Monday, October 20, 2014

Jordash Kiffiak on Teaching Greek as a Living Language

Autumn 2014
One of the highlights of this fall, in addition to the gorgeous weather, has been the chance to participate in a weekly Greek reading group led by Jordash Kiffiak. The group meets online for 2.5 hours to read and discuss passages from the Greek New Greek.

Jordash describes his experiences learning and teaching Greek in an interview published on Seamus MacDonald's excellent blog. A couple excerpts:
On learning Greek: "Following a second-year classical Greek course, I began memorizing chunks of text from the New Testament for academic and personal interests. This is when I first began to use ancient Greek ... in a way that approached or was living-language usage. Sometimes I would use phrases in the text I had memorised, manipulating them for new contexts. This procedure aided in both memorising text and internalising the language."
On learning outcomes for the reading group of which I am a part: After a 10-week course students can describe in their own words the situation and/or story relevant to the text we have read. For example, they would be able to tell about what happened upon Jesus' return to the Galilee (Luke 4) and what transpired in the synagogue in Nazareth. Or they would be able to describe why Paul is writing to the Philippians and what has taken place where Paul is. They will of course also be able to read the respective text, with comprehension, without recourse to aids. They will also be able to approach similar texts that they have not previously read and follow in large part what is being communicated without turning to dictionaries and the like. Students also will usually be able to describe aspects of their own life, employing concepts and language from the text being studied (again using Luke 4 as an example—where one was born, has grown up, whether one is well known and/or respected there etc.).

Needless to say, Jordash is an outstanding teacher. If you are at all curious about a living approach to teaching ancient languages, the whole interview is well worth your time.

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