Monday, April 3, 2017

{Review} First Form Greek (Memoria Press)

If you read our blog very often at all, you know that my 9th grade daughter, Amber, is obsessed with language. Not only English, but learning additional languages, and she appears to have a gift for languages. Recently Amber asked me how difficult it would be to arrange for her to learn some Greek. She was not sure how far she wanted to take Greek, however she had enough of an interest to start learning the alphabet on her own.

The opportunity to review the First Form Greek Complete Set from Memoria Press came shortly after Amber indicated her interest in Greek. I had not given Amber's request the priority it deserved, since honestly I wasn't sure if Amber was dedicated enough to her newfound interest in Greek to use a full language curriculum. We research the product on the Memoria Press website together and spent quite a bit of time perusing the samples. In the end, Amber was able to convince me that she held enough interest to make it worth the effort to try out First Form Greek.

Review of Memoria Press First Form Greek

What we received in the mail from Memoria Press was a rather impressive, and definitely complete, curriculum for learning Greek. Let me say right away this set is not designed for middle school  or high school aged students as their first foray into a foreign language. Memoria Press clearly states the youngest age student should be sixth grade and only after fulfilling the recommended prerequisites:

  • A minimum of two years of Latin grammar
  • The Greek Alphabet Book (also published by Memoria Press)  - with the caveat that students may skip this book and spend extra time in lesson 1 learning the Greek alphabet. 

First Form Greek Complete Set:

  • Student Text - This is a shorter than normal text and includes all 31 lessons in the curriculum. This is a reference style text that presents the topics of each lesson with plenty of charts and detailed information to understand the grammar of Greek.
  • Student Workbook - This is a consumable book where the student practices the repetition needed to learn a language.
  • Teacher Manual - Literally everything you need to guide your student through the process of learning Greek. It begins with a section of teaching guidelines which introduce the methods and structure of the course. The student text pages are inset into the teacher manual, along with detailed instructions for each day. There are also extra notes provided to the teacher for help in understanding aspects of the language.
  • Quizzes and Tests - This provides weekly quizzes and unit tests that can be reproduced.
  • Teacher Key - This book has the answers for the workbook, quizzes, and tests.  It is a spiral bound book, which makes it so much easier to lay open, with each of the workbook or quiz / test pages displayed as half of a landscape oriented page. The answers are completed in blue making it easy to read.
  • DVDs - There are five DVDs in the set that include a video lesson for each of the lessons in the student text. There are also oral drills that can be done through the DVD instead of with the instructor.
  • Pronunciation CD - It includes the alphabet, vocabulary, grammar, and sayings for each lesson. This was invaluable to us!
  • Flashcards - Ordered by lesson, with the lesson number conveniently in the top left corner. There are flashcards for the vocabulary, grammar forms, and lesson sayings.

Review of Memoria Press First Form Greek

First Form Greek is designed so that parents / teachers with no Greek language experience can successfully teach their student(s) as well as learn Greek themselves. It did take me a few hours of preparation to come to grips with how everything in the set worked together. If you have used First Form Latin before, the set probably will make immediate sense because First Form Greek was based on that design. Although, after a thorough reading of the teaching guidelines in the Teacher Manual and simply looking over everything, I was able to easily understand the process that is meant to be used. It is nearly an open-and-go type of curriculum once you understand the layout.
Amber is at a slight advantage to me in that she already has taken three years of Latin, and thus meets that part of the prerequisite. However since I did somewhat guide her through that language as well, I have not been entirely unprepared to learn Greek. We had not used the Greek Language Book and so decided to spend extra time on lesson one, as suggested by Memoria Press. I did have a moment of worry and ordered the additional book anyway. While the book looks lovely, Amber did not use it at all. On the other hand, I could still use more alphabet help.

Review of Memoria Press First Form Greek

The course is set up where each lesson takes five days, with each day's activities being clearly set out in the teacher guide. Instead of taking the single five days on lesson one, we doubled the time for each day. This allowed Amber to work solely on the alphabet for two weeks before moving on to additional grammar and vocabulary. And it appears to be all that she needed for learning the alphabet.

While the entire set is not necessary, strictly speaking, I cannot imagine we would be nearly as successful with this curriculum without all of the added components. We have used the DVD lesson two different ways: on the first day of a new lesson as our introduction to the new topics, and on the second day of the lesson when we are to review the whole lesson text. There is something to be said about working your way mentally through the lesson text without the video first. However, I think we spent more time correcting our pronunciation errors using the video second.

Review of Memoria Press First Form Greek
Teacher manual samples
We would have been fairly lost without the pronunciation CD too. Immediately on the first day of our Greek lessons, I copied the CD tracks to Amber's iPad so she could listen to the track that correlates with the week's lesson. She actually goes over the tracks in the evening during her relaxation time along with the flash cards since the CD covers the same material as the flash cards. This is a great way for her to work on the auditory and visual parts of Greek.

Now that Amber is in high school, much of her work is done independently. However, we found Greek needed more teacher time, so we work through the lessons together much in the same way as Amber's German lessons. The only difference is that I'm learning Greek along with Amber while still acting as her guide. I do try to read ahead a whole lesson to ensure I understand the grammar prior to attempting to clarify it for Amber. Our usual lesson time takes between 30 minutes and an hour each day and has a predictable pattern:
  • Start together with the daily recitation
  • Go over any lesson text or watch the video 
  • Read any extra teacher guide notes
  • Amber does her correlating workbook pages right there with me for immediate feedback. Sometimes I check her work as she does each section so she can feel more confident.
  • Complete any applicable oral drills (day 5 only)

We are not huge fans of quizzes or tests; they produce more anxiety than they are worth for Amber. However, we often use what is intended to be a quiz or test as a review sheet.  That is how Amber has been using the Greek quizzes. She tries her best to complete them without looking at her book or workbook, but references her books when needed. I would rather she continue to reinforce her learning correctly than stress over a quiz grade.

Even as review sheets the quizzes cause consternation. 
Amber absolutely loves the format of First Form Greek! The daily dose of Greek keeps her mind in the language each day, but the assignments are not so much to overtire her. She has been making steady progress through the curriculum, and has declared it her favorite subject of late. Although I'm going through the same lessons, I do not complete the workbook assignments or practice the vocabulary as much and it shows. Amber is significantly quicker than I am with the alphabet letters & sounds, and the vocabulary. The only thing I have on her is my experience with other languages that allows for quicker understanding of the grammar. All of those assignments I skip really do have a purpose.

We've had an amazingly positive experience with First Form Greek because Amber is exactly the type of student suited to use it.  
  • Prior Latin instruction
  • High school aged - I think some of the grammar might be difficult for middle school students
  • Teacher has no Greek experience, but time to learn with the student. This will not be an independent learning course for most students.
  • Strong desire to learn languages, specifically Greek

Students that might struggle with First Form Greek:
  • Those that do not meet the recommended prerequisites
  • Students who struggle with Latin grammar. It definitely requires more than knowledge of Latin vocabulary.
  • Middle school age students who might have some Latin experience, but skipped the Greek Alphabet Book. I think a high school student with Latin experience can safely bypass the additional book, as long as they spend extra time in lesson one.
  • Students who expect to use this as an independent study course

Overall, this is a fantastic program for students serious about learning Greek as opposed to those who want to learn a few Greek root words. All aspects of the First Form Greek Complete Set are designed to help the student advance their knowledge of the language through multiple learning methods.


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Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed a variety of products from Memoria Press including the First Form Greek Complete Set we used. Please follow the link in the graphic below to read the reviews on:

First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}

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