Constituent Marking, Semantic Diagraming, and Color-Coding for Learning Koine Greek

My approach to language instruction is informed by the fields of text-linguistics, social-cultural intertextuality, and pragmatics. Communication is ostensive while at the same time deeply embedded in culture assuming shared cognitive environments. Ideally, biblical language instruction should correspond to the anticipated future habitual use(s) of the biblical languages by students, i.e., to have a deep, rich, fully-embodied understanding of what was/is communicated in Scripture. Importantly, too, the curriculum should foster the affective dimension of learning the biblical languages by addressing motivation, relevance, curiosity, appreciation of cultural-embedded meanings, and the aesthetic beauty of the language in written and oral form. In view of these factors, I propose a robust exegetical-pragmatic and social-cultural intertextual approach to language acquisition that teaches a restored Koine era pronunciation and discusses ancient artifacts (see my Koine Greek Grammar: A Beginning-Intermediate Exegetical and Pragmatic Handbook). In my Greek exegesis class as an M. Div. student (1990), the guest lecturer Eugene Nida described how the basic sentence constituents consisted of conjunction, subject, verb, and any compliments. These arguments constitute basic slots for typical sentences. Everything else found in a sentence, insisted Nida, was a modifier. On the chalk board he then wrote out different verses from Mark's Gospel, diagramming and describing their constituents, to show the importance of reference disambiguation and modification. Building upon Nida's seminal insights, I have developed three different teaching approaches: constituent marking (first semester Greek), semantic diagramming (second semester Greek), and a color-coding schema applied to Greek sentences inside of Logos Bible Software (all subsequent courses). These approaches encourage students to visualize, navigate, observe, inquire about, and focus upon the most salient sentence constituents. The color coding alerts students to the presence of connectives, non-indicative moods, pronouns (which tell a story), prominent verb tenses, as well as to modifiers such as adverbs, prepositional phrases, quantitative descriptors, and comparisons/superlatives. My overall approach to ancient Greek especially considers what I call "adjunctive grammar" since I pay attention to "optional" modifying constituents that reflect communicative import. In these approaches, students learn the value of word order, contextual-syntagmatic relations, paradigmatic options ("choice implies meaning"), and larger structural patterns of information structure as represented by the repetition of words and sounds, connectives, tense variations, lists, metacomments, generalizing statements, bracketing, chiasms, etc. The basic questions that operationalize my adjunctive approach are these: What are the core sentence constituents? What variations in word order are seen? What modifiers are present and what modifies what? How does each modifier modify what it does? And, why is the modification made in context? Students are always encouraged to ask questions and to consider the social-cultural context of the discourse. For this session, when given a NT pericope, I would briefly demonstrate teaching each of these approaches, their benefits, and assessment. These approaches may be seen and discussed on my YouTube channel "Greek Matters."