Why I’m Not Offering Greek Courses (Yet)

Many of you know that I’ve been learning Ancient Greek for a long time now (5 years), and that I very much love learning and teaching Ancient Greek. Some of you also know that I severely increased the intensity of my Ancient Greek studies a year ago, and that I went “full Greek” – my insanely productive and insanely insane attempt at Ancient Greek immersion – this last summer (more on that later). Some even knew that I had intended to start an online school, to which you knew that the extra study of Ancient Greek was somehow connected. Given all of this, why wouldn’t I offer courses in Ancient Greek?

It’s not that I’m unable. Last year, I led a group of eighth-graders in a conversation and comprehensible-input, reading-based Ancient Greek club after school. At the time of writing this, I’m teaching Greek to two excellent private tutoring students: one a PhD student currently writing a dissertation about Aristotle, and the other a priest pursuing an MA in patristics. Even now, I’m willing to teach Ancient Greek through private tutoring, and I have availabilities (see more). I’m not offering these courses for different reasons.

First, there simply aren’t enough good conversation and CI reading-based resources around which to base high quality pre-recorded video lesson series, and the return-on-investment doesn’t justify the cost of producing them myself. And I don’t mean monetary investment; the production of resources would require a ton of time that could be better spent learning more important things or producing Ancient Greek materials that are more needed.

Second, scholars and students of the Ancient Greek language often don’t know much (IMHO) about the most important texts written in Ancient Greek. Similarly, scholars (in philosophy or political science departments, κτλ.) and students of texts written in Ancient Greek often can’t efficiently read the texts to the study of which they’ve devoted their lives. Both groups, when asked, say that they don’t have enough time to do both. The solution is to “kill two birds with one stone” by writing scholarship and courses about ancient texts that can serve as language pedagogical resources.

Third, nobody is producing resources for students of middle to upper-intermediate level proficiency. Why do students stop studying Ancient Greek? Sometimes it’s because they can’t stand the grind. More often, I suspect (at least for a certain type of student) is that they’re told that the grind will never stop and that they’ll never reach the point that they can read anything serious comfortably. Beginning Greek resources are pointless if students are quitting before they can use the language for the purposes that inspired them to learn the language in the first place; we need to produce these upper-level resources at the very least for the sake of morale.

Fourth, my conversational Greek isn’t good enough. I could make an asynchronous course that would serve a real need, but see point #1. Regarding synchronous courses, people like my friends Seumas Macdonald and Zoltan Tomko are doing an excellent job, so much so that I don’t think I could justify entering this market anytime soon.

In short, if you want me to teach you Ancient Greek, I’ll be happy to oblige through private or small-group tutoring, but it might be a while before I have regular Greek courses up-and-running.

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