Why Our Method?
Keeping It Simple
Basically, when you learn a language, the most important thing is to hear a lot of the language in a way that is comprehensible. That means that the content presented to you needs to be in a format that communicates implicitly what’s going on, whether through images or objects or actions. This approach was first championed by Stephen Krashen, who shaped the following generation of second language teaching. He pointed out that “language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drills.” He also argued that the best methods for teaching a language are those that give comprehensible input in low anxiety situations, with content that the students will enjoy. As you’ll see in our videos, we incorporate all of this methodology, and students all over the world are finding that learning Greek is less frustrating and intimidating than they ever dreamed.
It is the very nature of languages to be spoken. For this reason, you will hear biblical Greek spoken in our lessons. Speech (hearing and speaking) is key to the internalisation of a language. As you hear Greek spoken your brain makes a connection between the meaning of the word and its sound, which will make reading feel more natural and you will have a different relationship to the text. You will learn new words connected to images, objects or actions and then in phrases and stories. Repetition is also important in language learning, and therefore, you will encounter these words and phrases again and again in increasingly difficult grammatical contexts. This experience improves memory and comprehension as compared with traditional methods of teaching. So remember, in the lessons you will learn to ‘guess’ what the words mean in its context, and then later learn how to read and write it. This is an important skill to develop for those who will be reading texts, like the Greek New Testament or other Ancient Greek texts, where a word might have a different meaning depending on the context.
When you start watching our videos you’ll notice that you won’t see anything written on the screen, and we won’t begin by teaching you the alphabet. There’s good reason for this! We want to sharpen your listening skills. You will only learn basic words and phrases; but no alphabet. We don’t assume any beginner can read yet. When you’re a child you spend years learning to speak and understand your language before going to school to learn how to read it. Although our brains work in slightly different ways when we are learning a new language after we’ve learned to read, this natural developmental sequence can still help avoid discouragement and frustration. When you are learning a new alphabet, it is much easier to read words that you already know, rather than learning new words and writing system at the same time. This is one of the reasons so many people give up or never get very far when they try to learn biblical Greek: trying to read before they have a natural familiarity with the spoken words.
Although we would love to spend years teaching you how to speak and understand Greek before introducing the alphabet, we realize that’s not realistic for a lot of people. So instead we spend a few lessons giving the basics in our videos without any alphabet or texts. Then, little by little we will begin teaching you the letters, but be patient! We won’t teach all of the letters in one lesson, rather we’ll go nice and slow to allow time for our students to better internalize the symbols and sounds, so that they won’t get overwhelmed. Then, by the time you complete the first 20 lessons, you should be ready to start reading. Once again, our methodology is not for those who are in a rush and want to take shortcuts. There are no shortcuts to quality language learning. Your mind needs time to naturally process things in the right order. If you short circuit that process, you’ll be disappointed with the results and grow discouraged. Learning Greek is not a race; it’s an expedition that lasts a lifetime.
Say Goodbye to Anxiety
An important principle of language learning that Krashen talks about is that stress can severely inhibit the learning process. Once students feel threatened or on the defensive, a mental block goes up and prevents language acquisition from happening. The more students can feel at ease, encouraged, and believe that success is possible for them, the more language they’ll internalize.
We highly recommend watching the following three videos of Stephen Krashen himself explaining the science and theory of the method we use, as well as further principles for success in language acquisition. Although the video is dated, the content is still as relevant and helpful today as ever. For those of you who would prefer to listen to a podcast by Andrew case instead of watching videos, you can listen to two episodes on language-learning that includes Krashen’s teaching audio below and more: A Paradigm Shift in Acquiring the Biblical Languages Part 1 and Part 2.