It's Greek to Me. Teaching Ancient Greek Language and Culture in the English Classroom

Master's Thesis, 2016

106 Pages, Grade: 9.5



1.1 Research nature
1.2 Background
1.3 Objectives
1.3.1 Interdisciplinarity
1.3.2 Interculturality
1.3.3 Intercomprehension
1.4 Relevance
1.5 Hypotheses
1.6 Operational definitions
1.6.1 Deductive and inductive learning
1.6.2 Deep and surface learning
1.6.3 Intercomprehension
1.6.4 Interculturality
1.6.5 Interdisciplinarity
1.6.6 Positive vs. negative transfer or interference

2.1 Legislative documents
2.2 Theoretical references
2.3 Didactic models and resources
2.4 Intercomprehension
2.5 Interculturality
2.6 Communicative skills
2.6.1 Oral register (listening and speaking)
2.6.2 Written register (reading and writing)
2.7 Vocabulary teaching
2.8 Complementary materials for the research development

3.1 Audiolingual method
3.2 Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
3.3 Grammar-Translation
3.4 Task-based approach

4.1 Title: It’s all Greek to me!
4.2 Justification
4.3 Contextualisation
4.4 Temporalization
4.5 Didactive Objectives (DO)
4.6 Contents
4.7 Key competences (KC)
4.8 Cross-curricular issues (CCII)
4.9 Interdisciplinarity
4.10 Evaluation criteria (EC)
4.11 Assessable learning standards (ALS)
4.12 Evaluation tools
4.13 Marking criteria
4.14 Attention to diversity
4.15 Materials
4.16 Lesson plan: step-by-step


6.1 Result presentation
6.2 Implications
6.3 Suggestions and recommendations




This research presents a didactic unit based on a set of didactic principles revolving around the linguistic and cultural interrelation mainly between two languages: English as a foreign language and Ancient Greek. For such teaching performance, a methodology fully inspired by an eclectic approach is explored, which is composed by principles taken both from traditional linguistic methods and from current innovative approaches. Therefore, this study considers the English subject as a tool which has to incorporate a series of interdisciplinary objectives, competences and contents associated to other subjects. Ultimately, this is the method whereby feasible adaptation could be managed for any kind of contents, competences and objectives, as well as for any kind of subjects, classrooms or factors, either internal or external ones. Consequently, meaningful learning successfully occurs, through which students are capable of acquiring both individual and collective competences, becoming thus truly valuable for their professional and personal development.

Key words: CLIL, English, Greek, intercomprehension, interculturality, interdisciplinarity.


Esta investigación presenta una unidad didáctica basada en unos principios didácticos que giran en torno a la interconexión lingüística y cultural principalmente entre dos lenguas: inglés como lengua extranjera y griego clásico. Para el desempeño de dicha labor docente se explora una metodología profundamente influenciada por un enfoque ecléctico, compuesto tanto de principios tomados de métodos lingüísticos tradicionales como de enfoques más actuales e innovadores. Así pues, este estudio considera la asignatura de inglés como una herramienta que debe incorporar una serie de objetivos, competencias y contenidos interdisciplinares a otras asignaturas. Es, en definitiva, de esta forma por la que se consigue adaptar fácilmente cualquier tipo de contenidos, competencias y objetivos a cualquier tipo de asignaturas, aulas y factores, bien internos bien externos; y consecuentemente, la culminación exitosa de un aprendizaje significativo donde el alumnado adquiera competencias, individuales y colectivas, que resulten realmente valiosas para su desarrollo profesional y personal.

Palabras clave: AICLE, inglés, griego, intercomprensión, interculturalidad, interdisciplinariedad.


1.1 Research nature

This research has been carried out by paying attention to different key aspects cited in Seliger & Shohamy (1989). It is significant to observe that the selection of an approach in one concrete aspect absolutely determine the selection of the following ones. In any case, in our attempt to avoid extreme positions, we have finally assumed that middle term must be the best option to cover all the following points in the most effective manner. As a consequence, elements from one field and another will be employed harmoniously. However, some priorities taken from one method or another have been also established, in most cases being due to the presence of determining factors such as lack of time and page restrictions.

First of all, as far as the general framework is concerned, it can be defined as mostly theoretical. This is to say, the nature of this research will be mainly based on the theoretical compilation of relevant written materials. Nevertheless, this does not mean that applied approaches will be left out, since it is undeniable that data to be analyzed must be determined and limited by the lesson plan itself, especially in terms of classroom group and level. In our case, attention will be focused on first year of Non-Compulsory Secondary Education (NCSE hereafter), whose level revolves around A2 - B1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL hereafter).

Secondly, concerning the information source, we do not deny that primary sources of information have to be conceived as the most reliable and direct source of information. However, they present determining factors which prevent us from employing them, among which time and resource consumption, need of experience and of a proper staff should be remarked on. Due to time limitation and the need to deal with a huge variety of topics, if primary sources were to be used only, they would definitely delimit the extension and the covering of topics in this research. Therefore, the main emphasis will lay on secondary sources, which is, written materials, academic papers, articles and analyses. This does not necessarily imply a disadvantage. In fact, the capacity to cover many issues in the research becomes significant, since secondary sources can work as facilitators of all types of materials, ranging from purely theoretical to practical ones. However, we are aware that reference materials from a wide array of topics must be carefully selected. Otherwise, it would be impossible to cover all the key points and objectives appropriately. Thereby, such research will be silhouetted as holistic, since it will mainly deal with general aspects from different fields. As a result, analytic approach will remain on a second level, because, as mentioned above, it delimits too much the range of the research. However, analytic approach is not totally dismissed, since we are aware of the fact that some points will need to be analyzed more deeply and specifically in particular cases.

Concerning the research goals, deductive approaches will be mainly followed, since sections will be dealt from a more general and theoretical analysis (i.e. introduction, literature review, data and material analysis, conclusions and implications). Then, contents will move to a more specific and practical approach in the shape of an elaborate and comprehensive didactic unit, where, discerning from the research part, most contents are suggested to be taught in an inductive manner.

In connection to the form of the data, interest will mainly fall on qualitative data, this is, ideas, opinions and assumptions taken from well-known authors and sources, as well as their subsequent comments and conclusions drawn from myself. Nonetheless, quantitative data extracted from figures presented in other researches and from personal teaching experience in classroom, will be also complementing certain sections.

Moving to the data collection, a non-experimental method has been generally omitted, since there is no use of laboratories or tests. Instead, data collection is mainly fulfilled by means of relevant written references taken from relevant authors. However, the analysis of some results will be dealt in a quasi-experimental manner, especially those which have been included within the didactic unit and have been put into practice in class where I am currently doing my internships.

As far as the moment of the data collection is concerned, two alternatives are presented. On the one hand, a longitudinal approach will be carried out for theoretical data compilation, because different books and materials from dissimilar years of publication will be employed throughout the research. On the other hand, it will be necessary to resort to a synchronic approach for the practical application of some materials in the current classrooms in the present educational reality. As a consequence, there is a clear division between the theoretical data compilation, which will be carried out diachronically, and the practical application of such contents, which will be done synchronically.

Lastly, the data analysis methodology can be highlighted for being similar to the aforementioned data form. In other words, as the main focus will fall on ideas and comments, interpretative methods are usually employed. Nevertheless, as some quantitative results are presented, statistical methods will be followed in such cases.

1.2 Background

In this section, attention will be paid to the main personal factors and experiences which drove me to undertake this research.

As it can be seen clearly, I have been a deep admirer of the classical age and the Mediterranean cultures since 4th year of Compulsory Secondary Education (CSE hereafter). That was one of the most determining years in my academic career, since I was determined to choose Humanities as the academic area in which I was interested. Consequently, that was the year when I started learning Latin and, thereby, when my passion about Ancient Languages and Culture began, especially related to the field of linguistic influence (i.e. etymology) and cultural heritage. Then, it was in the 1st year of NCSE when I had to take up Greek lessons. However, far from finding them boring and useless, they increased my interest about the ancient world in general terms when I managed to perceive many similarities in many linguistic and cultural aspects among these four two languages, as well as with Spanish and English.

With the passing of years of high school and university I became more and more driven to focus my study on language influences. Therefore, I decided to take on such opportunity through my BA final project, which was based on the Latin influence on the English language in terms of morphology and lexicon. Quite challenging though, the project turned out to be a success. However, due to time limitations and page restriction, among many other reasons, it could only be considered as a general theoretical overview, though successful enough to carry on the same research path. Accordingly, I still was determined to study the influence of classical languages on English, yet in a more specific and concrete manner. Hence, this end-Masters dissertation has arisen as a unique chance to undertake such duty of which I was precisely thinking, which is to say, a research about the influence of one language and its culture projected towards the learning of another language, being English in my case.

1.3 Objectives

Certainly, many kinds of objectives might be well drawn to cover the English subjects from different perspectives. In addition, it would be vital to point out that concrete objectives associated to the didactic unit will be left aside in this section. Instead, they will be mentioned in full details in the corresponding section below. Therefore, the following objectives will include the general aspects to demonstrate and to show through the whole research.

1.3.1 Interdisciplinarity

To begin with, English cannot be conceived as another curriculum subject, with its own well-established objectives, competences and cross-curricular elements. Instead, English is to be perceived as an example subject of interdisciplinarity (cf. 1.6. Operational definitions). Accordingly, this research is aimed to prove that English can be taught as an interdisciplinary subject, or in simple terms, as a versatile subject, where all kinds of topics and contents can be exploited so as to fulfill well-established objectives, competences and cross-curricular elements, and simultaneously, in perfect harmony with the rest of the objectives, competences and cross-curricular elements embedded in curricula for CSE and NCSE.

Likewise, and still focusing on versatility of English, this research has the intention to show how well adapted contents may work on almost any kind of classroom, no matter the age of the students, their needs and their motivational factors. Thus, this means that contents suggested in this research will work effectively and efficiently with little or no variations for all the levels and years established by the curriculum. This objective is reflected in the fact that contents from the didactic unit, even though they are especially adapted to 1st year of NCSE for Humanities, they have been exploited successfully in a classroom of an official language school with adult students who work as teachers from different disciplines. Results will be presented in some sections below.

1.3.2 Interculturality

In addition, this research will attempt to strengthen the idea that English has to be defined mainly as a communicative tool, and especially relevant for an education based on interculturality (cf. 1.6. Operational Definitions). In other words, this research is aimed to the practical usage of English, which must become useful to learn a significant number of aspects, ranging from curriculum contents to resources for personal and cultural development, such as analytical and critical thinking, considerably important when taking different cultures for comparison, and sociocultural awareness of what Spanish, English and Greek cultures have in common and what aspects make them different.

Apart from all these objectives, this research can be also highlighted for its purpose to foster linguistic and sociocultural awareness. More specifically speaking, there is clear evidence that the Greek language still remains in the linguistic and cultural core of many modern languages and societies respectively. Definitely, Spanish and English should be definitely highlighted in this sense. Therefore, arising society’s linguistic and cultural awareness might be the reason why the learning of classical languages has been promoted, and Spain is not an exception by any means. Nevertheless, for many reasons and factors, more effort seems to be necessary if such learning objective has to be accomplished in a more efficient and effective manner. Consequently, this research is intended to cover the need to have a good linguistic and cultural knowledge of Greek, which will be employed as a perfect language tool not only to acquire a better knowledge of English, but also as a very useful resource to take both English and Spanish in comparison, both in linguistic and in cultural terms.

1.3.3 Intercomprehension

Lastly, a final and determining objective should be underlined, which, in fact, can be perceived as the resulting product of the previous ones. In more precise terms, this research attempts to facilitate the process of learning a foreign language by fostering intercomprehension. Although this term will be defined in full details below, it could be accomplished by means of contrasts and comparisons among particular features of the student’s L1 and of other languages such as Greek, Latin or English, leading thus to positive transfers from one language to the others and, thereby, to subsequent learning through successful acquisitions of, for example, grammar or vocabulary items.

1.4 Relevance

Certainly, many researches have provided many good reasons supporting the exploitation of classical languages in classroom, either from a more subjective (as explained above) or to a more objective outlook. Therefore, apart from our own reasons, this research attempts to highlight some of the most significant ones.

First and foremost, focus must be lie on the need to increase linguistic and sociocultural awareness among students. In other words, students must perceive certain linguistic and cultural influence among modern languages both from a direct and an indirect (i.e. by means of other languages) perspective. As they progress in their language learning, students must find it out explicitly that both classical languages are still living in the core of our own modern languages and its features, ranging from the phonological to the discourse level. Besides, Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations might be well considered the cradle of our modern era culture in countless aspects: politics, administration, legislation, religion and literature, among many others. In short, students need to be conscious of an oncoming globalized world where contacts between cultures and languages did not only in the past, but also that they do not stop gathering more and more momentum.

Although such reason might seem relevant enough to put research contents into practice, reality provides us with further relevant reasons to do so. In this sense, general linguistic and cultural unawareness aside, general negative perception by most sectors of the society must be taken into account, as an increasing tendency can be observed whereby classical languages are labelled as dead, isolated and useless languages. Hence, students have to become aware that Latin and Greek have been considered the most essential facilitators of worldwide information and knowledge coming from the most leading figures of the academic, scientific, philosophical and linguistic fields throughout the ages, extending from the Ancient Times of Plato to the Modern Era of Einstein, who, incidentally, made use of Latin to write his thesis. In brief, as it is happening with English nowadays, Latin and Greek have worked as linguae francae, which means, languages for international communication among different nations with different languages for numerous purposes as diplomacy, political relations and business.

Moreover, as far as the interconnection among languages and cultures is concerned, it could not be only accepted to focus on one single age (i.e. observations from a synchronic perspective). Instead, interdependence among languages are essential to be observed from a diachronic perspective, this is to say, by taking into account both past civilizations, as in the case of Greek and Latin, and contemporary languages, as Spanish, English or French, for instance. Although this conviction seems quite obvious to be assumed, that is only done in theory. Actually, practice poses a problematic situation where, just as the ancient Roman ideology, Latin has superimposed over Greek as the classical language to take into account. However, the truth is that they cannot be separated from each other. In another fashion, it seems illogical to perceive Latin without Greek and Greek without Latin.

Turning to arguments associated to synchronic linguistics, Latin and Greek coexisted simultaneously, and although the language of the Roman Empire became the dominating language in terms of territory, Greek could still keep its prestige (since then until now) as the language of science and knowledge. It seems thus quite logical to ponder about the need of both classical languages to be given together if we really want to understand all kinds of direct and indirect influences which came across each other (i.e. synchronically), as well as with the rest of languages throughout history (i.e. diachronically). Otherwise, a total different kind of Latin and a total different kind of Greek would exist, with huge differences both in linguistic and cultural fields, and thus with total dissimilar implications for successor languages.

Paying attention to the situation in Spain, many attempts have been carried out to solve such problems, especially through different subjects in different educational levels. For example, the general curriculum for NCSE find it essential to exploit a significant amount of contents related to such linguistic and sociocultural awareness across the two years of NCSE education, as in the case of syntax and morphology topics in Spanish as L1 or other subjects as History for the Contemporary World and Philosophy. Additionally, NCSE curriculum for Humanities puts considerable emphasis on linguistic awareness through the inclusion of the two classical languages (Latin and Greek) and sociocultural awareness by means of other subjects such as Universal Literature or History of Art.

To conclude with this section, it might be useful to refer to several educational reforms so as to get an idea on how much they have insisted on the incorporation of certain compulsory elements to exploit which, in fact, are closely linked to language teaching in general, and especially to Latin and Greek. As this didactic unit has been especially adapted for first year of NCSE, it must follow the principles established by the Royal Decree 1105/2014 (RD 1105/2014 hereafter), of December 26th (BOE number 3 of January, 3rd –LOMCE in Spanish–). However, as this will be justified in full details below, attention will be put this time on its predecessor Organic Law 2/2006 of Education, 3rd May (LOE in Spanish), so as to understand the relevance of this topic from its past background until today. For instance, LOE lays emphasis on set contents useful for i) Reflecting upon the language and linguistic awareness and ii) Sociocultural aspects and intercultural awareness. As to cross-curricular issues, it fosters multicultural education. Moreover, half of the set key competences (i.e. 4/8) can be covered through the teaching of classical languages through English: i) communicative competence in one’s mother tongue and in a foreign language; ii) digital and technological competence; iii) Cultural and artistic expressions and iv) learning to learn competence.

1.5 Hypotheses

Concretely speaking, this research will formulate English teaching in a double sense. On the one hand, as another subject from the curriculum where relevant set objectives, competences and cross-curricular elements from the general curriculum (i.e. RD 1105/2014) must be established and exploited in an efficient and effective manner. On the other hand, this research will suggest English as a communicative tool which is to become useful for the development of certain personal skills and competences, mainly those associated to analytical and critical thinking, linguistic and sociocultural awareness and autonomous and cooperative learning, as established, for example, in Organic Law 2/2006 of Education, 3rd May (LOE in Spanish).

Ultimately, this research is projected to become a perfect model of the so-much- valued methodology called Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL herafter). In a fashion, this research will not only work on relevant innovative proposals to integrate language learning with other contents from the curriculum, but also will support an eclectic approach by taking different positive aspects from dissimilar language methodologies and approaches throughout history, ranging from the traditional Grammar - Translation method to the cutting-edge CLIL method or Task-based approach (cf. 3. Design and Methodology for more details). Although such language methods and approaches will be explained in full details below, interdisciplinarity can be already stated to be evidently exploited throughout a didactic unit which is projected to become a model of dealing with a harmonious combination of different contents, objectives and competences across the academic curriculum and its subjects, mainly English as a Foreign Language, Spanish as L1, Latin, Greek; and even a few contents majorly associated to Humanistic subjects as Philosophy, History and Universal Literature.

As far as linguistic awareness is concerned, this research will examine that students manage to notice that the Greek language still remains in their linguistic core both of their mother tongues (e.g. Spanish) and in other foreign languages (e.g. English) in many senses. Therefore, this research will insist on the need to have a good knowledge of Greek so as to acquire a better knowledge of any other foreign language, especially in the case of English. Associated with the relation among languages, the already mentioned intercomprehension will be constantly put into practice. In other words, students will achieve, through their own innate strategies, to relate linguistic features characterizing their mother tongue (e.g. Spanish) with other foreign language’s ones (e.g. English) so as to perceive significant influences coming from a third language (i.e. Greek), which works as a common source for both of them. Simultaneously to the linguistic influence, this research will function as a model to exploit interculturality, whereby students will pay attention to cultural diversity, as well as cultural influences, similarities and differences in aspects such as linguistic expressions reflecting folk wisdom, mythology, arts and popular culture. In this case being, interculturality will be carried out among Spanish, English and Ancient Greek societies.

To put an end to this point, it can be seen that most of the following proposed hypotheses, apart from being closely related with one another, will bear a strong connection with most of the objectives and relevant topics described above, especially those having to do with the “know how” or “savoir faire” competence (CEFRL), integration of linguistic and cultural contents from different subjects (i.e. CLIL), as well as the incorporation of different language methods and approaches to promote a strongly recommended eclectic approach. Such eclectic approach, apart from all these aforementioned, must be also oriented towards an effective cooperative and an efficient autonomous learning, especially reflected in task and project-based approaches, which will also perform a determining role in this research.

1.6 Operational definitions

1.6.1 Deductive and inductive learning

On the one hand, deductive approach can be considered, according to Krashen (1982, in Sik 2015: 2142), as the clear and explicit explanation of rules and principles by the teacher and the internalization of such rules and principles by students through practice. In other words, as Nunan (1991, in Sik 2015: 2141) states, deductive reasoning happens when students are taught rules and principles consciously and they are provided with general or specific information about any language aspect.

On the other hand, according to experts as Hammerly (1975, in Sik 2015: 2142) and Shaffer (1989, in Sik 2015: 2142), inductive learning occurs when learners acquire language on the basis of the unconscious exposure to the foreign language in the habit formation process. In other terms, students learn inductively when they study various examples of a structure until the use of the structure becomes automatic. Therefore, as it can be examined, inductive learning is really close not only to the school of behaviourism (i.e. habit formation), but also to the innatism doctrine, whereby learners are inspired to acquire a foreign language without dealing with the specific rules in the structure explicitly. However, inductive learning may pose a problem in the sense that students do not become fully aware of what they are learning until the end of the course, when the teacher tells the objectives clearly and explicitly. That is why inductive learning has contributed to lots of debate about its effectiveness.

1.6.2 Deep and surface learning

On the one hand, deep learning implies the critical analysis of new ideas which become associated to already-assumed concepts. As a result, deep learning paves the way to long-term retention of such concepts so that they can be employed for problem solving in other unfamiliar situations. On the other hand, surface learning, as it is indicated, only gives rise to superficial or short-term retention because information is learnt as isolated and disconnected (Coyle, Hood and Marsh 2010: 39).

1.6.3 Intercomprehension

Turning to Möller and Zeevert’s article (2015: 314), intercomprehension can be defined as the process of receptive multilingualism or “semicommunication” between languages, especially those which are more related in terms of grammar, phonology, or more often, in terms of vocabulary with common etymology (i.e. cognates). To put it simply, intercomprohension is the process of making use of language family relations (e.g. Spanish and English) by means of a bridge language (e.g. Greek).

1.6.4 Interculturality

Using the explanations provided by Osuna (2012: 38-58), interculturality can be synthesized as the mutual understanding and relationship among cultures, or better said, ethnicities. Interculturality, in contrast with multiculturality, advocates not the static and theoretical assumption of cultural variety, but rather the real lack of cultural impositions and categorisation in a practical democratic and constructive attitude, which should begin to be learnt at school (2012: 44-45).

1.6.5 Interdisciplinarity

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (, interdisciplinarity is defined as a feature, quality or fact “Of or pertaining to two or more disciplines or branches of learning; contributing to or benefiting from two or more disciplines”. Therefore, in the educational sense, interdisciplinarity can be applied to the usefulness of certain contents, techniques and objectives to successfully complement in more than one subject within the academic curriculum. In this didactic unit, for instance, interdisciplanrity can be found in the fact that certain contents typically learnt in the Greek subject are not only useful for the English subject, but also for Spanish, Latin, and many other possible subjects within the curriculum of NCSE.

1.6.6 Positive vs. negative transfer or interference

On the one hand, positive transfer can be described as the successful application of certain rules, vocabulary and principles in L1 when learning a L2. In other terms, positive transfer occurs when there is rule or vocabulary coincidence among languages. As a result, positive transfer makes foreign language learning far more feasible and easier for learners, because they already have such necessary elements to learn internalized. That is the case, for example, of many Hellenic roots in Spanish, which are quite similar to the English ones in terms of word-formation and spelling.

On the other hand, interference, as referred to in Ellis (1998: 51-140), can be defined as a negative transfer process between the L1 and the L2. In other terms, interference, differently from positive transfer, leads learners directly to commit errors and mistakes when attempting to relate L2 to their L1 peculiar features. Therefore, learning becomes in this case more challenging and problematic. ‘False friends’ in English are clear examples of prone elements to be affected by the process of interference.


Before going in depth with this section, the most general idea about the literature review should be pointed out. In more specific terms, lack of specific materials must be remarked on, ranging from the most theoretical (e.g. researches, analysis, group investigations, conferences, etc.) to the most practical ones (e.g. resource books, handouts, leaflets, brochures, etc.). In this sense, many different attempts have been carried out, extending from Internet databases (e.g. Dialnet, JStore, Web of Science) and other library search engines (e.g. Metabuscador de la Biblioteca de la Universidad de Jaén) to getting in touch with Secondary teachers and experts in applied linguistics from the English Philology Department of the University of Jaén, in our endeavor to find as many specialized materials as possible in agreement with the field of study of this research, which would be shaped as the didactic application of the Greek influence on the English language in EFL classroom. Nevertheless, as little success was managed, more general materials were first revised and then applied to our field of study.

Moreover, many materials must be highlighted that they have been written in Spanish or have been adapted to other case studies, such as German, as it will be seen below (see 2.4 Intercomprehension). Therefore, these circumstances led us to the need of many materials to be translated or adapted into English as a FL.

As it will be observed in the following sub-sections, resources have been divided into different categories by distinguishing among their contents, functions and applications to this research. Nonetheless, this organization shall not be considered as fixed, since many resources might be placed in more than one category, because they managed to cover, for example, more than one topic or methodology. Thus, this type of materials has become considerably useful for the exploitation of more than one issue presented in this research, although the process of reviewing and adaptation of contents can be also considered as more challenging and complex in such cases. Therefore, references with wider range of topics are assumed to fit adequately in all those section topics with which they deal –and which actually will be also explained–, even though they will be classified in one specific sub-section in this research.

Whatsoever, materials have not been by any means arranged according to prominence or priority, as all of them have been considered outstanding resources for the development of this research. Rather, references have been organized in alphabetical order within each section. Due to page limit restrictions, in contrast with the huge amount of materials, ideas have been synthesized as much as possible in order to get a decent approach of each aspect.

2.1 Legislative documents

For the elaboration of this research and its corresponding didactic unit, legislative documents establishing contents, objectives and rules are essential to be followed. In the case of this research, three different key legislative documents have been employed so as to obtain the very best result out of our proposals.

First and foremost, the Common European Framework Reference for Languages has been constantly taken into account. Nowadays, the also well-known CEFRL might be defined as the maximum regulator about language learning, teaching and assessment in Europe “[…] to achieve greater unity among its [EU] members” (2001: 2), as it is clearly established in its aims and goals. Even though aspects as communicative language competences in the CEFRL (2001: 13-14) will be highlighted in the justification of the didactic unit below, other points are worth mentioning in this section. First of all, this research will mainly deal with one of the three basic principles of the CEFRL, which is “[to promote] rich heritage of diverse languages and cultures in Europe, [which is perceived as] a valuable common resource of mutual enrichment and understanding” (2001: 2). Concerning other general measures, this research emphasizes on the achievement of “a wider and deeper understanding of the way of life and forms of thought of other peoples and other cultural heritages” (2001: 3), in our case being English, Spanish and Ancient Greek. Moreover, CEFRL has also long advocated the importance of political objectives based on multiculturalism (2002: 3-4):

i. To promote mutual understanding and tolerance, respect for identities and cultural diversity through more effective international communication.
ii. To maintain and further develop the richness and diversity of European cultural life through greater mutual knowledge of national and regional languages, including those less widely taught.
iii. To meet the needs of a multilingual and multicultural Europe by appreciably developing the ability of Europeans to communicate with each other across linguistic and cultural boundaries […].

Therefore, we think that it will be essential to turn to the Greek language and culture throughout this research. In other terms, it will be impossible to understand such multicultural societies existing in the continent without looking back to the cultural cradle or root of Western Europe.

CEFRL has also focused primarily on the planning of language learning progress in many terms which are strongly associated with intercomprehension, interculturality and the arising of linguistic and sociocultural awareness, as it can be shown in the following statements: “assumptions regarding prior knowledge, and […] articulations with earlier learning” and “raising the learner’s awareness of his or her present state of knowledge” (2001: 6).

The general competences of an individual are also key topics in CEFRL. In fact, chapter 5 (2001: 101-130) is entirely devoted to the reference of different general competences to exploit, as well as how to carry it out. In the case of this research, attention should be paid to the four of them: knowledge (or savoir), ranging from personal experience (i.e. empirical knowledge) to academic knowledge resulting from a more formal learning; skills or know-how (or savoir-faire), moving from conscious and verbalized operations to the acquisition of certain facts; existential competence (or savoir-être) where personal development is promoted by means of, for example, critical thinking; and the ability to learn (or savoir-apprendre) through tasks projected to be carried out either individually, in such case being more associated to the development of personal skills, or in a cooperative manner, promoting thus “a shared knowledge of the world [by humans]”.

Apart from other relevant points which will be underlined in the didactic unit justification, we would like to conclude by remarking on our agreement with CEFRL and its assumption about language use and the language user, which basically may serve as a summary of interculturality, intercomprehension and their related sociocultural and linguistic awareness (2001: 43):

The learner does not simply acquire two distinct, unrelated ways of acting and communicating. The language learner becomes plurilingual and develops interculturality . The linguistic cultural competences in respect of each language are modified by knowledge of the other and contribute to intercultural awareness, skills and know-how. They enable the individual to develop an enhanced capacity for further language learning and greater openness to new cultural experiences.

In the second place, it seems logical to refer to the Spanish Government, and more concretely speaking to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, which is not but the public and official institution to regulate educational laws nationwide through the recent implementation of the Royal Decree 1105/2014, 26th December, which establishes the general curriculum for Compulsory Secondary Education (CSE) and Non-Compulsory Secondary Education (NCSE) for the Improvement of Teaching Quality (Ley Orgánica de la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa –abbreviated as LOMCE – in Spanish). Since specific objectives, contents and competences can be considered as key elements for the justification of the didactic unit, they will be comprehensively explained in such section. Instead, other important points will be mentioned in this section, such as Article 26 (2015: 188 - 189), which establishes the general organization of the two years of NCSE in terms of specializations: “a) Sciences, b) Humanities and Social Sciences (this case) and c) Arts”. On the other hand, Article 27 (2015: 189-190) and Article 28 (2015: 190-192) focus on the establishment per year (A. 27 for first year and A. 28 for second year of NCSE) of those core subjects for all types of specializations (e.g. English) and those compulsory subjects per specialization (e.g. Greek for students of Humanities).

Moreover, Article 34, named Baccalaureate Diploma, deals with foreign language learning in its second additional disposal (2015: 195-196). On the one hand, it places emphasis on using the official or co-official language(s) as mere supports for foreign language learning, whose priority must fall on oral comprehension (i.e. listening) and production (i.e. speaking). On the other hand, it pays considerable attention to diversity, advocating thus for possible flexibility in the curriculum in terms of contents and methodology.

As a final attribute which will be put in details in the didactic unit development, LOMCE becomes a significant resource because it breaks down, in the shape of charts, each subject comprehensively per year in terms of contents, evaluation criteria and assessable learning standards. Accordingly, LOMCE clearly highlights which points to develop and exactly how. Thus, both the teacher in charge of a concrete subject, such as English for the first year of NCSE (2015: 422-453) and the English teacher who wants to integrate contents from other subjects, as Greek in our case (2015: 315-320), might perfectly know what and how to make use of contents, objectives and established assessment criteria, among many other issues.

Finally, but not least, A Core Inventory for General English has been the third legislative document in this research. It was drawn up in Strasbourg, in the same Council of Europe’s official headquarters, by the British Council and the European Association for Quality Language Service (abbreviated as EAQUALS) in 2010. Despite its characteristics as a legislative document, differently from the other two, this is not officially implemented, or in other terms, it is not a political document. However, this does not imply a reduction in its effectivity or usefulness. On the contrary, and as it has been anticipated, this document works as a key support for ensuring quality in foreign language teaching. In addition, as this document takes CEFRL as its main reference, the obtaining of the best results out of the established minimal requirements in each learning stage is guaranteed in all terms: from contents and objectives to key competences and communicative functions.

Focusing on salient characteristics per level, they are all included in Appendix A (2010: 23-25), which actually coincides with most points underscored in Section 3.6., named Content Coherence in Common Reference Levels, extracted from the CEFRL (2001: 33-36). In the case of B1, which is the level established in this didactic unit, there are two main features to cover, mainly by means of pair and group work (especially the final task: an oral presentation), and which can be quoted as follows (2010: 24):

[On the one hand,] the ability to maintain interaction and get across what you want to, in a range of contexts, for example: generally follow the main points of extended discussion around him/her, provided speech is clearly articulated in standard dialect; express the main point he/she wants to make comprehensibly; keep going comprehensibly, even though pausing for grammatical and lexical planning and repair is very evident, especially in longer stretches of free production. [On the other hand,] the second feature is the ability to cope flexibility with problems in everyday life, for example cope with less routine situations […] ; deal with most situations likely to arise […] or enter unprepared into conversations on familiar topics.

Appendix E (2010: 43-71) is also worth mentioning, as it deals with exponents for language content divided into levels, and within them, split into other fields such as functions and notions, discourse markers and verb forms, among many others. Accordingly, we find feasible to exploit in this didactic unit (mainly through the suggested final task in the shape of an oral presentation) the following B1 functions and notions (2010: 52):

i. 20 Describing past experiences and storytelling
ii. 21 Describing feelings, emotions, attitudes [especially in the past]
iii. 29 Expressing opinions
iv. 33 Talking about films and books

Besides, discourse functions also play a considerable role in this type of didactic unit, especially (and again) in cooperative exercises and tasks such as the final oral presentation, whereby students will be prepared for fulfilling the following functions (2010: 52-53):

i. “40 Initiating and closing conversation”
ii. “42 Managing interaction: changing the topic, resuming a conversation, continuing”

Lastly, certain types of discourse markers will be strongly reinforced through the use of pair and group tasks, where, once again, the final oral presentation becomes outstanding, especially in the following points (2010: 53):

i. “48 Linkers: sequential – past time (later)
ii. “49 Connecting words expressing cause and effect, contrast, etc.”

In short, together with the other two official documents, A Core Inventory for General English contributes to help the teacher choose the most appropriate items in terms of contents, objectives, when to choose them (i.e. in the appropriate levels) and how to choose them (i.e. choose and exploit in an adequate manner).

2.2 Theoretical references

To begin with, it is vital to mention that it was difficult to put a label on such type of literature. Therefore, by theoretical references it is meant that such materials provide this research and the didactic unit in general with the necessary theoretical background mainly associated to the fields of linguistics and cultural studies.

In the first place, two works can be highlighted, which were written by the same author, Juan Jiménez Fernández, and they needed to be adapted to this research, since they only have been written in Spanish. At the beginning of the first book on which attention will be placed, the idea that the Phoenicians and the Greeks were the first eastern European civilizations to come into contact with the western part of the continent achieves considerable prominence. Therefore, to them we must primarily attribute the development of western European societies (Jiménez-Fernández 1993: 9-11). Then, emphasis must be placed on Hellenic themes occurring both in the first or second parts of the word (i.e. just like prefixes and suffixes respectively) such as auto- (self-), macro - (big-), -fobia (fear) and -cracy (power) (Jiménez-Fernández 1993: 13). They managed to gain special prominence for expressing technical and scientific terms which have penetrated not only in all Romance languages as Spanish, but also in many other languages from different language families as in the case of English.

However, Greek elements did not move from one language to another in a pure and immutable style. Instead, they were affected by certain phonological changes in concordance to the peculiar phonological patterns of the language which borrowed them, being Spanish the described language in the book. However, most examples of phonological phenomena and words taken from Spanish can be also found in English. That is the case of, for example, monophthongization, whereby a diphthong becomes a vowel, such as eidolatría becoming idolatry, or apocope, in which the unstressed vowel from the last syllable disappears, as in ángelos, which becomes angel (Jiménez-Fernández 1993: 16).

Morphological features do also appear in many forms, as in the case of hypostasis, this is, “stereotyped chain associations of simple words” (Jiménez-Fernández 1993: 18-19, my own translation), as in esophagus, stemmed from oisóphagus, combination of the words oiso and phagein, literally translated as “the one that carries food”. Lexical meaning extension or widening are also highlighted in words as cynical, coming from the word kyón (dog), which was firstly employed for Aristotle’s followers, who found the dog’s way of life as their own ones, but now it may also mean self-interested or skeptical (Jiménez-Fernández 1993: 22).

Furthermore, culture reflected in folk expressions is proven to suffer linguistic changes in terms of form, but not in terms of meaning. This idea might become extremely useful when dealing with idioms in the didactic unit. For instance, it’s Greek to me is the equivalent to Spanish me suena a chino. However, Greek was the language for expressing lack of knowledge or not knowing something in Spanish Golden Age, as reflected in Don Quixote (II, XIX, in Jiménez-Fernández 1993: 27): “[…] Todo esto para los labradores era hablarles en griego o en gerigonça, pero no para los estudiantes”.

To conclude with this reference, linguistic aggression can be pointed out as another key idea. In other words, the author claims that language misuse occurs very often in words coming from Latin and Greek simultaneously which are not used in proper contexts, because they refer to different elements or realities. For instance, Jiménez Fernández explains the differences between word pairs wrongly used as clime (set of atmospheric conditions in a region) and climatology (science that studies climes); geography (description of Earth and reduced study) and territory (object of study) or the misinterpretation of hyper as higher or greater than super (cf. supermarket and hypermarket, but superpower and * hyperpower).

Differently from the first work, the second one places emphasis on idioms and expressions coming from Greek, especially from mythology. Therefore, this reference has enormously contributed to the compilation of idioms coming from the Hellenic culture so as to apply them to future tasks and exercises appearing in the didactic unit, such as To have an Achilles’ heel, with the meaning of having a weak or vulnerable point (Jiménez-Fernández 1997: 9) or To be the sword of Damocles, for referring to continuous dangers and risks (Jiménez-Fernández 1997: 16-17). On the other hand, other many expressions such as the apple of discord (i.e. the cause of dispute) (Jiménez-Fernández 1997: 8) or an odyssey (i.e. tough, hard journey) (Jiménez-Fernández 1997: 11) have been found extremely useful for students to mention in their oral presentations, which is the final task, in which they have to make a small research about any Olympian god, demi-god, hero or myth in terms of plot, characters and their current presence in science, art or language, for example. However, the main disadvantage to be remarked on is that such contents are written in Spanish and oriented towards Spanish culture. In any case, as it can be observed, little differences exist in this respect between Spanish and English cultures. Therefore, as there is no need of huge modifications, intercomprehension and interculturality can be continuously exploited throughout the didactic unit.

Moving now on to deeper analysis of the English language and its external influences, relevant references have been found and constantly employed. One of these works to be underscored is Stockwell and Minkova (2001). Lots of issues can be excelled from this work. In connection to history and culture, it mainly emphasizes on the continuous change of the English language with the incorporation of new terms together with the cease of many others (Stockwell and Minkova 2001: 3-4). Furthermore, it highlights the common historical background of languages in Europe, which is to say, Indo-European as the common source (Stockwell and Minkova 2001: 22-23). Turning attention to the Hellenic branch (Stockwell and Minkova 2001: 24), Ancient Greek can be already found in many dialects dating back to VII BC. Nonetheless, it is koine (ca. 450-350 BC) the Hellenic dialect which actually precedes Modern Greek and which will rival Latin in importance of language influence (mainly indirectly) on the English lexicon.

Even though entire units are devoted to comprehensive explanations and analysis of quantitative data about the external influence occurring in English through different ages, we find such contents rather irrelevant to be presented in this research and its didactic unit. However, the general idea can be summarized in the decisive Latin and Greek influence which took place with more and more intensity as time passed by. Accordingly, a great tendency can be observed from a homogenous Old English, with only 3% of vocabulary stock taken from Latin and Greek related to religion and philosophical knowledge (Stockwell and Minkova 2001: 32), to an oncoming heterogeneous Middle English and its successors Early Modern and Modern English, in which Latin and Greek loans, especially from the fields of arts, science and literature, managed to replace many old English words until becoming words of frequent use (Stockwell and Minkova 2001: 38-43).

Apart from lexicon, phonology and morphology can be found as essential topics, especially in relation to pattern changes in comparison to the original source (i.e. Indo-European) and many other languages, among which Latin and Greek can be included. Nevertheless, Appendix II (Stockwell and Minkova 2001: 193-204) has been considered the most outstanding section as far as morphology is concerned. Consequently, such appendix will become a very useful resource for the elaboration of many activities in the didactic unit, since it includes a detailed list of morphemes organized in alphabetical order in which meaning, examples and sources can be checked. Amid the significant amount of morphemes listed, we can conclude with the fact that external sources do delineate the English lexicon and morphology. However, the number of Roman and Hellenic sources is proven to overwhelm the rest of sources from other languages.

Apart from Stockwell and Minkova’s work, Serjeantson 1968 must be underlined, since it also carries out a thorough analysis of English lexicon and morphology, agreeing with Stockwell and Minkova 2001 on the key role of Latin and Greek in English, that the latter was mainly incorporated into the English language indirectly through the former (Serjeantson 1968: 4 - 5), and essentially for specific terms associated to science and arts (Serjeantson 1968: 15). It also emphasizes on early Greek loans which spread across many Germanic languages as Gothic and Old English chiefly coming from ecclesiastical Greek, such as kuriakon, meaning the Lord’s house, giving rise to church.

Inflection is an issue which has achieved a considerable prominence in Serjeantson’s work as well, since it provides an extensive overview of nouns which still keep some plural inflection taken from external sources. As it can be observed (Serjeantson 1968: 5-7), Greek has also made its contribution with its neuter nominative and accusative plural -a applied to those nouns which still carry the Greek neuter nominative and accusative -on, as in criterion and phenomenon, giving rise to criteria and phenomena respectively. Again, we have found the Greek inflection as another issue to exploit extensively through the didactic unit.

However, should any concrete section be excelled from the rest, the list about Greek loans would be the best option. Basically, apart from the same purposes found in Stockwell and Minkova’s Appendix II (2001: 193-204), reasons also fall on the organization of Hellenic borrowings in English into Greek parts of speech, another issue liable to be exploited in the didactic unit. As a result, thanks to Serjeantson’s work, apart from knowing the Hellenic elements separately and reflected in set instances, it is also possible to know the part of speech to which such Greek theme belongs. For example, litho comes from the Greek noun lithos, meaning stone, and it can be combined with the Greek adjective mono, meaning alone, or -graphy, a Greek second element typical in many Greek and English compounds.

2.3 Didactic models and resources

Once the theoretical content has been clarified and gathered, it is essential to shape them as didactic contents for specific students and levels. As it has been mentioned above, our case focuses on the first year of NCSE. Therefore, linguistic and cultural matters which have been first found and analyzed from a linguistic and cultural theoretical point of view had also to undergo then relevant models and resources closely bound to the field of applied linguistics so as to find the most effective and efficient way to be taught. Due to the lack of suitable materials for this research, many enquiries to experts in different linguistic, teaching and cultural fields have been essential to hold at the same time deep research for appropriate materials has been vital throughout the development of this research.

As a consequence, some interesting materials must be remarked on. In the first place, attention should be paid to works carried out by Alcalde-Diosdado 1999 and 2000. Primarily, these didactic materials focus on Classical Culture, which is taught in the second stage of CSE (i.e. the third and the fourth year) as an elective subject. Hence, adaptation into the English subject was necessary. However, such adaptation was made mainly in terms of language forms, since contents appearing in both textbooks are extremely attractive and useful for teenage students of CSE and NCSE, especially to those ones with a big interest in Ancient Culture.

As far as textbook organization is concerned, they have ten units (1999) and 13 units (2000). In the second textbook, units are divided into three main blocks, which can be translated as follows: i) in the classical world; ii) learning in the classical society and learning to grow up and to organize according to the classics (Alcalde-Diosdado 2000: 2). Contents are developed through a storyline style where a character called Genius guides two teenagers who become trapped in the ancient world. As a result, they need to survive and to get by through their knowledge about the ancient world. Knowledge increases by means of illustrative pictures, either fantastic or based on real paintings, together with entertaining and dynamic explanations given by Genius according to the topic to deal with, which, at the same time, are directly relate to present survival of significant elements in Ancient Times, as in the case of outer space explorations and planets, which is included in unit 1 of Alcalde-Diosdado (1999: 8-19). Therefore, this kind of storyline can be stated to facilitate students to feel more engaged in the subject and the different topics mentioned in the textbooks, because they feel as though they needed to cope with different questions and overcome different challenges appearing in the textbook units as they move on to the storyline.

In the case of this research, different aspects have been taken from different units, but especially those related to Greek mythology, gods and heroes covered in unit 9, titled “Looking for the classical gods” (Alcalde-Diosdado 1999: 122-135) and unit 10, named “Looking for the classical heroes” (Alcalde-Diosdado 1999: 136-151); and block 1 of the second book, which deals with epic poem, mainly Odysseus and his journey (Alcalde-Diosdado 2000: 24-25), Homer and Hesiod (Alcalde-Diosdado 2000: 30-31) and Aeneas and his quest after Troy’s fall (Alcalde-Diosdado 2000: 42-43).

For a more comprehensive explanation on how to exploit such units, I have been using the teacher’s book of both of them. Therefore, apart from contents in the student’s book, there is an important amount of objectives, competences and cross-curricular elements which have been fully inspired by ideas emphasized throughout the two teacher’s handbooks, such as civic education as a cross-cultural reference (Alcalde-Diosdado 1999: 15-16) or the proposal for flexibility in attention to diversity (Alcalde-Diosdado 1999: 17).

All in all, we have found Alcalde-Diosdado’s didactic materials as innovative resources to accomplish meaningful and assertive learning, or in other words, a way to prevent students from a bulimic learning which does not connect with students’ world at any stage of the learning process.

Still, other didactic materials have been widely used as models for the elaboration of the didactic unit. That is the case of Hernández 1994, which collects different theoretical and practical aspects and experiences of classical languages and mythology from different authors, careful selection has been done. Particularly speaking, we have been focusing on Gonzalo Yélamos Redondo’s chapter (Hernández 1994: 91-108), a case study about how mythology has been employed in classroom. Curiously enough, we have found a similar usage of pictures and drawings in comparison to Alcalde-Diosdado’s materials. However, they have not been adapted, but rather, showed as they are in reality. More specifically, attention was put to pictures available at Museo del Prado.

Likewise, Ferrero-Celada, Lizaur-Lizaur, Matamala-Rodríguez and Rodríguez-Monescillo deal with similar contents in the last chapter of the book (Hernández 1994: 153-172). In fact, they also make use of resources available at Museo del Prado. Moreover, both chapters agree on the exploitation not only of similar contents, but also on similar methodology based on interdisciplinarity, since they attempt to promote cooperative and autonomous tasks based on research analysis, oral discussions and group debates (Hernández 1994: 102-103) in order to reach similar objectives such as the familiarization of students with intertwined ideas across different disciplines, the knowledge acquisition of mythology through visual and artistic resources and the current relevance of the classical mythology in the western culture (Hernández 1994: 154, my own translation). Therefore, this research will propose a didactic unit whose ideas have been extremely inspired by this handbook, especially those connected to interdisciplinary knowledge, a methodology promoting oral communication and research analysis; as well as the use of pictures and other visual materials as key contents to exploit so as to get engaged students.

As a final step, once the didactic programs were covered, it was then time to get them harmonized with the English language, mainly in the shape of engaging activities. For such purpose, two didactic materials have been essentially employed. On the one hand, Latham-Koening and Oxenden (2013), which can be well considered as one of the most important textbook series in English teaching, especially for the inductive covering of grammar points, where past simple and present perfect achieve great prominence in the Grammar Bank of units 2, section a and B (Latham-Koening and Oxenden 2013: 134-135) and in unit 5, section A and B (Latham-Koening and Oxenden 2013: 140-141). Additionally, it includes a very useful Pocket Book which lies emphasis on typical mistakes made by students in their grammar constructions and utterances (Latham-Koening and Oxenden 2013: 3-5 for unit 2; 9-10 for unit 5).

On the other hand, Mensa Foundadation & Research Foundation (2016), similarly to the didactic references aforementioned, provides very useful materials and engaging resources for an effective and efficient exploitation of the Greek language and culture through English in the classroom. Differently from Latham-Koening and Oxenden’s textbook, it is not a material oriented towards English as a foreign language (i.e. FL) lessons, but rather, to English as a first language (i.e. L1) lessons, close enough to the rest of didactic materials in Spanish which have been already analyzed. Accordingly, and in a similar fashion, some adaptation of activities and contents taken from such lesson plan has been required.

2.4 Intercomprehension

For a deeper analysis of intercomprehension, Möller and Zeevaert (2015) offers detailed explanations and methods about intercomprehension. Such case study, despite being adapted to German language, due to its theoretical assumptions, becomes quite feasible to be adapted into other case studies. As the definition of the term, also provided by this reference, has been already covered above (cf. 1.6 Operational definitions), it is time to pay attention to the main features of intercomprehension appearing in the article.


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It's Greek to Me. Teaching Ancient Greek Language and Culture in the English Classroom
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Rafael Damas Quiles (Author), 2016, It's Greek to Me. Teaching Ancient Greek Language and Culture in the English Classroom, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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