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Learning a Modern Langauge


Estudiamos
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I am a full time M.Div student and I hope to pursue the PhD in Church History in a few years. My school offers only a few courses on ancient Hebrew and Greek and no modern languages. Aside from Intermediate level Spanish, I don't know a foreign language. I would like to begin learning German or French, or both. Do I have a realistic chance of learning it well enough to get accepted or to succeed in a PhD program having no previous experience with the language? If so what are the best methods recommended to learn French or German proficiently?

I still have 2 years left in my current program and also plan on doing a one year MTS/ThM.

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A friend in my department has an Mdiv from Candler (it says you are from Georgia?), and now has started an MTS here. Apparently she couldn't get into a PhD program because she didn't have enough language. I believe she had about a year of Greek, maybe a bit of German. If you're doing early church stuff, you should prolly have Latin and Greek, no? Two years seems like enough time to prepare yourself properly enough, especially if you take some type of summer German/French reading course.

good luck.

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Check with the DAAD about scholarships for language courses. You could do summer training. That's how I began initially, though I came on scholarship through a program at the Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin. The program is called FUBiS and its just one of many. In that first summer (1.5 months) I took the equivalent of an entire first year of German by my university's calculation. You could do the summer course and then check at local universities near your campus for German tutors.

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The best language book I have ever used (and I've used quite a few) is Reading French in the Arts and Sciences (4th ed.) by Edward M. Stack. It is perfectly geared toward rapidly acquiring reading skills, with a highly effective and enjoyable method. You will not learn how to order food or read novels... all your energy will be focused on what you are trying to do, and get there quickly.

I'd say with previous knowledge of another romance language, you could within about six weeks of fairly dedicated work be reading theological articles in French and pass a dictionary-aided translation exam.

Unfortunately, it's out of print, and even used copies are pretty pricey. Maybe you can find it in a library. If not, I'd say it's worth shelling out the cash for a used copy.

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I am embarking on the self-teaching process for German myself (I learned French in HS & college), and a friend at Columbia recommended Jannach's German for Reading Knowledge, which is fantastic so far. It's directed specifically at those of us who are learning the language for academic/research purposes. Of course, it won't help you much with speaking or conversation, but I already read a passage about Faust at the end of the first chapter!

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The best language book I have ever used (and I've used quite a few) is Reading French in the Arts and Sciences (4th ed.) by Edward M. Stack. It is perfectly geared toward rapidly acquiring reading skills, with a highly effective and enjoyable method. You will not learn how to order food or read novels... all your energy will be focused on what you are trying to do, and get there quickly.

I'd say with previous knowledge of another romance language, you could within about six weeks of fairly dedicated work be reading theological articles in French and pass a dictionary-aided translation exam.

Unfortunately, it's out of print, and even used copies are pretty pricey. Maybe you can find it in a library. If not, I'd say it's worth shelling out the cash for a used copy.

I agree thoroughly. I'm taking an online course in reading French through the University of Arkansas and Stack is my textbook. It has been quite helpful.

Grace and peace,

Joe (hermeneut)

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