8 March 2012

vicarbrench: (Farewell)
At the end of one of my last classes in seminary, Dr. Stuart gave us a brief presentation, "How to keep your Hebrew hot in just 3 minutes a day!"  The idea, quite simply, was to give us a manageable method for keeping our language skills alive in workable order.  Basically, all that's involved is:
  • read from the language out loud, maybe write it out too
  • spend two and a half minutes translating it thoroughly, not skipping any words
  • use any resource you need to figure it out (dictionary, lexicon, grammar text, etc.)
  • spend the last half-minute reviewing what you just read/translated (repetition=important)
  • take Sundays and holidays off (missing a day or two now and then won't kill you)
Although this was in a course that dealt with biblical Hebrew, he assured us that this is a good method for keeping any non-native language alive.  And that means something coming from him, because he knows more than 10 languages!  Plus, he has been teaching for well over 40 years, so he's had plenty of feedback from former students about this system.

I share this partly because many of my friends are also language fans, both professionally and academically.  The other reason for sharing this is that I've started trying this out.  I've got four languages that I want to keep usefully alive: Vulgate/Ecclesiastical Latin, Old English, Biblical Hebrew, and Koine Greek.  Luckily for me, I've got at least partial Bibles in each of those languages so I can link my daily Bible-reading to a daily language refresher.  What I've decided to do is take one verse from the Bible for each language and spend up to five minutes on each.


I wrote out Jeremiah 17:27 in Latin, John 7:1 in Anglo-Saxon English, I Chronicles 8:1 in Hebrew, and Romans 9:30 in Greek.  It became clear pretty quickly that my competency varies from language to language.  I needed extra time to get through just 8 words in Hebrew, while I completed an entire compound sentence in Old English.  My knowledge of Latin also has a very limited vocabulary (and the verses in Jeremiah and the prophets in general are quite long as it is).  So when I give this another round this afternoon I think I'll keep the Latin & Hebrew excerpts short so I don't feel like I need to rush through lots of words.

Obviously this system won't make me fluent in any of these languages, but it should at least keep me from losing what I do remember, and challenge me every now and then to re-learn things I have forgotten. 

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