Could one write a communicative curriculum to cover Mounce?

I’ve been a bit behind in my blogging; I have some half-finished materials but the busyness of general life has been rather much lately.

This is a question that was put to me, and I thought it worth making into a post.


The answer is, “only if we unravel the question.”

Mounce, now in its 4th edition, is the market-dominant textbook for a traditional Grammar-Translation approach to New Testament Greek, widely employed in seminaries. It’s what I first used to tackle Greek when I did a year of self-guided study way-back-when. It’s great at what it does, that is it’s a book that is effective within its pedagogical scope of “explicit, grammar and morphology, learning.”

That’s… not what a Comprehensible-Input based approach is about though. CI-based teaching is neither an alternate way to reach the same goal, nor a better way to reach the same goal. It’s a principle of providing communicative input to language learners that enables acquisition – the internal, implicit development of a mental representation of a language, that allows the learner (over time) to process and understand pieces of language (words, phrases, clauses, paragraphs, discourses) in the target language.

At the end of Mounce, what can a student do? I know, because I was there! You can translate, with more or less helps, and you can parse. You can analyse, and you can talk meta-language about Greek.

At the end of [X amount of hours of CI-based input], what can a learner do? My goal is that at the end of a reasonable course of Koine-focused instruction (and, I should say, that this is only my goal in the context of teaching seminary students focused on New Testament Koine in particular; other contexts have other scopes), learners can pick up New Testament passages of appropriate difficulty, and read and understand them without analysis.

My secondary goal is to give them the tools to do what a G/T student can do, that is I am also aiming and providing resources for students to analyse and talk about language explicitly. But this is not a CI-based method or outcome.

Now, presuming that a well-designed CI-based approach gets students to an ability to read a reasonable amount of NT Greek, will they have covered Mounce? That question makes less and less sense. The goals are different, the method is different, because the type of learning is different.

But, I will say, that if a student gets to the end of 2 semesters of NT Greek with me, and has been reasonably diligent, that given enough hours, they’ll be able to read more than a Mounce student can. And, if they’re given a bit of grammar after the bulk of CI-based material, they’ll be able to apply that reasonably well to the language they’ve acquired.


I don’t think a CLT or CI-based curriculum should aim to cover Mounce, because I think any well-designed set of CI-based materials will be doing something different, and will cover what Mounce covers by-the-by.

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