Top critical review
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bad editorial object
on 9 June 2007
Amazon has made something of a mess with this book: Greek to GCSE is divided in two parts which can be bought but not reviewed separately.
This review is based on the first part only and will be edited as soon as I have finished the second part.
In Italy there are no tools for the self study of Latin and Greek: the many traditional handbooks, some good, some better, require a very competent teacher and much determination because of the very sound, comprehensive but oh-so-dull approach and exercises.
This book, as stated in its introduction by the author (and by its title which refers to the British syllabus), is meant for classroom use and has no answer key so be warned in advance.
An answer key is available on request from the author himself
Nonetheless the author is clearly an extremely experienced didactitian:
his approach -traditional as it may appear- is sensible, matter of fact. Mr Taylor knows EXACTLY were pupils are likely to have troubles and concentrates on those points: his explanations are neat and easy to understand; his excercises are short and to the point with a clever use of a limited vocabulary.
This approach suited my needs of adult trying to learn ancient Greek on his own: there were sentences, especially the English to Greek translations, where I would have welcomed an answer key, but they were not many. All in all I was able to finish Part 1 of the course under the impression of having retained most of it.
All the above does not mean you will learn with no effort: learning any language is a difficult task, even for those like me who are strongly motivated: you will need time and concentration and some optimism to overcome frustration at hard to understand grammatical items.
A criticism I could make is that I would have liked MORE excercises but this is my own thing. Mr Taylor in his introduction is very clear: this book is NOT meant for full courses in grammar schools but for those schools where Greek has to be fitted somewhere in the timetable.
Another criticism is that accents are only introduced in the sixth chapter, but then again this is very common in Anglo-American textbooks: I cannot understand why it must be so but you cannot complain too loudly if Mr Taylor simply follows suit, not to mention that he, at least, introduces them.
This book being a textbook could explain the bad quality of the book itself.
The binding is solid enough, but a sewn spine would have guaranteed more comfort of reading.
The paper is of poor quality, blinding white in colour, the inking is no more than mediocre and the font just tolerable: you can imagine the fun of reading under artificial light!
The layout of the pages is utterly unappealing, different paragraphs and or sections ill distinguishable. Texts are not even justified on the right margin!
Books like these need to catch and keep the eye of the reader who is supposedly going to refer to them for many years: beauty and clarity of typesetting are NOT an optional feature, not if they are expensive as is the case here.