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The Nuclear Option, Greek Retention Pt 4

After discussing many different strategies for regaining and retaining previously learned Greek, one professor said to me, “And if all that fails, you’ll need the nuclear option.” What he meant was, the most drastic strategy of all: start from scratch!

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Man witnesses nuclear blast

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Well, not entirely from scratch, but pretty much.

If you have been following the mini-series about retaining or re-acquiring the Greek you learned in seminary, and have subsequently lost, I hope this post will be helpful. I used the nuclear option to jump-start my Greek reading fluency after it stalled due to neglect.

As I said, it’s not that I wasn’t using Greek at all, in fact, I was using it weekly… but weakly. I was relying heavily on Bible software that parses the words for me and provides a gloss (a simple English translation).  What I wanted was to be able to read quickly and in Greek, comprehending what I was seeing, and I wanted to think in Greek, not ‘speed-translate’ each word into English. That is what I covered last week. Here is what I did to defibrillate the stopped pulse of my flatlining reading fluency…

I got on a plane. No, I didn’t fly to Greece to immerse myself in Modern Greek, though I think that would have helped too, but with the cost, the visas, and the pandemic, I found a place cheaper than Greece: Kentucky.

I bit the bullet, carved a week out of my schedule, and enrolled in an in-person, five-day Greek review course at Southern Seminary, taught by Dr Rob Plummer, followed by the two-day “Greek for Life” conference. And it worked.

Monday to Friday, from 8am to 5pm, with a few caffeine breaks, all we did was (re)learn Greek. On day one we literally started with the alphabet, and by day five we were reading, out loud to one another with no tools or helps, John chapter 3. And we were doing so confidently, fluently, with intelligible pronunciation, and with full comprehension. Granted, John’s gospel is some of the easiest Greek in the Bible, but for only five days of review, I was happy with the results. The course also involved targeted vocabulary memorization, translation homework, and prepping paradigms for a daily quiz.

This course was not for people who had not learned Greek before; it was for those who had learned and lost it.

Also, let me say that everything we did could have been done by self-study, but wouldn’t have. What I mean is that, yes I could have worked through a beginner’s Greek grammar for an hour a day over a few months, and memorized vocab and paradigms, and read out loud to my dog. But I wasn’t doing that, and I know myself well enough to know I would never do that consistently enough to see results. There was something about the comradery of the other students (there were about 80 of us in the class), the pace, the sense of urgency to memorize before the quiz, the pressure to read aloud to someone who knows if you’re getting it right, and the ability to ask clarifying questions of the professor instead of being distracted by having to look it up oneself. It was the intense learning environment that made the work fun, and helped the lessons stick.

Now what? Now, I will lose my reading fluency all over again, unless I keep up the use of it. That’s where last week’s post was helpful. Building a daily habit of reading without interruption or distraction (including looking up unknown vocabulary and verb forms), has proven extremely beneficial to my retention. I not only retained what I learned but I am actually improving at an encouraging rate.

If you want to do CPR on your Greek, I highly recommend this drastic option. But I also understand it is a luxury to have a job and a wife that allow me the ability to take a week out of town for language study. What if you aren’t able to get away? What is the option just shy of the nuclear option?

I’ll tell you what to do to bring the Greek review course to your own home… next week.

Originally Published on thecripplegate.com at http://feeds.thecripplegate.com/~r/TheCripplegate/~3/vG0MXs_C8oE/

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