Many of you know that this school year was my second year of Ancient Greek. If you are a new student of Ancient Greek (it’s C’est Chic!), I recommend you read my post on Ancient Greek 101 to see what the whole thing is all about.
Despite having no expertise in pedagogy whatsoever, I’ll post some tips for surviving Intermediate Greek next week. But first I want to give a bit of an overview of what this past year was like.
Second-year Greek is a strange thing. Last year, we had about thirty people in our course, about half of whom finished. This year, we started out with four. The advantage of a small class is that you develop a close relationship with your classmates and professor. There aren’t any downsides. I’m an elitist—I would rather sit in a class of four engaged persons than thirty who check their Facebook and don’t do the homework.
My professor says that this course is the hardest undergrad class in the Classics. There is a lot of minutiae to cover, the grammar is confusing as hell, and you boot through a ton of material. This is not an exaggeration.
Now, I am a studious student. I made sure to keep up with my Greek over the summer, even working ahead a bit to prep for second year. However, this preparation was all for naught.
In short: We switched books.
This year we started using Athenaze. Not a bad book by itself, but one which took enough of a different approach from last year’s JACT text to throw me off balance. While some of my classmates liked Athenaze better, I personally didn’t get along with it too well. I don’t know why, it just gets under my skin for some reason I can’t articulate. I wish it didn’t because it is a much more “fun” book. Maybe I don’t like fun!
What should have been an easy couple of months of review, quickly turned into memorizing new vocabulary, introduction of new grammatical points, new verb forms, and a different declination method. One the one hand, I tried to welcome this as a welcome opportunity to gain some much-needed flexibility in how I approached Greek. In reality, it soon felt like my world had completely fallen apart. Also, the book had so much practice material that I spent all my time doing exercises and very little time drilling word forms, a method I personally find essential to my ability to retain material.
By the end of the year, we were cruising through six chapters of new material a month and I was putting in around three hours a day just to keep up. I was a total zombie: there were days where I woke up, but my eyes never fully opened. Scratch that: There were weeks when that happened.
But the work paid off. My grade came in as an A+!
In short, Intermediate Classical Greek is not an easy class. Of our four starting students, three finished—two ridiculously awesome Classics majors who obviously had some skin in the game and myself. This isn’t to scare you off, but I don’t think you can get through it unless you are dedicated. That said, it doesn’t take any special magic other than a lot of hard work.
Test results from left-to-right: 96%, 98%, 97.5%, 98%, 86% (Don’t judge!), 94%
Whereas last year I found Greek challenging, yet rewarding, I found this year to be nothing but punishment. We had a great professor, but the material was hard, dawg! Still, I find Greek strangely charming with its odd sentence structures and case-sensitive absolutes. Hopefully the love affair is far from over!