Review: Memoria Press First Form Greek
First Form Greek Complete Set by Memoria Press is a challenging and interesting language adventure for the high school student.
It was with much trepidation that I accepted Rose Red's request to accept this review assignment, but she was so excited and enthusiastic that I couldn't say no. Memoria Press states, "First Form Greek . . . presumes mastery of the alphabet only . . . Those who have not learned the alphabet may spend additional time in Lesson 1 of First Form Greek." (Teacher Manual, p. vi)
When Memoria Press recommends that a student study The Greek Alphabet Book before starting First Form Greek, they're not kidding.
I recommend it, too.
We definitely spent additional time in Lesson 1--as in 3 weeks just working on memorizing the alphabet and the sounds. At the end of 3 weeks--after reading and listening to the lesson 15 times, we were still struggling with which sounds did what and went where.
This is not because the program is poor. On the contrary, it is informative, organized, and well-presented. It is the act of learning a whole new alphabet that is challenging.
Just get The Greek Alphabet Book before diving into First Form Greek.
Trust me. 😉
In fact, we're going to get it ourselves and start over again.
But before starting over, we did our best to get to know the program.
The way it is designed, this is no hand-it-to-the-student-and-walk-away curriculum. This is teacher intensive. In fact, the teacher manual directs the teacher to not only read all material before the student does, but to read it more than once, do the workbook pages, take the quizzes, and practice oral recitations in advance of the student to be prepared to lead the student through the lessons.
Memoria Press recommends organizing a co-op or class for doing First Form Greek together, and after working with the curriculum, I can see that would be a great way to complete this program. It would also be so fun for any parent and teen who enjoy learning side by side.
I love the idea, and it is joyful to study with my girl.
The reality is that it's too challenging for us--a household with a dozen children and a mom that relies on students learning independently for most of the day. So, as we practiced, I had to bow out of our joint studies.
We did some tweaking of the recommended plan to get Rose Red as independent as possible.
Here's what we received:
1. A set of 5 instructional DVDs
2. A CD with oral instruction
3. Student Text
4. Teacher Manual
5. Student Workbook
6. Quizzes and Tests book
7. Teacher Key
8. A big set of flashcards.
There are samples of all of the books here.
In order to make Rose Red's Greek study more independent, I handed over the DVD, CD, Student text, Student Workbook, and the Teacher Manual to her.
The teacher's manual lays out the work very clearly!
See "DAY ONE" and "DAY TWO"? (Days 3-5 are on the facing page) See all of those checkboxes? There are the recommended lesson plans for each day. All Rose Red has to do is open the Teacher Manual and work her way through all of the checkboxes for the day. She also watches the DVD lesson (which covers the same material the text does) at least once a week, and she listens to the CD almost every day. When she's done, she brings her work to me, and I hand her the answer key for correcting her work. I do a bit of spot checking to see that she's caught the gist of what was being asked, and we call it good for the day.
She spends a good hour a day on this curriculum.
She is missing some of the benefit of doing the program as Memoria Press recommends--she's not doing all of the routine oral drills/recitations because they aren't on the daily checklists, and she's quite likely not to try very hard to memorize what ought to be memorized.
(But I think the latter is a result of her personality. I have another daughter who would drill herself to mastery with nary a check from me.)
|Here's a photo of part of one of the recitation pages in the back of the Student Book that Rose Red isn't benefiting from because we're not having a teacher-led experience. There's great stuff available to learn in this program!|
And no need to panic about reading the Greek. The DVD and CD both have lots of pronunciation help!
There are a number of recommended drills and activities suitable for a group setting to help the students memorize and master the material. They look interesting and would certainly save a co-op teacher time researching games on his/her own.
Rose Red feels that the video lessons are unprofessional. I watched them, and I think her teen reaction is due to being quite used to glitzy, high-budget documentary shows instead of video-led instruction. It is true that the editing is a jumpy--it's clear where the recordings stop and start and have been edited. It is also true that the teacher seems to float in front of the animated background--her hair is kind of pixelated around the edges where the screens have been merged. However, the lesson follows the text, and the opportunity to listen to her speak Greek is invaluable.
The instructor is serious and is clearly reciting a memorized script. She isn't casually teaching something she's comfortable with, nor does she joke or chat with the students. In the videos I watched, she never smiled, and she often looks down to refer to notes, so her demeanor is not engaging.
But her directions and lessons are clearly presented.
And the subject matter is often presented visually with diagrams that enhance the black and white diagrams in the text:
|Screenshot from Instructional DVD 1|
In my opinion, Memoria Press has written an outstanding Greek curriculum. This program is thorough (spelling, vocabulary, grammar, idioms, phrases, pronunciation) and challenging. It is organized and well-written, and were I in the right season for studying with my Rose Red, I would have so enjoyed working through the program with her.
They are right when they say that the teacher has no need to have experience with Greek in order to help a student learn. I have no experience whatsoever, and my knowledge is even less than my student's knowledge at this point, but when she comes to me with a question, I can find the answer in the materials provided and I can assist her in understanding.
Now that our review period is over, Rose Red is going to put this set of books away for a time, and work through The Greek Alphabet as a summer study. After cementing the alphabet and pronunciation into her brain more thoroughly, she plans to pick up First Form Greek again in her senior year.
It will be a challenge and triumph to finish it!
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