Sam Harrelson

Do We Really Know How to Teach Ancient Languages?



In order to make sure that future generations appreciate and understand our historical legacy, we have to ensure that we are teaching ancient languages in the most appropriate manner possible.

Here’s a thought provoking piece from the SBL site…

Society of Biblical Literature: “Even if not as ‘useful,’ and proportionally much less popular than modern languages, in absolute numbers there is still a considerable interest in learning ancient languages. The demand is answered with a plethora of popular as well as academic textbooks, programs, and courses, some of them attempting to exploit the latest information technologies.[1] This recent supply of IT based programs should not, however, mislead, us into assuming that the emergence of real new approaches in imparting ancient languages has occurred. Students’ achievements, their facility in accessing the classical texts, and their overall satisfaction have not necessarily improved.[2] Moreover, there is hardly any research to be found dedicated specifically to ancient language pedagogy.[3] In spite of this apparently thin layer of modern technology, the teaching of ancient languages is usually characterized by conservative pedagogical notions and methods in need of reexamination and much change.”

I remember initially hating Attic Greek due to the insistence of memorization and vocabulary. Hopefully, new paradigms from other disciplines will inform how ancient languages are being taught in colleges and universities so that students will continue to be intrigued by the lure of the past.



Posted: 03.04.2008

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