to promote the study of Greek 
in the state of Texas and beyond!
from the Texas Classical Association



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Also, see the numerous articles at Thinking Classics by Erling B. Holtsmark

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Teach Greek! Even If You Have Never Studied It Before!

From the Athenaze Newsletter, Fall 1996

by Vi Patek John Jay High School Katonah, New York

The stimulus for attempting to teach Greek, even though I didn't even know the Greek alphabet, was a conference on Advanced Placement courses in New York City. In our Latin group we were discussing the eternal question, "What to do for the month after the AP exam?" Someone suggested teaching Greek. I laughed! Then I listened! It turns out that there is a new book that is designed to have students reading Greek as soon as they learn the alphabet with no intervening transliteration. This book is called Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek by Balme & Lawall, Oxford University Press, 1990. 

With considerable trepidation I bought the book and the teacher's manual and decided to try teaching Greek to my AP class. I started the day after the AP exam. Here is what we did:

  • I handed out copies of the alphabet so that the students could have them on their desks for constant reference. 
  • We practiced chanting the letters. 
  • We practiced writing the letters, using the handout on page 3, which was sent to me by Dr. Lawall for this purpose. 
  • I gave a quiz a day on writing out of sections of the Greek alphabet until the students mastered it and could read the letters aloud. 
  • I taught the entire Introduction of the book. 
  • Since I believe that it is beneficial to write out Latin, my students write out all the material for the AP courses (except the Metamorphoses). Therefore every exercise, starting with the "Practice in Writing and Pronunciation," was written out in Greek. 
  • Students were required to make flash cards of Greek vocabulary. 
  • Students were tested every other day or so on vocabulary. 
  • Starting with Chapter 1, students copied out the Greek story on every 6th line. English was written under every Greek work; this strongly reinforced vocabulary power. A line was skipped and smooth English was written out. Structures were labeled as necessary. 
  • Students practiced reading the Greek aloud in class from their notebooks. 
  • Students practiced translating from the Greek, holding a paper over the English under the Greek so that they could have instantaneous reference to the correct translation. 
  • As we proceeded through the stories, we labeled or highlighted all grammatical forms: e.g., subjects, verbs, objects, and prepositional phrases. This greatly improved identification of forms and ease of translation. 
  • Grades consisted of an accumulation of quiz grades on vocabulary. There was not enough time for deeper testing. The quizzes consisted of Greek words requiring translation. 
  • Correcting written exercises was greatly speeded up by distributing photocopies of the answers in the Teacher's Handbook.


  • Students really enjoyed the Greek. Several are taking Greek this coming year at college, and at least one took Greek at college last year. 
  • Students were fascinated by the new layer of derivatives that Greek provides to Latin. Students of science especially enjoyed the derivative work. 
  • Students who had taken only Latin as a foreign language enjoyed the challenge of a new language. 
  • In one month, minus all sorts of gaps caused by special days for seniors, trips, etc., the class completed pages 37 and 38 of Chapter 4b.

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Last updated: September 29, 2000. 
This site was created August 2000 by Ginny Lindzey, TCA Editor, Porter Middle School, Austin, with the help of Richard Evans and Linda Fleming of St. Thomas Episcopal, Houston. To report problems  please contact Ginny at