Question about Teaching Children NT Greek

I just completed my first year of teaching NT Greek to two of my children, along with four children from another family. For curriculum this year, I used Elementary Greek: Koine for Beginners, Year One, but I wasn’t satisfied with it for a number of reasons (not the least of which was the slowness of the pace—we dragged our feet significantly and still finished the book in about 2/3 of a normal school year).

 

Anyway, I’d like to get a head start on planning for next fall, so I need to choose some new curriculum. My students are between the ages of 9-14, and I am leaning toward using Basics of Biblical Greek by William Mounce (in which case we would speed through the early chapters, which would be review).

 

Any other recommendations?

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20 responses to this post.

  1. Story and Story – Greek to Me. It uses pneumonic devices and illustrations as memory devices. It also has a really neat set of flash cards that might really appeal to children.

  2. Teaching Greek to kids?

    Like the Guiness commercial would say, “Brilliant!”

    I’ve been teaching my kids German, but it never occurred to me to teach them the biblical languages. My oldest is 9, so they may be getting to that point.

    I really appreciate my Reader’s Greek New Testament and our interns at church have one as well. It’s a great refresher tool, but might not be a bad idea to get them doing a little reading of the text to see how it all comes together.

  3. From Alpha to Omega, by Anne Groton, published by Focus Publications. It is the best Greek pedagogy on the market.

  4. Matt,

    Have you considered New Testament Greek Made Functional by H. Fred Nofer. This is the text used in summer Greek at TMS. It has a few problems, but nothing that will stump you. I like the format and the pace. Currently, this is my first choice for the text I will use when I teach Greek at my church.

  5. I would point out that the Groton text recommended by Lane above is for classical Greek not Koine.

  6. Posted by Panayiota on May 23, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    The Koine Greek for Beginning Greek is for the Ancient Byzantine Bibical Greek. Why are you teaching the children that???
    We as adults other than our Ordained Priests can only understand that dialect of Ancient Formal Greek, and I took it at a University Level. I am a Teacher in Modern Greek, Teach the children Modern Greek so that they can communicate with others from Greece or Greek-Americans.
    You may use the site GreekBaby.com. Do not put the Children through that torture of teaching them Ancient Formal Greek, its like teaching our children the proper English from England. Greece has many, many dialects from Ionic Greek, and Doric Greek to Katharevousa. Teach them Modern Greek and leave it at that.

  7. I have NOT assessed this or used it, but I bookmarked it to look into, as my 8yo daughter has expressed interest in learning Greek. (She helps me with my Mounce flashcards.)

    http://www.greeknstuff.com/andrew.html?

  8. Panayiota,

    You may find this hard to believe but teaching “biblical” Greek is the point of Matts post.

  9. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on May 24, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Paul: Learning NT Greek is actually so torturous for my kids that when they disbobey me, I don’t spank them anymore, I just have them parse a few verbs.

  10. Posted by Mike Jarvis on May 24, 2008 at 3:36 am

    Matt,

    Do you write your own lessons or create your own schedule? Or, do you follow the workbook?

    Also, have you used Mounce’s “Greek for the Rest of Us”? I’ve recommended this book to several in our church who want a refresher in English grammar, too.

  11. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on May 25, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Great suggestions, guys. I look forward to checking them out.

    Mike, during this past year, I followed the textbook and workbook, but I supplemented it with extra vocab and verb paradigms b/c of the slow pace of the curriculum I used. That was part of the problem. I want to find something that is pretty much good to go.

  12. Posted by Timothy on June 5, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    If it helps, I’m 16 and I just took Koine Greek at Christ Seminary here in Polokwane, South Africa from a Master’s Seminary grad (Pastor Dave Beakley), and I had a much easier time learning it than most of the older students did. Granted, for the students here in South Africa, a lot of the time English isn’t their first language, and it is more difficult for them to learn Greek through an English textbook and culturally different teacher.

    Learning Koine Greek has greatly benefited me in my understanding of the Bible, and I believe will continue to do so. I might add that one of my friends (he lives in Texas, and must be about 9-13 years old now) was being taught Koine Greek, I think it was by his dad, and was really doing well and enjoying it.

    It is my opinion that you can teach Koine Greek to anyone, even little kids, and that it will be beneficial and encouraging to them. I can’t recommend any new teaching material; here at Christ Seminary we went through the same textbooks (Mounce’s stuff), but I hope this is an encouragement to you to keep teaching!

  13. Posted by Timothy on June 5, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Nice site by the way, I really enjoy reading here!

  14. Timothy,

    Thanks for your encouraging comment. Keep up the hard work and never stop using what David has taught you in Greek.

    Tell all the TMS guys there in South Africa a big “hello” from all of us here at Expository Thoughts. Our own Jerry Wragg was just there. Did you get to hear him preach?

    Blessings,
    PSL

  15. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on June 5, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Timothy,

    Thank you for the encouraging report. I pray that God will bless your labor!

    Back in the day, David Beakley was one of my English grammar students at The Master’s Seminary–must be about seven years ago now. The next time you see him, ask him how to diagram an object complement. If he doesn’t know, tell him that I am very disappointed in him! If he doesn’t even know what an object complement is, tell him I’m coming over to get him!

    Blessings to you, Timothy, and keep up the great work.

  16. Posted by Timothy on June 6, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Thanks Paul! I’ll be sure to say ‘Hi’ for you guys. I had the great privilege of hearing Jerry Wragg preach and teach during our Polokwane branch of the SA conferences. I took lots of notes and enjoyed it immensely.

    Matt, (or I should probably say, “Mr. Waymeyer, Sir!”)

    An object complement…diagramming an object complement- I’ll have to remember to ask Uncle Dave (we don’t use “Mr. [Last name]” here, instead it’s “Uncle [First name]“) about that.

    Have a great day! God bless!

  17. Posted by Timothy Plodinec on July 4, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Hi Mr. Waymeyer! I finally got around to asking Uncle Dave about that point of diagramming; how to diagram an object complement. He said that it would depend on exactly the context, but as a general answer he would say you use a “backwards slant” when you diagram one.

    He also said that he knows your “secret word”, and that if you’re not careful he’s going to let everyone know. :)

  18. Posted by David on October 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I’ve been teaching NT Greek since the early 80s, and so far the simplest grammar I’ve seen is “Greek Behind the Prof’s Back.” You have to order it from the author, Dr. John Bechtle.

    See:

    http://ezraproject.com/id1.html

    Send me an e-mail if you would like my list of “online NT Greek resources” (brewerhebrewprof@gmail.com).

  19. Check out Biblical Greek 4 Kids: http://www.biblicalgreek4kids.com

    They have free resources, as well as a curriculum.

  20. Posted by Benjamin Luck on December 18, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    The main issue I’ve seen in teaching Greek has been the level of understanding of grammar on the part of the learner. If your 9-14 year olds have a good-advanced grasp of grammar, then it will probably only take a little bit of simplifying a good college-level Greek text. I have seen and used several. For Attic Greek, the above mentioned From Alpha to Omega is great, very thorough. I used this in my first year of (non-biblical) ancient Greek. For Koine Greek, however, I really like William Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek. This book expects its students to take Greek seriously though. Unless your tweens/teens are good with grammar, however, you will have to simplify concepts and words for them.

    My oldest just turned 5, and I have been working with her for several months now. She has been reading English since she was 2, but there are obvious limitations to her understanding of grammar. I haven’t used a particular book for its pedagogical method, only for vocabulary. Here’s what I’ve been doing, and where I’ve reached:

    1. Reciting the alphabet. This is actually pretty simple, and can be accomplished within about a week’s time or so with a two-year old. Eventually, you can sing them to the tune of the alphabet song, just make sure to keep your pronunciation consistent.

    2. Identifying the letters by sight. This is a natural progression from reciting them, you’re just pegging the name to a visual form.

    3. Phonics. There is a little song on a Letter Factory DVD out there that goes “The A says ‘ah’, the A says ‘ah’, every letter makes a sound, the A says ‘ah’.” This is sung to the tune of The Farmer and the Dell. On the DVD, a “Professor” is teaching a small child the letters and their sounds, and he sings this for each letter. I just appropriated this method for the Greek alphabet (e.g., The beta says ‘buh’, the gamma says ‘guh’, etc.), and it worked beautifully. Sometime in here they need to become aware of diphthongs and their special pronunciations.

    4. Sounding out words. After becoming clear on the letter sounds using the song method, I taught her a method of sounding out Greek words. She will look at a new Greek word, pronounce the sound of the first letter, pronounce the sound of the second letter, add it to the first letter. For instance, for the word ‘doxa’ she would sound out the delta as ‘duh’, and then the omicron as ‘ahh’, and then immediately add the sounds together as ‘dahh’. (She is learning to almost always pronounce omicrons as short o’s and omegas as long o’s for simplification.) She would pronounce the xi as ‘ks’, and then add it to the first two sounds and say ‘dahhxs’. She can out sound out Greek words with a very high degree of accuracy now, and has better phonics skills with Greek than with English.

    5. Vocabulary. Using the chapter vocabulary out of Mounce’s book above, she began sounding out and learning words and names. She recognizes about 100 words at this time.

    6. Memorizing simple verses. Find short verses to memorize, ideally no more than 20 words long. Verses with multiple clauses are best. I started with John 1:1.

    7. Learning simple grammar. This is a major sticking point for me, since I find that grammatical concepts have to be greatly simplified for young children to understand them, even ideas as basic as subject and object and what an adjective is.

    8. Lots of reading of the New Testament. The grammatical barrier has caused me to do a little backpedaling and revert to what we did with her to learn English. We basically did a whole lot of reading, albeit with books with simple sentences and pictures.
    The points where this method might break down are the lack of picture books written in Koine Greek, the lack of graduated reading material, and the relative brevity of the Koine Greek corpus. Along with continuing the vocabulary learning, I’m going to test whether or not a massive amount of reading will help her naturally absorb some of the points of Greek grammar, along with answering her questions as they arise naturally. I have been thinking about creating some of the graduated reading materials I have in mind to use with her and my younger child, like picture books and ABC books. If anyone has any suggestions, or wants to talk a little more about what I’ve been doing, feel free to e-mail me at benjamin_luck at yahoo.com.

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