Somewhat OT: Greek is Killing Me! Any Suggestions?

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Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Jun 8 2016 5:52 PM

I am in my first semester of Greek online through Liberty University.  My text is Mounce, and I have all of the Zondervan language resources through Logos, including most other available language resources/lexicons.  I am in the fourth week and will be finished with Chapter 12 by the end of this week.  I teach English, so my knowledge of grammar has been helpful, but the memory work is starting to stress me out severely.  I just hit the 3rd Declension endings, and my brain is about to explode.  

I have been using the Logos Flash Cards app with Mounce word lists, and that has been helpful, and I have also been using Danny Zacharias' Parse Greek, which has also been very helpful.  Does anyone have any tips on ways to more easily/efficiently memorize such concepts?  I am doing well so far, but I am starting to get bogged down with so much so fast, and I am afraid that I will have a nervous breakdown by the time I hit verbs.  Is it normal to be this stressed out?

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

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Lynden Williams | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 8 2016 5:57 PM

I feel your pain Joseph. Many a young lady in college felt that Greek took their boyfriends. We called it "lady Greek".

Everything ever written in Religion and Theology formatted for Logos Bible Software.Logos Youtube Channel

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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 8 2016 6:03 PM

Joseph Turner:

Is it normal to be this stressed out?

Chill out. It's normal.

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Clifford Kvidahl | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 8 2016 6:55 PM

I encourage you, Joseph, in your studies. There is no easy way to memorize these endings other than just repetition. I am currently tutoring a friend in Greek and have told him the same. One thing to note: really hit home the 3rd declension nouns. These endings will show up again when you begin learning participles, and if you have a good grasp on them you will find yourself in a good spot.

May the Lord bless your studies.

Cliff

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Lew Worthington | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 8 2016 7:16 PM

Joseph,

What the others have said is true, of course. I taught Greek for several years and your experience is normal.

I don't know if you're musical or have a rhythmic sense, but some of my students found it helpful to make up jingles or "poems" running through conjugations, declensions, and the like. Eventually, you can let go of these and, if you keep working hard enough, it'll become second nature. English did, didn't it? :)

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Matt Hamrick | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 8 2016 7:23 PM

I have already done Mounce in Greek 1 and 2 at Boyce College. Memory work is hard in the first and second semester, but be encouraged Joseph, stay diligent and it will come to you. I encourage you to disregard the vocab cards you get from Mounce and write them out yourself and quiz yourself with them. The ones you know stick on one pile, the ones you don't know stick in another pile. Do this every other day and soon the ones you know you can just disregard and focus on what you don't know. Vocab is easy if you stick with it. Paradigms are another story and here I suggest you get a dry erase board and write them out over and over again until you get them. For nouns, remember the rules and the paradigms are easy, but for verbs  you will have to write them out over and over again until you get them. I have learned in an academic environment it is meant to be stressful, be encouraged because when it is all over you can use Logos Bible Software to study the original languages just by hovering your mouse. Stick with it and do the work and it will come. One day it will hit you that you know this stuff.

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Ronald Quick | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 8 2016 7:33 PM

I just finished my second semester of Greek using Mounce's text as well.  Even though I watched the videos, what really helped me was the audio versions of the lectures.  It was an extra expense, but I listened to them as I drove back and forth to work.  Each way was about the length of one lecture, so over the course of a week I would listen to each lecture 5-6 times.  This helped solidify the material in each chapter.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 8 2016 7:37 PM

Okay, I don't claim to know Greek but I'm a Sanskritist which makes Greek look simple. What some of us learned was that memorizing the declenions and there endings didn't work for everyone. But if one took a simple set of sentences that placed the noun in each person and case and practiced until one could easily place the correction form in context, one learned them with contextual clues which was advantageous compared to knowing the forms in isolation. What matters is that you experiment to find a way to learn them that works for you. P.S. The first Sanskrit Reaader assumed we knew Greek and Latin and could learn by comparison.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 1:42 AM

Hello Joseph, 

Learning a new language is always intimidating at first and you will forget a lot of what you learn. There are some methods that are better than others. What I mean is that some methods bombard you with information, way too much for you to process in the space allocated (e.g., one lesson). Other methods are better at sorting out material. I recommend Black's Learn to Read New Testament Greek. I have found it more limpid than Mounce. My suggestion is to acquire Black and use it for clarification or to consolidate what you have learned on a given topic. https://www.logos.com/product/5196/learn-to-read-new-testament-greek 

I don't find that Logos flashcards have enough functionality yet for optimized language learning. I have used Anki. It is free, multi-platform, and has many free vocabulary sets, including Mounce. It uses a method that takes into account what you know well versus what you need to review, spacing it out accordingly. Another approach, which has its advantages, is that used of memrise (free also) which uses associations (often with a picture) to help you remember words. Studies have shown this approach to be effective (Anki's method is also based on studies on memorization).

http://ankisrs.net/ 

https://www.memrise.com/ 

Getting your basic grammar and vocab is hard work at first, but as soon as you can start to do some reading, even a bit every day will do wonders, will firm up what you learn, and encourage you. John and 1 John are great for that, using simple vocabulary. Practice is the key to acquisition, assimilation, and retention.

If you don't have one yet, make sure to get a paradigm/review chart. Logos sells some. When I was in Greek class, years ago, it was given for free. https://www.logos.com/product/6338/greek-and-hebrew-paradigm-charts

No point getting discouraged: take a deep breath when you get overwhelmed and remind yourself that you are taking on a challenging yet worthwhile qualification. Effort will pay off. 

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Lew Worthington | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 4:23 AM

I'll add one thing. At midterm in our Greek reading (second year) class, one student came to me and complained that the class was moving too fast. I couldn't really slow the course down just for his sake, but I would do whatever I could to assist. Then, at the end of the semester when people were filling out course evaluations, he came to my office and was highly and openly critical at how slow the class moved. Grr.

The take-away is either that my extra tutoring was amazing (probably not), or that it DOES get easier even for the befuddled.

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Jonathan Ray | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 4:46 AM

Hi Joseph,

There are a couple of tips and tools that made life much easier for me when I walked this road before. 

1. For vocab. The flashcard app called Genius worked wonders for me. Unlike conventional paper flashcards or digital apps that merely mimic paper flashcards cards, Genius uses a smart recall method. Its method really engrains vocab in your head.

2. For vocab. Using the word association technique vs. the brute force repetition technique is the single best tip I could recommend. For each word, create a catchy saying that relates to the Greek word and its meaning. Example: for ἡ ἔρις (a word that means strife, discord; quarrels), my word association was "You err by sowing_____?" You'll be amazed as to how much easier memorization becomes by setting a little word play clue for each word.

3. For paradigms. I created a spreadsheet of sorts that had all of the paradigms set up. I had it to where once you filled in a paradigm, you could click a button to clear your entry and start filling it in again. There is really no easier way to learn paradigms that I have found other than repeatedly filling in the charts over and over. Using a digital method like this also gets you used to typing in Greek.

4. For memorization in general. Because all of my memorization tools were digital, it helped to turn on a tv show or movie in the background while doing all this. Time flies by this way, and before you know it you have spent two hours in Greek vocab or paradigms. If you schedule an hour a day for memorization (I tended to do it all in bulk), you will not feel so frazzled. Anything less than 30 minutes per day and you will start really feeling the heat.

Hope some of this might help!

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 6:17 AM

Joseph Turner:
 Is it normal to be this stressed out?

Yes. Remember though, that this will soon pass.

Thanks for sharing. I took a minute to pray to offer a prayer for you.

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Ronald Quick | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 6:55 AM

Francis:

If you don't have one yet, make sure to get a paradigm/review chart. Logos sells some. When I was in Greek class, years ago, it was given for free. https://www.logos.com/product/6338/greek-and-hebrew-paradigm-charts

I have these and they were somewhat helpful.  However, what worked best for me was this chart, probably just because it corresponded with Mounce's text.  I didn't get the digital version through Logos, but the hard copy from Amazon.

https://www.logos.com/product/41565/biblical-greek-reference

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Everett Headley | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 7:06 AM

Jonathan Ray:

2. For vocab. Using the word association technique vs. the brute force repetition technique is the single best tip I could recommend. For each word, create a catchy saying that relates to the Greek word and its meaning. Example: for ἡ ἔρις (a word that means strife, discord; quarrels), my word association was "You err by sowing_____?" You'll be amazed as to how much easier memorization becomes by setting a little word play clue for each word.

3. For paradigms. I created a spreadsheet of sorts that had all of the paradigms set up. I had it to where once you filled in a paradigm, you could click a button to clear your entry and start filling it in again. There is really no easier way to learn paradigms that I have found other than repeatedly filling in the charts over and over. Using a digital method like this also gets you used to typing in Greek.

As one who has been there done that with a few years of Greek and Hebrew, I would concur with Jonathan on these points.  Almost a decade later I can still remember some of the jingles I made up to help me remember things like the alphabet and rules.  I would encourage you to also do vocab several times a day.  While in seminary you knew who was in a language class becuase we always carried around with us our flashcards and would drill while standing in line.  a few minutes several times a day adds up to hours.

Don't forget:  It is absolutely worth it to master the languages to the best of your ability.  

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EastTN | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 7:44 AM

One thing that helped me was to get the Zondervan Greek vocabulary audio CD - the physical CD - and throw it into the CD player in my car.  I just let it run every day during my commute (which was over an hour each way at the time), and over time the words started to stick.  Two hours a day of Greek vocabulary was more than my mind could resist.

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 8:23 AM

Joseph Turner:
I teach English, so my knowledge of grammar has been helpful, but the memory work is starting to stress me out severely.  I just hit the 3rd Declension endings, and my brain is about to explode.  

I've got news for you:  I never did memorize the endings for the various declensions, but I recognize them when I see them (sounds like something I've heard before).  Reading is the most valuable exercise in learning the language; read early and often.  You'll catch on.  I found Smyth to be invaluable in solving problems when the grammar seemed inexplicable.

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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P A | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 8:35 AM

I think there are many good answers here.

But I think George has it right. Read Read Read

P A

Posts 1942
Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 8:40 AM

Thank you all for the encouragement and suggestions.  I am trying out all of the aids, and I have all of the resources referenced so far, so I will peruse everything and see what might work best for me.  You have all been very helpful!

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

Posts 1336
Ben | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 10:01 AM

In my language learning (formal study of a dozen or so), I found writing things out to be helpful for memorizing. I'd get scrap paper or a whiteboard, write out the whole paradigm for a conjugation or stem, erase it, and write it again. Once I started getting it down, I would mix it up, e.g. write out that stem, then a different one already learned, then back to the new one again.  

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected."- G.K. Chesterton

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Donnie Hale | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 9 2016 11:19 AM

Ben:
In my language learning (formal study of a dozen or so), I found writing things out to be helpful for memorizing. I'd get scrap paper or a whiteboard, write out the whole paradigm for a conjugation or stem, erase it, and write it again.

This helps a lot - getting more than one sense involved, and in more than one way. I had a hand-held whiteboard that I could write on which I could write out the paradigms. I also did my vocabulary, as much as time allowed, in both directions. I found that helped cement things more than just Greek->English.

Donnie

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