Starting off in Greek (SATIPS Classics Broadsheet, Summer 2015)
At my establishment Greek is taught to our Year 8 scholarship group only. At the end of Year 7 our potential scholars have to opt for either Spanish – the easy option – or Greek. In Year 8 we only get one lesson plus a 30-minute prep a week, so getting off to a kick-start is essential. I don’t want still to be faffing around with the Greek alphabet come October half term. So, the key is for the children to master the Greek alphabet over the summer break between Year 7 and Year 8, and to arrive at school in September ready to be tested on this in their very first lesson, after which we can get stuck into proper Greek right away; ‘Making use of the time we don’t have,’ to quote a colleague at a conference at King’s Ely last year.
I issue a workbook for them to work through during the summer; this deals with the alphabet, diphthongs and breathing marks gradually, and takes care of getting them used to actually writing Greek letters. It’s rough and ready, but works: I’ll send you a pdf if you wish. As far as the sounds are concerned, modern technology is the answer. There are two options, and I recommend the children to do both. First is to go to YouTube and in the search box type in ‘Bassman Greek’; this will lead to a series of videos made some time ago, none of which are more than about five minutes in length. The other is to download an eBook I’ve produced called ‘The Sounds of Ancient Greek’. This is in epub format, so can be viewed on any mobile device which has an ebook reader app installed, on or an iPad/iPhone using Mac’s iBooks app. Let me know if you fancy a look, and I’ll send you the link to the file in my Dropbox: it’s a lengthy download, about 10-12 minutes, depending of course on your connection.
Once we get started it’s on a Greek course I’ve devised, called Greek as a Treat Book 1. It covers 1st and 2nd nouns, present, imperfect, aorist and future verbs, simple adjectives, imperatives and infinitives: enough to lay down the basics in preparation for their next school. There’s no exam pressure or cramming; I don’t want to put them off the subject. I’m hoping to get round to writing books 2 and 3 eventually; I really do believe that there is a gap in the market for a new, well laid-out Greek course. Again, if you are interested, get in touch and I’ll send you the pdf free of charge.