Moving from Reading Group to Conversation

For years, I’ve found a lot of benefit in small reading groups, but recently one of my groups morphed into a practice space for conversational Greek. I thought some of you might find this interesting and something you want to try. Let me explain a little.

Reading Group

Kojo and I have been meeting on Sundays for Greek for close to a year. For the first several months, our pattern was for one person to read the Greek and then the other would translate. We were both, however, pursuing conversational fluency in Greek at other times and in other ways. A few months ago, Kojo had the great idea of skipping the translation part. What we started doing instead was reading the Greek twice. Each person would take a turn. We would then ask questions if we had any and move on.

To Conversation

It was a small step from that point to us trying to ask questions in Greek and doing summaries in Greek. Here’s what we do now:

  • Reading 1 – One of us reads the passage in Greek (right now we are reading Luke).
  • Vocab questions – We ask Τί σημαίνει (what does _ mean?) to get clarity on any vocab words we need help with.
  • Define in Greek – We try to answer the vocab questions by defining the words in Greek. Last time we met, someone asked, “τί σημαίνει ‘ἀναπείρους’”? The other person answered, “‘ἀναπείρους’ σημαίνει ἄνθρωπος ὅς ἰσῶς οὐ καλῶς περιπάτει. ἐστίν ὡς χωλούς.” Our speech is riddled with “typos,” and we don’t care in the least. The only goal is understanding.
  • Other questions – Sometimes one of us will ask other questions like Τίσιν ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει; That gives us a chance to practice asking and answering questions or simply get clarity on what is happening in a passage.
  • Reread – Once the vocab is established, the other person reads the passage again.
  • Summarize – Finally, one of us will try to use words we know to summarize the passage in Greek. The goal here is not to reproduce the passage from memory. The goal is way more simple. We want to use Greek words we know to communicate what happened or what was said in the passage. It could be one sentence or ten.

We have been using the Tyndale House Greek New Testament for this and letting the paragraph divisions be our guide as to how much we read at one time. Sometimes the paragarphs are one verse; other times they are ten or twenty verses.

We met this week for the second time using the new process, and it was much more fun. We are getting through a couple (to a few) paragraphs each meeting, and we are totally fine with that pace. It isn’t even about pace. We used to try to read and translate a chapter each week, but we are getting way more benefit out of this process than translating.

If you are interested in doing something similar, just find a friend to meet with on FaceTime or Zoom and go for it.

Greek