The Letter Killeth: Novice Spoken Ancient/Koine Greek

Friday, June 26 | 11:30-12:15pm

  • Languages

One major obstacle to introducing Greek in the classroom, especially in the lower grades, is the fact that it requires learning a new (although technically not different) alphabet. Plus, this alphabet uses all sorts of confusing marks above, and below, the letters! Often half a semester, or more, can be spent on getting students just used to the alphabet, not to mention any meaningful linguistic content. No wonder, then, that many a teacher has found that in Greek, just as religion, the letter killeth. Yet incorporating a spoken element into one’s curriculum can provide a strategy around this obstacle. 

In this workshop I will offer a series of oral activities a teacher can do with students of just about any age which first introduce the language to students before introducing the alphabet. These activities involve spoken exercises and transcription of Greek into Roman letters in order to give the student a base knowledge of words and phrases. Once this base knowledge is in place, the student can then go on to learn the alphabet more quickly and more meaningfully, as content now precedes form. 

Additionally, by being introduced to the language orally from day one, the student will have already begun to develop aural and oral skills in the language. The activities will focus on daily routines, such as identifying what’s in the classroom, greeting people, how to give and get directions in town or around the school itself, and learning basic vocabulary through games.

Dr. Joseph Tipton

Joseph did his BA at Berea College in Berea, KY, where he met Michelle, his wife of twenty years now. He went on to do an MA at the University of Kentucky, where he was exposed to spoken Latin under Terrence Tunberg, which inspired him to start cultivating ancient Greek actively. After earning his PhD in Classics at the University of Pittsburgh, Joseph taught at several colleges and universities before coming to The Geneva School in Winter Park, FL, where he currently teaches Greek and Latin. Besides his passion for adding an active component to the traditional classics curriculum, Joseph is active as a researcher and translator of Reformation era Latin and Greek works. He and wife have recently been blessed, after many years of marriage, with their first son, Watts, named after their favorite poet/hymn-writer.