Advice from Miles Van Pelt

There was a helpful little video and blog post recently on where Miles Van Pelt (author of Basics of Biblical Aramaic and co-author of Basics of Biblical Hebrew) offers several bits of advice to language learning. He reminds students they must be intentionally regular in working on the languages. He says, “The way I have found most effective in my own life is to get up early and do it before everyone else starts to want your time, your schedule, and your attention” (and the other bit can be read and watched HERE).
Great advice to students, professors and anyone else working on learning languages. I would add that, while he may be disciplined sufficiently to rise early every day to work on it many of us are not that disciplined. However, this can be compensated for by simply finding natural ways of integrating language learning into the ebbs and flow of your day-to-day schedule.
For instance, when looking up a passage why not also look up the original as well as the English. Try sight translation and see how you do. This is a very simple practice that can result in significant language gains.
Another idea is to bring along your Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek Bible to church, Sunday school or a Bible study. You can also have an English Bible open for reading along, but just try following along as much as possible with the Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek.
Just a couple of simple tips to increase time spent reading the original languages that does not require much effort or extra work (not least, waking up early to do it…yuck!). So what advice might you give?

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4 Responses to Advice from Miles Van Pelt

  1. David says:

    This post hits home. As a lay learner of Greek I’ve gone through a lot of different ‘seasons’ of learning. After making it through Mounce’s first book I know I need to move on to an intermediate book but haven’t taken the plunge yet. So in the meantime I take my greek bible to church and try to do all my NT reading with it along with a greek key and my ESV. One thing lately, I found on the internet mp3’s of the spoken greek NT and downloaded them to my mp3 player. During my car commute i listen to it. Hearing the words helps a lot. In the end I know if I want to get better I’m going to have to buckle down and start studying again. In the meantime I just hope not to be backsliding.

  2. You are doing yourself a huge favor by continuing to maintain what you have learned. It will pay dividends when you move into the intermediate/advanced levels of the study of the Greek NT.

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