Friday, April 29, 2011

Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!

Koiné, or "common" Greek, is not spoken today. It is the language of the Bible's New Testament. Since it is not spoken today in Greece, or any other country, for that matter, why learn it? 

Well, there are several reasons you might find studying Greek a useful and purposeful pasttime:

  1. You are a believer in Classical Education and want your children to be familiar with classical Greek and Latin.
  2. You value thinking skills and desire an interesting way to challenge and develop the language and reasoning areas of your students' brains.
  3. You want your students to develop a better grasp of their own language, which incorporates many Greek and Latin roots (which will also elevate their standardized testing scores).
  4. You want your family to be able to read the Bible using the Interlinear Greek New Testament, so they will have a deeper understanding of God's word.
  5. You have a student who is very interested in all things Greek and/or Roman and you want to allow them to pursue their "delight" in a directed study.
  6. You are preparing a unit or study on Ancient Greece or Rome and want to add a new dimension to it by incorporating a language study.

If any of the above reasons fits you, then I have found an excellent product for you.

First of all, I will be honest and admit that I am not now, nor ever have been, a follower of the Classical Education model. It's not that I dislike every "great" work, de-value the importance of discussing literature or ideas, or disagree with the concept of "teaching the trivium" (referring to the developmental stages of children's brains, in which the elementary "grammar" years are spent memorizing facts, the middle "dialectic" years spent analyzing that information, and the high school "rhetoric" years applying and expressing what has been learned). 

However, I am naturally more eclectic in nature, and tend towards a Charlotte Mason philosophy, so while I take from Classical Education the parts that work in our homeschool structure, I don't adhere to it. It just wouldn't work for me.

That said, there are plenty of folks out there who DO use the Classical Education model and LOVE it. There are also those folks who are simply fascinated with things of a Greek or Roman nature. Some teachers see the benefits of learning Greek and Latin in relation to raising standardized testing scores. Still other folks have a desire to expose their students to a bit of everything, until they find what works best for their individual students. 

If you fit any of the above categories, then Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! would be an excellent resource for you.

We were asked to try out Level 3 of Hey Andrew! in our homeschool for this review. 

You can visit the Greek n' Stuff website if you want to see what each level has to offer, as Level 3 does not necessarily mean it is third year Greek. It's actually an introductory text for an older learner. If you are interested in this product, I urge you to check out their site and try out a few of the freebie sample pages before settling on a level to purchase.

We received the Greek Level 3 Full Set, which included the Student Textbook, the complete Teacher's Manual (which has the entire student text AND the correct answers), and the pronunciation cd.

Tex, being age 13 and easily capable of doing work at this level (our other homeschooled kids are ages 7, 5, and 3, plus a 1 year old, and those interested would have required a lower level), was the proud recipient of this product. He LOVES mythology and gets excited about anything Roman or Greek, so he dove right into this. 

His first impression when asked to review this product was that being able to write in Greek (even if it was just using the alphabet) would make a cool secret language for him and his friends. He showed it to them the first week we had it, and they hand-copied the alphabet to take home, and listened with him to the pronunciation cd a time or two, so they could all memorize the alphabet together.

After a month of using the program, here are my thoughts (based on Tex's comments):
  • The program's resources (especially the workbook) are excellent. I HIGHLY recommend them for anyone who already has a desire to study Greek or Latin (we didn't review the Latin, but I am assuming they will have the same commitment to quality in those books). The books are well-written, carefully designed, strategically organized, and easy to use.
  • For me, Greek is confusing. I can recite the Greek alphabet FAST ( a leftover from my college days) and I wish I'd had the pronunciation cd back then. I've been saying four of the letters incorrectly for YEARS! LOL. But seriously, the way the letters are all different just does not work for my overused and confused brain. Say a word out loud, and I have studied enough Greek roots that I can probably make a good guess at what the Greek word means, though. (Similarly, knowing your English, which has a lot of Greek roots worked into it, makes figuring out the words easier).
  • Tex, on the other hand, found the transition from using our usual alphabet to using the Greek alphabet not to be so difficult. He thought it was nifty. Not hard. Ahhh, the flexibility of youth...
  • Tex, being a lefty, was NOT fond of the MANY handwriting exercises in the book. The way it is designed, it sort of incorporates handwriting with language learning. Of course, you aren't practicing writing your own English words, but you are still getting practice on the strokes and tidiness. During his use of the program, I had to let him off the hook for handwriting, as it was just taking up too much time. I have heard from others, that their children did NOT encounter this difficulty. It has me thinking, "Thank goodness for computers and word processing programs." If we had to rely on hand-writing papers and all other work the same way we did when I was in school (back in the Ice Age), Tex would never write, and that would be sad. He's a creative, interesting writer. 
  • Back to Hey, Andrew!: Tex did not mind the amount of writing he had to do each day, once I eliminated his regular copywork. In fact, I think he liked it.
  • Tex only worked through Lesson 3 (out of 36). I know, it doesn't sound like much (it is supposed to be three weeks worth, but he took four for various reasons), but it is what fit in with our schedule and curriculum this year. It was plenty to get a clearn idea of how this quality program works.
  • Speaking of how long it takes to do this program, there is a proposed schedule in the book, if you like things competely laid out for you. It involves just about fifteen minutes a day (if you don't have a lefty who writes more slowly). 
  • After the month trial, Tex asked if we could save the rest of the book for next year, when we actually will be studying Greece and Rome as part of our World History lessons. Since I think it makes more sense for US to use this when integrating it with studies of that time period, I agreed to his plan. I think he's secretly hoping he'll get out of more copywork again. ;-) I think this series, this level especially, would be a fun and interesting supplement to a study of Ancient Greece. Really immerse yourself in the culture and all's not expensive (you don't have to get the complete set), and it does have value beyond just being something Greek.
  • We found the pronunciation cd to be helpful. Tex thought the Alphabet Song at the beginning was a bit young for his tastes (maybe they could come up with a slightly older version?), but we learned it, as well as the recital of the sounds of the Greek alphabet which is also on the cd. The pronunciations of each word taught in each lesson were useful, too, though it might have been nice to hear the words in a sentence, too, and not just alone.
  • Once you have completed the first few lessons on the alphabet, the lessons are varied in format and very interesting. You might have a fill-in the blank (write the Greek), matching, or tanslating exercise, on any given day. Each day, at the bottom of the work page, there is a box to check to indicate that you have studied your flashcards. My student needed that reminder and it helped.
  • One random impression I had: It really does seem sort of like having a "secret language" when you can look at the Greek words written in the Greek alphabet and "see" in your mind the English equivalent. This actually is kind of cool. I found that over time, and with repeated exposure to the words (using the vocabulary cards) the Greek words start to "look" more like what they are supposed to be. 

  • We made up the vocabulary cards (they are in the back of the book and can be cut out and pasted to file cards) and they were good for drilling, to increase quick recognition of words and letters (we made some with just the letters on them and wrote the pronunciation and name on the back). I would have prefered to just copy the drill cards onto cardstock to avoid some of the cutting and pasting, but I wasn't sure this was allowed (though the author does say you can copy the words, the wording is unclear whether she means by hand or with your copier). If I was going to continue with this program for the long term, I would just purchase the pre-made cards on a ring for each level as I started it.

  • There is a Bible Copywork book that is available. I think if I was going to continue with this program for long term, I would purchase one and have my student focus on a Bible verse a week. Here is a link to a sample of page one of the book.
  • The appendices at the back of the book include: the Greek Alphabet, Vowels and Dipthongs, Breathing Marks, Word Order, Mood and Voice, Tenses, Gender, Case, and Declensions. There is also a section covering how to do Greek Copywork using an Interlinear Greek Bible, which I see would be a useful thing to do, if you were truly studying Greek as a language you would eventually use (to read the Bible).
  • If your student enjoys puzzles and can use some more practice with the alphabet, there is a Greek puzzle e-book for sale on the website that looks like fun.
  • The prices for all of the components seem reasonable to me. Some language programs can be very pricey, but this one is not, costing just $21.95 for the Student Worktext and an additional $4.00 for the answer key (not the complete Teacher's Manual). You can add quizzes/exams for an additional $5.50, the flashcards for $8.00, and the pronunciation cd for $10.00 more.

Overall, I would say that this program is an excellent one
  • I liked how it was laid out. 
  • I liked how it is simple enough to not be overwhelming
  • I liked how the student can use it without excessive parental involvement. 
  • I also liked how it integrated good handwriting with the language learning
  • I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a program to expose any level of student to Classical Greek (or Latin, though we did not review any of Greek n' Stuff's Latin products).

Fun and useful Greek n' Stuff Links:
  • Check out their online store with sample pages for each level HERE
  • Check out the prices for all components of every level HERE.
  • Contact Greek n' Stuff HERE with your questions.
  • Request a print catalog with sample pages or an online pdf version HERE.
  • Already have Hey, Andrew! but want to add some fun over the summer? Check out the e-book of Greek puzzles available HERE.
  • Greek alphabet page HERE and Letter of the Month HERE.
  • Learn a Greek word every month HERE and check out the archives for past words HERE.
  • Fun classical languages studies links HERE.
  • Check out other reviews from TOS Crew members HERE.
  • All orders right now get a free Koine Greek Alphabet bookmark!


Disclaimer: I received free copies of the Student Workbook, Teacher's Manual, and pronunciation cd to enable me to give an informed review about this product. I am sharing with you our experiences using this product, and do not expect or guarantee that your impressions will be the same. I received no other compensation for writing this review. If you have questions I did not answer here, please feel free to contact me.


Lisa @ Our Country Road said...

I have heard of this in passing, I had no idea it included so much! Thanks for the info!

Shane said...

I look forward to helping with this course next year. While initially I thought Greek might be difficult to tackle, the course seems perfectly suited to a beginner (whether it be a student or a teacher).

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