Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Living Greek

Back in February, nine fellow WELS missionaries and I participated in a Greek instructors workshop conducted by Dr. Randall Buth and his daughter Sharon of the Biblical Language Center. They showed us the potential benefits of teaching Biblical Greek as a living language (not just a "book language") through the TPR and TPRS techniques.

TPR stands for "Total Physical Response" where students respond to commands that require physical movement. For example, the instructor says, "κάθισον," and you sit down. The instructor says, "τι ποιεις?" (What are you doing?) and you respond "κάθημαι" (I'm sitting). You learn words by doing them rather than simply learning a vocabulary list.

TPRS stands for "Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling" where students read and tell stories--using props (a.k.a. toys) to help the hearers visualize the story--and then ask each other questions about the story. "τι εποιησεν η γυνη?" (What did the woman do?) "η γυνη εφαγεν την σταφυλην" (The woman ate the grapes).

Both of these techniques make learning fun and natural--the same way we learned our first language from our parents when we were kids! And it was all done in Greek without the need of translating into English. After just a few days, I found myself actually thinking in Greek. Now my goal is to pursue this approach further and incorporate it into my seminary classes so that Greek comes alive for our future pastors in Latin America.

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