5.0053 Q: Teaching a Classical Language (1/34)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 14 May 91 22:45:17 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0053. Tuesday, 14 May 1991.

Date: Sat, 4 May 1991 21:45 EET
From: "Jouko Lindstedt, University of Helsinki" <LINDSTEDT@cc.Helsinki.FI>
Subject: teaching a classical language

Next academic year I will be teaching a course of Old Church
Slavonic to students of different Slavic languages. This course
has a long tradition at our Department -- and it is sincerely
detested by most students, who think that it requires a lot of
work but gives no gratification. I have begun to wonder if I will
be able to put together anything better than the previous

I know that only very few people reading HUMANIST have any
experience of teaching OCS, but many more must have taught
_some_ classical language -- Latin, Greek, perhaps Sanskrit.
The question is, what would be the most practicable method of
teaching a classical language to a student who doesn't have
the slightest interest in it yet, but who should be made to see
that it can be fun and it has a great bearing on the modern
language and culture he/she is actually interested in? In
particular, I'd like to hear your opinion on the relative
merits of the "deductive" and "inductive" methods. The
"deductive" method is the traditional one: first you must
learn all the declinations and conjugations, with some
historical linguistics perhaps, and only then are you allowed
to begin to read texts with a dictionary, stopping at every
word in order thoroughly to analyse it. The "inductive" method
would begin with the texts: you would be allowed to guess
on the basis of the languages you know already, and there
would be just the minimum of grammar needed for that passage.
In this case, the texts should obviously be carefully selected
and graded -- and simplified? When would the time come to learn
all the conjugations in this method?

Jouko Lindstedt
Dept. of Slavonic Languages
University of Helsinki