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Elementary Greek – Review

Elementary Greek by Christine Gatchell, published by Memoria Press.
Available at: http://www.memoriapress.com/curriculum/elementary-greek

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For many of us, Latin and Greek are part of a classical education for our children, and we work hard to find solid resources that will give the structure and memorization that are part of the grammar stage, but not drown them in memorization drills. After seeing the pure joy our boys have in studying Latin with First Form Latin from Memoria Press, I decided to see if they also had a Greek course. When I saw that they were preparing to release one within a few weeks of my looking, I was giddy! I have always wanted to learn Latin and Greek so that I could read Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, Homer and Plato in their original languages. The possibility of not only this, but also sharing this with the twins was, and is, exciting.

Memoria Press graciously sent a copy of Elementary Greek Year One to me at Learning Tangent so I could review it. I have not been disappointed. As always with Memoria Press, the product is complete, thorough and well thought out. The exercises in the workbook are more than just busy work; they serve to reinforce everything the text is trying to accomplish. I wouldn’t buy a textbook without one of their workbooks – they’re that good.

The form introduced in Elementary Greek is Koine, the common language of Greeks between about 300BC and 300AD. It was used in business and personal correspondence, and in the New Testament. It developed during the reign of Alexander the Great, and spread across the continent as a result of his conquests. There’s a fairly wide range of opinions on which form of Greek to tackle first, but most of the homeschool suppliers offer Koine first for a couple of reasons. The first is because the New Testament was written in Koine, and the majority of homeschoolers seeking a Classical Education are Christian. The second is that Koine is a direct evolution of Attic, the Greek of Plato, and is easier to learn initially. As the kids get older and more developed in their language study, you can move towards Attic.

Differences in Greek dialects notwithstanding, I love this course. It’s organized into 30 weeks of lessons, with five lessons per week. The first lessons start with memorizing the alphabet, which is similar enough to English to be straightforward, but different enough to be a little confusing, so don’t rush these initial lessons.

As you are learning the alphabet, the author presents several words written in the Greek alphabet to practice sounding them out. Some are English words written with Greek letters, and others are Greek words. Most of the Greek words are listed in the book’s glossary, but I do wish that all of them were. I have very inquisitive children who will want to know everything, and seem to have inherited my love of languages. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that particular joy(and challenge!).alphabet, which is similar enough to English to be straightforward, but different enough to be a little confusing, so don’t rush these initial lessons.

The workbook is presented with clear practice and exercises for each lesson, and is easy to follow. Each page reinforces the lessons in the textbook, and gives practice pages for the alphabet, verb conjugations and noun declensions appropriate to the lesson. We also received the flashcards, and the kids love to quiz each other on them, even though we won’t officially be starting Greek until next year. The Audio CD included in the set is well worth it, and makes learning the pronunciation much easier. Everything in the course is designed so they work well together, and support the learning process in a way that’s thorough but not overwhelming.

The set is well worth the money, and if you’re like us and have twins, just buy an extra workbook for the other child unless they simply won’t share the flashcards and textbook! I highly recommend this as a beginning Greek course, Memoria Press recommends it for Grade 4 and above, and offers Level 2 and 3 after you have completed level 1.


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