Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) in the Learning of Greek and Latin (Reviews of CAI software, by divers hands)
Table of Contents
Latin: 1) Transparent Language (J. Conant). 2) Latin Computerized Grammar (S. Nakata). 3) Latin Flash Drill (M. Smith). 4) Johnston and Milgram, Latin Tutor (D. Cassella).
Greek: 5) Mastronarde, Electronic Workbook (J. Beach & M.L. Richards). 6) Burian and Blackwell, Gramma (K. Jaconi). 7) Wilkins, HyperGreek (G. Vidler). 8) Neuburg, JACT Reading Greek (K. Golemo).
Introduction (William A. Johnson)
Recently an undergraduate, in praising a CAI package, remarked how very much easier it was for her to remember something that she read on a computer screen. Pause for a moment to let this sink in. We who are university instructors do not commonly share this experience. For us, the more familiar formulation will be that seeing something on the printed page gives the great boost to recall and memorization. Indeed the flood of information scrolling past us on a computer screen has become a very symbol of what is ephemeral, evanescent, hard to attend, not the subject of close scrutiny. As an intellectual community, we have made the transition to computer literacy with unexpected grace, yet hardly any of us have grown up with computers. How could we, when significant ingress of computers into the home dates to the 1980s? Yet, even as we think ourselves comfortable within the electronic environment, we lose track, I think, of how our view of this environment differs from the view of the generation we are currently beginning to teach. For today's freshmen, the Apple II was introduced not long after they were born, the IBM-PC when they were 5 years old, the Macintosh when they were not yet eight. Childhood learning at home and school was closely associated with Sesame Street, Nintendo, Commodore, Atari, and that darling of the schoolroom, the Apple II. The computer screen, for such a student, is significantly less alien, more warm and friendly, more normal as a means for the discovery and recall of information. There is therefore good reason to think that CAI may play an increasingly important role in language instruction, and good cause to think useful an overview of some of the CAI software currently available. What follows is the tangible product (or as tangible as one needs in an electronic world) of a group study of and meditation upon the use of computers in the teaching of Greek and Latin (one theme of a recent graduate course in "Classics and Computing" at the University of California, Irvine). The software here reviewed was selected according to the results of queries to the Classics-related e-lists and cognoscenti in the field. Though in a couple of cases the selection reflects the textbook interests of our local program, in general the software was selected more for reputed merit than on any other basis. We hope, therefore, to provide here a survey of some, at least, of the better software available today.
What is the state of computer-assisted instruction in 1994? To what extent does it adequately address the needs of our students? The answers to these questions must be mixed.
On the one hand, one notes a continuing reliance on very basic, and rather limited, drill programs (some of which are little more than recompilations of older materials). The drill function is not in and of itself to be contemned, since introductory courses in Latin and Greek typically focus upon exactly such elements of the language. And, as already noticed, the importance of drill within an electronic environment cannot be underestimated for today's students. But some rather general shortcomings are so obvious and so readily remedied that it is hard to understand why they continue. The frequent inattention to the aesthetics of interface design is perhaps a minor point. More important will be the fact that much of the software shows a surprising inability to generate a variety of questions from one session to the next. In several cases, this problem could be solved by so simple an expedient as the addition of more exercises to the base set from which the program selects, so that the computer generates, say, a session of 10 exercises from a base set of 50 (rather than of 15!). Yet even more deplorable is the general inability of most programs to understand the most rudimentary synonyms in processing the user response. Our reviews are sprinkled with complaints on these sorts of inflexibility. It would seem, then, that we are still sadly far away from software which incorporates even mildly complex strategies for matching and retrieval, or which takes advantage of the enormous resources of memory and disk storage now available.
On the other hand, we do, here and there, see heartening signs of progress. Some of the more recent packages show laudable improvements in the user interface, in both design and function. Mastronarde's Electronic Notebook, and in lesser part Wilken's HyperGreek, Blackwell and Burian's Gramma, and Neuburg's JACT Greek, are noteworthy for incorporating at least most of the following: (1) visual appeal, (2) a well-developed network of on-line assistance, (3) easy movement among the various subsections of the data, (4) user customization, and (5) the use of sound. This last deserves additional comment. The importance of aural reinforcement in learning, especially in memorization, is well documented. Yet university instruction seldom lends itself to those monotonous yet indelible chants ("hic, haec, hoc") so familiar to those of us lucky enough to have learned Latin or Greek at an early age. Though none of the current software takes the principle nearly far enough, the systematic inclusion of aural reinforcement in exercises involving paradigms, vocabulary, and the like is an exciting prospect. I suspect that the addition of aural reinforcement may well prove decisive in encouraging instructors of the classical languages to adopt more routinely "computer lab" hours in a way analogous to the use of language labs in the modern languages.
In some respects the most significant of the software here reviewed is the Transparent Language package, which, by means of elaborate help windows, allows even an elementary student to work his or her way through relatively large amounts of original text. There have been earlier efforts in this direction (I am personally familiar with early experiments in Latin by Jay David Bolter and in Latin and Greek by David W. Packard), but TL is the first to make the attempt on such a grand scale. (TL offers dozens of texts in several different languages, including Latin, and, soon to come, Greek.) Such software, by radically facilitating the reading of original texts, offers opportunities in at least two directions. First, it could allow the instructor to introduce substantial readings at a much earlier stage in the elementary curriculum; and secondly, it could be used to encourage "rapid reading" among intermediate students. These seem important prospects in environments -- typical these days -- where most students have only two years of exposure to a language.
The increasing dominance of the electronic world is creating gradual but dramatic changes in how students are accustomed to learn, and it is within this context that we should try to assess the merits of computer-assisted instruction. We should think, that is, not so much of how such software might have helped us learn Greek or Latin (for we grew up in a different world), but how such software might help the students we instruct. For an earlier generation, computer-assisted drilling and the like helped students too undisciplined to work through flash cards or to write out paradigms. But today's students, I suggest, are fundamentally different in their attitudes towards what constitutes a normal atmosphere for learning. For such students, computer-aided instruction may well be fundamental to their abilities to learn. For this reason we as instructors should be particularly aware of the electronic aids currently available, even where, as often, the current state of the software falls short of the ideal.
Latin CAI Software
1) Transparent Language 2.0 (Reviewed by J. Conant) (Software for Macintosh or IBM. Assorted Latin text packages as e.g. Aeneid I, AP selections from Catullus and Horace, Plautus's Aulularia, etc., ranging in price from $14.95 to $39.95. Available from Transparent Language, 22 Proctor Hill Rd., P.O. Box 575, Hollis, NH 03049. Tel. 1-800-752-1767. Fax 1-603-465-2779. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Transparent Language is founded on the reasonable premises that the best way to develop reading fluency is to practice reading and that the best way to encourage practice is to make reading as easy as possible. The presentation of Transparent Language is simple: a window of Latin text is surrounded by a variety of "Information Windows". This repertoire of tools should seem very familiar to any modern student of Classics. The Original Language Text Window corresponds to the text you are reading. The Word Meaning Window is equivalent to your lexicon. The Phrase Meaning/Word Grouping Window displays information on complex and idiomatic phrases, providing information you might look for in your Latin Grammar. The Sentence or Clause Meaning Window is equivalent to your English translation of the Latin text, and the Comments Window provides the morphological, syntactical and background information you wish were in your commentary (but so often isn't). The Notes Window is, of course, your handy note pad. Transparent Language also has a few more advanced features, including two kinds of searching. Word Search searches the text for recurrence of the same letters. Root Search searches for words with the same lexical entry. Features also include the capacity to generate word lists, e.g. of unfamiliar words for later study, and a vocabulary game called "Vocabulous!". The information in the auxiliary windows is keyed to the Latin text on three levels, by word, by phrase, and by sentence or clause. The word under consideration is indicated by highlighting. Words closely related to it, e.g. adjectives which modify a noun or the elements of a subordinate clause, are indicated by underlining. English translation is presented by sentence or clause, but the boundaries are not indicated in the Original Text Window.
Transparent Language supports both keyboard and mouse interface. Most features are executable in three ways, by "hot key", button bar, and menu.
In some ways, Transparent Language achieves its goal. Reading Latin is very easy because the processes are so streamlined. Momentum is not squandered by endlessly searching through references. Everything is at hand on the screen. Of course, you can close information windows, if you require less support, and easily reopen them, if you change your mind. It would however be helpful if there were some preset sequence to summon help for a particular word or phrase, and then have the help automatically disappear as one moves along. An undisciplined student may well find that the constant availability of "crutches" hinders an honest attempt to grapple with the original text.
The only serious drawback with Transparent Language is the fact that reading large amounts of text on a computer screen can be annoying. I can read hard copy for hours, but more than a half hour or so of reading a computer screen gives me a headache. Whether this is true for today's students is hard to say. It may be merely a matter of practice, for I am able to spend hours composing on the computer -- but perhaps that is a different kind of reading? In any case, Transparent Language does its best to ameliorate the problem by allowing the reader to move and resize the various windows and to change the size and font of the text.
Transparent Language rightly claims to be useful to any level of student. But I think it would be most useful for intermediate students, those who have been introduced to Latin and have digested basic grammar and are ready to start reading. Transparent Language could be used at the end of the first year, and in second and third year Latin coursework, to increase the amount students read. Another group who might profit from Transparent Language are those who are done with formal study of Latin in high school or college and wish to read Latin texts on their own. They would find the extensive support provided by the information windows especially useful.
Transparent Language is not perfect, but it is a step, perhaps even a long walk, in the right direction. Reading Latin has never been so easy.
Addendum: Transparent Language has now announced version 3.0. The promotional literature mentions an on-line reference grammar, more games, and expanded audio capability: some texts (available on CD-ROM) are now keyed to two digital recordings, words spoken continuously and each individually.
2) Latin Grammar Computerized I and II. (Reviewed by Sharilyn R. Nakata) (Software for Macintosh, IBM, Apple II [Macintosh version here reviewed]. License $59.95 ea., site $180.00 ea. Available from Lingo Fun, Inc., P.O. Box 486, Westerville, OH 43081. Tel. 614-882-8258 or 800-745-8258. Fax 614-882-2390.)
This is a basic, no-frills software program containing two levels of drills in first-year Latin grammar. Level I covers twenty grammatical topics, including the following: the tenses of all four conjugations; all five declensions; participles (along with the ablative absolute and the passive periphrastic constructions); prepositions; pronouns (relative, interrogative, reflexive, personal, and demonstrative); adverbs; the passive system; indirect statement. Level II also covers twenty grammatical topics, and includes the following: uses and constructions involving the different cases; deponent verbs; irregular verbs; the subjunctive; the sequence of tenses; purpose, result, and fearing clauses; cum clauses; indirect questions and commands; conditions. This program does not seem to be based on any particular textbook, although Wheelock does come to mind, largely in terms of the sequence of topics presented.
Navigating through the program is simple. On starting up, one is confronted by a box identifying the topic being covered as well as the kind of drill being presented, and one is always brought back to this box at the beginning and end of each drill. The topic and drill may be changed -- as the instructions in the box indicate -- by clicking on the Topic and Lesson menus at the top of the screen. The Help menu provides on-line assistance in the form of general instructions and information on input, feedback, and scoring for the drills, as well as in the form of a concise discussion (Lesson Review) of each grammatical topic.
Drills consist of ten questions, each worth three points if the correct answer is given on the first attempt. Points are deducted with each unsuccessful attempt, though hints as to what is wrong with one's answer are provided by means of various symbols. After three wrong answers, the correct answer is provided, and one is moved along to the next question. Different kinds of drills are provided with each grammatical topic. One may, for instance, choose to concentrate only on generating forms, or on translating phrases and clauses from Latin to English or vice versa, or on practicing other skills through other kinds of drills. One may also opt for a combination of all of these.
This program is commendable and of enormous potential for the beginning Latin student in a number of ways. The interface, if plain, is for the most part self-explanatory and easy to use. The list of grammatical topics is a relatively complete one for first-year Latin, and the fact that the software does resemble Wheelock in its sequence suggests that it might be used as a supplement to that textbook. (The exercises in Wheelock, after all, do not emphasize individual grammatical drills so much as the translation of complete sentences from Latin-to-English and vice versa). Of course, the program's main feature -- the grammatical drill -- would be an extremely useful supplement to any beginning textbook. The principal strength of the drill feature in this program is its potential for variety, since it does allow the choice of one or more drills for each topic. The Lesson Review provided with each topic is also noteworthy in that it is concise and clearly written, making for an easily digestible (and relatively painless) chunk of information to be taken in as one moves along through the program.
Unfortunately, there are a number of things about the program which hinder its practical usefulness. The box which identifies the topic and drill being covered contains the word Text in place of what was probably intended, Test. In any case, this clearly refers to the drill being covered, and so the word Drill would have been a more logical label. Likewise, since the Lesson menu obviously refers to the drills, it should have been called the Drill menu. This sort of inconsistency is annoying at best, and confusing at worst. The Help menu lists Accents as an option, and while this is appropriate and necessary for Spanish or French (for which this drill program is available), it is hardly so for Latin. Lesson Review is probably a misnomer; it would be better to read the discussion of each grammatical topic before proceeding to the drills, since at times the latter (through its terminology and use of abbreviations) assume that one has done this. The presence of the Exercise menu is also questionable, since one of its options -- Grammar Computerized -- goes without saying, and the other option -- Teacher's Gradebook -- should not be there for the student. There is a small number of misspellings throughout the program, e.g. spec for spes under 4th and 5th Declensions, and ipsis for ipsa as a neuter plural accusative for ipse under Demonstrative Pronouns. There are also a few mistranslations, e.g. "Let them not speak" for Ne loquamur under Subjunctive: Commands and Wishes. Within the drills themselves, a serious flaw is the fact that the range of allowable translations is simply not large enough. Examples abound: "big gift" is not allowed for donum magnum under 1st and 2nd Declensions; "I act" is the only translation for ago under Present Tense of the 3rd Conjugation; "you are desiring" is not allowed for cupitis under Present Tense: 3rd -io/4th Conjugation; etc. This serves only to hinder and frustrate the beginning student, who should be taught that there are a number of ways to translate different words and phrases, and that while there are many wrong answers, there is no absolute right answer when translating. A final desideratum: an on-line vocabulary list would be helpful for the drills involving the translation of English-to-Latin. As it stands, it is not clear what level of vocabulary the user of this program is supposed to have mastered.
While the above flaws do hinder the potential of this otherwise useful program, one should still keep in mind the fact that the program does have potential. With adjustments and corrections, Latin Computerized Grammar I and II should be of enormous benefit to students and instructors alike in terms of its usefulness in grammatical drill review. To many beginning students, this is probably the most tedious aspect of learning Latin, and when it is done orally in the classroom, it can also be stressful and intimidating. With this program, the tedium might not be entirely removed (no colors, pictures, or voices provided here!), but the stress and intimidation are. One may drill at one's own pace, outside of the classroom, and so this allows classroom time to be freed up for other things which the instructor should ideally oversee and comment on directly, viz. the translation of longer sentences and passages.
3) Latin Flash Drill, Centaur Systems. (Reviewed by Margaret M. Smith) (Software for Macintosh, IBM, Apple II [the Macintosh version reviewed here runs under HyperCard]. Site license only, $95.00. Available from Lingo Fun, Inc., P.O. Box 486, Westerville, OH 43081. Tel. 614-882-8258 or 800-745-8258. Fax 614-882-2390.)
Remember your elementary Latin class? You learned paradigms by repeating them after your teacher for seemingly endless stretches of time. You may have even written countless forms in a faithful notebook. Perhaps you were lucky enough to have a workbook to accompany your textbook. Latin Flash Drill, an electronic workbook, is designed to assist students in memorizing paradigms of Latin nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs. The electronic practice page looks like one found in a workbook. The Latin word, its gender (when applicable), and meaning are provided at the top of the page. The student is prompted to type the stem of the word and then the appropriate endings in the boxes provided for the paradigm. At the bottom of the workbook page are six commands: Menu (return to the main menu), Quit (exit Latin Flash Drill), Hint (provides a coded hint for the stem or ending), Code (retrieves a list of codes for the hints), Help (shows the entire paradigm), and Skip (allows the student to skip a line of the paradigm and proceed). If the student types an incorrect ending, the program responds with the written message "Try again," or "Help/Hint?" until the student either types the correct response or selects the Skip command to move ahead in the exercise. When the student completes the paradigm, the program gives a report (Good job! / Well Done! / That wasn't too bad / You need more practice) and asks the student whether he or she wants to continue practice or to move on. The program also includes brief grammar and syntax discussions for each part of speech. These Grammar Explanations review English grammar as the first step in the discussion of Latin grammar. Students may freshen their resolve between paradigms by reading Main Menu item #5: Linguistic History (Why study Latin?).
Latin Flash Drill does have limitations and a few drawbacks. The vocabulary list is fixed and cannot be customized. The program selects words for the paradigms at random, but a word may be repeated several times in a row before a new word is selected. The program does not include infinitives, participles, gerunds, gerundives, supines, or any irregular verbs such as sum or volo. Nor does Latin Flash Drill make provision for the memorization of alternate endings. For example: the accusative plural form of civis can only be listed as cives; the third person plural perfect indicative active form can end only in -erunt not -ere. There are also occasional errors. The genitive plural of ego is given as nostrorum rather than nostrum / nostri. When the Help command is used -oru/-aru appears for the genitive plural ending for many pronouns although -orum/-arum is accepted as the correct answer. Latin Flash Drill asks the student to type simple word endings without long marks. It focuses on learning the endings with relatively few obstacles. For rapid review, this can be an advantage over programs that require the student to type the whole word. Occasionally, however, as in the case of pronouns, the ability to type the whole word would facilitate memorization.
Latin Flash Drill allows students to practice at their own pace. There is no time limit, the program does not tire of incorrect responses, and the student can refer to hints or help as needed. This is not a fancy practice program. But simple though it is, Latin Flash Drill interacts with the student and provides the immediate feedback necessary to encourage students to memorize paradigms. This program does not depend on one particular text. It is a tool that can be incorporated into the assignments of any introductory Latin course. The conscientious use of Latin Flash Drill could result in less time spent on drills in the classroom and tutorial sessions, thus increasing the time in which classes can discuss syntax and read Latin.
4) Patricia A. Johnston and Marc Milgram, Latin Tutor: Software to Accompany Traditio: An Introduction to the Latin Language and Its Influence. (Reviewed by Dean Cassella) (Software for MS-DOS. Available for cost of diskette and shipping from Prof. Maria Pantelia. E-mail: email@example.com.)
This software package is designed to be used exclusively with the elementary text Traditio by Patricia A. Johnston (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1988). The program is broken up into two parts (verbs and nouns/adjectives) and focuses on vocabulary acquisition and parsing of forms. The vocabulary and paradigms employed in the drills and exercises correspond to the individual chapters of the Traditio text.
In comparison to other such autodidactic programs, Latin Tutor is quite simplistic, with a plain layout and straightforward functions. In the verb section, the student is given the choice of 1) Conjugating Verbs in Latin, 2) English-to-Latin Vocabulary Drill, 3) Latin-to-English Vocabulary Drill, and, in later chapters, 4) Verb Synopsis.
The verb conjugation option requires the student to give the definition of a word and then to enter the paradigm of a tense preselected by him. The verbs for the chapter are initially listed for reference. The computer keeps track of the user's performance and gives a score at the end of each drill, followed by a "second chance" with the forms missed. If the student doesn't fare well, a review of the relevant paradigm appears on the screen.
The Latin-to-English and English-to-Latin drills work along the same premise. The program presents a series of 10 infinitives, to which the corresponding translation is to be supplied by the user. Again, the vocabulary for the given chapter is in full sight on screen, and a score follows.
Perhaps the most intensive (and useful) of the verb sections is the Verb Synopsis. The user chooses a verb from a given chapter, then selects person and number. The program then requires the student to list that form for every possible tense, mood and voice learned thus far. It's quite a workout, and requires the user to call to mind individual forms outside the context of the paradigm.
The noun section consists of 1) Noun/Adjective Phrase Declension Drill, 2) English-to-Latin and Latin-to-English Noun Vocabulary Drills, and 3) English-to-Latin and Latin-to-English Adjective Vocabulary Drills. All of these drills work along the same principles as the verb section.
Noun/Adjective Phrase Declension asks the student to input a noun/adjective combination (e.g. "unhappy book") and then list all possible declensions, one at a time. The noun vocabulary drills work along the same premise as that of the verbs, with the exception of the nouns, which also test knowledge of the genitive singular and gender.
The bareness of the formatting, however, seems designed for an earlier and clunkier generation of computers. For example, long vowels are indicated by capitals, instead of macrons; this could be a source of confusion (or at least inconvenience) for beginning students.
Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of this program is its complete lack of syntax drills. Self-correcting exercises in the Traditio textbook are sorely lacking; since the whole Traditio package (i.e. the text and software) does not allow the student to gauge his progress independently, the student must still rely on the instructor more than is perhaps necessary; this also limits the application of the software for a student learning Latin on his own. Consequently, the potential for independent study afforded by this program is undeveloped. Perhaps a second edition could improve the deficiency.
Finally, how can the elementary Latin teacher employ this program? Its greatest potential is that it could free up class time to work on syntax. Parsing forms and the like can quickly eat up a given classroom hour, at the expense of other topics. Today's beginning students often are not prepared for the rigorous and unusual demands placed on them in learning Latin; many have no idea how to go about memorizing paradigms and vocabulary lists. Support from this program can fill in the gaps an instructor with limited time cannot provide.
Greek CAI Software
5) Donald J. Mastronarde, Introduction to Attic Greek, Electronic Workbook. (Reviewed by Jennifer Beach and Mary Lou Richards) (Software for Macintosh. To be published by University of California Press, price not yet determined. Review is based on the "beta test" release, which is not complete.)
Donald Mastronarde has assembled a very attractive software package as companion and supplement to his new textbook, Introduction to Attic Greek. The Electronic Workbook, as Mastronarde aptly calls it, is engagingly designed, with close attention to the aesthetics of the presentation and ease of operation. The mobility among the elements of the program is excellent, as is the flexibility which the program offers both in choice and customization of the drills and tutorials. On-line help at every turn, including help balloons, make the software virtually self-explanatory. In addition, the interactive interface lets the student know not only that an answer is wrong, but why it is wrong or what part of it is wrong. Sound, color, and narrative are used throughout the package to acknowledge correct answers and give positive and negative feedback in a well-balanced proportion. The end result is a rich set of alternatives and assistance without unnecessary confusion or intimidation for the user.
The program consists of several discrete lesson modules, all of which can be accessed easily from within any module with a few clicks of the mouse. The modules contain lessons on accentuation, pronunciation, nouns, verbs, and vocabulary. All of the modules (with the exception of pronunciation) have a variety of interactive drills, with a heavy emphasis on parsing and vocabulary recognition. Each exercise has a number of labeled buttons which lead to pertinent paradigms or summary of rules, thereby offering instant aid to students who require review. The student also can customize each drill to address his or her immediate needs by selecting options available under the "Customize" button. Several of the modules use vocabulary corresponding to the units in Mastronarde's text, but there are customizing options available to allow preparation of one's own lists. This feature makes it possible for instructors to augment the vocabulary, and could make the software useful even for students and instructors who are not using the Mastronarde text.
The accentuation module includes a tutorial section summarizing the rules of accentuation in a concise card format, with each card dedicated to a particular subject. The subject range covers syllables and accents, proclitics, enclitics, definition of terms, and persistent and recessive accentuation. The practice and drill section, which utilizes vocabulary from units two through eight, allows students to drill on both persistent and recessive accentuation. The first drill consists of identifying the proper accent for each word, and giving a summary of the accent rule it demonstrates. The second drill asks the student first to select and then to place the proper accent over the correct vowel in a list of words. Errors are noted for both accent type and placement; students are allowed as many trials as necessary to obtain the right answer. The first exercise is passive and demands reflection, and the second is interactive and gives the student an opportunity to apply newly acquired knowledge.
The pronunciation guide and practice modules come equipped with sound, and give aural reinforcement to help solidify vocabulary knowledge. Aural reinforcement is not, however, integrated into the other modules.
The noun and verb modules offer some of the strongest features the software provides. These modules concentrate on form identification and parsing skills. The exercises require the student to select the part of speech of the word given, and to parse it by selecting the correct choice from a series of columns listing possibilities. Provisions are made for forms that have more than one possible answer, and choices are inactivated as appropriate (e.g., when "infinitive" is selected as the form, the student does not have the option of identifying "person" or "number"). Once the student has made a final decision, the correct answers are displayed. In these exercises, the program offers great flexibility in customizing the word lists to be studied. Nouns can be reviewed alone or with adjectives and pronouns and may include all declensions or just one particular declension. Verbs may be studied with all principal parts or any specified part. This allows the student to concentrate on a particular area or to do a general review. The principal parts module specifically addresses this aspect of verb study, and includes various recognition drills. One feature sure to be popular with students is a principal parts match game patterned after the TV game show, "Concentration." The student is shown a screen with several squares, each containing the principal part of a verb. The student must match parts from the same words. When done correctly, the matching words turn the same color.
The vocabulary module is, in effect, a ready-made flash card drill including options for dictionary meaning, English derivatives, and English-to-Greek mode. Word selection can be based either on textbook units, or on pre-selected and saved lists of vocabulary words. The flash rate can be set to accommodate students working through the material for the first time (advancing only on the mouse click) as well as those brushing up for quizzes and exams (automatic flash card advance with as little as one second intervening).
One negative aspect to the software is the fact that the student never has the opportunity to respond with a Greek word, except in his or her imagination. This has, of course, the great benefit that it obviates the problem of learning the Greek keyboard equivalents. Yet for some exercises it would surely enhance the learning process if typing the Greek answers directly were at least an option.
All in all, the software does an excellent job facilitating student study requirements that demand drill and repetition. Variety both in the exercises and in the types of interaction should help keep students interested longer. The Mastronarde software at present provides no syntax-related material, and all vocabulary entries reflect only the simple meanings. Yet these are the very areas of language study that instructors alone can best provide. This software could go a long way towards freeing the instructor to spend more classroom time on syntax, translation, and reading skills.
6) Peter Burian and Christopher Blackwell, Gramma: Software for Students of Ancient Greek; Mnemonika 3.0, Onomata 2.1, Rhemata 2.1b. (Reviewed by Kristen Jaconi) (Software for Macintosh, running under HyperCard. $25.00. Available from Prof. Peter H. Burian, Dept. of Classical Studies, Duke University, Box 90103, Durham, NC 27708-0103. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Christopher Blackwell and Peter Burian's Gramma is a visually appealing software program based upon Maurice Balme and Gilbert Lawall's Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek (Oxford 1991). The program targets either novices of the Greek language or students familiar with Greek but desiring to perfect their language skills. Essentially Gramma consists of three different drills which test the memory of the student: MNEMONIKA, a vocabulary drill, ONOMATA, a noun, pronoun, and adjective paradigmatical drill, and RHEMATA, a verb drill.
MNEMONIKA permits the student to drill himself not only from Greek to English, but also from English to Greek on a vocabulary of 1,197 words. The student selects a range of chapters of Athenaze from which to draw the vocabulary. The student encounters the most "technical" difficulty in the English-to-Greek part of this drill. For each response the program requires a precise Greek spelling inclusive of the diacritical marks, thus necessitating an intimate acquaintance with the keyboard of the Duke Greek Font. On-line help does not exist for this keyboard (and indeed the greatest shortcoming in Gramma is the lack of any on-line help). The student must look in the Appendix of the Gramma program guide or use the laminated keyboard accompanying the software package. Certainly the student working diligently with the program eventually memorizes the Greek keyboard, but the intermittent user is at an extreme disadvantage. If the student misplaces or mistypes the accent, the answer is incorrect. Perhaps the program could allow the student to decide whether he wants to work with or without accents and breathings. Similarly, the Greek-to-English drill requires a response in English in exact accordance with that of the program. For example, if OU)DEI/S, OU)DEMI/A, OU)DE/N appear and the student writes no one; nothing, he is incorrect because the program expects no one; nothing; no. This fastidiousness can be disheartening for the beginning student. Why is the program incapable of allowing for variances? The manner, and a faulty one at that, in which the program attempts to alleviate such problems, is by allowing the student the choice to click RIGHT or WRONG, after having seen the correct answer. So if the answer is essentially correct, the student can override the program's decision (viz., that he was wrong), select RIGHT, and the score will reflect a correct response. The program does permit the student to control how many words and how much English-to-Greek and Greek-to-English drilling he desires: thus, the student can select 10 words, 100% Greek-to-English; 15 words, 75% Greek-to-English and 25% English-to-Greek; etc. And MNEMONIKA is the one drill which tallies the score at the end of the quiz and saves this score if asked, allowing the instructor to keep tabs on the results. This drill also allows students to create individual word lists.
ONOMATA includes 1,418 forms of 59 substantives (nouns, pronouns, and adjectives). The student parses forms or gives the Greek form demanded. The student can optionally quiz his knowledge of dual and vocative forms. He has the choice to work with whatever words in the word list or in the chapters he wants, but the program can handle only 23 words for each drill. And here, in this component of the program more than in the other two, the student needs to have the textbook Athenaze before him to see which chapters are associated with which paradigms. But again there is no on-line help. To combat the problem of precision found in the English-to-Greek part of this drill, there is a "Messages" box which reports to the student if he has misplaced, mistyped, or omitted a diacritical mark. The student can click either TRY AGAIN if he wishes to adjust his response or GIVE UP if he wants to see the correct response. To improve this drill, there should be a way to see the complete paradigm of a given word for study before and after the student tests himself.
RHEMATA comprises 6551 forms of 18 paradigmatic verbs. The student has a choice between parsing forms or producing Greek forms. With the English-to-Greek part of the drill he can choose to work with only the present active indicative, all verb types, the aorist passive subjunctive, etc. The student can even work with dual forms, infinitives, and participles. Problems similar to those unveiled in MNEMONIKA and ONOMATA (typing of Greek and irritating precision) arise here also and again there is no on-line help. As in ONOMATA's English-to-Greek drill, a "Messages" box appears if the student has misplaced, mistyped, or omitted a diacritical mark. This component of Gramma also should have complete verbal paradigms accessible to the student.
Without any doubt the three components in Gramma can assist the student of Greek in memorizing vocabulary and grammatical forms. Gramma also could allow the instructor to spend less class time reviewing paradigms. But given the emphasis of the Athenaze textbook, one would dearly like to see more. Why not include the reading drills so prevalent in Athenaze? Why not make the student able to enjoy the travails and joys of Dikaiopolis on line? Installation of a fourth component involving translation would greatly increase the utility of this program. As it stands, however, the program will serve well the complementary function of helping with memorization of the formal aspects of the Greek language, though that function would be better served with a few adjustments, including most particularly on-line help and more "intelligent" matching of the student's responses.
7) Don Wilkins, HyperGreek. (Reviewed by Gregory Vidler) (Software for Macintosh, running under HyperCard. $25.00. Available from Intellimation, Dept. XA, PO Box 1922, Santa Barbara CA 93116-1922. Tel. 800-3-INTELL or 805-685-8587. Fax 805 968-8899.)
HyperGreek is a software package designed to be a relaxed and efficient method of learning Biblical and classical Greek. The tutorial, intended for use as a supplement to the classroom or for independent study, consists of sixteen lessons and an appendix containing vocabulary and syntactical explanations. Each lesson begins with a concise explanation and follows with exercises. At regular intervals a student can quiz himself on vocabulary.
The software is simple and easy to use. Only a few minutes are required for a student to learn everything that is necessary to operate HyperGreek. Starting with an introduction to the Greek alphabet, the tutorial proceeds in a logical direction, and permits easy return to a previous lesson at any time. Supplementary notes give exceptions to the rules and other helpful hints, and these are available at the click of a mouse.
The software is visually pleasing and provides the student with the opportunity to hear the correct pronunciation of Greek words. Bursts of applause, explosions, sighs and other various sounds are integrated into the software to indicate correct and incorrect answers to the quizzes. In a student's first encounter, this is likely to be a rather fun experience; however, after a few sessions, many students will find themselves turning off the sound.
HyperGreek, despite its accessibility, is sadly limited in its scope. The sixteen lessons cover the equivalent of roughly four weeks of college level Greek. A student who entirely devotes himself to learning everything in this software package will still find himself unable to read Greek. The software covers only the indicative mood; the subjunctive and optative are left out, as well as the passive voice for the future and aorist tenses. No mention is made of the perfect and pluperfect tenses. The syntactical explanations of nouns are basic and barely break the ground by way of explanation. Not only does the software lack many of the essentials for reading and understanding classical and Biblical Greek, there are also occasional errors, as for example: the feminine dative plural ending is mistakenly listed as -AI rather than -AIS in the exercise section of lesson four; in the parsing exercises of lessons eight and nine E)/RGA and DW=RA can only be parsed as neuter accusative plural, and when parsed as nominative or vocative, the answer is rejected as incorrect. The tutorial also fails to explain that neuter plural subjects take a verb with a singular form, yet the first translation exercise contains such a sentence.
It is conceivable that HyperGreek could be used as an aid to a Greek instructor during the first few weeks of instruction; the grammar and vocabulary in this tutorial are similar to that which a student will encounter in his first few weeks of Greek. However, the software would become obsolete in a relatively short time. As a form of independent study, HyperGreek is, again, too limited to serve as a viable tool.
A question comes to this reviewer's mind: Why bother? HyperGreek does not possess the required scope to be an adequate instructional aid, and it lacks the inspirational ingredient that a student can find in a good instructor.
8) Matt Neuburg, JACT Greek. (Reviewed by Karl Golemo) (Software for Macintosh, running under HyperCard. Freeware. Available from Matt Neuburg. E-mail: email@example.com.)
Matt Neuburg's JACT Greek software (which is distributed without fee over the Internet) provides exercises designed to accompany the first sixteen sections of the textbook Reading Greek: the Joint Association of Classical Teachers' Greek Course. Each exercise includes specific drills such as re-writing Greek sentences with the correct placement of accents and breathing marks, practice in parsing verbs and nouns, vocabulary drills, and an extra practice section which combines each of the previous exercises. The student is allowed to choose between a sequential or randomized approach to these drills. Instruction may begin at any of the sixteen sections and for any component of that section (e.g. the vocabulary drill in section five, the parsing drill in section eight, etc.).
Once inside the actual testing environment, the student is given a Greek word to define (or parse) or a Greek sentence to re-write or translate. If the response is correct, the student is given the choice of continuing the same drill or moving to a completely different exercise anywhere in the program. If the response is incorrect, the student is given the same choices as above with the addition of an opportunity to peek at the correct answer, which, if requested, is displayed briefly on the screen.
The vocabulary section offers perhaps the greatest advantage to the student. Here the program takes the place of flash cards and provides an efficient way of developing a functional personal vocabulary. The parsing drills are equally beneficial to the student, aiding in the understanding of the morphological structure of words.
An interesting feature of this software is the ability to generate speech. Using the Macintalk Pro system extension, the program can pronounce all of the Greek words and sentences in a variety of voices. These speech routines could be very beneficial, especially for the beginning student. But in the current implementation, the feature has problems which seriously impact its usefulness. The speech routines are available only on demand, that is, one must pull down a menu and issue a command in order to hear the sound. A more thorough integration into the program presentation would be much more helpful, and more likely to be routinely used. Also, certain syllables (especially where vowels adjoin) are wrongly pronounced and stress accent is entirely haphazard. This too limits the usability.
There are also limitations within the main program. First, the responses judged correct by the program are too restrictive in some cases. For example, for the word A)POFE/RW, the program will not accept "carry off" or "carry away" but only "carry back" as a reply. Similarly in many instances the program does not allow for alternate spellings. For example, the program will accept only "saviour" for the word SWTH/R, which will be confusing to American students who are, of course, used to writing "savior". Secondly, some will find the vocabulary offerings meager, since the program only uses the words from the Vocabulary to be Learnt section of the textbook rather than from the entire vocabulary of a given chapter. An option to include the wider base of vocabulary would be helpful.
These limitations, admittedly, are not very great, and Neuburg has added another feature which can correct them to a large degree. Using the "Teacher Stacks" teachers can created customized data for their students. Vocabulary can be added, with variations in spelling and meaning, and the teacher can input specific instructions right into the program. This feature is very useful for developing one's own course of classroom instruction and makes the program very practical as a pedagogical tool.
The format of the program is basic and fairly easy to use once the student learns the Greek to Roman equivalents on the keyboard (for which on-line help is available). The program closely follows the first sixteen sections of the JACT textbook and is a handy companion to that text. For teachers who find the regular program too confining, the Teacher Stacks allow customization of the data. Given the close reliance of this software on the textbook exercises, the program could well substitute for the execution of these exercises in class or at home. But -- and here, a last desideratum -- one therefore wants some scoring mechanism so that the students can get a sense for how well they are doing and so that the instructor can properly monitor the students' progress. (The advertising is somewhat misleading when it says, "Why waste time checking the results of the student's exercises when the computer can do it for you?") Such a mechanism would greatly add to the program's appeal.