginning Latin or Greek.
Even better than a book of essays on teaching Greek and Latin as living languages, why not sign up for Randall Buth's Immersion Greek Schole this summer in Israel? ...The book is, of course, a bit cheaper.

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