Χαιρε (chaire, "Greetings"), James! I'm new here myself (joined today), and also an American learning Greek for Biblical studies. I first began it 41 years ago, though. 2 years of formal study and the rest on my own. I'm more at home reading the New Testament than the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), though that is due partly to a wider vocabulary range to learn, and partly due to Hebraisms. I also have learned a fair amount of Hebrew, though am more at ease reading historical passages than poetry, except for Psalms and Proverbs. When I get some time this summer, I will be working some more on my translation of John and some expanded notes on translation problems, idioms, cultural material, theology, etc. So, if you want help with your Greek, feel free to ask me. I also have a couple of Bible blogs I write for (not as often as I'd like), and deal with Greek words and phrases, translation questions, etc. from time to time, so you might want to look at them. They are "Dewayne's Devarim" (Hebrew for "words"), and "HasSopher's Sayings" ("HasSopher" is "the scribe", used to describe Ezra in the Old Testament).
It's great you want to type in Greek; that will really help you learn. You might want to try the Tyndale House Font and Keyboard Kit, which also includes Hebrew. Both the font and keyboards are Unicode. The font (Cardo) works for both languages. There is a keyboard layout chart included you can print for reference. If you want to try it, here's the link. I use the font and keyboards often, and they work really well in both Windows and Mac settings, with several different word processors, including MS Word. It is easy to type the accents and breathings with this kit also. You can even use it to type computer file names in Greek or to search online for Greek words/phrases.
Several tips that will really help your Greek:
1) Use your Greek NT devotionally, even if you read it alongside your English NT at first. When you attend church services and Bible classes, try to follow along readings from the New Testament in your Greek Testament.
2) Try reading the Greek out loud, both your vocabulary words, exercise sentences, and Scripture itself. A good source of audio files to guide your pronunciation, which you can use on your computer or on an MP3 player is at Greek-Latin Audio. You can either download individual chapters for free (as many as you want), or pay a few dollars for a DVD that has the whole NT in both Greek and Latin. I did the individual route at first, but as that's over 200 files just for the Greek, I opted for the DVD once I learned it was available. Hearing it and then trying to read aloud really helps.
The pronunciation is the Modern Greek one, which is thought to be closer to the original Koine, but different from what is usually taught in schools. I'm starting to get used to it, tho.
3) Learn as much grammar and vocabulary as you can, but don't feel you have to master these before reading or trying to read the Greek NT. Keep learning as you go.
4) Attempting to translate Scriptures, even a verse or two at a time, will help you tremendously in learning your Greek. The study needed to learn the vocabulary and to understand idioms and sentence structure (syntax) will really pay off.
5) Study key words and phrases with the aid of a concordance, preferably a Greek concordance (if interested in one, Iet me know and I'll recommend some), so you can learn the different ranges of meaning words have in Greek.
6) More difficult, but helpful (as I myself am finding out now) is trying to compose something in Greek, or translating something from English to Greek, rather than just Greek to English. I have virtually no experience in doing this, but am trying now, as I am trying it in Latin also. Before long I will post my first major Greek attempt on a new online forum for Greek and Latin buffs called ΔIAΛOΓOI ATTIKOI (Dialogoi Attikoi), where the working languages are Attic (Classical) Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Aramaic. (I only know a little Attic Greek, but I have the impression it is not radically different from Koine.) There is enough English there to help you get started and to navigate the site, tho. Trying to speak a little Greek to somebody else helps too, if you know somebody who would like to try. Or if you want to try a writing a little in your posts, or in an email to me at [email protected]
Again, welcome, James, and I hope the above is helpful and not too overwhelming! Any questions you have, feel free to ask.
Philios (Dewayne Dulaney)
[Φίλιος, "friendly", cf. φίλος, "friend"]
P.S.: If you decide to check out the ΔIAΛOΓOI ATTIKOI site, my username there is a Greek version of my real name, ΔΕΒΕΝΙΟΣ ΔΥΛΕΝΙΟΣ.